The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always,
even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
December 4, 2011
1) The Responsibility of Listening (R.J. Evans)
2) Self Control (Bill Hall)
3) Jerusalem (part 2 of 2) (Tom Edwards)
The Responsibility of Listening
by R.J. Evans
Some people will listen to the word of God up to a point. In
Acts 22, Paul defended himself in Jerusalem. The Jews listened
to Paul concerning his birth (v. 3), education (v. 3), zeal towards
the law (vv. 3-5); they even listened to the facts concerning his
conversion to Christ (vv. 6-16). But, when Paul mentioned the
Gentiles, a group of people they hated -- that did it! (Acts
22:21) Their prejudices were so blinding that they would hear
Paul no more. What Paul said in verse 21 "turned them off"
immediately. "And they listened to him until this word, and
then they raised their voices and said, 'Away with such a fellow
from the earth, for he is not fit to live!'" (Acts 22:22)
The Athenians listened to Paul in Acts 17:22-31. But, "when
they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked, while
others said, 'We will hear you again on this matter'" (Acts 17:32).
The above examples are of people in New Testament times who listened
"up to a point." Likewise, it is not uncommon to encounter the
same today with those of the denominational world. For
example, they may be quite interested, listening well to Bible
teaching concerning faith, repentance, etc., until it is pointed out
that baptism is essential to salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16;
Rom. 6:3; 1 Pet. 3:21). Though the teaching is sound and
scriptural -- they are "turned off" immediately. They want to
hear no more of it!
It must also be pointed out that some members of the Lord's church
listen in the same way. They like the preacher and what he
says just fine until he begins to "step on their toes." After
that, they don't hear a word he says.
The only remedy for one's "listening up to a point" is for the
individual to cultivate a genuine desire for and love of the
truth. We must be as the Bereans -- "These were more
fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the
word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find
out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). How dangerous
it is when one does not have a genuine love for the truth (2 Thes.
2:10). If we listen only up to a point, we will fall short of
what God desires of us. We must listen all the way through --
then obey all of the Lord's commands given to us (Rom. 6:17-18; 1
Pet. 1:3-5). Are you "turned off" by God's truth? Just
how willing are you to listen to the "whole counsel of God"? (Acts
As listeners to God's word, may we all seek to be like Cornelius and
his household -- "Now therefore, we are all present before God, to
hear all the things commanded you by God" (Acts 10:33). Their
main objective was to hear the word of God. When the preacher
takes his place in the pulpit, as a listener, are you truly
concerned with hearing God's word? The preacher will have to
give an account for what he says; and you, the listener, will have
to give an account for how you listen. Someone once said: "I
have a task and that is talking to you. You have a task of
listening to me. I hope you do not finish before I do."
In most cases, when the listener stops listening to a scriptural
sermon before it is completed, the problem does not lie with the
preacher, but rather, with the heart of the one who has stopped
listening. May we all realize the importance of listening to
-- Via the Southside News & Notes (Gonzales, Louisiana)
by Bill Hall
What is the value of self-control? Self-control is that which
enables us to hold our tongues when we are tempted to viciously put
someone in his place once and for all; or when we know a juicy bit
of gossip that would be entertaining to the group and would turn us
into the "life of the party"; or when an occasion almost demands
that we betray a confidence that must not be betrayed under any
Self-control is that which enables us to control our passions when
another is provoking us to anger; that keeps the clinched fists in
the pockets when the agitator is only half our size; that keeps the
lips sealed when another is railing and swearing at us. Self-control
is that which enables us to be like our Lord "who, when He was
reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not
threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously" (I
Self-control is that which enables us to maintain purity of heart
and to thrust out evil thoughts before they can take root; that
enables us to place the best possible construction on another
person's actions when unproven rumors could easily destroy our
confidence in him; that helps us to maintain a cheerful disposition
when everything around us has turned sour. Self-control is that
which enables us to love the unlovable and to hate that which the
Self-control is that which enables us to rule our appetites; to say
"no" when our lusts would lead us to sin or when that which is
harmful to our health is placed before us. Self-control is that
which enables the smoker to put down his cigarettes and the
alcoholic to put down his drink and never return to it. Self-control
is that which enables us to rule rather than to be enslaved.
The Bible does not glorify the indifferent and impassive. It is not
our goal to be uncaring. To be like Paul, we must be able to have
our spirit stirred within us when we are surrounded by evil (Acts
17:16). To be like our Lord, we must sometimes feel anger when
surrounded by hypocritical self-righteousness (Mark 3:5); we must
even react with occasional outbursts of goodness on occasions, as
when the Lord cleansed the temple (John 2:13-17). But, all
such outbursts must be tempered with self-control, that in our anger
we "do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26). God does not view our
uncontrolled actions with amusement. Our temper tantrums and harsh,
unbridled words are soul threatening, a potential bar to the
abundant entrance into the Lord's everlasting kingdom (II Peter
1:5-11). We must not minimize the danger. We must not surrender to
What is the value of self-control? It is one of the qualities that
enable us to go to heaven. The possessor of it is rich indeed.
-- Via The Beacon (November 29, 2011)
(part 2 of 2)
by Tom Edwards
With regard to its terrain, Jerusalem was known as a mountain
city. According to Easton's Bible Dictionary, "It stands on
the edge of one of the highest table-lands in Palestine, and is
surrounded on the south-eastern, the southern, and the western sides
by deep and precipitous ravines." Compare, for instance, Psalm
48:1,2: "Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, In the city
of our God, His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy
of the whole earth, Is Mount Zion in the far north, The city of the
great King." Though it was literally only a section of
Jerusalem that David had rebuilt, the term "Zion" also came to be
used to stand for all of Jerusalem; and then, even more importantly
in a spiritual sense as that place where God figuratively dwelt (in
the Most Holy Place of the temple). In the New Testament,
Mount Zion is, therefore, used symbolically to refer to the church
(Heb. 12:22); and the church is also referred to as God's "house" (1
Tim. 3:15) and His "temple" in which He dwells (1 Cor. 3:16,17).
Fausset's Bible Dictionary points out that Jerusalem is situated 32
miles from the Mediterranean Sea, 18 miles from the Jordan River, 20
from Hebron, 36 from Samaria, and 3,700 feet above the Dead Sea,
which another source shows to be 1,292 feet below the Mediterranean.
The NW part of the city is 2,581 feet above sea level, while the
Mount of Olives is 2,700 feet above it. The descent to
Jericho, which is 13 miles away, is 3,624 feet lower than Olivet and
900 feet below sea level. So though Jerusalem is high in
elevation, it also has mountains rising around it. The
Psalmist speaks of this, too, in Psalm 125:2, "As the mountains
surround Jerusalem, So the LORD surrounds His people from this time
forth and forever."
The city rose to its greatest glory during the period of Solomon,
which began around 950 B.C. He not only built the first temple
there, but also did much to greatly strengthen and beautify
Jerusalem. In just the temple alone, 183,300 workers
(including the overseers) are mentioned in 1 Kings 5:13-16.
These are shown as 30,000 forced laborers, 80,000 hewers of stone in
the mountains, 70,000 transporters (of those stones), and 3,300
chief deputies who served as overseers. Even with all of these
people -- and many who were highly skilled (1 Chron. 22:15) -- it
still required 7.5 years to complete the temple (1 Kings
But what really exalted this city was God who made His name to dwell
there (Deut. 16:11-16; 2 Chron. 6:5,6). The Bible often
refers to the temple in Jerusalem as being "the house of the Lord"
(e.g., 1 Kings 7:48); and it appears that the Hebrew people would
face it (from wherever they would be) when going to God in prayer (1
During the period of the Divided Kingdom, which lasted about 200
years, Jerusalem was the capital of just the two tribes of Judah and
Benjamin (and of those Levites who had returned to Judah after
seeing how corruptly Jeroboam was running the northern kingdom of
Israel). It was then often a difficult time and referred to as
"one of the darkest periods of Old Testament history." The
southern and northern kingdoms spent part of that time warring with
each other. Judah also had trouble with other kingdoms, such
as the Assyrians, the Egyptians, and the Babylonians who led the
people of Jerusalem (as well as Judah) into a 70-year captivity
(from 606 to 536 B.C.), just as God had foretold (2 Kings 24:11-17;
The Medes and the Persians brought Babylon's 70-year reign to an end
and became the next world-ruling empire until 331 B.C. In 536 B.C.,
Cyrus, the king of Persia, issued the decree that allowed the Jews,
many of whom were born in the captivity, to go to Jerusalem (Ezra
1:1-3). On their arrival, they found the city in need of great
repair. For the temple had been destroyed, as well as the wall
around the city, portions of the city, and other communities in the
surrounding area. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah speak of this
period. Not only was it a time for a restoration of these
physical structures, but also a time of spiritual restoration in
getting back to the right ways of the Lord. As the people
heard the reading of the Law, they were intent on carrying out God's
instructions. Corresponding with this, God declares through
Zechariah: "Thus says the LORD, 'I will return to Zion and will
dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the
City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called
the Holy Mountain'" (Zech. 8:3).
In 331 B.C., Greece (and Macedonia) became the next world-ruling
empire, due to the conquests of Alexander the Great. That rule
went on until 167 B.C., when Rome became the next kingdom that ruled
the world and continued to do so a few hundred years in an undivided
state. It would also be, however, during that Roman Period, in
which the God of heaven would establish His kingdom on earth, which
was prophesied in Daniel 2:36-45 and seen fulfilled in Acts 2 when
the church first came into existence -- and which took place in the
city of Jerusalem.
Ancient Jerusalem was not always the city that God wanted it to be;
and as a result, it often suffered consequences; and though many
people place great significance on physical Jerusalem today, the
Bible speaks of a Jerusalem that is far superior to that. For
example: "Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds
to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her
children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother"
(Gal. 4:25,26). Sinai was where the Law was given -- and the
Law of Moses represents bondage because the remission of sins could
not be obtained by it. It simply pointed out of man's sins and
his need for a Savior.
But the Christian today is seen in connection with "the Jerusalem
above" -- for it represents freedom. Corresponding to this,
the Hebrew writer states: "But you have come to Mount Zion and to
the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads
of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who
are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the
spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of
a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than
the blood of Abel" (Heb. 12:22-24). So the church of the Lord
is "the heavenly Jerusalem," which will have its ultimate
fulfillment in heaven itself.
John writes, "And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down
out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her
husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, 'Behold,
the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them,
and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them'"
(Rev. 21:2,3). That "the holy city, new Jerusalem" is shown as
"coming down out of heaven" figuratively expresses that its nature
and origin are of heaven. This certainly corresponds with
Jesus' statement in Matthew 16:18 that "I will build My church."
Not only did Jesus build it, but He is also the only
foundation of it (1 Cor. 3:11); and when the church is
metaphorically referred to as a "body," Jesus is spoken of as being
the "head" of it (Col. 1:18). It is the gospel (which comes
from God in heaven) by which Christ builds His church today.
So the church's origin truly is from heaven; and when adhering to
the gospel, the church's nature will be heavenly (cf. Eph. 2:5-7).
So it is the spiritual Jerusalem that we emphasize today. May
we, therefore, who are the people of God continue to conduct
ourselves in a manner that is befitting God's heavenly city.
For we are already citizens of it (Phil. 3:20) and being faithful
unto death is necessary for our admission into the eternal abode of
that city in heaven's glory (Rev. 2:10; 3:12).
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel,
for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the
deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins
(Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in
Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water
for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4;
Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
CHURCH OF CHRIST
9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA 70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)