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 2, 2012
1) Appreciating the Invisible (Tom Edwards)
2) A Strong Church (R.J. Evans)
3) News & Notes
Appreciating the Invisible
by Tom Edwards
In the last few months, I've been getting into a new thing at home
-- fresh air! I used to wrongly assume that my central AC/
heating unit was bringing fresh air in from outside, but it
doesn't. So now I like to often have the windows opened; and
even when it is cold out, to at least have the bedroom window
partially opened through the night. (I'll probably have to
minimize that in our Louisiana summer; but for right now, it's
okay.) All those little synapses in my brain seem to be firing
better when I wake up in the morning -- which leads to another
contributing factor toward feeling great!
Doing relaxed, deep breathing while slow-paced jogging in a healthy
environment is probably also a good thing -- and quite a
bombardment of air's two biggest elements: nitrogen (78.08%) and
Air -- We can't see it, but we can't live without it.
That's something to think about: How something invisible can
be so vitally important to us.
In like manner, but far greater, God Himself is referred to as
"invisible" (1 Tim. 1:17); and like the wind (which can't be seen,
but manifests itself in what it has blown), God's "invisible
attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly
seen, being understood through what has been made" (Rom.
1:20). And we learn even more of the nature of God in His Son
Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, "the Word [who] became flesh"
(Jn. 1:1-3,14), "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15), and
the One who came to reveal His Father's character to the
world. For to know Jesus is to know Deity. As Jesus told
Thomas, "If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also;
from now on you know Him, and have seen Him" (Jn. 14:7). To
the Father in heaven, Jesus is "...the radiance of His glory, and
the exact representation of His nature" (Heb. 1:3). It was
also through Jesus that "all things were created, both in the
heavens and on earth, visible and INVISIBLE..." (Col. 1:15, emphasis
Looking to the invisible, when that invisible is pertaining to God,
is what we must all learn to do. Paul states, "while we
look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are
not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things
which are not seen are eternal" (2 Cor. 4:18). Certainly, Paul
wasn't blind to physical things around him; but, in this passage, he
is putting the emphasis on the spiritual things of God, of which we
need to be even more concerned. And in order to look to God,
we must look to not merely our own feelings and assumptions, nor to
the feelings, assumptions, and human creeds of others; but, instead,
we must look to the Scriptures. For even more important than
what man is saying about God is what God is saying to man; and it is
through the word of the Lord that we can "seek first His kingdom and
His righteousness" (Matt. 6:33), "keep seeking the things above,"
"set [our]...mind[s] on things above" (Col. 3:1,2), and obey the
instruction to fix "our eyes on Jesus" (Heb. 12:2).
Being able to "see" the unseen is the reason given for how Moses was
able to reject certain earthly advantages and sinful pleasures, in
order to suffer instead with God's people. Notice, for
instance, Hebrews 11:24-27: "By faith Moses, when he had grown up,
refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather
to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the
passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater
riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the
reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king;
for he endured, AS SEEING HIM WHO IS UNSEEN" (emphasis mine).
With the eyes of faith, Moses "saw" God. I've known some
physically blind people who could "see" the Lord much better than
many who had physical eyesight. For this is what faith
enables: As the Hebrew writer declares, "Now faith is the assurance
of things hoped for, the conviction of THINGS NOT SEEN" (Heb. 11:1,
emphasis mine). And that faith comes from God's word
(Rom. 10:17). The gospel itself is also referred to as "the
faith" (Jude 1:3; Acts 6:7); and by it, "...we walk by faith, not by
sight" (2 Cor. 5:7). This truth of acquiring spiritual vision
(to see by faith) through God's word might also remind you of Job's
acknowledgment to the Lord, as recorded in Job 42:5: "I have heard
of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You."
Note the order: First, Job heard; then he saw. That is how
spiritual vision comes. God's word leads to that faith, and
that is the most important vision of all. For some people saw
Christ and His miracles, but still rejected Him. But
"...'Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed," Jesus told
Thomas (Jn. 20:29). For example, how blessed those Christians
(who had been scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia,
Asia, and Bithynia) must have been, to whom Paul says: "and though
you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him
now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible
and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the
salvation of your souls" (1 Pet. 1:8,9).
Though we today cannot see the image of God with our physical eyes,
we still can observe all around us -- and even in ourselves -- of
the many wonders He has made possible, which also testify toward His
wisdom, His power, and His eternal reality. The psalmist, for
instance, states that "The heavens are telling of the glory of God;
And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands" (Psa.
19:1). Also, in Psalm 139:14, David gratefully proclaims to
the Lord, "I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it
very well." And for one to come to see the Lord, through His
word, with the eyes of faith, is truly something to be thankful for
and rejoice in -- even more so than the joy and gratitude of a blind
man who has been enabled to see for the first time! For
spiritual vision is, by far, much more important than even physical
Though our physical eyes cannot see God (and our entire bodies will
have to be changed to a glorified state to dwell in heaven -- 1 Cor.
15:49-54), the Lord has no trouble in seeing us, in our physical
realm, as these following passages make clear:
"For His eyes are upon the ways of a man, And He sees all his steps.
There is no darkness or deep shadow Where the workers of iniquity
may hide themselves" (Job 34:21,22).
"From His dwelling place He looks out On all the inhabitants of the
earth, He who fashions the hearts of them all, He who understands
all their works" (Psa. 33:14,15).
"O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I
sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from
afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And are
intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a
word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have
enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot
attain to it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee
from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I
make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. If I take the
wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even
there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of
me. If I say, 'Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the
light around me will be night,' Even the darkness is not dark to
You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are
alike to You. For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in
my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am
fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my
soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of
the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in
Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When
as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your
thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I
should count them, they would outnumber the sand. When I awake, I am
still with You" (Psa. 139:1-18).
Yes, God sees us very well -- outwardly and inwardly to even the
secret places of the heart. And not only does He see us, but
He also sees us with great compassion and a desire that none be
lost; but, rather, that all come to repentance, meet His conditions
for salvation, and be saved from sin (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3,4).
So just as the invisible air is essential for our temporary,
physical existence, even more so is the invisible God needful for
our eternal souls. Let us, therefore, submit to Him through
His word that we may one day arrive in that wonderful place called
heaven, where faith and hope will be replaced by actual sight; and
we will truly behold the glory of the Lord, and the splendor of
heaven, with new eyes for all eternity!
A Strong Church
by R.J. Evans
Growth: "...but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and
Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18).
Over the years, much has been written on how to build a strong
church. And, no doubt, much of what has been written is good,
scriptural, and should be applied. The Apostle Paul has given
an inspired formula for a strong church in Romans 15:14: "Now
I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are
full of goodness, filled with knowledge, able also to admonish one
another." We would do well to constantly keep before us this
A strong church is one that is "full of goodness." To be full
of goodness is to be characterized by the excellence of the inner
person which manifests itself in a quality of life that is
attractive to others. A striving for moral excellence should
characterize every member of a congregation in order for the church
to be strong. Churches composed of members who are
of questionable moral character are weak churches. Preachers
who shy away from strong teaching on moral issues for fear such
would diminish their numbers in attendance are making their
contribution to the weakness of the church. The strength of a
congregation is not to be equated necessarily to the number in
attendance at its services. A congregation with thirty-five
members who are full of goodness is more honorable in God's sight
than one of several hundred members who are not.
A strong church is one that is "filled with all knowledge."
This means that strong churches are not made up of people who are
ignorant of the Bible. This is true because "faith comes by
hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17). One
simply cannot have a strong faith based upon a weak understanding of
the word of God. Our age is an age of shortcuts and
convenience, but there is no shortcut to acquiring a genuine
knowledge of the Bible. Nothing will take the place of honest,
diligent study and meditation of the scriptures. We must study to be
approved of God and to save our souls (2 Tim. 2:15). Paul knew
that he could not expect to help build a strong church at Rome out
of people who were too lazy to study and meditate on the word.
Let us not make the mistake of thinking that we can allow emotional
excitement, entertainment, or anything else, to substitute for the
truth of the gospel.
A strong church is one made up of members who are "able also to
admonish one another." That this might be true, two
things are necessary: (1) sufficient knowledge of God's word
in order to communicate it to another, and (2) the disposition
or desire to do so. One cannot teach what he does not know,
and one cannot know the Bible if he has not studied it with great
interest. But all the knowledge in the world will not make a
strong church unless those possessing that knowledge are of the
disposition to communicate it to others. How sad it is that
many members of the church do not have enough zeal to admonish their
brethren or to encourage sinners to obey the gospel of Christ.
Zeal without knowledge is just as bad as knowledge without zeal
(Rom. 10:1-3; Lk. 12:47-48).
Let us all do our share (Eph. 4:16) so that the congregation will be
a strong church.
News & Notes
Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following:
Scott Moon (Jackson Moon's grandfather) who has lung cancer,
which also metastasized to a couple places in the brain.
James Smith (an elder for the McRaven church of Christ in
Jackson, Mississippi) who has been battling re-occurring cancer for
the last several years, and now also has pneumonia. (His son
Alan had died of cancer about a year and a half ago.)
Joe Koczrowski IV, who is only about three and a half
years old. He will be having another major surgery later this
month to correct a rare intestinal problem. Much of this had
also been taken care of in last month's surgery; but after this next
one, he will no longer have need of the two colostomy bags that he
began using soon after he was born. And since then, had you
ever met him, you would never have realized he had such a serious
problem. He's very bright for a boy his age -- especially in
figuring out electronic devices. He's also active, happy, and
cheerful; and when he found out that he wouldn't be needing those
colostomy bags after his next surgery, he actually regretted the
thought of not having them any more! They have been a part of
his life, and which he has been very well adjusted to.
Another young one to be praying for is Thad, a 3-year old
who was accidentally run over by a truck in the driveway. A
cracked rib punctured his lung, and his liver was also damaged (but
which they hope to heal on its own). Due to swollenness, he
has been in too much pain to sleep.
Let us also be remembering in prayer...
Ken Robertson who is not yet completely over his recent
Cheryl Crews who has chronic health issues.
Shirley Young who has continual fibromyalgia.
Pam MacDonald who has serious back trouble.
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)