Romans 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Romans 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
The period of time in God's plan for mankind known as “the Gospel Age” spans roughly the period in mankind's history from the time in which Jesus came to earth in human form (or, more appropriately speaking, the spirit being known as the Word or the Logos became flesh, human, and was known to mankind as Jesus) to roughly the present day. During this period of time, many significant revelations about God's plan have been made available to mankind that were unavailable to earlier generations. Many of these understandings were brought to mankind's attention by certain selected messengers whom God saw fit to work through. One of the earliest of these messengers who was very active in the early days of the Gospel Age was the Apostle Paul.
The various works of Paul comprise a large percentage of the second half of the New Testament of the Bible. Through these writings, God worked through Paul to outline many important truths regarding His plan for mankind. Some of these truths were understood at the time, while others continued to take on enhanced meaning and depth as the Gospel Age progressed. In retrospect, Paul's usage by God in this respect is very logical. Paul was the only apostle who was not a follower of Jesus during Jesus's human life. In addition, Paul received his commission by means of a vision of Jesus about the same time that the opportunity for following God through faith in Jesus was extended to all the peoples of the earth, including those who were not descendants of Israel. These two influences may have contributed to Paul's motivation to explain and expound upon concepts that the other apostles probably also understood but, perhaps, did not feel the same drive to explain as fundamentally. Paul's work and life prior to being called to service by his Lord also contributed to his ability to lay out thorough, reasoned, and scripturally sound cases for the truths that he, through God's will, brought forward. Paul, then, seemed like an ideal choice to explain the revelations of God's plan and the implications of Jesus's sacrifice to the Gentile people, who, in some cases, had previously not even known God at all, as well as those descendants of Israel who had recognized and chose to follow their Messiah. Surely it was by God's grace and foreknowledge that He enabled such a careful and thorough student as Paul to pen documents outlining aspects of His plan in such a way that they would not only be valuable to the Jewish and Gentile people of the time, but also to explain fundamental truths to us, centuries later. One of these works was a letter to the early Christian church at Rome. This letter eventually became the book of the New Testament of the Bible known as Romans, from which the quote at the beginning this study is taken.
Paul himself was a descendant of Israel and was raised in the Jewish faith. As such, he was keenly aware of the opportunity that the descendants of Israel had been presented by their long awaited Messiah and King, and equally aware of fact that the majority of his people were missing that opportunity. As might be expected, this understanding caused Paul a great deal of emotion and reflection:
Romans 9:2 That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart.
Romans 9:3 For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh:
Romans 9:4 Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises;
The concept of Gentiles being allowed to serve God was very new during Paul's time. In fact, the opening of that opportunity took place during Paul's lifetime, beginning with a man named Cornelius, who was not a descendant of Israel, and thus classified as a Gentile, but who was specifically called forth into God's service nonetheless. A vision by God was delivered to the Apostle Peter at this time, to make God's intentions clear – the opportunity to serve God was not to be limited to the descendants of Israel alone, but was now open to Jew and Gentile (those members of mankind that were not descended from Israel) alike; in other words, all of mankind:
Acts 10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:
Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
Acts 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
Acts 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
Acts 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
Acts 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
Acts 10:16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Acts 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate,
Acts 10:18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.
Acts 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.
It is, perhaps, a very human trait to fear that what one has will be taken away by another. This fear, and the reactions to it, can clearly be seen in society today. There is a tendency to distrust the outsider; to fear that the ways and traditions and favors that one's group has enjoyed or earned through generations of hard effort, may be diminished, even “usurped” by another group. These aspects of society were no doubt just as prevalent in Paul's day. For generations, the descendants of Israel had enjoyed the exclusive favor of God. God had given them alone His law; God had fought for them on the battlefield, and God had given them alone prophecies of future greatness. Those among the descendants of Israel who formed the early Christian church perhaps saw even more – the long prophesied King and Messiah had finally come, had walked among them and preached to them. He made it clear during his time on earth that he had come for them alone:
Matthew 15:22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.
Matthew 15:23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us.
Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Some among the early church may have even heard Jesus say these very words. It is then, perhaps, understandable for some to have a difficult time understanding, even accepting, those who were not a descendant of Israel as now eligible to be a follower of God.
This was not the only great change happening during this time. The early members of the Jewish nation who recognized their Messiah and King understood, to an extent, that their belief separated them from the majority of their own established religious leadership of the time, and thus from their fellow members of the Jewish majority in general. However, they were still Jews. They were still descendants of Israel. They were members of the people that God had given His law to, and although their people endured periods of disfavor due to disobedience, they no doubt still believed, as a result of generations of teachings, that the Jewish people, the descendants of Israel, were God's favored people. However, by his own words, the very Messiah they had recognized “fulfilled” the law given to their people by God generations ago:
Matthew 5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
Matthew 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
When something is “fulfilled”, it is complete. Its purpose for being has been achieved; fulfillment brings with it the thought of a corresponding ending. When something is ended, any power it had to achieve its goal also ends, because, by definition, the goal has been “fulfilled.”
In addition to the law, God also described a series of sacrifices that the Jewish people were to keep. These sacrifices are mainly described in the book of Leviticus. Throughout these descriptions, many references are made to the term “oblation” or “oblations”:
Leviticus 2:4 And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
Leviticus 2:5 And if thy oblation be a meat offering baked in a pan, it shall be of fine flour unleavened, mingled with oil.
Leviticus 7:14 And of it he shall offer one out of the whole oblation for an heave offering unto the LORD, and it shall be the priest's that sprinkleth the blood of the peace offerings.
The word “oblation” as used in Leviticus is Strong's Hebrew word 7133, and has the meaning of “a sacrificial present”. These sacrifices, these “oblations”, were given by God alongside the law, and were an important part of the Jewish identity as being God's favored people.
Many years after the giving of the law, but many years before Jesus's coming to Earth, a faithful descendant of Israel and servant of God named Daniel was blessed by God with the receipt of many prophecies. Some concerned the future of the Jewish people, some concerned future events in God's plan for mankind, and some concerned the coming of Israel's future (from Daniel's perspective in time) Messiah. In one such prophecy, God reveals to Daniel, and by extension any reader of the prophecy, that the Messiah would bring an end to the “oblations”, meaning that after the Messiah's coming, the instructions for sacrifice, given by God to the Jewish people alongside the law, would also be at an end:
Daniel 9:25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
Consider, then, the impact of all of these changes upon the descendants of Israel who, like Paul, formed the early Christian church. Before their eyes, they were witnessing the underpinnings of the religious system upon which generations of their people had relied upon for their identity, being seemingly torn down, or at the very least, fundamentally changed. The recognition of their Messiah carried with it a recognition of an ending of the law and of the sacrifices that so many of their people's previous generations had, in varying degrees, believed in, interpreted and obeyed. They saw their long awaited Messiah and King having come, and although they themselves gave up what they had to follow him, the majority of their people not only did not recognize their King, but soundly rejected him to the point of facilitating his death. They understood the prophecies that seemed to describe a future for the nation of Israel, but how was that possible with so many things seemingly coming to an end? How could Israel be God's favored people when the way to serving God was now open to Gentiles as well? What was to become of their people? Even if recognition and belief in their Messiah separated them from the majority of the religious leadership of their people, they were still descendants of Israel. How did all of these diverse, and sometimes seemingly contradictory concepts fit together?
Paul, as a descendant of Israel, felt the weight of these questions at a very personal level. In the book of Romans, particularly in chapters 9-11, Paul addresses the future of the descendants of Israel in God's plan, as well as the relationship between the descendants of Israel and those of the Gentile people who were now starting to follow God as well. This latter concept is particularly addressed by Paul in Romans 10 and 11. To make his point, Paul uses an illustration using a pair of olive trees; one wild and one "natural". In his illustration, he proposes that the reader envision a branch cut off from the “wild olive tree” as representing the Gentile people who were, and are now responding to the call to follow God:
Romans 11:16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
Romans 11:17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
When adding something to an existing object, such as an olive tree, there is often the need to “make room” for the new object. In Paul's illustration, he refers to “breaking off” branches of the "natural" tree in order to “make room” for a new branch, grafted in from the wild olive tree:
Romans 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Note here that Paul is not saying that all branches of the original, “natural” tree will be removed, just some, to make room for the branches from the “wild” tree. These “removed branches” of the “natural tree” represent, in Paul's illustration, those members of the Jewish nation who were given the opportunity to respond to their Messiah's call, but failed to recognize him or respond. The branches of the “wild” tree to be grafted onto the “natural” tree in the place of these pruned branches, represent those of the Gentile nation who responded to the call to follow God by following Jesus once that opportunity was made available. In this illustration, Paul is attempting to demonstrate that the opening of the call to the Gentiles does not completely invalidate the special favors belonging to natural Israel – the descendants of Israel. Only the “undesirable branches” are pruned from the tree to make room for the desirable “wild branches”.
The obvious next questions, then, are, what characteristics would cause one who was a descendant of Israel – of “the natural branch” - to be “pruned”, and what characteristics would enable one who was a Gentile – of “the wild branch” - to be grafted onto the tree?
Paul answers both of these questions plainly, in a simple, yet profound statement:
Romans 11:19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Romans 11:20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
In verse 20, Paul makes a comparison between the “natural branch” and the “wild” or “grafted branch.” Consider what unbelief those natural descendants of Israel exhibited, and what was, and is, the nature of the faith those who are “grafted in” exhibit to make them fit to be “grafted in”. His comparison starts with those “who were broken off because of disbelief”. Those of the branch of the natural tree - those descendants of Israel who did not recognize their Messiah - were “cut off”. Like all of the descendants of Israel, these of the “broken off branches” had the Old Testament scriptures. They had generations of knowing that they were the favored people of the one, true God. Through the generations, they had been given physical manifestations of that favor. They had been given a law to follow. They had been granted the blessing of becoming a great nation, and when that blessing was rescinded due to disobedience, they had been given the blessing of prophecies of restoration. Instead of this knowledge and these blessings cultivating a spirit of thankfulness and humbleness and eagerness to please such a God and become a blessing to the world around them, it instead, in general, cultivated a spirit of fear – fear of losing the respect of others, both of the rest of the nation as well as the respect of the world; a fear of losing the power that an understanding of the law gave to some over the greater multitude. It cultivated a spirit of pride in the knowledge that as God's favored people, the law and the scriptures were given to them and them alone among the people of the earth; they knew the true God, and they knew the true God favored them alone; in their view, no one else could possibly possess any knowledge of God beyond what the scriptures and, in their minds just as powerfully, their own interpretations of these scriptures and the law provided.
The scriptures, which serve as God's method of making Himself known to those of us in mankind, describe four great characteristics of God:
Isaiah 45:21 Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
Jeremiah 10:10 But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. Jeremiah 10:11 Thus shall ye say unto them, The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth, and from under these heavens.
Jeremiah 10:12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
Jeremiah 10:13 When he uttereth his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens, and he causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings with rain, and bringeth forth the wind out of his treasures.
Jeremiah 10:12 He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom, and hath stretched out the heavens by his discretion
Psalm 36:7 How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
Due to their disobedience of God's law, primarily to love God alone and not worship other idols, the nation of Israel encountered periods of disfavor and punishments by God. The nation of Israel, represented by Paul's picture as “the natural branch” of the olive tree, was warned by God of these punishments many times through the words of prophets such as Jeremiah, Zechariah, Daniel, and Isaiah, to name but a few. Perhaps an aspect to the character development that contributed to the failure to recognize their Messiah and King, and thus be “broken off”, may have been, in part, related to the periods of disfavor and punishments that God allowed them, as a people, to experience. Perhaps over the generations, these protracted periods of disfavor contributed to some of the people focusing on the firmer side of God's character, such as justice and power, without also considering the other attributes of character such as wisdom, and especially love. It is, perhaps, then, little wonder than when their long awaited King came, preaching a message that seemed to focus on love and who exhibited a wisdom that was greater than the religious rulers at the time, the nation, as a whole, did not recognize their King. A message of love, that hinted at the inclusion of all mankind, not just their favored nation, was perhaps unexpected. As well, a wisdom that was able to explain the scriptures and the law in such a way that didn't require endless debates by only those learned lawyers and scribes, but in such a simple way that even the general multitudes of the people, Jews and to some extent Gentiles as well, could immediately grasp these scriptures and their implications to the point of causing at least some of the listeners to change their entire life courses was also perhaps unexpected and even potentially threatening. Both of these characteristics of God, love and wisdom, reflected in His son, may have been difficult for some of the natural branch, particularly those in leadership roles, to recognize.
The second half of Paul's simple, yet profound equation describes the characteristic of the “wild branch”, the Gentile people who choose to follow God by following Jesus, that makes them fit to be considered for “grafting into the tree” - “thou standest by faith”.
Faith is extremely powerful concept, and extremely important to both God as well as to Jesus. If such a concept is so important, we should expect to see definitions of it, as well as examples of it, in the scriptures; and in fact, we do. In the book of Hebrews, Paul provides us with a very straightforward definition of faith:
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In this powerful statement, Paul provides us with a great deal to contemplate. In order to hope for something, by very definition of the term, the thing that is being hoped for has not yet been obtained; otherwise, what would be the point in hoping? Additionally, although we might have other evidences of things we have faith in, faith requires us to believe evidences and experiences other than those that can be seen with our eyes.
Little wonder, then, that God places such a premium on faith, given that, by His very nature, mankind cannot physically see God:
John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
Throughout mankind's history, the premium that God places on faith, as demonstrated by mankind toward Him, His character, and His plan is plainly evident in the scriptural record. Consider Genesis chapter 6, where God instructs a man named Noah to create a great ark on dry land, and to gather his family and a large group of animals into the ark. Surely Noah exhibited great faith to take on such a work, at the cost of ridicule and doubt from those around him. Noah could not see with his eyes the reason for God's commandment; it was enough for Noah that God made a commandment to him. Consider Genesis chapter ten, where a man named Abram is asked to have enough faith on God to uproot his entire family and household and move everything and everyone to an unknown land. Later, that same man, renamed Abraham, was again asked to have faith when God seemingly asked him to sacrifice his beloved only son. Consider further the later prophets such as Elijah, Zechariah and Jeremiah, to name but a few, who were asked to have enough faith in God's direction that they were to go among their own people and preach what were surely very unpopular messages.
Paul's statement, though, “thou standest by faith” seems somewhat open-ended. In order to be considered worthy to be of “the grafted branch”, one must have faith; that much is clear. Faith in what, though? People have faith in all types of different beliefs. Is there some specific type of faith that makes one eligible to be considered for membership in “the grafted branch?”
Consider a further work of Paul, where he addresses this very subject:
Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Just as it was a heart condition and character that caused the majority of the descendants of Israel to not recognize their Messiah and King, so this same heart condition and character, lacking in “the pruned branch”, draws those of the Gentile people, “the wild branch” to God through faith and belief in His son. Is that enough to be considered one of the “grafted branch” though? Is it enough for one of the Gentile people, including those of us living today, to say “yes, I believe in Jesus; I believe in God”? What exactly is “faith in Christ”?
Let us consider the words of Jesus himself, during an exchange with the Jewish religious leadership:
Matthew 22:34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
Matthew 22:35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
Matthew 22:36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
Matthew 22:37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Matthew 22:38 This is the first and great commandment.
Matthew 22:39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Matthew 22:40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Consider Jesus's words, and consider how they require faith by us living today, generations later, who wish to be considered worthy of being in “the grafted branch.” The commandment to love God with all our hearts and minds does not necessarily mean that there is an expectation that one must neglect all other responsibilities in order to focus only on God. However, in a practical sense, following this commandment still requires a lifetime of commitment and growth. When we make decisions, what influences those decisions? If we find ourselves fortunate enough in life to be able to provide for our families with the means we have been blessed with, how do we respond to offers that will grant greater wealth and worldly prestige, but at the cost of our time and energy in the service of God? What influences our decisions? When we have completed our necessary responsibilities of the day, and have a choice on how to spend a block of time, how do we choose to spend that time? Do we consider work in God's service first, such as further study to develop our characters, or service to our brethren or those in the world? Or do we find ourselves falling victim to the countless distractions the present day and age offer? Do we “spend our time” wisely or do we find ourselves “killing time”? When we have a quiet moment of reflection and peace, do we find our minds drifting toward God's plan, the endless wonder of the harmony of scriptures, speculations on the countless ages of beauty to yet unfold, or do we find our thoughts instead enmeshed in any number of the perhaps pleasant though ultimately unfulfilling entertainments of the day?
When our friends or neighbors or co-workers or acquaintances question us as to our decisions, how do we respond? How do we stay focused on God and our Master's commandments when those around us may often advise us toward a contrary path? How do we respond when someone suggests that instead of developing a character that is focused on serving God and serving others, wouldn't a more fulfilling life be pursuing new experiences and adventures? After all life is short; if one doesn't want to focus on new experiences, wouldn't one's life be better spent on pursuing career growth and satisfaction? Work harder at your job; earn more, put away more; be able to live a better life after retirement. Make a name for yourself. Become a partner in the firm. Be able to afford a bigger house; better amenities and furnishings and conveniences. A bigger television; more channels; gourmet specialty foods and drinks; a pool; a hot tub; a bigger yard; a softer bed; a bigger couch; more artwork to adorn the walls and better security to protect it all. These things make a statement about one's value and success to every onlooker, we may be told. You work hard; enjoy the rewards of that hard work now, while you can. After all, all of these things can be seen and touched and enjoyed not just by you, but by those around you. Go to church on Sunday if you must, but otherwise, don't spend so much of your life on something you can't see and you can't touch and can't even be proven to be real, we may be told. How does one respond to these pressures? How does one stay focused on God's commandments and working to be included of being in “the grafted branch?”
The answer, of course, is faith. Faith – the substance of things hoped for. We hope that by following Jesus's words of loving God with all our hearts, and our neighbors as ourselves; by truly taking on the lifetime's work of transforming our characters into the reflection of our Master, that we may be found pleasing enough to be included in “the grafted branch”. Faith – the evidence of things unseen. Yes, we cannot see God. We were not present during our Master's advent on earth and were not able to see him with our eyes or hear him with our ears or touch the hem of his garment. We have not been granted the privilege of witnessing a vision of our glorified Master as Paul was, on the road to Damascus. It may be true that we have not seen these things with our eyes, but we have been blessed to understand the scriptures and the plan of God that is outlined in them. We discern evidence of that plan both in the centuries past as well as now, unfolding literally before our eyes in the present day. We hear our Master's voice calling us to meet with his people in order to learn more of his Father and his Father's plan and rejoice together. We know that our Master has promised to be in such gatherings, and a call to be with the Lord's people is a call to be with him. We feel, deeply in our hearts, the beauty and the harmony of the scriptures, from the very first verse in Genesis to the very last verse of Revelation. We cannot see these things, but the evidence of them, to those of “the grafted branch” are as real and as solid as any object in the physical world.
We who are striving to be of the grafted branch today have been abundantly blessed to recognize the words of Jesus for what they are. We have been blessed to have the writings of the Apostle Paul, which, through God's allowance and direction, shine a bright light on all aspects of God's character and their reflections on our Master. We have the writings of Brother Russell, as well as generations of other faithful brethren, that, through God's allowance and direction, strengthen our understanding of God's plan and character. Having this balanced view and understanding helps us, of “the grafted branch” to cultivate a lifetime of faith in God and in His son. Especially living now, at the end of the Gospel Age, we can, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and the many blessed resources God has provided us, look back at the preceding generations and see his plan harmoniously working together for the good of all mankind, including those of “the natural branch”. This harmony helps us to have faith that the understanding we have been given is true, and beyond true, wonderful. This understanding helps us to have faith in the decision to follow the example of our Master. This understanding helps us to have faith that such a path is pleasing to God, faith that it is the correct course in life to touch only lightly the things of this world and this present life. This understanding helps us to have faith that although God's justice demands perfection and that although we, being imperfect will fail many times while pursuing such a course, our Master loves us and our efforts so dearly that he will act as our advocate in the face of this justice.
Unbelief in a king that called out a lack of development along the lines of true wisdom and abundant love versus faith enough to stand by the decision to leave behind the respect and ambitions of the world around us to dedicate our lives to following our Master in serving God and serving others. “...because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith...”. Simple, yet profound.