Year: 2015 (Page 1 of 4)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Grand Themes in Scripture: Hope (Stan Cox)
2) Wake-Up Calls: Who Needs Them? (John Thompson)
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Grand Themes in Scripture

Hope

Stan Cox

Hope is listed by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:13 as one of three things which “abide.”  “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Because of the great sacrifice of our Lord on the cross at Calvary, mankind will always have hope.  Until the world ends, hope will continue.  But, the concept of the Christians hope is one that may be unfamiliar to many.

It is important first to define what is meant by the term.  Hope is defined by Webster’s in the following way:

    to cherish a desire with expectation of fulfillment.

Or, as a synonym for trust:

    To long for with expectation of obtainment.  

This definition is an accurate explanation of the Biblical term as well.  The Greek word elpis, is defined by W.E. Vine as, “favourable and confident expectation,” and states that the term has to do with “the unseen and future” (Vol. 2, pg. 232).

While the term is loosely used in our day, often referring to an idle dream rather than an actual expectation, it is important to note its scriptural use, and subsequent impact upon the Christian.

When the scriptures speak of hope, it is not an idle speculation concerning what might happen in the future.  It is not a “pie-in-the-sky” gamble, with little chance of realization.  Rather, it is founded in the promise of God, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  As we hope in the promises of God, we truly can expect to achieve the end He has reserved for us.

The reason for the sure and enduring nature of our hope is its foundation.  Note Paul’s words, “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).

We use the term in this sense from time to time, in the same way Luke used it in Acts 16:19, when he wrote about the slave owner’s loss of profitability because of Paul’s exorcism of the spirit-possessed girl.  “But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities.”  The girl was the basis of their hope of profit.  Without her ability to tell fortunes, their hope was gone.

In the same way, Jesus Christ is the basis of our hope.  Without his sacrifice on the cross, and his subsequent resurrection from the dead, we would be without hope.  Paul wrote, “And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!  Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.  If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).  Fortunately, Christ was resurrected, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.  For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

Because of what Christ has accomplished for us, as the children of God we can reasonably expect to obtain a heavenly reward at the judgment. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5).

The nature of the hope is sure because it is God who reserves it for us.  Because of God’s faithfulness, we can know that what He promised we will receive.

The object we hope for is of inestimable value, “an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in  heaven” for each of us.  It is this hope which motivates us each day as we live for Jesus.  We fix our eyes on eternity, and we steadfastly strive toward that goal.  As Paul said, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

— Via Watchman Magazine, April 2004, Volume VII, Number 2
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The Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

“And though they found no ground for putting Him to death, they asked Pilate that He be executed. And when they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb. But God raised Him from the dead; and for many days He appeared to those who came up with Him from Galilee to Jerusalem, the very ones who are now His witnesses to the people” (Acts 13:28-31, NASB).
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Wake-Up Calls: Who Needs Them?

John Thompson

I recently read of an older Christian whose much younger close relative died suddenly in her sleep. The gentleman had fallen away many years ago, but he viewed this tragic incident as his “wake-up call.” He heeded that call and was restored to a right relationship with his Lord. How wonderful that he came to his senses, but how not so wonderful that it took the untimely loss of a loved one to give him the prod.

Wake-up calls can be found in all sorts of events and happenings.  All it takes is a split second of time, a blink of an eye, a turn of the head, a glance away and then back for some life-altering event to take place. Terrible accidents, natural disasters, the evil that men do to others, even extraordinary kindnesses: all have the potential to be wake-up calls. However, all too frequently, that potential goes unrealized.

The Bible is full of stories of individuals and even various groups, both small and large, of people who received wake-up calls and how they responded is highly instructive for us today. We will find out, I believe, that the people of the Bible responded in the same ways that people respond today. It really boils down to the fact that some will respond favorably and the majority will respond negatively.

Cain’s wake-up call came when God asked him, “Why are you angry?” God reminded Cain that if he did well he, too, would be accepted (Genesis 4:6- 7).  God set the alarm bells ringing but Cain not only reached out and shut the alarm off, he also became even angrier and slew his brother, Abel.

Sometime after the church was established, Stephen found himself disputing in a synagogue regarding Jesus. He was brought before the council where he proceeded to tell them the truth regarding their rejection of Jesus; this was their wake-up call, a golden opportunity for them to accept Jesus as the promised Messiah, but, instead, they became enraged and stoned Stephen to death. There have always been those who will react violently when truth is put before them. They would never think to smash their alarm clock against a wall when it rang to awaken them, but they will try to “smash” the one who would awaken them spiritually.

Many others in the Bible reacted less violently, but chose not to be awakened nonetheless. Some are like the sleeper who, by force of sheer habit reaches out for the alarm without conscious thought, turns it off, and within seconds reenters deep sleep. Perhaps the young man, in Matthew 19, is an example. Jesus told him the one thing he lacked was proper perspective on his worldly possessions. He went away sorrowful. So many others depend heavily upon the snooze button that allows them to keep delaying what they do not want to do, which is to awaken. Felix, in Acts 24:25, was like that. “And as he (Paul) reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, ‘Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.’” Felix simply hit the snooze button once again.

I could keep on citing additional examples from the Bible, but those offered will suffice to make the point that if you are not in a right relationship with God, you need a wake-up call. Throughout each day God provides multiple wake-up calls, no doubt hoping that each one will be the one that finally clicks. If an individual needs to make changes, how severe of a wake-up call is needed? Why does it so often seem to require some tragedy to bring one to his senses? The prodigal son of Luke 15 who did not come to his senses until he had wasted his inheritance and faced starvation comes to mind here. Peter, who failed to acknowledge his betrayal of Jesus until the rooster crowed, also fits the pattern.

If you have not yet obeyed the gospel plan of salvation what is the wake-up call that would move you to do so? And should you experience such a wake-up call would the alarm bells ring sufficiently loud to awaken you, or would you, arouse enough to shut off the alarm or just continue hitting the snooze button? If you are a baptized believer, how severe of a tragedy would it take to awaken you and bring you back into the fold? Consider your answer well.

— Via University Heights Messenger, December 20, 2015
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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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website, but going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) How to Avoid Spiritual Failure (Paul Earnhart)
2) Speaking Truth ‘With Grace, Seasoned With Salt’ (Al Diestelkamp)
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How to Avoid Spiritual Failure

by Paul Earnhart

In his final hours in Rome, awaiting an inevitable execution, a very lonely apostle Paul suffered some additional heartbreak. “Demas,” he wrote, “hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (2 Timothy 4:10). We are left to speculate as to the particulars — what dread, fears or powerful allurements led this faithful friend and co-worker to abandon the kingdom of God and to forsake his burdened brother. It was not as though he had fled the field at the first approach of trouble. During Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome Demas had evidently been a steadfast companion (Philemon 24; Colossians 4:14). Now, unexpectedly, this heart-mauling betrayal and desertion. Only those who have had a trusted companion in Christ — one who has proven himself in many a crisis — to suddenly turn from God and run for the world can understand. It can numb the spirit.

What is it that can cause one who has invested so much in the kingdom to suddenly abandon everything? Some fade early because they have little understanding of the calling of God and even less commitment. The first approach of temptation and hardship devastates them (Luke 8:13). Others seem to have a deep commitment to righteousness but not an absolute one. Their price for betrayal is high but they have one nonetheless, and when it gets high enough they run. The wealthy young ruler who came to Jesus was like that. He was willing to give up a lot, but not everything (Matthew 19:16-23).

Paul said that Demas “loved this present world.” The “world” is many things. John describes it as a way of thinking where lust, materialism and pride abound (1 John 2:15-16). What was it that got to the faithful Demas? Was it fear of death or imprisonment? Or was it something more subtle like a nostalgic longing for the old easy ways free of constant unabating warfare? We are not told which one of these undid Demas but one of them found its mark.

Breaking points can come to us too if we are not very careful. A deep hurt we cannot find it in ourselves to forgive. A disappointing marriage. Failures with our children. Lost health or prosperity. Anything we had never imagined happening to us. And often it’s just plain prideful stubbornness. At any rate, don’t ever say you’d never do what others have done. You’ve never been all the places you could be. Peter learned a valuable lesson about that (Matthew 26:31-35). It is far better that we know our own weaknesses and watch and pray that we enter not into temptation (Matthew 26:41). Satan loves an arrogant and self-confident man.

Another lesson to be learned from the failure of others is that those who at last go back, at first look back. Departures of apparent suddenness are really the end of a process. Our Lord warned that those who put their hand to the kingdom plow and look back longingly at the world are not fit for the kingdom of God (Luke 9:62). The disciples who go back are those who first begin to cultivate again the values of the world and like the Israelites in the wilderness grow nostalgic amidst their trials for the fleshpots of Egypt. They forget, of course, the galling bondage that accompanies the life of sin. These are the ones who gradually cease to meditate upon God’s word (Psalm 1:1-2), then become prayerless (James 4:1-2) as God and Christ seem far away. First men cease to study, then to pray, and, finally, to care. Sometimes this all begins as a casual flirtation, a few little compromises dismissed as harmless. Too much time with worldly companions (1 Corinthians 15:33), too much interest in a job (1 Timothy 6:9-10), too much concern with being accepted and making our mark in the world (1 Peter 5:5). Finally, it becomes a passionate love affair that makes us heedless of the injury we do to our Savior, ourselves and others.

Satan is the master of the “short step” method. Slow change is more effective in producing spiritual collapse than sudden departure. The danger of alerting the victim to what is happening is eliminated. We can be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:12-13). Warning flags need to start flying the moment we feel the slightest ebb in commitment. Beware the spiritual slow leak. The unfailing answer to this kind of spiritual failure is the daily discipline of an uncompromising dedication which admits of no exceptions and makes quick and humble redress for every transgression. Burn all your bridges and press on to the heavenly mark (Philippians 3:7-14). And if, in spite of everything, you happen to stumble badly, don’t let despair destroy you. Remember that everyone who has faltered has not ultimately fallen. We can all thank God for that. John Mark’s disgraceful desertion in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13) was not the end of him because he didn’t allow it to be. Paul sent for him during his last hours (2 Timothy 4:11) and the Holy Spirit chose him to record the gospel story. We don’t have to be like Demas. In the mercy of God we have the privilege of being like John Mark or Peter, and, yes, even Paul.

— Via Christianity Magazine, February 1984
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Speaking Truth ‘With Grace, Seasoned With Salt’

by Al Diestelkamp

Most of us can testify that there are certain foods that are not very palatable without adding some salt. Even the scriptures quote Job’s rhetorical questions, “Can flavorless food be eaten without salt? Or is there any taste in the white of an egg?” (Job 6:6).

The Holy Spirit guided the apostle Paul to use our knowledge of this to illustrate the need to use wisdom, gentleness, and tact in our conversations: “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:5-6).

While Paul’s primary focus in this text is on our conversations with “those who are outside,” I doubt that anything less would be expected when speaking with brethren. In fact, he makes this clear in another epistle, urging Christians to “keep the unity in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3) by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). The wisdom of Solomon testifies that “The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” (Eccl. 10:12), and “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).

There are some foods that I hate, and no amount of salt is going to change my mind about it. Similarly, most of the world does not love truth. Jesus declared Himself to be “the truth” (Jn. 14:6) and, as such, “the light of the world” (Jn. 9:5). But He warned that men “loved darkness rather than light” (Jn. 3:19). Our task is to try to change people’s “taste” from “darkness” to “light.” In doing this our speech must “always be with grace, seasoned with salt,” all the while realizing that gentleness and tact will not make truth palatable to those who love darkness.

Unfortunately, even some whom we may call “brethren” don’t care much for truth. Paul wrote of an approaching apostasy causing people to “perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10). They who did not receive the love of the truth had actually refused the truth in exchange for a lie so they could have “pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:12).

To love the truth is to regard it, which does not always equate with liking it. Truth is not always likeable. Truth sometimes hurts. It sometimes saddens. It may disappoint or discourage. But even so, it is still to be loved.

Along with truth comes responsibility, and love of the truth demands change. If while trying to reach a destination, I find that I have been misguided as to the route I must take, or I have mistakenly taken a wrong turn, learning the truth may be unpleasant; but it benefits me if I regard it. In spiritual terms, this is called repentance. There’s no virtue in being unyielding.

Too Much Salt

Dieticians often warn about the dangers of the overuse of salt. Regardless of the health risks, we know that too much salt defeats the purpose of making food palatable. In our pluralistic society which has taken political correctness to the extreme, there is the danger of our speech becoming so gentle and tactful that the power of truth is missed altogether. We do people no favor by altering truth in an effort to avoid hurt feelings and also risk causing genuine truth-seekers to gag at our lack of conviction. We can “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3) without being contentious, by speaking the truth in love and using speech with grace, seasoned with salt.

— Via Think on These Things, July-August-September, 2015, Volume 46, Number 3
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“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1, NASB).
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (old Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) “We Beheld His Glory” (David McClister)
2) Return to the Lord (Warren E. Berkeley)
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“We Beheld His Glory”

by David McClister

God’s presence is an indescribable glory. In Biblical scenes where God appeared to men, the word “glory” usually pops up in the Biblical text. When Israel complained about food, Moses told them “in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord,” which is exactly what happened: “they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud” (Exod 16.7 and 10). One of the best descriptions of it comes in Exodus 24, where Moses described what he saw on Mt. Sinai: “The glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top” (vv 16-17). While the word “glory” does not appear in the story of the burning bush (Exod 3), it is clear that Moses had seen the same thing there.

Perhaps the closest anyone came to seeing God in his glory in the Old Testament was Moses. You remember the famous scene: after Moses had been near God on Mt. Sinai, Moses asked to see God’s glory. God replied: “‘You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!’ Then the Lord said, ‘Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen’” (Exod 33.20- 23). In a similar scene, when Solomon’s temple was finished and dedicated, the Bible reports that “the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God” (2 Chron 5.14). God’s glory was a fearful and overpowering thing, and yet it was also strangely attractive.

As impressive as those experiences must have been, none of these people saw anything near the fullness of God’s glory. But God spoke of the day when his people would see his glory in an unprecedented way. The prophet Haggai said “The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former” (2.9). Isaiah predicted that the wilderness (a metaphor for God’s people in this context) “will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God” (35.2).

When we come to the New Testament, John plainly tells us “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father” (John 1.14). The apostle Paul, using language borrowed from the Biblical creation account, said a similar thing about Jesus in 2 Corinthians 4.6: “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”

Just exactly what about Jesus was so glorious? His words? His actions? Was John referring to what he saw at Jesus’ transfiguration? The answer lies in the statements of Jesus himself. As the time for His death drew near, he said “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Clearly, Jesus was speaking about his death. In John 13.31, on the way to Gethsemane where he would be taken into custody by his enemies, he said “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” Furthermore, Jesus said “if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (John 12.32). The “lifting up” of which Jesus there spoke was not his ascension to heaven, but his being lifted up on the cross. Like the burning bush of Exodus 3, Jesus’ death would be a spectacle full of the glory of God that would attract people to it.

So what was the glory of God that was so visible in Jesus? What was so glorious about his death? It was God’s love, which was fully displayed in the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus died because of God’s love for us (John 3.16). That great display of God’s love, mercy, and grace is designed to touch our hearts and draw us to God. It fulfills God’s words in Jeremiah 31.3: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.” Like Moses at the burning bush, when we see the outpouring of God’s love on the cross of Jesus, it is supposed to get our attention and make us want to go near and understand it more perfectly. The gospel story is the story of how God loves us and sent Jesus to die for us. This is why Paul calls it “the glorious gospel” (1 Tim 1.11; see also 2 Cor 4.4).

When John says, therefore, that “we saw his glory,” John meant that he had seen, above all, the death of Jesus and had come to understand that it was a proclamation of God’s great love. The death of Jesus, announced in the gospel, was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction that people would see the glory of the Lord. John also added that the glory he saw in the death of Jesus was “full of grace and truth.” This is exactly what God tried to convey to Moses. You remember that scene where Moses asked to see the glory of God? This was God’s first response to that request: “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion” (Exod 33.19). In other words, God was saying to Moses, “The most glorious thing about me is my love, mercy, grace, goodness, and compassion.” And that is what was on full display in the cross of Jesus.

— Via Focus Online, November 23, 2015
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Return to the Lord

by Warren E. Berkeley

Built in to the message of the prophets was the appeal to repent. These men were sent by God to expose sin and urge the guilty to repent. Often the appeal was framed as a challenge to return to the Lord (Isaiah 6:10; Jeremiah 3:1; Malachi 3:7). For instance, Joel’s appeal to Judah was for the people to repent of their sins. “So rend your heart,” and “return to the Lord your God” (Joel 2:13). Through the distribution of His judgments (locusts, drought, desolation), God intended to admonish His people to come out of their sin and back to Him. It was His loving purpose to prompt a change in their direction. The essential definition of repentance has not changed through the dispensations. We can, therefore, use Joel’s statement as the basis for our understanding of returning to the Lord. And this study can find application for those who have been baptized but have left their God.

Repentance is a change in direction. The simple word “turn” shows that to be so. Those guilty of sin (before or after baptism) need to turn; a change of direction is needed. If you’ve been letting the world influence your thinking, your speech, your conduct, your dress or attitude, you need to change your direction. If you’ve abandoned the assembly, harbored ill-will in your heart, accepted false teaching, helped false teaching advance, participated in party strife or refused to grow, God seeks a change in your direction. Repentance is a change in your direction, turning from your sin to the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Repentance occurs in the heart. Observe in verse 12 of Joel 2, “with all your heart.” Everything we do before God ought to be done with a whole heart. Repentance, to be complete and genuine, must come from a whole heart: a heart of reverence for God, love for God; a heart influenced by the cross of Christ. Repentance should be the product of a heart of mature responsibility toward everything that is holy and right. The conviction of sin from the Word should be let in, so that repentance finds its true and good expression.

Repentance is not just a ritual. “So rend your heart, and not your garments….” It was customary among the Jews to express their emotions in very public, visible ways. To this day in middle eastern cultures, when a family member dies, there may be public weeping and wailing; throwing dust in the air; beating the breast and the rendering of garments. The problem to be noted here is, the emotion must not be ritualized and confused with true repentance. The fact that someone may cry in public or come down an aisle doesn’t assure wholehearted repentance. Repentance is a personal decision to leave sin behind and come to God. It is a decision of heart, productive of good fruit. It may be accompanied by some open expression, but the essence of the matter lies in the heart and the results in life.

Repentance is made possible by a gracious God. “Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love….” If you are alive to hear the Word, be convicted and repent, thank God that you have such a blessed opportunity. Thank Him for the precious blood of Christ. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” If you are alive today, you can repent. Thank God for the time He has given you to return to Him, but don’t presume upon His grace and providence. “He relents from doing harm,” but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. Repent while there is time.

If you are reading this as one convicted of your sin, now is the time to repent. If you just plan to repent someday, that isn’t good enough. Ask God to relent, turn from your sin and enjoy peace with Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.

— Via The Beacon, February 18, 2014
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (older version of Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Simon the Sorcerer (W. Curtis Porter)
——————–
acts 8_13b

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Simon the Sorcerer

by W. Curtis Porter

A number of “Simons” are mentioned in the New Testament. There was Simon, whose surname was Peter, also called Cephas, who was one of the twelve apostles of the Lord. In the list of apostles there is also Simon the Canaanite, or Simon the Zealot, as he is also called. There was also Simon, a man of Cyrene, who was compelled to bear the cross of Jesus on the way to Calvary. But the Simon of this lesson is Simon the sorcerer, whose brief history is given to us in the eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.

This man was in Samaria at the time Philip went there to “preach Christ unto them.” In fact, he had been there for a long time before Philip went. His work of deception is described for us in Acts 8:9-11. This record tells us this: “But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, this man is the great power of God. And to him they had regard, because that of long time he had bewitched them with sorceries.” Thus we are told that Simon was engaged in the use of sorcery. Sorcery means the use of magic, necromancy, witchcraft, soothsaying, fortune-telling, sleight-of-hand tricks, and other such things. The use of any of these often baffles the minds of men. Whatever form of sorcery Simon engaged in — whether simply sleight-of-hand tricks, some other form of magical arts, the claim to foretell the future by the aid of divine power, or simply fortune-telling, he had succeeded in deceiving the people. He had been “giving out that himself was some great one” and had “bewitched the people” to such an extent that they had great regard for him and had concluded that “This man is the great power of God.” But it was all deception. He was not aided by divine power at all and was simply practicing “fakery” as a means of livelihood, as many others are doing today.

But Philip went to that city to preach Christ to lost men and women. In connection with his preaching he actually wrought miracles by the power that God had given him. He cast unclean spirits “out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed” (v. 7). There were no tricks, schemes, artifice or deception about this. The people could see the difference between the tricks of Simon and the miracles of Philip. Consequently, they “gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did” (v. 6). As a result, “There was great joy in that city” (v. 8). Furthermore, Luke tells us in verse 12: “But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.” Not only were the Samaritans thus converted, Simon the sorcerer was converted too. The inspired historian informs us in verse 13: “Then Simon himself believed also and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” This shows that Simon became a converted man, a child of God. It points out the fact that he obtained the salvation of his soul. Jesus had said in Mark 16:16: “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” The very things that Jesus specified in this great commission upon which he promised to bestow salvation were done by Simon. “He that believeth and is baptized,” said Jesus, “shall be saved.” And Luke says that Simon believed and was baptized. That being true, we can be sure of the fact that Jesus bestowed the salvation as promised.

Many people do not believe that Simon was saved. They say his conversion was not genuine, that it was a sham conversion, and that he never really did what God requires men to do. Well, what do you think about it? Are you going to take what uninspired men say about it or what the book divine says? Modern preachers say he did not believe, that he only pretended to believe; but Luke says, “Simon himself believed also.” Had it been only a pretense, Luke evidently would have revealed the sham involved. But he did not. He actually says that Simon believed. Well, that is enough to save any man, without anything else, according to modern preachers who preach salvation by faith only. But Simon did more than that — he believed and was baptized. If his belief was not genuine, neither was the faith of the Samaritans. The preceding verse tells us that the Samaritans believed, and then Luke says that “Simon believed also.” Note that word “also.” It means that Simon did what the others did — they believed; he believed also. So whatever the Samaritans did, Simon did; if their faith was genuine, his was genuine too. Therefore, he did become a child of God, for he did what Jesus said men must do to be saved.

But following that obedience to the will of God Simon committed sin. His sin is revealed to us in verses 18 and 19 of this chapter, the eighth chapter of Acts. I trust you will read it with me. Here is the way the passage reads: “And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.” Incidentally, this shows us how miraculous gifts were bestowed on men. It was not through the “laying on of the disciples’ hands.” That is the way modern-day-healers would have it. But it was “through laying on of the apostles’ hands.” Just any disciple could not lay hands on others and give them the power to work miracles. No one could do that but the apostles. That explains why the apostles Peter and John were sent from Jerusalem to Samaria. Philip, the evangelist, was already there, and he had been able to work many miracles; but he could not lay hands on others and give them the Holy Spirit. He was not an apostle. So two of the apostles came from Jerusalem to lay hands on the Samaritans and give them such power. Hence, when the last apostle died and the last man died on whom they had laid hands, the gift of miracles must have ceased. No man lives today who ever had the hands of an apostle laid on him; consequently, no man lives today who has the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. But Simon wanted that power and offered to buy it from the apostles with money. This also shows that such power did not belong to all disciples, for if it did, he would have had it already; and there would have been no occasion for him to try to buy it with money. But he did not have such power. None did except the apostles. So he tried to purchase it; but in doing so, he sinned.

In referring to this sin Peter said in verse 21: “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God.” And at verse 25 he said: “For I perceive that thou are in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” This statement does not read as I have heard men quote it. Preachers sometimes quote it like this: “I perceive that thou are yet in the gall of bitterness and still in the bond of iniquity.” It is quoted this way for the purpose of proving that Simon was never really converted, that it was all a matter of pretense, and he had never been freed from his former sins. This would, of course, set aside any possibility of his being a case of apostasy. It would prove that he did not fall from grace. And all of that would be true, of course, if the passage said: “Thou are yet in the gall of bitterness” or “Thou are still in the gall of bitterness” or “Thou are still in the bond of iniquity.” Surely that would prove that his old sins were still clinging to him.  But it just so happens that the words “yet” and “still” are not in the passage. Had you ever noticed that? Look at it again in verse 23. Does it say, “Thou are yet in the gall of bitterness”? The word “yet” isn’t there, is it? But “Thou art in the gall of bitterness.” Does it say, “Thou art still in the bond of iniquity”? The word “still” is not there, is it? But “Thou art in the bond of iniquity.” So Peter tells him what his condition is now — not that he had never been made free from sin. We have already found that he had, for he did what Jesus said men must do to be saved.

Besides this, when Peter told him what to do to get forgiveness, he made a statement that proves that only one sin was charged against him. Let us read it in verse 22: “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” Notice that “this thy wickedness.” The word “this” is a singular demonstrative pronoun. He was not told to repent of all the wickedness of his past life, but only of “this wickedness.” His former wickedness had already been forgiven him upon his obedience to the word of God. But here is a sin he committed since, and this wickedness is charged against him. And he was told to repent and pray “that the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee.” The passage does not even say “that the thoughts of thine heart may be forgiven,” but it says “thought” — just one. The only wicked thought charged against him was the thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money. So the whole story proves that Simon became a child of God, then sinned, or fell from the grace, or favor, of God and had to meet certain conditions to have this sin forgiven.

In the story of Simon, we have, therefore, what we may call the second law of pardon. It is the law of pardon to the erring child of God. People have often said that if baptism is for the remission of sins, then every time a child of God sins he would have to be baptized again. That might be true if baptism was required of a child of God. But when Peter commanded men to “be baptized for the remission of sins” in Acts 2:38, he was talking to alien sinners, not to children of God. The commandment of baptism belongs to the law of pardon to the alien sinner. But to the child of God who sins, God has given a different law that does not include baptism. That law is shown in this story. Let us read it again: “Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee” (v. 22). So the law of pardon to an erring child of God involves repentance and prayer to God. And, of course, as other references clearly state, by a confession of such faults. When the child of God sins he is not to “repent and be baptized,” as alien sinners are required to do, but he must “repent and pray God” for forgiveness.

Denominational preachers have inaugurated the mourners’ bench system of getting religion and have required alien sinners to “pray through to salvation.” I have often called upon such preachers to give the passage in God’s book in which God ever commanded alien sinners to pray for forgiveness. In response to that call I have had them produce Acts 8:22. But this text has no reference to alien sinners. The language here is spoken to a man who had already obeyed the gospel of Christ. He had already received the forgiveness of his alien sins. He was not an alien sinner, but an erring child of God. You can’t take the language addressed to him and apply it to an alien sinner without wresting the Scriptures. There is no passage in which God requires alien sinners to pray through to salvation. But in Acts 22:16 we have the case of an alien sinner, Saul of Tarsus, who was seeking to be saved. He was engaged in prayer when Ananias, sent by the Lord, came to him to tell him what to do. If prayer is the plan for an alien sinner, Ananias should have told him to pray on. But he did not do so. He stopped the prayer by saying: “And now why tarriest thou? Arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” This alien sinner was down praying, but the man of God told him to tarry no longer in prayer, to arise, (to get up), and to be baptized that his sins be washed away. Alien sinners are told to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), but they are never told to “repent and pray God for forgiveness.” Children of God who sin are told to “repent and pray God” that their sins might be forgiven (Acts 8:22), but they are never told to “repent and be baptized for the remission of sins.” Let us, therefore, not wrest the Scriptures by applying to aliens or to Christians those things that have no reference to them.

— Via Bible Banner — October, 1942
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday
services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday:
7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Keeping a Pure Conscience (Sean P. Cavender)
2) News & Notes
——————–
Acts24_16

-1-

Keeping a Pure Conscience

by Sean P. Cavender

While standing trial before Felix, the apostle Paul stated that he had strived to live with a pure conscience before God and men (Acts 24:16). This should be the goal of each and every child of God — living life with a pure conscience (I Timothy 1:5,19). The conscience can be a valuable tool for the Christian which gives personal insight into one’s own actions, thoughts and desires.

While the conscience is not authoritative, binding or infallible it can be helpful. Although your conscience can be mistaken — no matter the amount of sincerity shown in any practice — it can be a good gauge of one’s spiritual status before God and before men.

When one’s conscience is alarmed it is because of some area of weakness or sin which causes one to feel guilty. That feeling of guilt is the natural result of a wounded conscience — you are supposed to feel that way! The trouble is, many people ignore that feeling of guilt and continue practicing such sin which causes one’s conscience to be hardened or seared over (I Timothy 4:2).

The Conscience Is a Witness

The term conscience is defined as co-knowledge with oneself. The conscience shares information with yourself by processing your innermost thoughts, feelings, emotions and desires. The conscience is able to provide helpful insight into why you are involved in certain activities or why you react in certain ways to particular events. It serves as a self-witness.

The conscience can be a witness defending our actions (Romans 2:15). The apostle Paul said that he had served God with a clear conscience all of his life even while persecuting Christians (Acts 23:1). Paul’s conscience defended his actions. Paul was convinced he was doing what God wanted him to do by killing Christians. Therein lies the key to keeping a pure conscience: performing the will of God. Now we see in Paul’s case that his conscience was wrong. However, we must teach ourselves what is pleasing to God in order to keep a pure conscience for we will be judged based on the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 2:16). We cannot determine practice just because we like an activity, or we think it is right. We must study God’s word and allow that to be the judging factor.

The conscience can also testify against us, accusing us of guilt (Romans 2:15). When our conscience is telling us we are guilty of some sin we must eradicate that sin. Ignoring a guilt-bearing conscience can cause worry, anxiety, festering, turmoil, distress, grief and anger — none of which are profitable emotions. Far too often we ignore these feelings, or we turn to encouraging books, or complain that we don’t get enough encouragement from the preacher, etc. What people need to do is repent.

The conscience will be judged before God. The terms “heart,” “conscience,” “thoughts” and “secrets” are used interchangeably (Romans 2:15-16 NASB) and will be judged by God who will bring every deed into consideration (Ecclesiastes 12:14). The standard that the conscience will be judged is the gospel. Thus, it is vitally important to live by that standard in order to keep a pure conscience.

The Conscience Is a Weapon

The term justification is a legal term which means to be free of any guilt. The result of justification is peace with God (Romans 5:1). Yet this peace can be disrupted by the piercing weapon that the conscience is. Eliphaz described the conscience as “sounds of terror” in one’s ears and destroying the peace that one enjoys (Job 15:21), which results in distress, anguish and fear (Job 15:24). What caused the turmoil and fear? Transgressing the commandment of the Lord (Job 15:25). The conscience is unsheathed when we sin against God Almighty!

The target of this weapon is the heart. The conscience is used to convict and bring a knowledge of sin. That conviction of sin should lead one to repent (Acts 2:37-38). When the weapon has been used and cuts at the heart it arouses the feeling of guilt. What is the purpose of the guilt one may feel? It is there to make you repent! That is the purpose guilt has. Do not ignore the guilt-bearing conscience.

The conscience is supposed to feel guilt; it is supposed to be harmed when one sins. The grief and guilt you feel from a wounded conscience are natural (Psalm 73:21). Our society tends to think of guilt as a negative feeling that we should ignore. Do not ignore the guilt you feel — its purpose is to cause repentance. To rid your conscience of guilt you must repent!

The Conscience Is a Warning System

The conscience is intended to sound an alarm when it has been harmed. The conscience is supposed to be sensitive to sin. In order for the conscience to be sensitive to sin it must first know what sin is. We must educate ourselves concerning the law of God. If we do not read, understand and apply God’s law then how can we expect to know what sin is? All sin must be defined and shown to be transgression through the Scriptures. We cannot quit preaching against sin to soothe our conscience because then we will have untrained consciences that will be given over to sin. Danger also lies when we become associated with sin, causing one to become desensitized resulting in indifference (I Timothy 4:1-2). Indifference will ultimately lead to approval of sinful activities. Paul warned the Gentiles of judgment for approving sinful activities with no differentiation between slanderers, gossips, haters of God and murderers (Romans 1:32). Thus, the warnings to flee and abhor sin and cleave to what is good (Romans 12:9).

When we find ourselves in situations that cause us to feel uncomfortable, then our conscience is telling us to flee! However, if we ignore our conscience we run the risk of losing any sensitivity we may have to sin.

Pharaoh allowed his heart to be hardened because he ignored God’s glory (Exodus 7:1,3), refused to believe in God (Exodus 7:13), and was impenitent (Exodus 9:27,35). There is great danger in ignoring the cries of our guilty conscience.

The Conscience Can Be Made Whole

Even though our conscience may be giving us the warning that we have sinned, we may take steps in order to clear our conscience. Our consciences are intended to be pure and whole. How can I maintain a pure conscience? In order to keep a pure conscience we must follow through with repentance by doing five steps to clear your conscience.

1. Confess and forsake sin (Psalm 32:5; I John 1:9)

2.  Ask for forgiveness and be reconciled to those whom you’ve wronged (Matthew 5:23,24; 6:14-15)

3. Make restitution (Numbers 5:6-7; Luke 19:8)

4. Don’t procrastinate in clearing your wounded conscience (Acts 24:16; Titus 1:5)

5. Educate your conscience (I Corinthians 8:7,12; Romans 14:23)

By following these five steps we will strengthen our conscience, our knowledge and our faith. Repentance is necessary to keeping a pure conscience.1

Conclusion

Keeping a pure conscience is vital to each Christian’s faith (Romans 14:22-23). Knowing that we have maintained a pure conscience, we may be confident when we appear before the judgment seat of God, knowing that there is laid up for ourselves a crown of righteousness (II Timothy 4:7,8).

1. The five steps in order to keep a pure conscience was borrowed from John MacArthur’s book, “The Vanishing Conscience.”

— Via articles from the La Vista church of Christ
——————–

Ephesians 6:10-12

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (NASB).
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday
services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday:
7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Are We Thankful? (Lewis Willis)
2) 1 Chronicles 16:23-27 (NASB)
3) Tell Me the Old, Old Story (But Give it to Me in Digestible Bites!) (Greg Gwin)
——————–


young girl with flowers

-1-

Are We Thankful?

by Lewis Willis

Let me share a thought with you which someone here shared with me. (I wish I could remember who, so I could give him the credit.) Stop and think of all the things you have in this life: salvation, the church, family, health, house, food, clothing, etc. Now, imagine that tomorrow you lost every single one of those things. What an unspeakable loss that would be! But, to your surprise, the next day you suddenly got back all that you had lost. Would you be exceedingly thankful that you had all of those things again? Surely you would. But, is it necessary to lose and regain them, before we are thankful for them? Should we not be thankful already just because we are so richly blessed?

Next Thursday is the day set aside in our great country as a national day of Thanksgiving. For Christians, it should be very easy to find reasons for being thankful. We have so much of this world’s goods to enjoy, and we have such a fortune of spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). How could we be anything but thankful? We certainly cannot limit our thanksgiving to one day a year! It is impossible to adequately express to God our thanks for the immeasurable blessings he has given to us. We often say to our families and friends who give us gifts, “Saying ‘thank You’ is just not enough!” Such is certainly true regarding God’s gifts to us.

I often wonder if our prayers to God do not consist too much in asking him to give us the things we want. Now, being able to ask things of God is one of the blessings he grants to his children (Matt. 7:7; 1 Jn. 3:22). It is absolutely right and proper that Christians request his blessings for their lives. But, a “Give me this; give me that” prayer practice can become very selfish. We must balance our prayers with praise, supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks (Matt. 6:9; 1 Tim. 2:1).

Also, it is not unusual to hear people, even Christians, who blame God for all of their troubles.  Their attitude seems to be, “I prayed and look what he did to me, or, look what he let happen to me.”  We must be careful that we not charge God foolishly. The Patriarch Job, who suffered through so many problems, “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22). What does God do for us?  What kind of gifts does he give? James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (1:17). “Good” and “perfect” gifts come from God. Let us never charge that he has given to us that which brings us pain and heartache. Blame the Devil for that! Until he was allowed into the lives of Adam and Eve, none of these bad things happened. Since then, the world is filled with his wickedness, and its attendant grief.

Fortunately, today our nation is at peace, though we do have troops stationed in dangerous places around the world. Economic hard times have beset us for several years and many wonder what the future holds. American industry continues to decline and many are losing their jobs and security.  An entire nation feels their hurt, and is helping. At the same time, more Americans are working than at any time in history. Our standard of living is better than most of the people in the world. In fact, it is almost equal to that found anywhere. It is certainly appropriate that we be thankful for our prosperity.

During the past year, many families have been touched with serious health problems. Some still struggle with these illnesses. Some families have had to deal with death, while others have known the joy of babies arriving. Given the disasters which have afflicted parts of our nation, and other countries, we can be thankful that things have gone as well for us as they have.

Remember, our prayers should not be used only “In the event of an emergency.” Do you find yourself negligent in praying, except when you have some problem, which you are unable to solve? Are you too busy, or too preoccupied with other things, to find a quiet time for prayer? The Lord taught us that we should always pray (Lk. 18:1). Paul taught us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Let us never hesitate to pray in times of trouble, but let us not forget to also pray in times of peace and plenty!

The Bible teaches us the importance of prayers of thanksgiving to God for the bounty he has bestowed upon us:

Psa. 50:14: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.”

Psa. 105:1: “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.”

Psa. 106:1: “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.”

Col. 3:15: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

1 Thess. 5:18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Heb. 13:15: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

Eph. 5:20: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Col. 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

1 Cor. 15:57: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Cor. 9:15: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

When we look at the Word of God, our duty is rather evident, isn’t it? In this case, we know we have received many blessings for which we should be thankful. It is hoped that God’s people will be thankful, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day!

— Via Guardian of Truth, XXXVIII, No. 22, p. 1, November 17, 1994
——————–

1 Chronicles 16:23-27

“Sing to the LORD, all the earth;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.
For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
He also is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols,
But the LORD made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before Him, Strength and joy are in His place.
(NASB).
——————–


1885_Bible_3

-2-

Tell Me the Old, Old Story

(But Give It to Me in Digestible Bites!)

by Greg Gwin

Knowing the best approach to use and the right things to say when teaching someone the gospel is a difficult challenge. Our judgments about how to proceed will be flawed from time to time, but good and honest hearts will be ready to accept God’s truth despite our failings.

One of the critical things in this process is determining a student’s basic level of knowledge.  We must be able to determine where to start with each individual learner.  Philip did this in an expert way when he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch.  A simple question, an observation of the text the eunuch was reading, a statement by the man himself, and Philip was ready.  He “began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35).  We will do well to follow Philip’s example.  Make no assumptions about what your prospect knows.  Find out where your student is in terms of fundamental knowledge and commence your teaching at the appropriate starting place.  Failure to do so will lead to confusion and frustration for both the student and the teacher.

Another essential component of effective teaching is to keep the instruction in manageable ‘bites.’  Too often we see well-intentioned Christians launch off into long discourses that incorporate way too much information.  It all makes sense to them, of course — and they sincerely want to share their understanding with the one they are teaching — but it is simply too much.  The student will not be able to take it all in.  They won’t be able ‘to see the forest for the trees,’ and they may very well throw up their hands in despair.  So, our best approach is to take it slowly.  Methodically walk the student through the necessary foundational truths.  While it may be possible to do this “in the same hour of the night” (Acts 16:33), it often will take several carefully planned sessions.  Knowing how much and how fast to ‘feed’ the student is a much needed talent in teachers.

The apostle Paul urged: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).  Salt, of course, is a good thing, but too much ruins the food.   The same is true of our efforts to inform others.  We need to be doing this essential work, but let us pray for wisdom (James 1:5) so that we serve up the truth in an effective way that does not overwhelm the one we are trying to teach.  Think!

— via The Beacon, November 17, 2015
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday
services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday:
7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Are We “Committed” in Our Marriage? (R.J. Evans)
2) “As Long as It Doesn’t Harm Anyone” (Doy Moyer)
——————–


couple

-1-

Are We “Committed” in Our Marriage?

by R.J. Evans

Commitment is the cement which keeps the bricks of marriage in place.  Sadly, many couples in our selfish, self-indulgent culture do not make a genuine commitment when they marry.  I believe the Scripture gives four basic, clear principles that define the necessary commitment for marriage.  Too many among us approach marriage  concerned only with  self —  “what’s in it for me?” Commitment demands something other than that.

1. Commitment between marriage partners begins with a deep trust in one another (1 Cor. 13:7). This means that we do everything possible to maintain trust.  Nothing is done to violate the promise, the vow, or in any way destroy the priority of the two remaining “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).  Trying to make one’s spouse jealous is foolish, juvenile, and can be a precursor to serious marital problems.

2. A solid marriage demands deep devotion to one another (Eph. 5:22-25).  This takes the commitment from a promise to a passion.  It means that we cannot live the promise without total effort to meet the needs of our mate. It means that we would never abuse, use, or take advantage of our spouse.  We protect and provide for one another — supplying each other’s needs.  When our spouse is sick, we care for them with deep devotion and loving concern. In such a marriage, we each fulfill our God-given roles (1 Cor. 7:1-9; Eph. 5:22-29; Col. 3:18-19; Titus 2:1-6; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).

Also, a devoted husband or wife will not indifferently sit by and allow someone else to use, manipulate, mistreat, or take advantage of their spouse. This is especially true of a husband toward his wife since he is primarily her provider and protector (Eph. 5:25, 28-29; 1 Tim. 5:8). This principle is illustrated in Paul’s attitude toward the Corinthians.  He told them: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.  For I have betrothed you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 2:2).  But then notice his deep concern for them in the next verse: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (V. 3).  Likewise, he earlier gave them proper instruction, “lest Satan should take advantage of us”  (2 Cor. 2:11).

3. A happy home is where the husband and wife are dependent on one another (Gen. 2:18).  Here there is developed a strong sense of mutual need and dependence.  The husband and wife see the other as strength to their own weakness — a God-given complement (Gen. 2:18, 23).  No one will be allowed to come between the husband-wife relationship — not parents, grandparents, children, in-laws, or friends.  Also, jobs, hobbies, outdoor activities, sports, etc. should never be allowed to drive a wedge between a husband and wife.

4. An unshakable determination to succeed is the standard equipment in the home that is outfitted for a lifetime of happiness. Just as the Apostle Paul pressed toward the goal of heaven (Phil. 3:14), the faithful couple presses on toward making their marriage a success.  Nothing happens without complete effort.  If we will make it work…it will work.  More than that, it will be to God’s glory and our joy.

With these truths as our constant companions, the strong winds of adversity and trials will never blow our marriage apart. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6).

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, August 30, 2015
——————–


Doy Moyer

-2-

“As Long as It Doesn’t Harm Anyone”

by Doy Moyer

One of the most prominent moral justifications heard today is that as long as the practice doesn’t harm anyone, then it is right and should be allowed. The primary argument this is being used for today is gay marriage, to no one’s surprise. However, it carries broader applications, and those applications aren’t just about politics.

“The practice is not harming anyone, so you need to let them do what they want.”

Doesn’t that just make sense? How can we not agree with that?

First, the argument from “no harm” makes assumptions not only about what “harm” is or is not, but also about who should or should not perceive something as harmful.

We might notice that when people talk about what doesn’t “harm” anyone, they don’t really define what they mean. They assume that everyone’s on the same page, and proceed to argue from their assumptions. Interestingly, some of the same people will argue against all religion on the basis that they believe religion “harms” people, showing that “harm” is often a matter of perspective.

What does it mean to “harm”?

“Harm” means to injure or do damage to something. Something good can harm something bad, and something bad can harm something good. Truth will injure the false, and what’s false can damage the cause of truth. The issue shouldn’t be so much, “does it cause harm?” but rather, “is it right or wrong?” What we should always be concerned about is doing what is right, and “no harm” isn’t to be equated with “right.”  “Harm” is too fluid of a concept to be anchored to “right” or “good.” If what’s good harms what’s bad, then that’s as it should be.

Is there such a thing as universal harmlessness? Is there really a practice that is totally and completely harmless to everyone and everything in all circumstances? When people say that a practice “doesn’t harm anyone,” are they making some universal statement of truth? Or are they focusing on a particular circumstance? Are there bigger issues that we ought to think about?

What of something considered harmful to one group or person, but not another? Do we ignore part of the equation in order to push an agenda? Who gets to decide that? Who is the authority on what harms people?

There are different kinds of harm, including physical, emotional, and moral harm. These seem most obvious, but let’s also consider the idea that something can be subtly harmful overall because it chips away at and destroys the structural foundation of a society. When it comes to matters like living together apart from marriage, having children apart from marriage, easy divorce, or gay marriage, we are looking at practices that challenge the infrastructure of the family, which in turn harms the structural foundation of our society.

By redefining marriage or family, against both God’s revealed will and all conventional wisdom of many thousands of years, we are naive if we think that there is no harm to the structural foundation.

Of course, the worst of all harms is spiritual in nature. Sin is always the real harm, so if something is sinful, as defined by God, then it is absolutely harmful to the ones who practice the sin as well as the surrounding society. We all ought to desire avoiding that.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

If we take something that is sinful, then argue that it is acceptable because it doesn’t cause anyone “harm,” then we have misunderstood the true nature both of what is harmful and the consequences of sin. We are no different from those who called good evil or evil good (Isa. 5:20).

Rather than asking whether something is harmful, we need to ask whether some- thing is right.  “Right” isn’t defined by our own selfish perspectives, but by a Creator who ultimately knows what is most beneficial or harmful to all of us.

Finally, the gospel addresses the situation in that it calls on us to repent of sin while offering forgiveness and reversing the eternal effects of what sin does to us (Acts 3:19). When we deny the harm that sin causes, then we deny the power of the gospel to overturn our sinful condition. This will result in irrevocable and permanent harm to us, and none of us can afford that. This is why we need to diligently teach the truth that will set us free from sin (John 8:31-32). This isn’t about taking a political position; it’s about reaching a lost world that needs to come home to God.

— Via Search for Truth, November 15, 2015, Volume VII, Number 16
——————–

“…’I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?’” (Jn. 11:25,26).
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday
services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday:
7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Does Everything Happen for a Reason? (R.J. Evans)
2) Faith — Do You Have It? (Ronny E. Hinds)
3) Proverbs 3:5-8 (NASB)
——————–

https://thegospelobserver.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/dice.jpg

-1-

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

by R.J. Evans

Based upon how often we hear the expression “everything happens for a reason,”  you would think the answer to our title would be a definite “yes.”  Some time back, while watching a professional football player on TV being interviewed, and in commenting on his team’s loss, he remarked: “I know everything happens for a reason.”   And I can think of many other examples and situations in which this statement is used even by members of the Lord’s church.

If we were able to go back to the 1500’s and ask John Calvin the above question, his answer would certainly be in the affirmative. In fact, this kind of thinking that is so common among us today is Calvinism through and through, permeating almost every religious denomination. Calvin’s doctrine of Predestination, not only teaches that only certain ones have been chosen by God to be saved from eternity, but also teaches that every little insignificant incident in a person’s life has all been predetermined by God. Some go so far as applying this to finding a parking space in a public parking lot.

Do I believe that certain things happen in a way in which God has designed? Absolutely! He foreordained from eternity that salvation would be obtained through Christ, in his body, which is His church. In fact, Paul spoke of this to the Ephesians: “…having predestined us…as sons by Jesus Christ…in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:5, 11; see also Acts 2:23; Eph. 3:10-11; 1 Pet. 1:20). We serve a sovereign God.

But that does not rule out the fact that some things happen which have no impact on God’s ultimate goals. Thus, while God has decided in some areas what needed to happen, contrary to Calvinistic doctrine, He also allows things to happen as they may. To prove this point that many things happen at random or by chance, we turn to the words of the inspired wise man: “I returned and saw under the sun that — The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all” (Eccl. 9:11). Again, some events randomly occur by simple “time and chance.”  (See also: 1 Sam. 6:9; 2 Sam. 1:6; Lk. 10:31)

Of course, another factor would be the providence of God in answering our prayers. He can take bad things that happen in our lives and help them turn out for good. For instance, it was necessary for Paul to appeal to Caesar in order to save his own life. However, while a prisoner in Rome he was able to say, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12; Rom. 8:28; see also Joseph’s statement in Gen. 50:20).

I am so thankful that, contrary to what John Calvin taught, we have the ability to choose our own eternal destiny. And of our own free will, we can become a member of God’s family by obeying the gospel of Christ. In becoming a child of God, we then have the avenue of prayer where, He, through His providence, can intervene and work in our lives. But that is a far cry from the common usage of the expression: “Everything happens for a reason.”   If that were true of every little, small incident in our lives, then we could blame God and not take responsibility for any of our own actions.

So before you say, “everything happens for a reason,”  give it some serious thought and ask yourself if you are using that expression in a scriptural manner. In one sense, there is a reason for everything that happens. For example, a person is in a car wreck. Is there a reason for it? Yes, perhaps the driver was driving on the wrong side of the road, drunk while driving, or a tire blew out, etc. Some huge oak trees fell down in my yard. Was there a reason for this happening? Yes, strong hurricane winds blew them over. But on the other hand, “everything happens for a reason” with the idea that every detail in one’s life has been predetermined by God is the doctrine of Calvinism. The Scripture does not teach such. In fact, the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is not found in the Bible.

— Via bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana
——————–

https://thegospelobserver.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/2cor5_7d.jpg

-2-

Faith — Do You Have It?

by Ronny E. Hinds

Faith is a common word. The dictionary says it means “confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, an idea, or a thing.” While faith may be a common word it involves ideas of uncommon importance and worth. Confidence, truth and trustworthiness are ideas we should all desire.

Faith is not something you choose to have or not have. Faith is a necessary part of everyone’s life. We cannot function without it. Every bite of food I put in my mouth and swallow demands faith — faith that it will not poison me and faith that it will do for my physical well-being what it is supposed to do. Religion is not the only area of life that requires faith. Evolutionists like to make fun of religion and faith, because they think evolution does not require faith. Such reveals their prejudice, foolish thinking and self-deception!

Certain Bible verses come to mind when I think of a defining statement about faith. One is Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Another is Acts 27:25, “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” But the verses that I have come to appreciate most in defining faith is Romans 4:19-21. Read them carefully. They are speaking about Abraham’s faith in connection with Isaac’s birth. “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

A real, God-pleasing faith requires being “fully convinced” (NKJ). Other Bible Versions translate this: “fully persuaded” (KJV, NIV); “fully assured” (ASV, NAS). This kind of faith requires from us toward God a total commitment, nothing withheld, attitude and behavior. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Romans 12:1-2 instructs us, “I beseech you…that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God… And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Note mind and body are involved. It is total, absolute dedication to God. No exceptions! No excuses!

Romans 4:19 says Abraham was not “weak in faith.” I can easily deceive myself thinking, “Yes, I have faith,” but never realize that it is an insufficient, weak faith. Such is not God’s fault, but mine. God “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…” (2 Peter 1:3). Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And, of course, Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

A strong, growing, God-pleasing faith will make itself known in its willingness to do what God has said. Notice I said DO. Consider what is said in James 2:14,17-18. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? …[F]aith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. … I will show you my faith by my works.” Without the actual DOING of GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS, our faith will be unacceptable. A person who has faith but is unwilling to give up their opinions and ideas to what God says, obeying what God says, does not really believe. James 2:20 describes such faith as a dead faith and that person as foolish. “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James continues by asking us to consider two other questions. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (2:21-22). We must be like Abraham. “By faith Abraham obeyed…” (Heb. 11:8).

What about your faith? Do you really have faith?

— Via Focusing On Truth, September 2015
——————–

-3-

Proverbs 3:5-8

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. 
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the LORD and turn away from evil. 
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones” (NASB).
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday
services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday:
7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit (Charles G. Caldwell, Jr.)
2) Psalm 1:1-3 (NASB)
3) Obedience is Necessary (Donnie V. Rader)
——————–

https://thegospelobserver.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/matthew_12_31.jpg

-1-

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit

by Charles G. Caldwell, Jr.

In Matthew 12:31,32, Jesus said, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

Down through the years, this passage has been the occasion of great concern to devout, God-fearing people. This concern is the result of a gross misunderstanding of what our Lord was actually saying. It is the sequel to a perversion of His teaching and is productive of the usual effect of such perversion in depriving men of the peace, contentment, and happiness of soul and mind, and the joy that God intends for us to have in Christ. It would, in the very nature of the case, be impossible for one to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) if there was the slightest possibility of his having sometime inadvertently committed a sin that could not be forgiven.

All Sins Forgivable

John said in I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another [He with us, and we with Him, CGC], and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” I do not consider this passage to be in conflict with Matthew 12:31,32. Nor do I consider Matthew 12:31,32 to set forth an exception to John’s promise. In order to the forgiveness of sins — all sins — there are certain conditions, divinely ordained, that must be met. If a sin — any sin — is not forgiven it is because the conditions have not been met. One may fail to meet the conditions either because of his unwillingness to do so or because he is unable to do so. Both of these reasons might be involved and it is my contention that such is the case with all those about whom our Lord spoke in Matthew 12. It is possible for one to reach such a state of depravity that he has no willingness to accept the truth and be governed by it, no matter how strong the evidence, and sink so low in the mire of degradation that he is unwilling and even unable because of his degenerate attitude to submit to that which is right.

Anyone, therefore, who is interested in truth and righteousness or who is concerned about his soul’s well being has not committed the “unpardonable sin.”

The Case in Context

An understanding of the passage under consideration is dependent — as is almost always the case — upon the context in which it is found. Jesus has just healed a man possessed of a demon which caused the multitudes to marvel and be amazed. But there were others of the Pharisees and Scribes who heard of it and being unable to deny that a miracle had indeed been performed sought to explain it away by attributing the power by which it was accomplished to “Beelzebub.” The claim was made by them that Christ was not exercising divine power but rather Satanic or diabolical power. Christ then proceeded to disprove their contention with a number of arguments which are irresistible:

Argument Number 1: First, He showed that which is evident on the surface, that Satan would not work against his own interest because in doing so, he would destroy himself and be brought to an “end.”

Argument Number 2: His next argument to disprove their contention was based upon their purported claim that their disciples, “sons,” cast out demons. If it was true that they did cast out demons (which Christ did not admit) and that demons were cast out only by “Beelzebub,” then it would follow that their “sons” exercised diabolical power. This He argued to show the absurdity of their contention from their own premise.

Argument Number 3: He next submitted that since He could not possibly be casting out demons by the power of the Devil, it must of necessity be by the power of God and that such exercise signaled the arrival of the kingdom of God.

Argument Number 4: His final argument in this regard was to the effect that He had entered Satan’s house (the body of the demoniac) and had spoiled Satan’s goods (the evil spirit in the man) and, therefore, instead of being in league with the devil, He had contested him and defeated him. The conclusion based on these arguments is that these Scribes and Pharisees were wrong in their charge that Christ was working miracles by the power of Satan rather than by the power of God. Their charge was not against the power of God, the Holy Spirit, but rather against Christ — that He was in league with the Devil and not with the Holy Spirit. This, Christ disproved and sought to correct their misconception.

Misunderstanding the Charge

Contrary to popular opinion and acceptation, Christ did not say that these Jews had committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but He did say in substance that they had blasphemed against Him and He emphatically says that such will (or can) be forgiven. The circumstances surrounding the incident, however, do suggest to the mind of Christ a need for a warning to these people of the danger of the course they are following. They had said that He was casting out demons by the power of “Beelzebub” (the Devil). If they persisted in this contention and in the light of all the evidence became convinced that the power exercised was of God but nevertheless was still evil because it worked through Christ, whom they hated and refused to accept, then they would become guilty of the sin against which Christ warned. In this they would be charging the Holy Spirit with being a devil or being equivalent to the Devil. Certainly, they were not now saying that the Holy Spirit was a devil or that He was as bad as the Devil. They were not denying that the Spirit is holy or affirming that the Spirit is evil. They were simply denying that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with Christ’s miracles.

If they were affirming that the Spirit of God was not holy but rather was as evil as the Devil, this would, of course, have been blasphemy against the Spirit and there would have been no point in Christ’s having attempted to correct them by presenting the arguments that He did. They would have been beyond argument and beyond the hope of correction. They were getting on dangerous ground, however. They were approaching the point of no return. They were getting near to a condition of heart and mind which would damn their souls and Christ was simply warning them to stop before they had gone too far; not to allow their hatred and their contemptuous attitude toward Him to cause them to defame the Spirit of God. To take that step and affirm that the Holy Spirit is not holy but is evil and only evil continually, that He is a devil and on a par with Satan is to sink beyond all hope. Such a frame of mind on the part of anyone would be beyond all correction. Thus, the conditions of correction and forgiveness given by the Spirit have no place in the man’s heart.

The Good Tree

Jesus said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt” (vs. 33). If the product of the working of the Spirit is good, the Spirit, Himself, is good and holy, “for the tree is known by his fruit.”

— Via Truth Magazine, XXI, 49, pp. 781-782, December 15, 1977
——————–

Psalm 1:1-3

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers”
(NASB).
——————–

-2-

Obedience is Necessary

by Donnie V. Rader

Just a casual reading of the Scriptures will reveal that God expects obedience to his will. Consider a few simple texts.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)?

“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:8- 9).

Those who heard the gospel in the first century were told to “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19) even though the sin they committed was done “in ignorance” (v. 17).

We must conclude that there will be honest and sincere people who will be lost. If such is the case, it behooves us to carefully study God’s word and live accordingly.

— via The Beacon, October 27, 2015
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday
services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday:
7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Making Shipwreck of One’s Faith (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
——————–

https://thegospelobserver.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/shipwreck1.jpg

-1-

Making Shipwreck of One’s Faith

by Tom Edwards

As seen in 1 Timothy 1:18-20, there is a need for the Christian to maintain faith and a good conscience in order to stay afloat, in a manner of speaking.  For some had rejected that, such as Hymenaeus and Alexander, and, as a result, made shipwreck of their faith.

It would seem that these two whom Paul cites by name had been prominent in leading others into error and away from the Lord, for Hymenaeus is also mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:17, 18 as not only one who had gone astray, but also as one who had upset the faith of others as well.

Making shipwreck of one’s faith is not merely dangerous to the soul, but also spiritually fatal.  Paul, therefore, took serious measures to try to rescue Hymenaeus and Alexander by delivering them over to Satan “so that they may be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Tim. 1:20).

What Paul did might sound strange, but this is not the first time similar language is used with regard to trying to correct a wayward brother.  And it certainly doesn’t mean that Satan was intent and cooperative in helping people become good Christians!  For Satan is “…the god of this world” who has “blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4).  Jesus refers to Satan as being “…a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. …he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn. 8:44).   So what good would it do to deliver anyone to him for correction, and what involvement would he have in that?

First of all, Satan dwells in that domain of darkness that the Christian had been delivered from when having obeyed the gospel plan of salvation and is then “transferred …to the kingdom” of God’s beloved Son (cf. Col. 1:13).  So to go back into sin is to go back into that realm of darkness (cf. 1 Jn. 1:5-7).  In that sense, the backsliding Christian has once again given himself over to Satan.

Concerning that Corinthian who had been guilty of an incestuous affair, and of which the brethren had done nothing about, Paul had “…decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor. 5:5), which, again, is very serious.  This was done about 7 or 8 years prior to the writing of 1 Timothy.  Though this transgressor had already given himself over to Satan through an immoral life, it was now to be dealt with by the church in a public way.  This does not mean, of course, that the offender was to be literally put to death by Satan; but the church was to withdraw fellowship from the wrongdoer and, in hopes, that the humiliation that stems from it would lead to this person’s wanting to “put to death” those sinful deeds of the flesh, which is what the “destruction of the flesh” has reference to.  Paul declares, “for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Rom. 8:13. cf. Gal. 5:19-21,24,25).  Paul is speaking here of sinful deeds that are to be abstained from.  As Christians, we are always in a battle between flesh and Spirit; and we must, therefore, strive to be victorious by living according to the Spirit and putting to death our thoughts and actions that would conflict with the Spirit. “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (cf. Rom. 8:6-7).

Consider Paul.  He was a righteous man, yet to keep him from exalting himself above measure, after having been caught up to the third heaven, Paradise, and hearing “inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (2 Cor. 12:2-4), and “because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations,” Paul says he was given “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me–to keep me from exalting myself” (v. 7). So God can even use that which is evil or calamitous for the good of those who love and obey Him.  James had also pointed that out about “various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (Jam. 1:2,3).

In addition, illness was sometimes brought upon others as a means of chastening.  For instance, in 1 Corinthians 11:30, concerning those Christians who were perverting the Lord’s Supper, Paul declares, “For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep.”

During a time of miracles, Jesus had referred to a woman’s infirmity, which caused her body to be bent and prevented her from straightening up for eighteen years, to have been “caused by a spirit” (Luke 13:11).  And then attributes that to Satan, who had bound her for all those years (v. 16), before the Lord healed her.

In 2 Timothy 2:18, Paul specifies the false teaching with which Hymenaeus had not only destroyed his own faith, but was also damaging the faith of others.  The apostle states in verses 16-18, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene.  Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.”

In 2 Peter 3:16, Peter speaks of those who “distort” the Scriptures “to their own destruction.”  He refers to them as being “untaught” and “unstable.”  Peter, therefore, warns others, by saying, “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ…” (vv. 17,18).

Though we are not told exactly what all was meant in the false teaching that the resurrection had already occurred, it is thought that it was Gnosticism that had influenced Hymenaeus toward his wrong belief.  For since the Gnostics had viewed all matter as being evil, but the spirit good, what glory or benefit would they see in a physical resurrection of the body?  So it is said that they had taken passages that pertain to being made spiritually alive with Christ to be referring to the resurrection, such as Romans 6:4, where Paul declares, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”  And Colossians 2:12: “having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.”  And Ephesians 2:5,6: “even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with Him….”  So, according to this view, it would be just a spiritual resurrection, rather than a physical one of the body.

But just because the gospel shows of this spiritual “resurrection” in being “born again” (John 3:3-5), which includes that need of baptism, does that nullify the fact that there will also be a physical resurrection?

Jesus speaks of both of these in John 5:

“Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (vv. 25,26).  Here He is referring to those who are spiritually dead, but then would be made spiritually alive through the word of God.  For the Lord’s words are “spirit” and “life” (Jn. 6:63).

He then goes on to contrast this “spiritual resurrection” with the physical resurrection of the body: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (Jn. 5:28,29).

As we see in 1 Corinthians 15:12, some of the Corinthians were teaching that “…there is no [physical] resurrection of the dead.”  But if that be the case, then not even Christ was raised; and if that be so, then preaching and faith is vain (v. 14), the apostles would have been false witnesses (v. 15), faith would be worthless, we would still be in our sins (v. 17), those who have died have perished (v. 18), and we who call ourselves Christians would be most to be pitied (v. 19).

But Christ did arise from the dead!

Notice also the importance of His resurrection in view of the following passages:

“And corresponding to that, baptism now saves you– not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 3:21).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Pet. 1:3).

In that same chapter where Paul shows the futility and hopelessness for all us if there be no resurrection (1 Cor. 15:13-18), he begins that chapter by saying, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (vv. 1-4).  What a major part the resurrection is to the gospel!

Paul then mentions some of those who witnessed the resurrected Christ, which includes the apostles and “more than 500 brethren at one time” (v. 6).

And, lastly, if the resurrection pertains to only a spiritual resurrection when sins are forgiven, why did Paul say what he does in Philippians 3:10-12? “that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”

And may we all do likewise, so as not to make shipwreck of our faith.

Whatever the specifics were concerning Hymenaeus’ false teaching on the resurrection, it was bringing harm to the body of Christ, just as various other false teachings also can.

May we, therefore, acquire a good and complete knowledge of God’s word so that we will not be led astray by any of the religious error that is being taught and practiced in the world today.
——————–

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. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday
services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday:
7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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