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Shroud of Turin: Holy or Hoax?

Shroud of Turin: Holy or Hoax?

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Published by Jon J. Cardwell
Is the famed Turin shroud the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? What does the Bible say about this? This FREE Report does not explore many sides of a controversial issue. If the Bible is truly the authority of Christian doctrine, as reclaimed by the Reformers of the 14th and 15th centuries, then even if the Bible doesn't address this burial shroud directly, it should tell us whether this relic is real or ridiculous. This report provides the Biblical answers.
Is the famed Turin shroud the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? What does the Bible say about this? This FREE Report does not explore many sides of a controversial issue. If the Bible is truly the authority of Christian doctrine, as reclaimed by the Reformers of the 14th and 15th centuries, then even if the Bible doesn't address this burial shroud directly, it should tell us whether this relic is real or ridiculous. This report provides the Biblical answers.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Jon J. Cardwell on Dec 07, 2012
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by Jon J. Cardwell ~ http://justificationbygrace.com ~ ~ http://preachingchristcrucified.

com ~ Anniston, Alabama ©2003, 2012

The Shroud of Turin: Holy or Hoax? JustificationByGrace.com

CONTENTS
A CONTROVERSY TO CONSIDER? THE SHROUD ITSELF RESEARCH IN ANTIQUITY HAIRS OF HIS CHINNY CHIN CHIN A DIFFERENT DO MARKED OR MARRED OF VISAGE SHEETS OR STRIPS? LET’S FACE IT GOD’S AUTHORITATIVE WORD “YEA, HATH GOD SAID…” “YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE…” “YE SHALL BE AS GODS…” GOD’S GLORIOUS GOSPEL IN SUMMARY FOR YOUR GROWTH IN GRACE 3 4 4 5 6 10 11 14 16 17 19 21 23 26

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A CONTROVERSY TO CONSIDER?
When the “shroud of Turin” is brought up as a topic of conversation in Christian circles, is there a controversy to consider with regard to this relic? Even the skeptical, Christrejecting world seems to want to have some input into the subject. As Bible-believing Christians, what questions might we consider? Is the Turin shroud the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? Why all this controversy surrounding this object? What would it mean if this were the actual burial cloth of the crucified Jewish Messiah? What proof is there to support this tradition? Or is the burial shroud a hoax? What significance would there be in uncovering this relic as some kind of fraud? What can we glean from an examination of a topic such as this, one that is fueled by passionate, and sometimes heated, arguments on either side of the debate?

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THE SHROUD ITSELF
The shroud is a long, rectangular cloth with the negative image of what would appear to be the full frontal and backside of a crucified man of approximately 5’10” in height. The man’s image lay lengthwise along the cloth as if the man had been placed upon the cloth and as it had been folded over him again lengthwise, thus providing the images for front and back. NOTE: I am not going to provide any images here of the shroud. Many can be found with a quick search on the Internet.

RESEARCH IN ANTIQUITY
It seems that most of the television shows, specials, and video commentaries concerning the shroud typically provide some scientific or testimonial evidence for the shroud’s authenticity or illegitimacy. With regard to scientific evidence provided on these TV specials, etc., there is carbon-14 dating, thermal imaging, pigment and fiber analysis, and so forth. Testimonial evidence often comes by way of researchers providing documents of 4

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antiquity to support or refute its “historical” journey from first century Judea to the present. Most of the commentaries that I have seen never really give scripture more than a cursory mention or consideration. If any commentary is made concerning the Bible, it is merely to acknowledge that Jesus of Nazareth was scourged, made to wear a crown of thorns, and crucified. If we read our Bibles and take scripture seriously, there wouldn’t be a controversy at all.

HAIRS OF HIS CHINNY CHIN CHIN
The image of the face of the man on the shroud has a full, long beard. Jesus, the Christ of God, as a first century Jewish male, would have certainly had a beard. The Hebrew scripture from Leviticus 19:27 reads: “Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.” To the rabbinical, orthodox Jew, this was the 345th commandment of 613 specified in their Law (Torah). More 5

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literally, the observant Jew was not to “ruin the edge” of his beard, as was the practice of idolatrous priests among the heathen nations. Chasidim, ultra-orthodox, and many orthodox Jews still adhere to the practice of growing their beards out to ensure that this commandment could not possibly be broken. Would Jesus have had a beard when He was placed in the garden tomb? The prophet Isaiah tells us that the Messiah would be beaten and His beard would be removed: I gave My back to the smiters, and My cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not My face from shame and spitting. Isaiah 50:6 The Hebrew word ‫( למרטים‬L’Maratiym), which is translated “plucked off the hair,” literally means “to make bald.” Jesus Christ didn’t just have a tuft of His beard pulled out; His entire beard was plucked from His face!

A DIFFERENT DO
The image on the shroud shows a man with long hair. Many today typically picture Jesus as having long hair. Many movies 6

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portray Him as having long hair. Every picture and icon over the centuries portrays Jesus as having long hair. Many of the shroud’s defenders suggest that the religious iconoclast were modeled from the shroud. These proponents theorize that if, for centuries, the shroud was accepted as being authentic, that would explain why the icons and paintings have such striking similarities to the shroud. Yet, we should question whether or not Jesus had long hair at all. If he had long hair, Judas would have been able to betray Christ merely by pointing out that the one they intended to arrest was the one with the long hair. If the Bible is our authority and standard, then Jesus wouldn’t have had long hair. The apostle Paul, a first century Jewish Pharisee from Tarsus, who became a Christian after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus, writes this to the church at Corinth: Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head…. Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 1 Corinthians 11:4, 14-15

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Short hair was not only a practice among the Jews, but it was also among the Romans and the Greeks of that time. A cursory study of the coinage and the sculptures of that day do so inform and testify. By all three cultures, long hair for men “would have been regarded as a token of effeminacy.” [1] Some might beg to suggest that Jesus had long hair because He had a Nazarite vow upon Him. This suggestion is not only a misunderstanding of the Nazarite vow, but also a misunderstanding of Christ’s fulfillment as a Nazarite and a Nazarene. The Jewish practice of keeping hair short is still maintained today. The observant Jew finds his interpretation from the “Vow of the Nazarite” (Numbers 6:1-21). Yes, this is the very same vow that was upon Samson in judging Israel against the Philistines. It is also the very same vow that was upon John the Baptist from his birth. One is considered a Nazarite (not a Nazarene) when he or she makes a vow and separates himself or herself unto the LORD. The Nazarite is not to drink anything fermented, not to eat or drink anything from the grapevine, neither is a razor to come
1

Alfred Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life; Hendrickson Publishing, 1994; pg. 200

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upon the head… until the vow is fulfilled or if that person’s consecration was polluted, in which case he would have to start again. Then the hair is cut and placed in the fire when a peace offering is sacrificed. Most rabbis commenting in the Talmud would then interpret this as a subtlety for a grooming standard. They reason that if one’s hair grows long without a haircut during the “Vow of the Nazarite,” then a man would naturally keep his hair cut at all other times; the only exception being when he has taken the Nazarite vow. ‫נזיר‬ By the way, Jesus is called a Nazarene in Matthew 2:23, as fulfillment of the "Branch" of Isaiah 11:1. In Isaiah 11, Jesus is the Netzer ( ‫ .) נצר‬In Numbers 6, Jesus is the Nazeer ( ‫,) נזיר‬ which He would not fulfill until His death upon the cross, for while He walked upon the earth, He drank wine and grape juice, He touched unclean things to raise the dead and cleanse lepers, etc. He announced His Nazarite vow at His last Passover meal with His disciples, recorded in Matthew 26:29, But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Fathers kingdom.

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But Biblically speaking, Jesus Christ, more than likely did not have long hair because of what we read in 1 Corinthians 10 above. Remember, the scripture, not rabbinical traditions, is our authoritative standard.

MARKED OR MARRED OF VISAGE
Nearly every TV show available on the shroud has a forensic specialist provide his or her expert testimony concerning the marks seen upon the backside of the man’s image. They present that the marks are indicative of a random pattern of strokes that could only be produced by the weighted leather tongs falling upon the back of one who was scourged with a Roman flagellum. This would be very compelling evidence indeed were it not for scripture. In His description of the “suffering Servant,” God tells us through Isaiah the prophet that the Messiah would be unrecognizable in His injuries, according to Isaiah 52:14: “As many were astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.”

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In other words, the Christ’s appearance would be disfigured until He was unrecognizable as a human being. The New Testament gospel accounts are consistent with the kind of beating Jesus received to fulfill the scripture in Isaiah 52:14, as it is written in Matthew 27:29-30, “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head.” The word “reed” is translated from the Greek word κάλαμον (kalamon). This reed was a staff or a stick. The word “smote” is translated from the Greek word έτυπτον (etupton), which means “to beat repeatedly” or “to pummel.” Jesus Christ was beaten upon the head and the face repeatedly with a stick until He was pummeled.

SHEET OR STRIPS? LET’S FACE IT

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The shroud, as mentioned earlier, is presented as a huge, singular linen cloth that was folded over the body lengthwise which “resulted” in the image being cast or projected on both sides of the sheet. Again, this is inconsistent with scripture. Joseph of Arimathaea begged for Jesus’ body and he and Nicodemus placed the Lord in a garden tomb very near Calvary, according to John 19:40, “Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.” The word “linen clothes” is translated from the Greek word όθονίοις (othoniois), which nearly always refers to bandages or strips of linen cloth for swathing the dead. Additionally, we see the term, “as the manner of the Jews is to bury,” in John 19:40. To find out more about this manner, we can look at the account of Lazarus’ resurrection in chapter 11 of John’s gospel. Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days and the Lord commanded that the stone be rolled away. After praying to the Father, it is recorded in John 11:43-44, the Lord Jesus Christ said,

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“And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.” There was a “napkin” bound upon Lazarus’ face. The word “with a napkin” is translated from Greek word σουδαρίω (soudarioo). This napkin was a small towel that covered the face or head of the dead. The same word is also used of handkerchiefs for wiping sweat from the face (Acts 19:12). Well, it seems that the same kind of “napkin” was used for the Lord in His burial. Mary Magdalene told Simon Peter and John that the Lord was not in the sepulcher. They ran to the tomb and looked inside. It is recorded in John 20:6-8, “Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.”

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Once again, the same Greek word translated “napkin” from John 11:44 is used in John 20:7. Notice that the cloth that would have been around the Lord’s head is wrapped in a place by itself, away from the other wrappings. From a scriptural standpoint, the Shroud of Turin could surely not be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ.

GOD’S AUTHORITATIVE WORD
The issue is not whether the shroud of Turin is authentic. One of the key issues is the authority of scripture. It is so evident in those special shows and television programs how these researchers try to prove or disprove the validity of this object through means other than the Biblical text. As a result, the real hoax perpetuated on people is not the fakery of the shroud, but blindness to the beauty, the wonder, and the inerrancy of God’s Word; AND more than that, the attention given by those vested into investigating the shroud, distracts and deposes people, even Christians, from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It takes our eyes, our thinking, our hearts, from the truth of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (but we’ll cover that a bit more a little later).

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In all matters, we must stand upon the absolute authority of scripture; otherwise we will be reduced to the relativism of personal opinion. It is a vain (or more accurately, insane) man that would profess to know everything that there is to know. The science we have today is a conglomeration of theories, and many of them, perhaps even most of them, fall short of God’s authoritative Word. The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t know. On the other hand, the more we do learn, the more the Bible shines through as having had the correct scientific answer all the time. The sixty-six books of the Bible, given to us by God through over forty different authors over a period of approximately 1,500 years, is the only record of antiquity that not only boasts of being “God-breathed,” but substantiates its claim through fulfilled prophecy, as recorded in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:19-21 respectively: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.”

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“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

“YEA, HATH GOD SAID…”
How then does one explain some of the inexplicable anomalies that the shroud seems to posses: the 3-dimensional quality of the image; the laser-like transmission of the image that is beyond our present technology, etc? Frankly, I can’t explain them. Neither do I care to. Satan has been very good at getting our attention off of God and getting us to waste our time on trivialities. If Satan, as the father of lies (John 8:44), can disguise himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), then he’s probably clever enough to provide some trickery in this world. The Bible tells us that Satan’s servant, “that Wicked,” comes with “all power and signs and lying wonders” (2Thessalonians 2:8, 9). 16

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Satan’s tactics have not changed. He has employed them since the beginning. First, he raises doubts about God’s Word: “Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Genesis 3:1 DOUBT In essence, the wiles of Satan would get us to believe any form of lying wonder in order to doubt God’s Word. “Hey, look,” he says, “here’s this amazing artifact!” Just as he did in the garden, he stirs controversy about what God has clearly decreed. Doubt feeds and breeds the “lust of the flesh” (1 John 2:16). The spirit may be willing, but the flesh is weak (Matthew 26:41), and unless guarded by the gospel truth of Christ crucified, wherein is power (1 Corinthians 1:18), we may get carried away with such things as lopping off ears in the garden (John 18:10), or denying the Lord thrice while warming ourselves by the fire (John 18:25).

“YE SHALL NOT SURELY DIE…”
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From the doubt he raises about God’s Word, it is not a far journey to dismiss God’s Word and outright deny God’s Word. The enemy has shown us this tactic also from the beginning: “And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:” Genesis 3:2-4 DENIAL Essentially, once Satan gets a foothold on our thoughts by doubting the Word of God, we stand upon very shaky ground, as it were, because as our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15), that gospel comes to us by the Word of God, as it is written: “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17

Through the first tactic, the instability that comes by doubt makes us vulnerable, and though we may hold the shield of faith to 18

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quench those fiery darts (Ephesians 6:16), it is not held fast and flaming arrows whiz by the shield in attempts to get to chinks around the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14). Here Satan roars of the “miraculous superiority” of what we see over what we have heard from heaven above, and moreover, what God has done in, through, and by His one and only Son, Jesus Christ. “Look,” says he, “seeing is believing! You can make sense of this because it’s right before your eyes.” Denial feeds and breeds the “lust of the eyes” (1 John 2:16). It dismisses God’s Word in favor of natural, earthly reason. It denies the truth that “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7) and confounds revelation by the Spirit from the throne of grace while elevating anything that has “a form of godliness, but denying the power [of gospel faith] thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5). The double-mindedness of doubt (James 1:5-8) removes the singleness of eye (Matthew 6:22), and thus, the body is not full of light. There is dimness, even darkness, in our gospel witness.

“YE SHALL BE AS GODS…”

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From the doubt and denial Satan’s final attack is upon the infinite nature of God Himself. He has brought doubt to God’s Word first; then denies the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way to fulfill God’s plan; and finally, he perverts the very nature of God by suggesting that true deity is something to be attained or grasped. This is a departure from the eternal plan of God through His only begotten Son, and ultimately, means destruction. Again, this tactic, God has revealed to us as Satan’s onslaught against humanity from the beginning: “For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 DEPARTURE This is a matter of a departure from God’s eternal gospel altogether. For the Christian, one who is clothed in the light of Christ and has donned the armor of the Spirit, it means a temporary vulnerability, and if given over to these wiles without immediate confession of sin and repentance toward faith in Christ, will mean being handed over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh so that repentance with godly sorrow will be produced in the Christian life.

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For the unbelieving soul, who has kindly walked upon the earth with many blessings because of the common grace of God bestowed upon all under His realm, it means ultimate destruction because of the denial of Christ and a full rejection of His gospel. Satan is the Father of lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44), having murdered Adam and Even through his deceit, convincing them that they could attain unto deity. This is spiritual adultery and uncleanness of the first order and the horror of utter rebellion against Majesty.

GOD’S GLORIOUS GOSPEL
Man’s only safeguard against deception is a life surrendered unto God through Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son who is our crucified, resurrected, reigning, and returning Redeemer. The gospel not only saves us, but is our eternal possession that comforts us through trials and builds us up by growth in grace and strength in spirit. The gospel is that truth whereby the Holy Spirit brings glory to the Son (John 16:14); and if the chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever, then the gospel is a

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possession that should be clutched in the bosom and meditated upon often. Just as Christian, in Mr. Bunyan’s very famous, The Pilgrim’s Progress, ascended his Hill Difficulty, he took repose by the peace provided by God in an arbor along the way. He found refreshment in the gospel, the parchment roll given him by Evangelist; however, he fell asleep in the midst of his trial, and the gospel scroll fell from his hand; once he finished his ascent of the hill, reaching for the gospel from the place he kept it in the bosom of his heart, it was gone. He retraced his steps to find where he had lost it. He could not continue along in his journey without the precious gospel kept in the bosom of his breast. It is that gospel truth that we must bring before the thoughts of our mind, being reminded always and always that the Person of Jesus Christ is never divorced from the work He has accomplished through His incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and intercessions until He come again in His consummation. The gospel of Jesus Christ is not only the very salvation of our souls; it is also the heart of the sanctifying Word of God, and the joy of the glorifying hope of God.

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Lying wonders, such as the Turin shroud, would distract us from the precious truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is placed there by emissaries of Satan to entice our attentions and affections away from our first love, Jesus Christ. Let us therefore, endeavor by God’s grace to be diligent… “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 In a way, I thank God that the shroud exists. In His providence and divine sovereignty He has allowed it; and by its existence, the shroud gives us an opportunity to look into scriptural truth and weigh out a matter according to the Bible, God’s holy Word. What Satan means for evil, God will use for His glory and for the edification of His people.

IN SUMMARY
Let’s summarize this topic by answering those questions we posed at the beginning of this report: Is the Turin shroud the burial cloth of Jesus Christ? Certainly not, if the Bible is truly the Word of God, then

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there is no way that the shroud can be true; and as we have seen, can only be explained as a deception of Satan, just as the Word declares. Why all this controversy surrounding this object? Satan attempts to bring doubt to God’s Word, and there are few surer ways to stir doubt than to raise controversy. What would it mean if this were the actual burial cloth of the crucified Jewish Messiah? For one thing, the Reformation cry of Sola Scriptura, would be meaningless, and without the authority of scripture alone, and the totality of scripture (Tota Scriptura) as that which is complete in providing for us the gospel, allows for men to establish any standard as they will. Interpretation of the Word would be upon traditions, emotions, and individual perceptions, rather than interpreting scripture with scripture with the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ at the very center of every interpretation. What proof is there to support this tradition? Or is the burial shroud a hoax? There is no proof to support its claims. Proponents of the shroud try to use some of the texts of scripture, yet will not concede that this method refutes itself, as I have shown by scriptural texts in context. Either the

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scripture is authority, or it is not. You can’t have it both ways. Authority as convenient is ridiculous. What significance would there be in uncovering this relic as some kind of fraud? As faith comes by hearing the Word of God, knowing that this relic is as God declares, a lying wonder, sent by Satan in order to deceive, the believer’s faith is strengthened by the Word, which protects us from the wiles of Satan, discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart, and sanctifies Christ’s own for His glory and the glory of God the Father. What can we glean from an examination of a topic such as this, one that is fueled by passionate, and sometimes heated, arguments on either side of the debate? God is sovereign; His Word is true; His gospel is glorious; His Son is supreme.

This report was expanded from an article originally written and published in 2003 on my old website, vayahiy.com. That website no longer exists. The very first part has been republished at Justification by Grace.com

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FOR YOUR GROWTH IN GRACE
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

2 Peter 3:18
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