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).
April 15, 2012
1) "Better to be of a Humble Spirit" (R.J. Evans)
2) The Possibility of Apostasy and the Need for Edification (Tom
3) News & Notes
"Better to be of a Humble Spirit"
by R.J. Evans
"God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).
"Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a
fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to
divide the spoil with the proud" (Prov. 16:18-19).
A person does not have to be proud, boastful or arrogant to be
great, as is believed by so many today. Moses was truly a
great man, and at the same time, "very meek, above all the men which
lived upon the face of the earth" (Num. 12:3). King Saul
was told by Samuel that "When you were little in your own eyes, were
you not head of the tribes of Israel?" (1 Sam. 15:23).
But with the passing of time, Saul became "big" in his own eyes and,
because of his proud, sinful actions, the Lord rejected him as king
(1 Sam. 15:23).
David, a man after God's own heart, was humble. His humility
is evident by some of his statements found in the Psalms. He
said, "My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall
hear of it and be glad" (Psa. 34:2). He also stated that "The
sacrifices of God are of a broken spirit, A broken and contrite
heart -- These, O God, You will not despise" (Psa. 51:17).
The Apostle Paul, from the world's viewpoint, had every reason to be
proud. He was highly educated, having been "brought up at the
feet of Gamaliel, taught according to the strictness of our father's
law" (Acts 22:3). He had the honor and privilege of being a
Roman citizen (Acts 22:25-29). Paul told the Philippians, "If
anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more
so: circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe
of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a
Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the
righteousness which is in the law, blameless" (Phil. 3:4-6).
Yet, Paul was a man of humility. Concerning the facts just
stated, he went on to say, "But what things were gain to me, these I
have counted loss for Christ" (Phil. 4:7). In fact, he later
called these things "rubbish" (v. 8). As an apostle, he spoke
of himself as "the least of all the apostles, who am not worthy to
be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God" (1
Cor. 15:9). He also spoke of himself as the chief of sinners
(1 Tim. 1:15).
All through the scriptures, we can observe that God used the ones of
a "humble spirit" for His service. If we are going to be truly
great in the service to the Lord today, then we too must be
humble. Jesus said, "but whoever desires to become great among
you, let him be your servant" (Matt. 20:26). James tells us to
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, And He will lift you
up" (Jas. 4:10).
The person of a "humble spirit" realizes that he is nothing without
God. He is genuinely happy to obey all of God's commands and
to receive His rich blessings. He is like an empty vessel
which only God can fill. Paul said, "For I say, through the grace
given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself
more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has
dealt to each one a measure of faith (Rom. 12:3). May we
always remember that "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the
humble" (Jas. 4:6).
-- Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales,
The Possibility of Apostasy and the Need for Edification
by Tom Edwards
In 1 Thessalonians 3:1-5, Paul gives the following exhortation to
the brethren, which also expresses his concern for them: "Therefore
when we could endure it no longer, we thought it best to be left
behind at Athens alone, and we sent Timothy, our brother and God's
fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage
you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these
afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for
this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in
advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to
pass, as you know. For this reason, when I could endure it no
longer, I also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the
tempter might have tempted you, and our labor would be in vain."
Especially when confronted with or undergoing adversities, the
Christian's faith and love for the Lord is tested; and if not strong
enough, it might lead to that individual falling away. Jesus
expressed this in His parable of the seed and the sower, by saying,
"And the one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the
man who hears the word, and immediately receives it with joy; yet he
has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when
affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he
falls away" (Luke 13:20,21).
So as Paul shows, there is a need to "strengthen and encourage" the
brethren in the faith (1 Thess. 3:2). And though we see
Timothy being sent for this purpose, it is also to be part of the
work of every Christian. For the command and need for that is
set forth in Hebrews 3: "Take care, brethren, lest there should be
in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from
the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as
long as it is still called 'Today,' lest any one of you be hardened
by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of
Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until
the end" (vv. 12-14).
In view of this passage, and the many like it, how can people deny
the possibility of apostasy? We saw in 1 Thessalonians
3:5 that Paul also indicates that a Christian can become lost by
falling away: "For this reason, when I could endure it no longer, I
also sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter
might have tempted you, and our labor should be in vain."
If, for argument's sake, people could never fall away from the
faith, how then could Paul's labor ever be in vain? The fact
that it could, however, shows that "once saved always saved" or
"once in grace always in grace" is not so.
The apostle Peter and James, the Lord's half-brother, also show of
the possibility of apostasy:
Peter states, "For if after they have escaped the defilements of the
world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are
again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become
worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not
to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to
turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. It has
happened to them according to the true proverb, 'A DOG RETURNS TO
ITS OWN VOMIT,' and, 'A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in
the mire'" (2 Pet. 2:20-22). Though this is true of any
Christian who would fall away, Peter is actually applying this to
the false teachers among them "who will secretly introduce
destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them,
bringing swift destruction upon themselves" (v. 1). So,
obviously, these individuals had previously been saved from their
past sins, but had now fallen away and forfeited their
James writes: "My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth,
and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from
the error of his way will save his soul from death, and will cover a
multitude of sins" (Jms. 5:19,20).
It is also clear that James is speaking of Christians who would fall
away. For he says, "if any among you strays from the
truth." So they once were in that truth and with the brethren,
before departing from it and losing fellowship from the saints (cf.
1 Jn. 1:6,7). Notice, too, the result of winning this person
back to the truth: it will "save his soul from death." What "death"
is that? It is not talking about physical death, but rather
the consequence of sin. For sin leads to spiritual
death. Paul had told the Ephesians, for example, that they had
formerly been "dead in your trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1).
So that is how a woman can be "dead even while she lives," in
referring to one who would give herself over to sinful pleasures (1
Tim. 5:6). The Bible also teaches that "the wages of sin is
death" (Rom. 6:23), and it is how Adam and Eve "died" when
they disobeyed God by eating the forbidden fruit (Gen. 2:17).
In addition, those who leave this life as lost souls will end up in
hell, which is referred to as "the second death" (Rev. 20:14;
21:8). So the phrase James uses, "save his soul from death,"
makes it clear that a Christian can fall away and be lost in the
The Holy Spirit also warns against apostasy: "But the Spirit
explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the
faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of
demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). And notice what some of those false
doctrines would be: "men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining
from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by
those who believe and know the truth" (v. 3).
Through what means did Paul strive to build up the brethren in
Thessalonica, which would help prevent them from falling away, and
also aid them toward the goal of heaven? He declares: "You are
witnesses, and so is God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly
we behaved toward you believers; just as you know how we were
exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father
would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of
the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory" (1 Thess.
2:10-12). Paul built them up with the gospel and also lived
according to it himself, which would add to the encouragement given
to the Philippians.
Paul's labor was not always during the most ideal times, but he
still practiced what he had instructed to Timothy to, "preach the
word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort,
with great patience and instruction" (2 Tim. 4:2). In speaking
of some of the opposition that Paul and other Christians had been up
against, he says: "For you, brethren, became imitators of the
churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also
endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen,
even as they did from the Jews, who both killed the Lord Jesus and
the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but
hostile to all men, hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that
they might be saved; with the result that they always fill up the
measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost"
(1 Thess. 2:14-16).
In spite of these difficulties, notice the fruits of Paul's
labor. Through his teaching, the Thessalonians had become
"imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea"
(v. 14). They were able to withstand the test of
persecution. But how? By their acceptance of God's word
for what it truly is. As Paul shows: "And for this reason we
also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of
God's message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what
it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you
who believe" (v. 13).
Yes, falling away is possible for the Christian. We all have
need of strengthening and encouragement to help prevent that, and
Christians are to seek to build one another up in the Lord (cf. Rom.
15:2; 1 Cor. 14:2,26; Eph. 4:29). Therefore, may we who are
children of God continue to do our part in encouraging one another
to the goal of eternal life and to fulfill our other duties, as
well, as the Lord's faithful servants.
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following
people: Curtis Gautreau
who will soon be receiving a bone marrow transplant, due to a type
of bone cancer; Gyndell Henry
(who has breast cancer); Mike Dubose (who must receive cancer treatment for
the rest of his life); R. J.
Stevens (who is undergoing therapy, following heart
by-pass surgery and a mini stroke), Roy Fenner (who has macular damage causing
distortion, for which he must receive monthly shots in his eye
indefinitely, and the development of a small, unpredictable legion
near the scar where cancer had been recently removed, and who
requires plastic surgery to eliminate a basal cell wound that has
been behind his ear for more than 2 years); and for our members who
have been sick, with poor health, and/or physically weak: Geneva Wilson, Jean Calloway, Shirley
Young, and Cheryl Crews.
Also Mozelle Robertson (who
is healing from wrist surgery at 91), Clifton Trimble (whose health has been poor), and Anthony Webb and Andrew Robertson
(who are seeking new employment).
I received the following from R.J. Evans concerning an update on David Hartsell (from Belinda):
"Doctors have been searching for an answer to David's
unresponsiveness. They believe they have found an explanation. In
the quest to control his seizures in the week after surgery, he had
a rare metabolic response to a seizure medication. The results are
temporary changes in his brain which it is believed can be gradually
reversed. However, this means that he has to stay in ICU at...
MD Anderson while we await his recovery. This is an extremely rare
condition which will take time to reverse. We entered into the
meeting with the doctors expecting bad news, but we firmly believe
that the power of so many prayers allowed us to receive this hopeful
"I so much appreciate the support I have received from brethren. I
have many long days ahead as I work out a way to keep my job in
Tuscaloosa going and still provide David with the best care and
chance of recovery.
"Thank you and may the Lord be Praised!"
The Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, Louisiana, will be
having a gospel meeting April 27-29 with Chris Reeves as the guest
speaker. The church meets at 405 W. Orice Roth Road.
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)