Year: 2015 (Page 2 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) Were We Pre-existing Spirits Before the Creation, and Was Jesus the First One Created? (Tom Edwards)
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Were We Pre-existing Spirits Before the Creation, and Was Jesus the First One Created?

Tom Edwards

I had an interesting study with a couple  young Mormons yesterday.  They had stopped by earlier this week, but I invited them back so that we could talk about each other’s beliefs.  It was an interesting conversation; and they were polite, well-mannered, and informative about their doctrines.

Did you know that Mormons believe that everyone who has ever been — and ever will be — has actually already existed in spirit-form before the world began?  According to the young men I spoke with, Jesus was the first spirit-being God the Father created; and then all the other spirit-beings were made, which included you and me, along with everyone else who has ever been or ever will be!  My two visitors did not know how long ago that actually happened, but it was sometime prior to the creation of the universe; and in that state, we were all supposedly similar to angels!

Out of all those spirit-beings, about a third of them eventually chose to follow Satan in his rebellious ways and were, thus, cast out of heaven.

For the first humans, the spirits of Adam and Eve had been chosen by God to come to earth; and they willingly agreed.

Other spirit-beings also desired to have a home on earth, so they then became the souls within the bodies born.

Reading from one of the Mormons’ pamphlets, entitled, “The Plan of Salvation,” page 2 has a section that answers the question, “Where did I come from?”  Here is the answer it gives: “Your life did not begin at birth…  Your Heavenly Father created your spirit, and you lived with Him as a spirit before you were born on earth.  You knew and loved Him, and He knew and loved you.  This period is called pre-earth life.  Throughout your pre-earth life, you were taught the principles and commandments that would lead to happiness.  You grew in intelligence and learned to love the truth.  You were taught about the plan of salvation.  During this pre-earth life, Jesus Christ was chosen as the Savior; you learned that through Him you would be able to overcome the effects of your wrong choices.  An important part of God’s plan was for you to come to earth to receive a physical body and to learn to make correct choices. You would not remember living in Heavenly Father’s presence, but He would give you the ability to know right from wrong. … In your pre-earth life, you chose to have faith in Jesus Christ and to follow God’s plan.  Because of your choices, you were born on earth.  Only by making these same choices can you find peace in this life and be able to return to live with your Heavenly Father after this life is over” (pages 2,5,6).

According to the Mormons, the reason why none of us are aware of our previous state as spirit-beings is because of the “veil of forgetfulness,” which God gave us when entering this world, and which was necessary in order that we could benefit from Christ’s sacrifice.

Where, however, do you read of any of this in the Bible?  Does it give any indication that Jesus was created and, therefore, has not always been?  And that we existed in spirit-form prior to the creation?

Was Jesus Created?

The passage the Mormons cited to allege that Christ was created is Colossians 1:15 that speaks of Him as being “the firstborn of all creation.”  James Strong, however, shows that the Greek word can be used literally or figuratively.  And in the context, it expresses not merely first in time, but first in greatness, in the sense of having a superiority over all.

In Old Testament times, when a father “wills what he has to his sons,” the firstborn was to receive “a double portion of all” that his father had, “for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn” (Deut. 21:15-17).  So this right of the firstborn gave him a preeminence over his siblings; and that idea of a higher rank or superior position is also the way “firstborn” is figuratively used in Psalm 89:27, where God says of David, “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.”

The context of Colossians 1:15 also implies this figurative usage in Jesus being “the firstborn of all creation.”  For the passage shows Him exalted above all creation and gives good reasons for that: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:16-18).

The very phrase having “first place in everything” expresses preeminence, that exalted and superior position over others.

The passage begins by saying that “by Him all things were created.”  This corresponds with what John says of Jesus in John 1:3: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”  And wouldn’t that also be a good reason for the Lord to be exalted over all that has been created — since He is the Creator of all?

Like the Mormons, the Jehovah’s Witnesses also believe that Jesus was a created being before the world began; so in their New World Translation of the Bible, Colossians 1:16 is rendered as, “because by means of him all OTHER things were created in the heavens and on the earth…” (emphasis mine).  By their usage of the word “other,” it twists the passage to fit with their doctrine that Jesus was the first one created, and then He created everything else.  For, otherwise, if all created things were created by Him, then He would have had to also create Himself.  So the Jehovah’s Witnesses use the word “other” to exempt Him from that and conform the verse to their wrong belief.  We should all, however, take heed to the warnings in the Bible of not tampering with God’s word by adding to or taking away from its teachings and, thus, perverting it and bringing upon ourselves the wrath of God (cf. Gal. 1:6-9; 2 Jn. 1:9; Rev. 22:18,19).

Looking to the Scriptures, Jesus is shown to have always existed.  Though His physical body had a beginning when born of the virgin Mary, yet He is actually “…from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2); and though inconceivable to us, it appears from John 8:58 that He was filling all eternity at that very moment — and still is. For in this passage He says of Abraham, who lived about 2,000 years prior to this statement, that “Before Abraham was born, I am.”   Also, in Revelation 22:13, Jesus refers to Himself by saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end,” which also expresses His eternal nature.  And just as we know that there will be no “end” to Jesus’ existence, the same is true when we also try to look back to His “beginning” — for that also stretches throughout eternity.

Consider also Hebrews 7:3.  It speaks of Melchizedek being “like the Son of God” in the sense of “having neither beginning of days nor end of life”; but in Melchizedek’s case, it figuratively conveys that his serving as a priest was not based on his ancestry — “Without father, without mother, without genealogy” — which would have been required for the Levitical priesthood and would disqualify one without that genealogical record of proof, as it did with those in Ezra 2:62: “They searched among their ancestral registration, but they could not be located; therefore they were considered unclean and excluded from the priesthood.”  While these phrases are used figuratively with regard to Melchizedek, they are literal when referring to Jesus.  His eternal existence did not come about through a father and mother; so He is, therefore, without genealogy.

That the Lord Jesus Christ has always been is truly an amazing characteristic that also indicates His superior greatness!  What other religious leader could even come close to that?!

Did We Exist Before the Creation?

But what about man existing in spirit-form prior to the creation?  Is that so?

God is spirit (Jn. 4:24), and “…a spirit does not have flesh and bones…” (Luke 24:39).  So when man was created in God’s “image,” according to His “likeness,” as seen in Genesis 1:26,27, that pertains to the spiritual part of man, his soul, that entity that will never cease to be — rather than merely his temporary physical appearance, his body.  Therefore, being created in God’s image does not mean that He necessarily looks like a human.

But if we were already spirit-beings prior to the creation, why would that spirit part of us need to be created again — rather than just simply be put into the body?

It can also be said that when we were formed in the womb, our souls or spirits for those bodies were made morally pure, innocent, without sin.  Some have referred to this as man’s “original righteousness.” Solomon declares, “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices” (Eccl. 7:29).   This same verse is also rendered as, “…We were completely honest when God created us, but now we have twisted minds” (CEV); And that “…God made people decent, but they looked for many ways to avoid being decent” (God’s Word).

Due to having corrupted our spirits (our souls) by transgression, which every accountable person has done, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), there is, therefore, that need to be made pure again — and just as pure as when we were first born into this world as those innocent children of whom belongs the kingdom of God (cf. Mark 10:14,15).

Paul also speaks of that need to get back to the “likeness of God” as we “lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:22-24).

From these passages, we can see that the soul or spirit of man is much more than merely the body. This is also clearly seen in Matthew 10:28, in which Jesus encourages His followers by saying, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

But if man were a pre-existing spirit-being prior to the creation of the universe, why would Genesis 1:26,27 indicate the spiritual part of man also being made on the 6th day of the creation?

Though you might read it in other books, nowhere does the Bible say we existed as spirit-beings prior to the creation of the universe.

And what we each need to be concerned with now is making sure that our souls, which will never cease to be, will end up in the right place where we would want to spend an eternity.  The choice is up to us.  God has made the way that every lost soul can be saved, but we must be willing to comply with His plan of salvation, as shown toward the end of this bulletin.  So if you haven’t done that yet, please give it some serious thought — and know that if you do become a Christian, you’ll never regret having done so in the Judgment Day!
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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 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) The Profitable Word (Irven Lee)
2) They Say He Is a Liar (Robert Turner)
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The Profitable Word

by Irven Lee

It certainly makes sense for one to suggest that man should study the Bible. The Bible is a revelation of the will of God. This revelation includes His authoritative commandments which man must obey if he would please his Creator, and it includes the exceeding great and precious promises concerning the good things laid up in heaven for the faithful (II Peter 1:3-4). We may observe that every transgression and disobedience receives a just recompense of reward (Hebrews 2:2-3). He chastens every son whom He receives that strength of character may be developed (Hebrews 12:6). How could one carefully examine the profitable word and not be impressed by the goodness of God? God is love (I John 4:8), and those who would know of His mercy and of His plan for man may learn from His revealed will.

A Firm Basis

Man is capable of having many similarities to a vicious wild animal, but he is also capable of being a lively stone in the temple in which God dwells among men (I Peter 2:5). Man can so follow the example of Christ that purity, unselfishness, and strength of character can remind us that he was created in the image of God. There is an indescribable difference in the man most like the wild beast and the man who best exemplifies the image of his Maker. What is the difference? One is taught of God. The other follows the leadings of his carnal animal nature.

The sacred writings are able to make one wise unto salvation (II Timothy 3:15). They completely furnish man the instruction he so sorely needs, since the way of man is not in himself (Jeremiah 10:23). The way that seems right unto man may lead to destruction and ruin (Proverbs 14:12).

The same holy scriptures are able to furnish the motivation for the good life. The goodness of God leads to repentance. We love Him because He first loved us. The example of the Christ in His life on earth and the love revealed in His death on the cross draw men to Him. Many have died for their faith. Many have given all that they might gain Christ and lay hold on the hope set before them. It follows, as night the day, that those who have hope, as sons of God, of obtaining the prize of the high calling of God purify themselves. There is no stronger pull toward righteousness than that exerted by the gospel of Christ. It is able to save (Romans 1:16). It attracts one into the way that leads unto life.

Is there sufficient evidence that the Book is of God? Did the holy men speak as they were moved by the Spirit of God? (II Peter 1:21). These men gave the world the perfect standard of righteousness. They were holy men, and they said they obtained it by revelation. Would liars write such a book? Surely they were not pathetically deceived. Would ignorant men have given such a wonderful standard of behavior? The influence of the Bible in this scientific age in America is still as wholesome in the hearts of those who are led by it as it was nineteen hundred years ago in Palestine. The test of the pudding lies in the tasting. Those who know most about the Bible appreciate it most. It will bear acquaintance. When we see the lives most influenced by it, we are led to glorify God.

The well proven fact of the resurrection, other miracles, fulfilled prophecies, along with the unity and perfection of the message give us a firm basis of hope. What more could He do than He has done to give us a written revelation? No men on their own in any generation could have approached its perfection.

Planting Is Necessary

The word is the seed of the kingdom (Luke 8:11). America could have the word, but few there be that find the way that leads to life (Matthew 7:14). Many who have eyes have never read from its pages. Many who could have heard many sermons were not listening. Their hard hearts were engrossed in arrogant fulfillment of the lust of the flesh and in the search for money by any means. Animals they are, and without the wholesome influence of the powerful word.

Preaching to some is like casting pearls before swine, while some hunger and thirst after righteousness so they receive the word with all readiness of mind. If men have no love for truth, but have their pleasure in unrighteousness, God will send a strong delusion that they may believe a lie and be damned (II Thessalonians 2:10-12). The lake of fire is for the unbelievers as well as for the liars (Revelation 21:8). The flaming fire of vengeance is for those who know not God as well as for those who obey not the gospel (II Thessalonians 1:8-9).

Many men say they appreciate the Bible and believe it to be the word of God, but they remain babes in knowledge. They evidently do not desire the milk or the meat of the word. They are without excuse for their lack of skill in the use of this great discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Ignorance is alarming even among those who should be teachers (Hebrews 5:12-13). They are not rooted and grounded, but they are as unstable and as easily tossed about by the winds of doctrine as the wave of the sea by the winds of the storm cloud (Ephesians 4:14). The wave is fastened by nothing. The willingly ignorant are in no position to give an answer to those who may ask a reason for their hope (I Peter 3:15).

Awake from Sleep

The night is far spent (Romans 13:11-12). It is high time for America to awake to righteousness. The atomic bomb is not the only thing that can destroy America. The increasing number of burning, looting, angry anarchists can do it. It may now be too late to preserve this land as a land of opportunity for the free. It is not too late to try to save it.

The gospel was not given to make America or any other country great. Christ came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). The gospel is God’s power to salvation, but, as a by-product, Christians receive a hundred fold in this life. Their righteous lives are as the saving and lighting influence in a crooked and perverse nation (Philippians 2:15). This nation needs salt.

Let more people meditate on the law day and night (Psalms 1:2). This is our way up from the gutter in which we now find ourselves. The church is in distress, the nation is in confusion, and the world is in turmoil. What can help? The profitable word always leads to the abundant life here and here after. It is the word of God. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33). We need to open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things in His law. Is there anything more important for us?

— Via Articles from the La Vista church of Christ
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They Say He Is a Liar

by Robert Turner

My friend had an “experience” — “better felt than told” — he “got” something. Some people tell my friend he has allowed his imagination to deceive him; that he had no feeling, no experience. Some even accuse him of faking the whole story. This makes my friend very unhappy. He doesn’t like to be called a liar. He says, “I know what I feel.”

Now I believe my friend. I know him to be an honest man. If he tells me he “felt something” I will not deny this.

But sometimes I try to check his unwarranted conclusions concerning the meaning of these feelings. My friend assumes that because he “had a feeling” his sins are forgiven. Why could not this just as well mean his sins were multiplied??

God alone can forgive sins; and His Word states the truth concerning such matters as these (John. 17:17). When my friend says he knows his sins are forgiven because he “felt something” I must remind him that the Bible allows no such evidence. It even warns us that feelings can be deceptive (2 Thess. 2:10-12).

Christ is the author of eternal salvation unto all them who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). And Christ teaches us to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THIS?

— Via Truth Magazine VII: 3, pp. 26, December 1962
——————–

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) Good Relationships Among Brethren (R.J. Evans)
2) My Rock & My Redeemer (Mike Johnson)
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Good Relationships Among Brethren

by R.J. Evans

The Scripture provides much information concerning good relationships among those who are children of God.  There are many positive teachings concerning how to get along — especially all the commands to love one another.  There are a number of warnings against gossip, tale bearing, backbiting, slander, and sowing discord among brethren.  The book of Proverbs is filled with wise instruction concerning relationships with others.

In the church, many problems have occurred because someone failed to abide by the teachings of God’s Word.  Brethren are told to put “away lying, each speaking truth with a neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25); we are warned against causing “dissensions, contentions and heresies” (Gal. 5:20); those who are factious, causing “divisions and offenses” are to be marked (Rom. 16:17); a divisive person is to be rejected “after the first and second admonition” (Titus 3:10); also, there are warnings against being “idle, wandering from house to house, not only idle but also gossips and busybodies, saying things which they ought not” (1 Tim. 5:13).

But what about those occasions when we believe someone has sinned against us?  Are we told what to do? Are we supposed to go around telling everyone, except the person himself, that he has sinned against us?  Indeed, the Bible does give clear instructions on what to do in this situation — see Matthew 18:15-17.  Notice the very first step: “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he hears you, you have gained your brother” (V. 15).  How many do this?  It seems to be so much easier to go to someone else first, and gain a sympathetic ear, rather than following what the Bible teaches.  Quite often, those who operate like this, have not even been sinned against.  It’s often pettiness, hurt feelings, jealousy, an “ax to grind,” etc., and not actually a sin, to begin with.  Also, the other person may be totally unaware of any wrong they  might have done.  The passage goes on and gives further instructions: “But if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’  And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church.  But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Vv. 16-17).

Years ago, when living in another state, we had a sister move from across the city and place membership with the congregation where I preached.  We’ll call her “sister Smith.”  Before she identified with us, the preacher where she had been attending told me that she had many admirable qualities, but to be careful, because she occasionally had a tendency to “stir things up.”  Well, after she had been with us for several months, I was in my study one day and the phone rang.  It was sister Smith.  After the usual greetings, she then proceeded to start telling me how she had been “wronged” by a particular couple in the congregation.  I’ll just refer to them as the “Jones.”  They were fine Christians, very faithful and diligent in the Lord’s work. They had been with us a number of years.  As soon as I realized what she was attempting to do, I stopped her.  I told her that I should not be a party to what she was beginning to tell me about this couple. This brother had his own business, so I gave her his office phone number and suggested she call him immediately and set up an appointment with him and his wife.  Sister Smith immediately became somewhat “rattled” and started backing away from what she was about to tell me.  From that point on, with my insisting that she contact this couple, the conversation ended rather quickly.  At the next service of the church, I asked sister Smith if she had contacted the Jones couple about her complaints.  Essentially, what she proceeded to tell me was that after giving it some more thought, she realized that it was all a big misunderstanding on her part and she had no problem with this couple.  Never again did another incident like that one ever come up involving sister Smith.

That’s interesting, isn’t it?  How many problems could be solved if Christians were willing to simply follow Bible instructions concerning establishing and maintaining good relationships among brethren. Some make a practice of dropping little “bomb shells” about someone, but immediately follow it up by saying — “But I don’t know anything about it,” “But I’m not getting involved,” or “Oops, I shouldn’t have said that.” Such subtle actions, in reality, already have them involved. They are simply “stirring things up”!  They have already done their damage.  Those who conduct themselves in such a manner, destroy what credibility they may have had by their “behind the back” actions.  Please note, concerning the seven things that God hates, what is listed in Proverbs 6:19: “A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.”

When dealing with such deeds as just mentioned, the information that might have been revealed should be dealt with in a similar manner as  having received an  anonymous letter — dispose of it in the proverbial “File 13”!

— via bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, October 1, 2015
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My Rock & My Redeemer

by Mike Johnson

Psalm 19:14 says, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”  Consider the last part of the verse where the Psalmist refers to God as his strength and redeemer.

The Hebrew word translated “strength” (NKJV) is defined by Vine’s Expository Dictionary as “rock; rocky wall; cliff; rocky hill; mountain; rocky surface; boulder.”  Many translations actually translate the original word as “rock,” (i.e. O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer).  A husband, for example, may refer to his wife as “his rock.”  He would be pointing out his wife is his “strength”; she provides stability for the family.  God is our rock; He provides us with strength and with safety; He is our refuge. Psalm 18:2 says, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” Psalm 18:31 says, “For who is God, except the Lord? And who is a rock, except our God?” Psalm 46:1 points out, “God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.”

Also, the Psalmist, thought to be David, refers to God as his “Redeemer.”  The word used here simply means to “buy back,” and when applied to God it means a deliverer from sin, death, or danger.  David probably could recall many occasions where God had delivered him, but David may not have understood the details regarding the true price of redemption.  The cost would be Jesus, having been sent by God, dying for the sins of mankind on the cross. Thus, in the ultimate sense, Jesus Christ is our Redeemer.  Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Job said, in Job 19:25, “For I know that my redeemer lives….”

Is God your Rock and Redeemer today?  If not, why don’t you make him that?

— via Biblelist, 11/24/15
——————–

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 articles 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) Living Godly Lives (Stan Cox)
2) Pray for Strength (Doug Pennock)
——————–

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Living Godly Lives

by Stan Cox

The apostle Paul wrote to Titus, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12). In these words are found the response of every Christian to the gift of grace. We have the hope of salvation because of what God has granted to us. Our response is an ordering of our lives: “we should live soberly, righteously and godly.”

The definition of the word godly is minimally helpful. The term refers to piety, devotion and reverence. More helpful are the verses that describe the kind of life that characterizes the Christian profession. For example, when considering the proper role model for a godly life, we consider Jesus Himself. Peter wrote, “But as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Peter 1:15-16). Jesus was guileless (cf. 1 Peter 2:21-24), and pure (cf. 1 John 3:1-3). In His life, and in His death, He always sought to do the will of His Father in heaven (cf. John 15:10).

A truly godly life is an informed one. Paul wrote about the Jews, who “have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted to the righteousness of God” (Romans 10:2-3). In order for us to live a godly life, we have to know what God considers godly. Fortunately, He has revealed these things to us in scripture.

So, simply put, a godly life is a life that is lived in accord with God’s expressed will. The Psalmist wrote, “Teach me, O Lord, the way of Your statutes, and I shall keep it to the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep Your law; indeed, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me walk in the path of Your commandments, for I delight in it. Incline my heart to Your testimonies, and not to covetousness. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, and revive me in Your way” (119:33-37). He contrasts God’s way with “worthless things,” and contrasts God’s testimonies with covetousness. God’s will is the antithesis of evil. His way is the way of godliness. Consider these words: “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through Your precepts I get understanding; Therefore I hate every false way. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (119:103-105).

So, we seek to emulate our Lord. We seek direction from God to know what is right and wrong. And, as we attain such knowledge, it is important that we dwell upon it. Paul wrote the Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise- worthy — meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8-9). Meditation on what is righteous, in contrast with the pablum of popular culture, helps to direct the Christian’s path in the way of godliness. The man whose mind dwells in the muck of worldliness will be corrupted in his walk.

Finally, a godly walk is a motivated walk. It is easy to become distracted by the tedium of this life. We can become “shortsighted, even to blindness” (cf. 2 Peter 1:9). In fact, Peter’s statement is made within the context of adding virtuous characteristics (including godliness, vs. 6), to ensure we don’t suffer from that myopia that would endanger our eternal standing before God. As Paul put it, “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). A disciplined Christian, seeking always to do all and only what God allows, will most certainly attain the prize he seeks.

A righteous life is attainable with effort and focus. Such godliness is wonderfully profitable, “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Later in the same epistle, Paul wrote, “Now godliness with contentment is great gain” (6:6). If we remember that this life is preparatory to eternity, we will answer the call of grace with a life that is lived in accord with God’s righteousness.

— Via the Monthly Messenger, August 2015
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“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life —  the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us” (1 John 1:1,2).
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Pray for Strength

by Doug Pennock

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Pet. 5:6,7).

What a great comfort this verse is to us as Christians. Knowing that God, the creator and sustainer of all things, cares for us. This is worth more than all the gold or silver or money or anything else that we might possess in this life. When we come upon hard times in life or we lose a loved one or feel compassion for the sick; When we are troubled in mind and in spirit — even to the point of deep despair — we can turn to God, our Father, in prayer and let Him know all about it, knowing that He has compassion on us and will ease our cares and troubles in life, giving us the strength to cope because He cares for us.

Of course God already knows of our troubles before we ask, but, being the benevolent Father that He is, to hear it from us means a great deal to Him, not to mention that just sharing our troubles with Him can mean a great deal to us.

Think how God is involved in our lives. He watches over us in everything we do and think. He knows our hearts and all that we might aspire to. He knows all of our concerns and is concerned with us. With Him looking out for us in all things, how can we ever feel down or despair? We can just look to Him and know that everything will work out in the end.

Speaking of which, if we keep our eyes on that blessed goal of heaven in the after while, it will go a long way toward keeping our spirits up and will keep us on the true path of joy and happiness that we need to sustain us in this life.

God cares for us. Think of it: how can anything be more powerful or moving in our lives? To think of the many blessings we have through Him, because He cares for us, is enough to lift our spirits.  So we should count our blessings and cast our cares upon God when we have those moments of feeling sad or despair and are in need of the comfort that God provides.

But what if we are not in that covenant relationship with God at this moment in our lives. What if we do not know the comfort that comes through Him? I cannot imagine how someone outside the Lord is able to cope with the troubles of life. Do not they become cold and callous and give up on caring so that they will not feel the pain of life? God does not want us to be uncaring, but rather to lean on Him to carry the load when we feel pain because we care.

Are you in a covenant relationship with God tonight? Jesus said in John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.”

To have this relationship with God, we must be in Christ; and to get into Christ, we must be baptized and wash away our sins, which is preceded by confessing that Jesus is the Christ and repenting of our sins. Then, to stay in that relationship, we must devote our lives to doing all that the New Testament teaches we must do, and repent when we do transgress and sin.

If you have a need tonight you can come forward and renew your relationship with God while we stand and sing.

*****

— This was Doug’s “Invitation Talk” for last Wednesday evening, which we enjoyed and appreciated, following the Bible classes.
——————–

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) Beyond Our Dimensions of Space and Time (Tom Edwards)
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Beyond Our Dimensions of Space and Time

Tom Edwards

Recently, I was looking at a beautifully calm and sunny scene of a long wooden pier with its white railings, on a deserted beach, stretching out into a vast body of water, under a blue sky with large, white clouds widely extended, and all appearing pleasurably peaceful.

While gazing at it, it also led to my thinking of three linear dimensions — as well as a realm not yet experienced by us: 1) the length of the pier, 2) the much greater distance across that vast body of water, and 3), even more awesome, while looking at the sky, the endlessness of space, which, though pertaining to distance, seems to also symbolize and evoke thoughts of the timelessness of eternity itself.  For would it not take that long in imagining all of infinity?

But even though our immeasurable universe is so mind-boggling to even try to contemplate its totality, yet the Bible shows that it is all just temporary.  For there is a major event coming, when “…the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat…” (2 Pet. 3:10-12), for there will then be no more purpose nor need for this physical realm.

But when that happens, will there still be an empty void of space left behind?  Or is that also part of God’s creation that will cease to be?  Though this is conjecture on my part, yet it certainly is an amazingly bizarre thought to ponder.  For how could that which is an empty void become nothing?  Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?  Of course, with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26) and nothing is too difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17); and would we not think of heaven as being somewhere apart from our infinite, physical universe — such as in something similar to a parallel universe?  If that be the case, could not even the empty space in which our universe dwells cease to be, along with all its contents, like a printed page torn out of a journal or diary and consumed in flames?  But unlike that page, for not even one ash or any trace to remain?

This, of course, as to what will happen to the “empty space” is speculation; but we who believe in God know that He can do far greater than all we can even imagine!  Yes, He can do that which, to us, would be so impossible!

I do not think of heaven, where God dwells, as having a physical location somewhere in the universe that if we just had the technology, the time, and knew its whereabouts, we could travel to it by spaceship.  Rather, heaven is in a far greater realm — a spiritual one — and one with a “substance” of exceedingly superior quality compared to our physical realm.  For heaven is eternal, where things do not age, wear out, nor perish; while all of our physical realm continues to decline, to waste away, to cease to be — and with some things even more fleeting than others.

This is why the apostle Paul shows that God’s children will have their temporary tabernacles of flesh replaced with imperishable bodies suitable for heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 5:1-4).  For “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49).  And the need for that can be seen in what he goes on to declare:

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on this imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your victory?  O Death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (vv. 50-58).

Though what will become of the empty void of our universe, after all the elements in it are destroyed, perhaps we cannot know.  But I still find it very amazing to believe that God could do away with even an infinity of emptiness if He willed it so!

What wonders are in store for those who will spend an eternity in heaven!  What an amazing place heaven itself must be!  For its dwellers will be enjoying those things of God “…who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” (Phil. 3:20).

Let us, therefore, conclude with what Peter goes on to say.  After speaking of the heavens passing away with a roar and the elements being destroyed with intense heat, along with the earth and its works, he then gives this following exhortation to the brethren:

“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (vv. 11-13).

This phrase, “new heavens and a new earth,” figuratively represents heaven itself, just as that same wording is used in Isaiah 65:17-25 in metaphorically referring to the new system of the Gospel Age, which was to come after 1,500 years of the Mosaical Age.  For by Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, He annulled the Old Covenant and established the New (cf. Eph. 2:11-16; Col. 2:13,14; Heb. 10:8-12).  Therefore, what a major, great, and glorious change that phrase “new heavens and a new earth” expresses — whether of that New Covenant, which was far superior to the Old, or of heaven itself compared to our earth-life in this physical realm!

Though heaven goes way beyond what we can even imagine now, how important it is for each of us to look to God’s word to acquire faith (cf. Rom. 10:17), to have that child-like trust in Jesus Christ, to truly believe in Him (Jn. 8:24), to repent of our sins (Lk. 13:5), to publicly acknowledge our faith in the Lord (Rom. 10:9,10), to be baptized as part of God’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21), and to continue in the faith (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10), as we press on for that glorious realm where Jesus now is, as the great King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) — in  that heavenly place, far superior to any region we have ever known!
——————–

“Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing” (Psa. 100:2).
——————–

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) Another Assault on Christian Faith: The Lost Tomb of Jesus Asserts That He Wasn’t Resurrected (Randy Blackaby)
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Another Assault on Christian Faith:

The Lost Tomb of Jesus Asserts That He Wasn’t Resurrected

Randy Blackaby

Just as Dan Brown’s book and movie, The DaVinci Code, lost steam, Oscar-winning director James Cameron (of Titanic fame) released his new film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The film alleges the discovery of a tomb containing the remains of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and their supposed son, Judah. If true, this would mean that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, wasn’t raised in three days, and didn’t ascend back to heaven about 40 days thereafter. So, again, the public is left to decide which is a hoax–the Bible and Jesus; or the film, research, and statistics behind it.

The documentary-style film is based on the 1980 discovery of a Jerusalem tomb that contained ten small caskets (ossuaries) of bones. According to the film, one bears the name Judah, son of Jesus. Another bears the name Mariamene, which the researchers and producers are concluding refers to Mary Magdalene. Others read Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Matthew, and Jofa.

DNA evidence purportedly shows that the bones of Jesua and Mariamene were the bones of unrelated people. Since most such tombs are family sepulchers, the door opens to the assumption that they may have been married and that Judah may have been their child. The inscriptions and ossuaries are said to be from the first-century Herodian period.

The names discovered in this tomb are very common for the period, with the name Mary believed to have been used by 25 percent or more of women in that day. But the researchers and film producers base their conclusions on statistics, arguing the odds are 600 to 1 in favor of the tomb belonging to Jesus’ family. The statistical approach is based on the odds of that many names from the Bible record being found in one tomb.

The film was released just before Easter, when many around the world were celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.

More of the Same

Efforts to undermine the resurrection’s credibility are as old as the event itself. Opponents of Christianity know the resurrection is the central fact of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:17). Virtually all the early gospel sermons recorded in the Book of Acts speak of it, and the epistles demonstrate that Jesus’ victory over death opens the door for believers to do the same. Christian baptism is patterned on the resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).

Announcements preceding and following His birth proclaimed Jesus to be a coming king (Matthew 2:1-2; Luke 1:31-33). He entered Jerusalem as a triumphal king (Matthew 21) and confessed to Pontius Pilate that He was king of the Jews (Matthew 27:11; Luke 23:3). If He died, was buried, and never rose, He would, at best, be a dead king, not the one the Bible says sits today at God’s right hand, ruling and reigning over His kingdom (Acts 7:55; Ephesians 1:20- 22; Hebrews 2:7-8).

The Bible reports that the chief priests and elders bribed the Roman guards, who weren’t able to keep the sealed tomb secure enough to prevent the resurrection, to say Jesus’ disciples stole His body (Matthew 28:11-15). However, no one has produced any real evidence that His body remains on earth.

Evidence for the Resurrection

Evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is similar to the evidence that George Washington lived and was the first president of the United States. In both cases, we have eye-witness testimony. History books tell us about George Washington. People who lived contemporary with him recorded what they saw. We weren’t there; yet we believe the witnesses.

The apostle Paul summarized similar evidence for the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”

Did all these witnesses lie? Most of those apostles, and many of the early Christians, died rather than recant their testimony about Christ and His resurrection. Are people usually willing to suffer loss of their property, rights, liberty, and lives to defend a lie? No; they really believed what they declared, and suffered persecution rather than give up their own hope of being resurrected.

The empty tomb is another issue. No one, including Jesus’ enemies, denied the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone, or the broken seal. They sought alternate explanations, but they didn’t deny the tomb was empty. Consider the animosity toward Jesus, the knowledge of His own resurrection predictions, and the care taken to seal and guard the tomb. Don’t you think Christianity’s first-century opponents would have produced Jesus’ body when the disciples began proclaiming His resurrection–if they could?

Holes in the New Tomb Story

One of the most obvious problems with the latest Jesus-family-tomb theory is the tombs location in Jerusalem. Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not a great distance from Jerusalem, his home town was Nazareth, way up north in Galilee. He was called Jesus of Nazareth. If His family had a family tomb, it would likely have been around Nazareth, not Jerusalem. The Bible account has Jesus buried in the borrowed tomb of a rich Jewish ruler named Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57- 60; Luke 23:50-53; Luke 15:42-43; John 19:38-42). Clearly, it wasn’t the family tomb of the poor carpenter’s son from Nazareth.

We need to view this new theory and its evidence in juxtaposition to the evidence present at the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Anti-Christian forces in Judaism and the Roman government would have had as intense an interest in undermining the idea of the resurrection then as atheistic and secular forces do today. And if there had been evidence to contradict the resurrection, those first-century opponents would have produced it. But they couldn’t.

The events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection weren’t secret or hidden in the first century. Paul, speaking to King Agrippa and Governor Festus, said that Jesus’ death and resurrection was “not done in a corner.” In other words, the facts were widely known, not hidden from public view.

And don’t forget that the apostle Paul was actually Saul of Tarsus, who vociferously opposed Jesus, hunted down Christians for trial and death, and tried to stamp out the new faith which was based on the resurrection. But when this enemy of Christian faith himself saw the risen Jesus, he changed and became the great gospel preacher to the Gentiles.

*****

Brother Blackaby has provided a discussion of another example of the world’s attempt to discredit and disprove the Bible’s truth and accuracy. Satan never tires of inventing schemes to destroy the faith of God’s children. In the past few years, men have relentlessly produced so-called new discoveries that question the Bible’s truthfulness. Yet, the Bible remains on solid footing as God’s inspired book that continues to change sinners’ hearts. Praise be to God! (Keith M. Greer)

— Via The Monthly Messenger (from the Knollwood church of Christ, Beavercreek, Ohio), May 2007
——————–

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) The Lord is My Helper (Billy Boyd)
2) Faith Building: The Walls of Jericho (R.J. Evans)
3) A Different Point of View! (Dan Gulley)
——————–

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The Lord is My Helper

by Billy Boyd

A little girl, when asked to repeat the 23rd Psalm, said, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want.” She may have been a little confused about the actual wording, but she expressed a truth that should be the property of every Christian.

There is no blessing so valuable as the ability to lean upon the sufficiency of God, to find in Him all that we want. The firm basis of such trust was brought to Paul’s attention when the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 11:9).

Consider the unsearchable riches which one possesses when the Lord is his helper.

1. There is a feeling of security that transcends social and financial security. The child of God can be content in all circumstances of life. “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content” (Phil. 4:11).

2. There is a peace that passeth understanding (Phil. 4:7) and floods the Christian’s life with joy that is  unspeakable (I Pet. 1:8). This peace is greater than  all the treasures earth can yield.

3. There is a freedom from fear of all types. “So that with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What shall man do unto me?” (Heb. 13:6). Fear of bodily harm and even of death itself is dissipated when we walk with the Lord. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for thou art with me” (Ps. 23:4).

4. There is a crown of life that glitters through eternity. “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (II TIM. 4:8).

In addition to these wonderful blessings, the Lord promises us what we need physically. Surely, when the Lord is our helper, there can be no want.

— Via The Beacon, July 10, 2012
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Faith Building:

The Walls of Jericho

R.J. Evans

In Joshua 6:1-6, the Israelites were instructed by the Lord to march around the city of Jericho once each day for six days.  The priests were told to bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark, and on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and when the priests blew the trumpets, all the people were to shout and the wall of the city would fall down flat.  The remainder of chapter 6 tells of their obedience to God’s instructions, the wall falling, and the city being destroyed.

Marching around a city thirteen times in seven days, blowing trumpets and making a great shout — who ever heard of such a thing?  The wall was of such considerable size that houses were built upon it (Josh. 2:15).  How safe the inhabitants of Jericho must have felt.  How easy it would have been for the soldiers and commanders on the walls to laugh and ridicule the marchers as they encompassed the city.  But suddenly on the seventh day, there was an incredible event — the walls fell! (v. 20).

Now how did the walls fall?  Was this some common military procedure that had been used successfully in the past?  Absolutely not! “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).  Yes, it took great faith to carry out such an unusual command. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).  It took faith in “things not seen” — “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

But there are skeptics who laugh and mock at the events recorded in Joshua 6.  They say it is absurd to believe that the walls of Jericho fell down after the Israelites marched around them.  However, let us consider the following portion of information taken from HALLEY’S BIBLE HANDBOOK, New Revised Edition, pp. 159-161:  “Dr. John Garstang, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and of the Department of Antiquities of the Palestine Government, excavated the ruins of Jericho in 1926-36.  He found pottery and scarab evidence that the city had been destroyed about 1400 B.C., coinciding with Joshua’s date, and, in a number of details, dug up evidence confirming the Biblical account in a most remarkable way. ‘the wall fell down flat’ (20).  Dr. Garstang found that the wall did actually ‘fall down flat.’”

There are many lessons learned from Jericho: (1)  We learn that God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8).  Man would have planned some scheme to allow a few to enter the city and open the gates or build mounds, use sling shots to pick the soldiers off the wall, use ladders, etc. (2)  We learn the meaning of grace. “And the Lord said to Joshua: ‘See!  I have given Jericho into you hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor’” (Josh. 6:2).  Yes, it was a gift, but it involved active obedience.  The same is true today — salvation is a gift from God (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8), yet there are certain conditions that must be met (Matt. 7:21; Jn. 6:29; Mk. 16:16; Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Eph. 2:10; Heb. 5:9).  (3)  We learn the meaning of obedient faith (Heb. 11; Jas. 2:24).  (4)  We learn that God’s way will work no matter how foolish (in man’s eyes) it may seem (1 Cor. 1:18-31).

The Apostle Paul told the Romans that “whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).  The Israelites placed their faith and trust in God when they marched around the city of Jericho.  We place our faith and trust in God when we are baptized for the remission of our sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  When we faithfully obey the Lord we can hope for and enjoy the blessings and rewards He has promised (Matt. 6:33; Rev. 2:10).

Again, we emphasize — “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, Louisiana, for April 6, 2014
——————–

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A Different Point of View!

Dan Gulley

Mark 2:1-5 tells about the unorthodox efforts of four unnamed heroes who used faith and works to get a hurting friend to Jesus. Hearing that Jesus was in a house in Capernaum, four men sought to bring a paralytic to Jesus on a bed. Finding the house full of people and their way to Jesus blocked, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith He said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven you.’”

This incident reminds us that faith brings a different point of view in getting lost people to Jesus. Four men who believed Jesus could make a profound difference in the life of their paralyzed friend refused to give up when they found the way to Jesus crowded and impossible to pass. What to do? Faithless, negative thinking would have said nothing could be done and there were simply too many obstacles. But one of them lifted his eyes and expressed a different point of view: “We can get on top of the house, tear the roof off and lower him down to Jesus.” Faith helped them have a different point of view! As a result the paralyzed man went home with a newly healed body and a freshly cleansed soul.

Many Christians could use a different point of view. The devil has convinced some in the church that our job as Christians is to come, sit and listen. But the proper evangelistic mentality is summed up in the words of Acts 5:20 – “Go … stand … speak.” Some insist nobody they know is interested in God, but Jesus calls us to a different point of view. He says “the harvest truly is plentiful” and “lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (Matthew 9:37, John 4:35). Could it be many people are being kept from getting to Jesus because negative, faithless thinking is keeping us from getting to them? Faith can help us uncover the roof and see past what we alone can do to what we can do with God’s help. Has faith changed your point of view?

— Via The Beacon, September 9, 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 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) “For Now We See in a Mirror Dimly” (Tom Edwards)
2) Design and the Designer (Greg Gwin)
——————–

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“For Now We See in a Mirror Dimly”

Tom Edwards

In writing in the time prior to the completed New Testament, Paul declares, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

Though some individuals might interpret this to indicate that one can never see all things clearly while here on earth, but only in heaven, yet is that what this passage is really saying?

In the days that Paul wrote this, mirrors were not like what we are familiar with today.  Rather, they were merely a polished metal that would dimly reflect an image.

Going back many centuries before Paul’s time, those mirrors mentioned in Exodus 38:8, for example, had been made of bronze.  And in this passage, women had been donating theirs to be used in making the laver, which would be for washing by the priests, between the tent of meeting and the altar (Exod. 30:18).

According to the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, “The first mirrors known among men were the clear fountain and unruffled lake. The first artificial ones were made of polished brass, afterwards of steel, and when luxury increased, of silver; but at a very early period, they were made of a mixed metal, particularly of tin and copper, the best of which, as Pliny informs us, were formerly manufactured at Brundusium” (which is now known as Brindisi, a natural seaport in the “heel” of southeast Italy).

In Job 37:18, Elihu questions Job: “Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, strong as a molten mirror?”  Or, as some other versions render this last part, “…hard as a mirror of cast bronze” (NIV), “…strong as a cast metal mirror” (NKJV), and “…hard as polished metal” (GNB).

And so Paul implies in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that having only a partial or incomplete revelation from God is like seeing an image only dimly, instead of getting the complete, clear picture.  But when God’s divinely inspired word would be given in its entirety, then it would be as plain as seeing “face to face,” which is the contrasting phrase Paul uses to seeing “in a mirror dimly.”  In addition, Paul also likens the mirror to knowing only “in part,” and seeing “face to face” is paralleled to knowing “fully.”

So let us note, too, that this seeing “face to face” or knowing “fully” was to happen here on earth, and attained through the complete knowledge of God’s word, which is recorded in the New Testament.

This can be compared to Ephesians 4:11-13, where Paul states: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”

Again, some folks would view this as being able to be fulfilled only in heaven where everyone will be perfectly mature and in perfect unity.  But look what Paul goes on to say in the very next verse as to the purpose for why these men were given to help the church grow: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (v. 14).

So if that maturity and unity can be attained only in heaven, then what are those men doing there, in that beautiful place of God’s abode, who are given to trickery, craftiness, and deceitful scheming to lead folks away from the truth by every wind of false doctrine?  That most definitely won’t be going on in heaven, so it must be something taking place while here on earth; and where we, therefore, see the need to grow in the knowledge of God’s word so that we might remain on that right path and not be led astray from it.

We noted above that one of the purposes for the saints being equipped for the work of service and built up in the body of Christ is that each would become a “mature man”; and, of course, it is through the knowledge of the Scriptures that that is possible.  In Hebrews 5:12-14, the Hebrew writer reproves his readership for failing to have acquired a good knowledge of “the word of righteousness.” Here, he also indicates that having attained that knowledge would not have been an impossibility for them.  For he says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.”  And now notice what he goes on to say, in defining what a “mature” Christian really is: “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14) — and that discernment comes through a knowledge of God’s word.   Yes, attaining to that maturity, that discernment, is to be true of each of us while here on earth.

In the completed New Testament, we today have the “perfect law of liberty” (Jms. 1:15), “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3), and “so that the man of God may be adequate [perfect, KJV], equipped [furnished completely, ASV] for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).

So the “perfect” of 1 Corinthians 13:10 is the New Testament in its entirety that has been “once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  And with that, man is no longer limited to just a dim, dark, or partial view; but can now see as clearly as viewing someone face to face.  As Paul declares, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:9,10).

Though some believe the “perfect” to be referring to Christ, the perfect is actually the totality of the “in part” (KJV) or the “partial” (NASB) of the same verse.  In other words, when the complete revelation would be given, the miraculous gifts (which had been revealing the word “in part” or partially at a time) would cease, as Paul also speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13:8: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.”  Prophecy, tongues, and the word of knowledge were just three of the miraculous gifts; but the ceasing of them would also be true of the other gifts as well.

Miraculous gifts were for the church in its infancy.  They were greatly needed then.  For man was without the completed New Testament to turn to.  Therefore, six of those nine spiritual gifts, which the Holy Spirit had given as He willed (1 Cor. 12:11), provided them with the knowledge of God’s word to grow thereby, which were “the word of wisdom,” “the word of knowledge,” “prophecy,” “distinguishing of spirits,” “various kinds of tongues,” and the “interpretation of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:8-10).  And, in this same passage, we also read of the three other spiritual gifts that had been given to confirm by miraculous signs those messages from God (cf. Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:3,4), which were “faith” (a miraculous kind), “gifts of healing,” and “the effecting of miracles.”

And we need to also point out that it was not the gifts in themselves that produced spiritual maturity — as evidenced by the Corinthians who abounded in miraculous gifts (1 Cor. 1:7), but were still “infants in Christ,” “fleshly,” and characterized with “jealousy” and “strife” (1 Cor. 3:1-3).  Paul’s letter to them (1 Corinthians) makes mention of many spiritual problems the Corinthians had that he strives to correct them of.

So what people need today is simply God’s truth as found in the gospel.  For, as we saw, it contains “everything pertaining to life and godliness” by which we may be spiritually mature (2 Pet. 1:3) and built up in the faith (cf. Acts 20:32).

Paul also shows that after the miraculous gifts would have ceased, faith, hope, and love would still continue  (1 Cor. 13:13).  This, however, conflicts with the wrong belief that many have today that the miraculous gifts are to continue throughout time.  For if that be the case, then faith and hope will have to also be continuing in heaven.  “…but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom. 8:24,25).  And “…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not see” (Heb. 11:1).  We now hope for heaven and have faith that it is; but once there, what will happen to that hope and faith?

So now with the completed revelation of the gospel, we can see as if “face to face” — rather than merely a dim reflection on a polished piece of metal. May we each, therefore, continue to look into God’s illuminating word that we may clearly see those things He wants us to know; and faithfully respond to that which He would have us to do.
——————–

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Design and the Designer

Greg Gwin

The Journal of the American Medical Association give this interesting report: “The hummingbird is the smallest bird on earth — some species weigh no more than a dime. It has the highest rate of metabolism (at rest, about 50 times faster than man’s) and thus must consume enormous amounts of nectar to avoid starvation. Not adapted for night feeding, it must stretch its food stores from dusk to dawn. To accomplish this, nature has equipped the hummingbird with a unique energy-saving design: the ability to hibernate overnight.  During the night, the hummingbird’s metabolic rate is only one-fifteenth as rapid as in the daytime, and its body temperature drops to that of the surrounding air. The bird becomes torpid, scarcely able to move. When it does stir, it moves as though congealed. By daybreak, the hummingbird’s body spontaneously resumes its normal temperature and high metabolic rate, ready once again to dart off in search of food.”

The physical world is literally full of amazing examples of design which the atheist and evolutionist cannot explain. The simple case of the hummingbird is a case in point.  Just how did this incredible little creature develop its unique characteristics which allow it to function so well in this world? Could this have happened by chance? And if it came about by gradual evolution, how did the hummingbird survive over millions of years while this awesome metabolic regulator was evolving? This one simple example is sufficient to illustrate the overwhelming difficulties of the theory of evolution.

What we’re saying here is that when we see obvious design in anything — a car, a house, or a hummingbird — that design necessarily implies that there is a designer. In the case of the hummingbird (and all the rest of physical nature) the designer is Almighty God. “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God” (Heb. 3:4).

— Via The Beacon, July 21, 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) Should a Christian Gamble? (R.J. Evans)
2) Historical & Literal (Cougan Collins)
3) The Dreaded Task (Richard Massey)
——————–

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Should a Christian Gamble?

R.J. Evans

In 1931, the state of Nevada legalized most forms of gambling.  The city of Las Vegas, in particular, became the center of gambling in the U.S.  Over the course of time, it has been referred to as “Sin City,” which is not surprising.  Now, the city has developed a marketing catchphrase —  “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.”  Need I say more?

Since 1931, many forms of gambling have become a thriving “vice” in America, especially casinos.  At present, Nevada and Louisiana are the only states where casino-style gambling is legal statewide.  In other states, casino-style gambling is restricted to certain small geographic areas like Atlantic City, New Jersey, the Mississippi gulf coast,  or the American Indian reservations.

I have never been to a gambling casino (and I have no desire to go to one), but I have seen enough TV commercials to get an idea of what they are like.  I find it interesting what they use to lure people in — the bright lights, the glitter, entertainment, prizes, and especially the food.  The buffet-style food is a big draw. The commercials displaying colorful scenes of appealing foods give evidence of the fact that they know they can get to people’s wallets or pocketbooks through their stomachs. In these establishments, it is as if the average person is playing against a “stacked deck.”  The “odds” are always in the casino’s favor.   Games of chance are like that — if that were not so, casinos would lose so much money they would have to go out of business.  The gambling patrons win just enough to whet their appetite to keep coming back — it is always “wait till the next time — I’m going to hit it big!”  The sad part is that a good percentage of these folks are already having financial difficulties.

At this point, we raise the question of our title: Should a Christian gamble?   To gamble is “to play games of chance for money or some other stake; to bet on an uncertain outcome.” Some reason that since the word gamble is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, then it must be okay.  Of course, there are other terms not specifically mentioned in Scripture, but are still in violation of what the Bible teaches.  Words such as “rape,” “abortion,” or “suicide” would come under the category of what is considered wrong, based upon Bible teachings and principles.

In this article, let us observe some biblical principles that are violated when someone gambles, what it can lead to, and why it is a sinful vice.  Consider the following:

1. Gambling destroys the incentive to   work.  (Gen. 2:15; 3:19; Eph. 4:20; 2 Thes. 3:10; Acts 20:34-35)

2. Gambling is unjust gain.  (Prov. 28:6-8; Ezek. 22:12-13)

3. Gambling is a form of covetousness.  (Eph. 5:3; Jer. 22:13; Hab. 2:6)

4. A gambler is greedy and becomes a lover of money.  (1 Tim. 6:5-10; Col. 3:5)

5. Gambling breaks the second greatest commandment.  (Matt. 22:37-40; Rom. 13:10)

6. Gambling violates the “golden rule.”  (Matt. 7:12)

7. A gambler robs his family.  (Eph. 4:28; 1 Tim. 5:8)

8. A gambler destroys his influence for good.  (Matt. 5:13-16)

9. Gambling is a form of evil. (1 Thes. 5:22)

10. Gambling is addictive. (1 Cor. 6:12-13)

Based upon the biblical teachings mentioned above, Christians need to stand firmly against all forms of  gambling.

— Via bulletin for the Southside church of Christ (8/16/15), Gonzales, Louisiana
——————–

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Historical & Literal

Cougan Collins

Those who attack the authenticity of what the Bible says about creation will say that Genesis 1-11 is mythology. In other words, they say it did not really happen and it is nothing more than a fairy tale. They understand if they can convince people that it is mythology, they can destroy the credibility of the Bible and promote their man-made teaching of evolution with its billions of years.

Let’s see what the Bible says. In Matthew 19:4-6, Jesus quotes from Genesis 1 & 2 as being true.  In John 8:44, Jesus called Satan the “father of lies” referring back to Genesis 3:4.  In Matthew 23:35 Jesus spoke of Abel in Genesis 4:2-10 as a historical person. In Matthew 24:37-38, Jesus spoke of the Flood of Noah in Genesis 6-9 as a historical event.  If Genesis 1-11 is a myth, then Jesus was mistaken in all of these instances.

In 1 Corinthians 11:8,12, Paul states that man was created first, then woman just as Genesis 2:18-23 states.  In 1 Timothy 2:13, Paul called Adam & Eve by name, and in Romans 5:14 he says “death reigned from Adam to Moses.”  In 1 Corinthians 15:45, Paul says, “The first man Adam became a living being.”  If Adam was only a mythological character, then everything Paul said is false.  In 2 Corinthians 11:3, Paul says, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted.”  I am afraid many minds have been corrupted by believing that Genesis 1-11 is nothing but a fairy tale.

The New Testament shows that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are historical and literal. In fact, there are more than 100 references in the New Testament that refer back to the first eleven chapters of Genesis. Besides this internal evidence, there is ample proof of the global flood as described by the Bible because over 100 cultures historically record a global flood. Also, the fossil record proves that every mountain on earth was covered by water. For example, marine fossils have been found high in the Himalayas, the world’s tallest mountain range. When one begins to examine the internal and external evidence of Genesis 1-11, one will be overwhelmed with proof that the Bible is true and not mythology.

— Via The Beacon, October 28, 2014
——————–

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The Dreaded Task

Richard Massey

“I found the task that I had dreaded so,
Was not so difficult when once begun;
It was the dread itself that was the foe,
And dread once conquered means a victory won”
(The Dreaded Task by Margaret E. Brown).

How true is the above statement. The first time brethren asked me to teach a Bible class (it was fifth and sixth graders), I recoiled — grimly dreading even the thought. I guess the elders were hard pressed for teachers, so my arm was twisted until I finally relented. Once I got started, however, the task became such a joy that I did not want to stop. I even enjoyed decorating the classroom with my own homemade posters. I have been teaching ever since, and enjoying every minute.

It is the “getting started” that seems to be the real hurdle. If we can get past that, the rest goes easier. Is there a hurdle between you and attendance at Bible class, or attendance on Sunday nights? Is there a hurdle for you in leading a public prayer, or inviting your neighbor to church? There are precious benefits that accompany each victory we win over dread. One result is we become a fruitful and stronger Christian. Dread makes us weak and unproductive.

Are there important things that you should be doing, but because of dread you have not accomplished them? Let me encourage you to get past the dread. Look to the Lord for strength (Ephesians 6:10-11; Philippians 4:13). Lean on your brethren for support (Galatians 6:2). Remember, it is “not so difficult when once begun.”

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

“…I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation.  I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:5,6).
——————–

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) When “Best” Goes Beyond Our Understanding! (Tom Edwards)
2) Truth’s Consequences (Bill Hall)
——————–

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When “Best” Goes Beyond Our Understanding!

Tom Edwards

While praying recently, it occurred to me that, due to limited ability, the term “best,” when referring to God and His ways, does not fully describe or convey to us just how much greater God’s wisdom, His virtues, and His ways actually are. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts,” says the Lord (Isa. 55:9).

Often I have prayed for God’s will to be done, not only on earth as it is in heaven, but also everywhere else as well — in whatever the realm, whether physical or spiritual.  For His will is, and always will be, the “best.”  But, with our limited understanding, does that word adequately indicate just how much greater God’s ways are?

Though using the term “best” would be true in comparing what God does and who He is to that of humanity, yet that of God would be far greater than our comprehension of “best.”  For our everyday usage of “best” does not usually imply perfection.  For instance, if you had three apples that were going bad, but at different stages of decay, one would be the worst, two would be better than that, and one of those would be the best of all.  But, in this case, even the best would still have a little rottenness to it and probably not be one you would want to eat.

So God and His ways are not just “best” in any comparisons made with that of us; but, rather, a “best” to the greatest of all degrees and without even the slightest room nor need for improvement.

God Himself is so much greater than us that it actually goes beyond comparison.  The psalmist realized this: “Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders which you have done, And Your thoughts toward us; There is none to compare with You…” (Psa. 40:5).  Job also acknowledged this superiority of God by saying, “Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number” (Job 9:10).  And, going along with this, Paul also, in his doxology, speaks of God as being One “…who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think” (Eph. 3:20).

God’s work of creation, in bringing about a vast universe with all that is in it, is certainly a manifestation of some of His greatness.  As Jeremiah declares in prayer, “Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You” (Jer. 32:17).  And God begins His response to Jeremiah by saying, “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (v. 27).  After speaking of that which would be impossible for man, Jesus goes on to show that it would not be that way for God, “for all things are possible” with Him (Mark 10:27).  And would we not think that anyone who could simply speak a universe into existence (cf. Gen. 1), and to create that out of nothing (cf. Heb. 11:3), would definitely not have any difficulty in bringing into reality whatever else He would so desire?  For the universe was not formed by pre-existing matter; but that which was not was simply commanded to be.  Notice, if you would, all the repetitive phrases in the account of creation that precedes and shows how the various things that God had created came about: “Then God said” (Gen. 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24, and 26).  In this first verse, for example, “Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.”  How marvelous!  Imagine if you could make a reality out of any beautiful thing you could think up by just commanding it to be!  But even if you had that ability, would you not still rather let God be the one to bless you with whatever He would so desire for all eternity?  As Jesus told His apostles, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3).  Isn’t it wonderful that it is Jesus who will prepare that place — and not just something the apostles would have to do for themselves?  For as we saw, God is a God who “…is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” (Eph. 3:20). I find great comfort in that and in allowing the Lord to do whatever He desires for me.

And though we haven’t seen that spiritual realm of heaven where God dwells, we have seen some of the physical heavens that He has made and which attests to His reality and greatness (cf. Rom. 1:19,20).  As David declares, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is expressing the work of His hands” (Psa. 19:1).  Paul speaks of God’s power as being a “surpassing greatness” (Eph. 1:19), and how that is clearly seen in the creation.  For who can even come close to doing what the Lord has done — and at such a grand, astronomical scale?  The rhetorical question, “…For who in the skies is comparable to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty is like the LORD…?” (Psa. 89:5-8), must be answered in the negative of “no one.”  For whether we are talking about angels or men, how inferior we are to the Almighty God.  For if God’s greatness would be represented with infinity, then ours would be likened to nothing more than a grain of sand in comparison.  And can we not, therefore, also say that to be able to fully comprehend the totality of God’s greatness would be as impossible to us as to imagine all of infinity?  For that is something that we just cannot possibly do.  It goes beyond our mental ability.

The Lord says to His people, “To whom would you liken Me And make Me equal and compare Me, That we would be alike?” (Isa. 46:5).  Jeremiah’s declaration can accurately be used to answer this.  For he states, “There is none like you, O LORD: You are great, and great is Your name in might” (Jer. 10:6).

In this statement, it appears that Jeremiah did not include, in his consideration, Jesus Christ, nor the Holy Spirit — for they are exactly like God the Father when it comes to the essence of Deity and are the other two persons of the eternal Godhead who were also involved in the great work of creation (cf. Gen. 1:1 — “God” is from “Elohim,” the plural form for God; Gen. 1:26, “…’Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’”; cf. Jn. 1:1-3,14; Psa. 104:30; Matt. 28:19; Matt. 3:16,17; 2 Cor. 13:14).

Not only is God’s greatness beyond all we can fully fathom, but also that beautiful place called “heaven,” where He forever dwells, is described as being “far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).  And isn’t it wonderful to know that this same God  is “…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9) and “…to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).  To be able to enjoy forevermore that which goes beyond all we can even now conceive, certainly can make the trials of life — and whatever sacrifice that needs to be made along the way — very much worthwhile as we strive for that heavenly home (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Jesus paved that road by His own blood, in a manner of speaking; but we have the responsibility in turning to God’s roadmap, the Gospel, to see where we pick it up at, how to stay on it and to avoid those wrong turns that we are not to make.  For that great destination is still up ahead.  We must all, therefore, hear the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believe in the deity of Jesus (Jn. 8:24), repent of sins (Luke 13:5), confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21), which is all necessary to be forgiven and become a Christian; and then to continue in the faith as we press on for that glorious goal of heaven (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 10:36-39; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).  And heaven is not just the best, but also a “best” that goes way beyond human comprehension to the utmost degree of blissfulness in a supreme state of perfection!
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-2-

Truth’s Consequences

Bill Hall

The consequences of truth are sometimes bitter. Many a man has lost his job, or home, or friends, or life because of his stand for truth. Many a preacher has been ousted from the pulpit, having neither house nor salary, because he preached the truth. Many a person has had his name slandered and maligned because of truth. With all such people, love for truth is greater than love for comfort, security, or even life itself.

Unfortunate indeed is the man who looks ahead to evaluate the consequences of a position before evaluating the position itself. Such a man will rarely come to a knowledge of truth. His thoughts concerning “What will my wife think?” Or “Where will I preach?” Or “Won’t I be condemning my good mother to hell?” Or “How will I explain my change to good ole Brother Jones?” or “How will I support my family?” or “Everybody will think I’m crazy,” may well blind his mind to whatever evidence is at hand. The man who really demonstrates a love for truth is the man who studies every subject objectively and then lets the consequences — whether they be good or bad — take care of themselves.

Unfortunate too is the man who complains and grieves over the consequences of truth, for truth must bring joy to the heart, whatever may be its consequences. Self-pity may lead one to “sell the truth” and to profane this precious commodity. If pity is to be felt, it must be felt for that person who has never suffered the consequences of truth, for such a man has obviously loved the praises of men more than the praises of God.

No men ever felt the consequences of truth to a greater degree than did the apostles, but they faced all such consequences “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). Worthy! There’s the key! The man who lets a fear of consequences dictate his position on every question never suffers, for he is not worthy to suffer. Pity him! But the person who stands for truth regardless of the consequences shall suffer, for he is worthy to suffer. Rejoice with him!

What a difference between the man who is “heaven” oriented and that one who is “this world” oriented!

— Via The Beacon, August 16, 2011
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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 the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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