Year: 2016 (Page 1 of 6)

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) Some Marks of God’s People (Virgil Hale)
2) Need: A Pride Killer (Adam Litmer)
3) The Fundamentals (Adam Smith)
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Some Marks of God’s People

Virgil Hale

Malachi 3:16 reads, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” In this text there are three characteristics given concerning the people of God that I want us to study, and then we will observe the blessing that followed. There are great lessons in this text for all of God’s people today.

In the first place it says that they “feared the Lord.” This in and of itself does not make one a child of God. It is said of Cornelius that he “feared God with all his house…” (Acts 10:2) and that he was “a just man and one that feareth God…” (verse 22). At the time, Cornelius was not a Christian, and he had to obey the Gospel in order to become a child of God. The kind of fear under consideration is not a fear that causes one to shudder at the very thought of God, but it is a reverential awe and respect for God and His will. In speaking of God David wrote, “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name” (Psa. 111:9). The writer of the Hebrew letter said that we are to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28). It is evident that most people have little or no respect for God or His Word. According to Solomon, the whole duty of man is to “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). Peter made this statement at the house of Cornelius,”…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). There is no way that one can be a faithful child of God if he has no reverence and respect for God and His will.

Secondly, it is said in our text that these people of God “spake often one to another.” This implies that they had fellowship one with another, that they cooperated one with the other, that they were mutually helpful to each other. The word fellowship carries with it the idea of joint participation. We are told, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Heb. 10:24). Paul wrote that we are “workers together with him…” (2 Cor. 6:1) and that “we are laborers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). The Psalmist wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1). Some things might be pleasant that are not good for us, and some things might be good for us that are not pleasant, but unity is both good and pleasant. Christians are to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another  (Rom. 12:10). Paul wrote, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:2-3). Love for one another lets the world know that we belong to Christ (John 13:34-35). The early church certainly fit this pattern (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37).

Thirdly, it is said of God’s people that they “thought upon his name.” This implies that they meditated upon God and His will, and that they were devout worshipers of Him. Do you enjoy studying God’s Word, and are you a faithful worshiper of God? The “Blessed” man of Psalm chapter 1, is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his Law doth he meditate day and night.” Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). What do you think about most? We are products of our thinking (Prov. 23:7; Rom. 12:1-2). We cannot rise above our thinking!

Finally, notice the results of the preceding, “and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them…” Rest assured that God does not forget His people. Paul spoke of people “whose names are written in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3). We need to remember that God has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). Because of that promise we can “boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (verse 6). Rest assured “our labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). Do we really believe these promises? I hope that we do, because God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). May we strive to have the characteristics that we have discussed in our lives, and heaven will someday be our eternal home.

— Via The Auburn Beacon, October 16, 2016, Volume 8, Issue 4
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“And my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. But 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 13:4-6, NASB).
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Need: A Pride Killer

Adam Litmer

In Luke 8:40-42 we read, “Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.  And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.”

As a ruler of the synagogue, Jairus was a man of no small influence. However, he found himself in a situation that rendered him powerless. His daughter was dying and there was nothing he could do stop it.  All of his influence, wisdom, power, and fame meant absolutely nothing to him in the face of such a terrible predicament. Jesus had many enemies and there is little doubt that at least some of them witnessed Jairus running to Jesus and falling at his feet. There is even less doubt that word of Jairus’ actions spread very quickly. However, whatever pride Jairus may have possessed was crushed beneath the weight of his tremendous need.

A saved relationship with Jesus Christ demands one thing above all else — a humble willingness to admit that  one is a sinner, helplessly lost, and completely reliant upon the mercy and grace of One infinitely greater than they (Romans 3:23; 5:1-11). This humility boasts in the cross of Jesus Christ, never in self (Galatians 6:14). This humility boasts in weakness for it is in weakness that the  power of Christ shines brightest (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  Is there any wonder, in our increasingly humanistic world, that such humility is rarely seen?

Unfortunately, such humility is not as common as it should be even among those who claim Christ as Lord. It is lacking in the elder who lords his authority over the flock, looking upon the congregation as his own personal fiefdom.  It is lacking in the evangelist who forgets that his duty is to present Christ, not himself.  It is lacking in the Christian who imagines that his or her salvation will be achieved on the basis of personal goodness.

Need. The word ought to be emblazoned upon the heart of every Christian for the day will never come when the mercy and  grace of God is not our greatest need. The one who glories in self has yet to recognize this.  When they do, that realization will crush the pride that bars their way to the Lord and salvation.

— Via University Heights Messenger, December 18, 2016, Volume 8, Number 56
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“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.  He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD” (Proverbs 16:18-20, NASB).
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The Fundamentals

Allen Smith

It’s impossible to accomplish some things in life until we have mastered the fundamentals. Any sports coach will tell you that a great team has to first be grounded in the fundamentals. Teachers will tell you the same thing about successful students – and the same thing is true about Christians. The fundamentals – the “first principles” – are not always the most enjoyable part, but they are the most essential part of what we need to learn. If we don’t, we may very well be characterized by these words – “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

May we be well-grounded in the fundamentals so we can grow up to enjoy the “solid food” found in God’s word.

— Via The Old Hickory Bulletin, 5/4/2014
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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,
living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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).
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Contents:

1) “Lessons From A Changing World” (Larry Rouse)
2) Themes of the Law (Doy Moyer)
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“Lessons From A Changing World”

Larry Rouse

Anyone who lived in the 1950s or 1960s has witnessed great changes in our society. These changes have come so fast and moved so swiftly that if one fifty years ago had been told of these coming changes I am certain that he would not have believed them. Any change within the society around us will have a corresponding effect upon Christians in that society. A careful study of the churches of Asia in the book of Revelation reveals the struggle that must take place in the heart of every Christian against the surrounding social conditions.

Changing morals and decaying societies are not new in human history. We may as a country be moving even more rapidly towards self-destruction than societies of the past, but as Christians we can rest in the certainties of an unchanging God and His revealed will. In the hymn “Abide with Me” we sing: “Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changes not, abide with me!” Indeed God Himself has told us, “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

How can we resist the raging currents pulling us within this culture? We look to the God who is far greater than anything men or the rulers of men could ever say or do. In Isaiah, God says: “Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15). The promise of God’s continual care and guidance makes the shallow and false promises of the world seem as nothing. Our challenge is to build and maintain an unshakable faith in an unchanging God. Do you daily glory in the promise that God made when He said: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6).

We need the wisdom of God to see this world for what it is and to overcome the efforts of Satan to subvert our faith. God has plainly described both the end of worldly things and the means of attack Satan will use. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

— via Online Articles from the Manslick Road church of Christ, June 29, 2014
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Themes of the Law

Doy Moyer

The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) is probably the the most well-known part of the Law of Moses (Exod. 20; Deut. 5). The framework for the rest of the Law is found therein. While it is tempting to view the commandments as a list to check-off, those commandments were to be seen as foundational to the Israelites’ way of life. The Decalogue is a charter of ethical behavior and respect. Consider the basic commands:

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol (no graven images, not to worship or serve them).

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

5. Honor your father and mother.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house or wife.

Applications of these commands are many and varied. For example, Jesus demonstrated how these commands are to be understood in a broader context than just a check-list. He showed that not only is the act of murder wrong, but the attitude that leads to it is also a violation of the principle (Matthew 5:21-22). Not only is the act of adultery sinful, but the lust that leads to the act is also sinful (Matthew 5:27-28; see also James 1:13-15). In other words, understanding the nature of these commandments means understanding the principles that can be applied to various circumstances. Never should we see God’s word as a rote check-list with no further implications.

With that in mind, think about some of the interwoven themes that are involved in these commandments*:

1. Authority. The authority of God is stressed in the first four commands. No other god has the authority to command and expect obedience, for Yahweh alone is God. He is the Creator and has the right to be honored by His creation. Further, the authority of parents is stressed in the fifth command. Children were to honor their parents and obey them. The significance should be apparent in that the home is the first place children are going to learn about the concept of authority. Most importantly, they will learn something about God’s authority. The command to honor father and mother comes in the middle of the ten purposefully, as it serves as a hinge that points to both God and others.

2. Respect. Respect for God demands close attention to how we view and treat God. Making a graven image of God or taking His name in vain shows a lack of respect for God with His glory and dignity. Idolatry is an attempt to bring God down to humanity’s level or lower. Likewise, a lack of respect for human life, marriage, and personal property is what would lead to someone violating the commands that relate other people. Inherent in the commandments are the rights and privileges of individuals to own property and expect others to respect that personal property. Murder, adultery, and stealing represents a complete disrespect for what God considers precious and valuable.

3. Commitment. One who is committed to God will also be committed to holiness. The commandment to keep the sabbath holy presents a principle that requires His people to keep all holy things holy. Keep what is holy in its proper place, and by this God is honored. If God has pronounced something holy, then we must be committed to keeping it that way in our lives. Further, the commandment not to bear false witness represents a commitment to truth. The ethic of the child of God will not permit lies and slander. Commitment is also foundational both to authority and respect. Without a fundamental commitment to do what is right as defined by God, then nothing else will work properly.

The commandments were not intended to be read in some wooden fashion that failed to appreciate the underlying principles. Again, Jesus also showed this point when He was asked about the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Isn’t it interesting that His response does not include one of the Ten Commandments, but rather commandments that are all encompassing. Loving God and loving neighbors stretch across the ten commandments to all of the Law and the prophets. While we need to follow the commandments of God (whether old or new stipulations), we also need to learn to understand the principles implied by the commandments. This will take some discernment, but that process comes through our maturity in Christ (see Heb. 5:14).

All of this reflects upon how we read Scripture. Are we seeing the principles, the connections, and the applications that grow from the passages? Are we just looking for a minimal list of what we have to do, or are we seeking to better understand our God and Savior through His Scriptures so we can better love and appreciate who He is and what He has done for us?

*These are not unique to me, but I believe these well express the basic categories.

— via Bulletin Articles of the Vestavia church of  Christ, December 11, 2016
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 “…Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD! You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:6-8, NASB).
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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, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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).
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Contents:

1) “My Lord and My God!” (Tom Edwards)
2) “It’s About Me!” (Steve Patton)
3) Why Do We Have the Lord’s Supper on the First Day of the Week? (Bill Crews)
4) Still Growing! (Tom Edwards)
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“My Lord and My God!”

Tom Edwards

Thomas was not present when the Lord had first appeared to the ten apostles, after His resurrection.  In later hearing their testimony that “We have seen the Lord!,” Thomas then responded, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25).

It was the following Sunday when Thomas was given that opportunity.  For the Lord again appeared to His disciples, standing in their midst and saying, “Peace be with you” (v. 26).  And then, specifically to Thomas, Jesus said, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (v. 27).

We are not told whether Thomas actually touched the Lord or not, but we are given his response in what he saw, when he acknowledged, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28).

Jesus then said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (v. 29).

We note that Jesus does not specifically say that Thomas had touched Him, but that he had seen Him – and that appears to have been all that was necessary for this previous doubter!

Thomas, of course, had not been the only doubter, prior to seeing the resurrected Lord.  For that was also the case of all the Lord’s apostles – and even after hearing the testimony of Mary Magdalene, that faithful follower of Jesus Christ who had often been with them, and the one to whom the Lord first appeared, following His resurrection (Mark 16:9).  For she had declared to them that she had seen the Lord; yet, the apostles did not believe her (vv. 10,11).  Where was that knowledge and even that inkling of faith in them that the Lord was to arise from the dead?  Had they had that, would not such a testimony of Mary have been all they needed to have sparked and brought them to the realization of this marvelous event?!

The Lord’s resurrection is that which truly bears witness to His Deity.  For as Paul writes concerning Jesus, “who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was DECLARED THE SON OF GOD WITH POWER BY THE RESURRECTION from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 1:3,4, emphasis mine).

And as we just saw, it was in seeing the resurrected Jesus that prompted Thomas to declare, “My Lord and my God!”

If Christ had been merely a man, would not His response to Thomas have been a rebuke for calling Him “God”?!

Thomas would certainly not call the apostle John “God” nor say that about any other man.  But he said that of Jesus, and the Lord did not point out any error in what Thomas had said, but accepted it.  And not only that, but He also pronounced blessing upon all those who had not seen, but yet still believed in His resurrection.

We recall the time when Peter came to the household of Cornelius, and Cornelius “fell at his feet and worshiped him” (Acts 10:25).  But in seeing that, “Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up, I too am just a man’” (v. 26).

And when the apostle John, while receiving the great Revelation from God through an angel, “fell at his feet to worship him,” the angel said, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God…” (Rev. 19:10).

So even holy angels are not to be worshiped.  Yet, according to Hebrews 1:6, all the angels are to worship Jesus Christ!

While on earth, Jesus was worshiped.  He was worshiped when an infant (Matt. 2:11).  He was worshiped in adulthood (Matt. 14:33, 28:9,27; John 9:38) – and not once did He rebuke any of these for doing so!  For Jesus is to be reverenced and worshiped just as greatly as we reverence and worship the Father – and to not do so is to not honor the Father at all!  As the Lord declares, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (Jn. 5:22,23).

After considering all of these above passages, we should well understand what the Lord meant by warning, “unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24).

May the world not only come to that great conclusion that Jesus truly is Lord, and that Jesus is truly God; but also be able to declare, like Thomas, that Jesus is “My Lord and my God!”

* All Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible.
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“It’s About Me!”

Steve Patton

Our world constantly emphasizes that life is “all about me.”  We have it hammered into our brains daily with ad slogans like: “You are special.  You deserve a break today.  Have it your way.  Because you’re worth it.  We do it all for you.  It’s everywhere you want to be.”  So life is all about me and my wants and desires.  Happiness means getting everything I want.

I believe such an idea can be attributed to two things.  One is the battle with our own lusts — lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eye, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16).  Flesh versus spirit is a battle we fight our whole life. God’s Word teaches us that self-denial and sacrifice are fundamental to a meaningful existence (Luke 9:27; Romans 12:1, etc.).

But secondly, we are told that life can be meaningful without a belief in a Creator God who is the source of all existence and to whom we will ultimately answer.  Radical evolutionists have been at the heart of this idea, telling us that this world is here without the hand of God, and that its continued successful existence is up to man.  In the evolutionist’s mind we are but one species in a long continuum of beings evolving into higher forms over billions of years.  Our responsibility is to do our part to see that this evolutionary march continues throughout the millenniums ahead.  I’m not sure why they think we should do this since we each live only one lifetime.  Shouldn’t that one brief lifetime be filled with doing whatever I want, not with fulfilling any responsibility to future higher evolved beings?  After all they will not care one bit about me and how I lived.

The evolutionist says that to find meaning to life, do not look up.  Rather look around you and find something more important than yourself and work for it.  Sounds good but I think someone long ago tried that.  King Solomon recounted his quest for meaning in “something more.” With great success he completed grand projects, amassed fortunes, and enjoyed mountaintop experiences, each failing to quell his heart’s deepest pangs. His life lesson: Lasting significance is not found in something, but in Someone (Eccl. 12:14).

Do not let this world fool you.  Life is not just about “me.”  It is about both God and others.  When your life needs meaning, learn to look up.  Have the heart of the Psalmist when he wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psa. 42:1).  There you will find life’s meaning.

— Via articles from Manslick Road church of Christ, January 19, 2014
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Why Do We Have the Lord’s Supper on the First Day of the Week?

Bill Crews

The New Testament accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper are found in Matt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; and Lk. 22:19-20.  Paul also cites this occurrence in 1 Cor. 11:23-26.  In all of these the followers of Christ are commanded to observe the Lord’s Supper.  Those who constitute a congregation or local church are taught to assemble together for this observance (1 Cor. 11:18,20,33).  In Acts 20:7 we have the example of the church in Troas assembling together “upon the first day of the week” for the purpose of eating the Lord’s Supper (called “breaking bread,” just as it is in Acts 2:42).  This approved example is the only New Testament clue we have as to when first century Christians observed the memorial feast of the Lord’s Supper.  Church histories compiled by men confirm that it was indeed the practice of Christians in the first few centuries to assemble on the first day of each week for the purpose of eating the Lord’s Supper.  In later years, led by those who believe that the frequency of doing so and the day of the week upon which it is done are not important, the practice of annual, quarterly, and monthly observances were begun. There is no Bible authority for such.

— via the articles of the Collegevue church of Christ, November 13, 2016
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Still Growing!

In thinking of our need to continually grow in our relationship with God, I was once reminded of that by Pablo Casals — that renowned cellist who was a virtuoso in his field.  On his 75th birthday an interviewer asked him why he still found it necessary to practice the cello for four hours a day. “Because,” Casals answered, “I think I’m making some progress.”

Regardless of how long we have been a Christian, we, too, can still make some progress as we continue in our service to God and grow in His word.  And may that always be our desire.

— Tom
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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, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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) Sacrifice, Forgiveness, and Holding Fast: A Picture of the Gospel (Doy Moyer)
2) Careful Learning (Gary Henry)
3) Not Enough Time to Read the Bible? (selected)
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Sacrifice, Forgiveness, and Holding Fast: A Picture of the Gospel

Doy Moyer

Hebrews 10 gives us a powerful lesson on the plan of God. Understanding God’s plan through the shadow and form concepts appealed to in Hebrews also gives us great incentive for remaining faithful to Christ. Let’s be reminded of the importance of understanding this. Please read Hebrews 9-10 to get the bigger picture.

Shadow and Form

The Law was never meant to be the final piece of God’s plan. Instead, it was meant to point to Jesus, who would complete and perfect it through His sacrifice. The Hebrews writer says the Law contained a “shadow,” not the actual form of what God intended (Heb. 10:1). This “shadow” concept shows that one who focused on the Law and didn’t see what the Law intended would be like someone staring at a shadow and thinking that the shadow was its own entity. The Law foreshadowed something much greater; it was never meant to be an end in itself.

Included in the Law were the sacrifices (in addition to other “regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary,” Heb. 9:1). Because these sacrifices were part of the shadow, they could not in themselves “perfect those who draw near.” If they were capable of doing that, then they would not have needed to be offered year after year. One sacrifice worked for a time, but then another sacrifice was needed, and then another. Each sacrifice was only temporary. Why? “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).

A Body Prepared

But God had a plan. These sacrifices, as part of that Law, pointed to someone much greater. How would God provide a sacrifice that would not have to be re-offered year after year? The writer appropriates Psalm 40 to show that ultimately those animal sacrifices were not what God had in mind for His plan to forgive. Rather, a particular person is in view: “I have come … to do Your will, O God” (10:7). In order to accomplish this will, a body was prepared by which that “once for all time” sacrifice would be made. No longer would the yearly sacrifices be needed. By preparing the body of Jesus, “He takes away the first in order to establish the second” so that “by this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (vv 9-10).

The New Covenant is about forgiveness (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-13), and God’s plan for salvation is wrapped up in Jesus. The old law, the old sacrifices, the old priesthood, could not offer what God ultimately wanted to accomplish. They were given for a time, given temporarily until the right time for Christ to come, but the time came when they had to be set aside. By establishing the covenant through Christ, and through Christ’s one offering of His own body, “He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Since forgiveness is now possible through Jesus, there is no longer a need for the continual offering of sacrifices required by the Law (Heb. 10:18).

Holding Fast the Confession

Now think about the Temple imagery from Hebrews 9. How do we go into the Holy Place of God? The answer is “by the blood of Jesus,” which constitutes a “new and living way which He inaugurated through the veil, that is, His flesh” (vs. 20). The veil that separated the Ark of the Covenant from the rest of the temple can now be approached by all who share in the blood of Jesus. Because we have such a great priest over God’s house, the results are clear: “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…” (vs. 22). Christ’s sacrifice was intended to allow us to draw near to God.

We have been washed, our consciences purged, and this gives us the incentive to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” We know that God is faithful. In turn, we need to encourage each other to continue doing what is right — to stimulate one another to love and good works. Sadly, some had forsaken those efforts, discouraged perhaps by persecutions and trials. But we must take the long view, understanding that God will do exactly as He has promised in His time.

Failure to stay true to God will only result in judgment. Spurning the sacrifice of Jesus has terrible consequences. If people died without mercy under Moses’ law, how much severer should the punishment be for those who regard the blood of Christ as unholy and insult the Spirit of grace? The writer’s encouragement is clear: we are not those who turn away. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised … but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (vv. 36-39).

May God help us to see the greatness of His plan, Christ’s sacrifice, and our need for remaining faithful to Him.

— via bulletin articles of the Vestavia church of Christ, November 13, 2016
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Careful Learning

Gary Henry

“For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).

AS PLEASURABLE AS OUR INTELLECTUAL PURSUITS MAY BE, WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO KEEP THESE IN PERSPECTIVE. Like the Athenians, we may be thrilled “to tell or to hear some new thing.” But it is to be hoped that we have our sights set on something more than the mere exchange of intellectual information. Seeking God requires the use of our intellects, and there is an intense joy in the right use of the minds that we’ve been given. Yet seeking God is not just an intellectual pursuit. We must work at achieving balance between this priority and others that are no less important.

One of the dangers that we face, of course, is pride. Paul contrasted the benevolent benefits of love with the lofty attitude that often goes with learning when he said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1). It is a rare individual who can make more intellectual progress than his peers and not begin to feel at least a little proud of that fact. So in seeking the knowledge of God, we must keep pride in check by every possible means.

But the word “love” suggests another danger: we may become so consumed with intellectual activity that we disconnect ourselves from the people around us and from the active responsibilities of daily living. Spiritually speaking, we can’t afford the luxury of living in an ivory tower. Having wrestled, perhaps by the burning of midnight oil, with the ideas that are involved in seeking God, we must come out into the sunshine of real human relationships and put to work the truths that we have learned. We must not engage in “pointless lucubrations,” as I once heard a friend refer to purely abstract inquiries.

There is a great accountability that goes with knowledge. On the one hand, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and on the other, much will be expected of those to whom much has been given. Whether we’ve learned little or much, whatever we’ve learned involves a stewardship. There are serious responsibilities that go with knowledge, and especially with the knowledge of God. To know even a little of Him is a privilege that we should respond to with reverence, caution, and respect.

“Don’t let your intellectual pleasure exceed your fear of misusing it” (Guigo I).

— Via WordPoints, December 3, 2016 (https://wordpoints. com/careful-learning-december-3/)
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“I will rejoice and be glad in your lovingkindness, Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul” (Psalm 31:7).
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hourglass-and-clock

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Not Enough Time to Read the Bible?

How much time does it take to read from Genesis to Revelation?  If you would read the Bible at a standard ‘pulpit’ speed  (slow enough to be heard and understood),  the reading time would be seventy-one (71)  hours.  If you would break that down into minutes and divide it into 365 days, you could read the entire Bible, cover to cover, in one year by only reading 12 minutes per day.  Is this too much time to spend reading about God?

— selected (via articles from the Collegevue church of Christ)
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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, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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) “Let Another Man Praise You” (R.J. Evans)
2) Born (Again) to Serve (John Thompson)
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1cor1_31

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“Let Another Man Praise You”

R.J. Evans

“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger and not your own lips”  (Proverbs 27:2).

Is it safe to say that most of us have difficulty from time to time in heeding and obeying the words of wisdom in our text?  I’m sure we have all been guilty of doing a little bragging and boasting at times.  In fact, generally speaking, it appears that boasting has become an accepted practice in our present culture.  Just think about politics or the social media, and you realize how common it has become.

The boaster is the individual who wants other people to think of him as a great doer of many things.  He is the type individual who likes to talk about himself, and is not bashful about bragging about all his accomplishments.  There is an old saying that is associated with this kind of person: “If you want to know how great he is (or members of his family), just ask him, and he will tell you.”  Then there are those who do not have to be asked; they constantly boast about themselves, whether others want to hear it or not.

We just mentioned that boasting has become a part of our present culture.  We can also observe that this practice is addressed in God’s word.  In Romans 1, the Apostle Paul described the many evil characteristics of the Gentiles, one of which consisted of “boasters” (v. 30).  In writing to Timothy, he stated, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy”  (2 Tim. 3:1-2).  These sins are running rampant today, and most certainly, boasting is no exception.

The Apostle Paul did engage “in a little folly” — a type of foolish boasting in order to expose his opponents who were false apostles — taking advantage of the brethren at Corinth (2 Cor. 11).  However, he had already established the fact that acceptable glorying or boasting is to be only in the Lord — “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Cor. 10:17).  Likewise, he told the Galatians: “But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

There are many admonitions throughout God’s word against being proud and boastful.  Jesus taught that when we do our good deeds, don’t “sound a trumpet” but let it be in secret to the extent that — “when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matt. 6:1-4).  In other words, don’t be telling others and bragging about what good deeds you have done.  The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector teaches against self-righteous boasting and pride (Lk. 18:9-14). The Apostle Paul stated, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).  In planning for the future, James said “you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’  But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (Jas. 4:15-16).

Boasters are proud, which is totally against the humble spirit that should characterize the faithful child of God.  James said, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).  The boaster is one who thinks he is better/smarter/more important than others.  But the Scripture teaches that “in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).  The boaster often makes others feel bad about themselves, and become discouraged over “falling so short” of all the braggart’s alleged accomplishments and abilities.  But the Lord says, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Rom. 15:2).  And there are other problems associated with all the damage a boaster causes.  Thus, boasting is an attempt to belittle others, while seeking to elevate self above everyone else.

It has been said that no one likes to be around a boaster — having to constantly hear him brag about himself.  No doubt about it, that is so true!  Who wants to hear and see actions of someone essentially saying: “Look at me and see how great I am”?  Never let it be said or observed that the faithful child of God is a boaster.  May we at all times heed the words of our title: “LET ANOTHER MAN PRAISE YOU.”

— via the bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, October 16, 2016
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2cor4_5

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Born (Again) to Serve

John Thompson

Jesus entered Jerusalem about six days before He was to be crucified. One evening at supper with His apostles, he did an unusual thing.  Ever the master teacher, he arose, removed his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, put some water into a basin and began to wash the feet of his disciples. He had a reason for doing this most humbling act of servitude.

12“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him’” (John 13:12-16).

Jesus not only humbled himself, taking on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), but he performed one of the more disgusting tasks of washing dirty, dust-encrusted feet.  Furthermore, he washed the feet of those under his authority: the teacher washing the feet of his students. Finally, he washed the feet of his enemy, his betrayer, for Judas had not yet left to carry out his plan.

Do you remember the story of young Samuel, how he was leant to the Lord by his mother and reared by Eli? After some misunderstanding who was calling him, Samuel was finally advised by Eli to respond by saying, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.” Can you think of a better way to respond to the Lord? There is so much contained in that short response: a recognition of Deity; an attitude of servitude; and the willingness to learn and carry out the Lord’s will.

You know, some of the godliest people who have ever  lived were perfectly content to be servants of God.  When  Satan appeared before God, as reported in the book of Job, God expressed extraordinary confidence in His servant, Job: 8“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is no one like him on the  earth, a blameless and upright man, who  fears God and turns away from evil?’” (Job 1:8). Paul, who played such an indispensable role in the establishment and spread of the church, was just as prone to refer to himself as a servant of God as he was to call himself an apostle: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1).  See also Titus 1:1.  James, Peter, and Jude also begin their inspired letters by identifying themselves as servants of God.

Paul makes it plain that being  a servant of God means serving others. 5“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

In a time when entitlements are on everyone’s minds and people are quick to demand to receive what they believe they deserve, servitude will not be very popular.

When one becomes a Christian, he or she is born again, born again to serve Christ through service to others. Serving others is, very simply, the means by which the Christian serves God. 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:34-40).

An article on servitude is appropriate at any time, but especially so at this time. Our brother, Garry Banks, was a servant of the Lord who did not hesitate to serve others. He is now at rest awaiting his final reward.  I believe God could have said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Garry Banks?” And I believe Garry will hear, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…. as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

— Via University Heights Messenger, August 14, 2016, Volume 8, Number 34
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“For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).
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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, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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) Heaven: An Inheritance (Bill Feist)
2) “Keep Watch Over the Door of My Lips” (Greg Gwin)
——————–

1peter1_3-4

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Heaven: An Inheritance

Bill Feist

Have you ever traveled a long ways and finally reached your destination where you have a reservation only to have a clerk, with a blank look on his face, after searching through some computer terminal, say, “I don’t see your name on the list”? It is shattering to think that your name is not on the list, even though you know you made a reservation. You can be sure of one thing if you are a Christian, you have a reward reserved for you. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:3-4). This is one reservation that is going to be honored. Each of us needs to be sure to get there and claim it.

Men are interested in and have a desire for a life beyond this one. Man longs for immortality. Paul expressed this longing in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” The children of the world have no inheritance awaiting them at the end of this life. The Christian can say with assurance, “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Cor. 5:1).

Scripture uses the word “inheritance” to refer to a settled and secure possession. Inheritance in the Old Testament Scriptures referred not only to an estate received by a child from his parents, but also to the land received by the children of Israel as a gift from Jehovah. To Israel the great inheritance was the “Promised Land” which “flowed with milk and honey.” God even identified Israel as a “people of inheritance” (Deut. 4:20).

The Christian’s inheritance is far greater than any physical heritage. The greatness of the Christian’s inheritance is most difficult to depict. This is due to the fact that our heavenly inheritance is so unlike our earthly existence that we have to be told what heaven will not be like. Thus, Peter uses three negatives to impress upon us the fact that heaven is not like anything which we know on this earth. No man has within his power the ability to alter the reality of what Peter states. Consider the comparable excellencies of the inheritance.

The heavenly inheritance is “incorruptible.” Observation informs us that the greatest achievements of man give way to the ravening touch of time. Many have returned to the old homestead only to find it in a state of decay and deterioration due to neglect and the passage of time. Scripture says that heaven is a place that shall never decay. Corruption is a change from better to worse. There will be no corruption in heaven. No destructive force can in any way injure this eternal inheritance as they do the inheritances of the earth. Rust, moth and thieves (Matt. 6:19) can harm this material inheritance. They can not touch the eternal one. Why strive to attain earthly rewards which must ultimately fade and perish, when there is within your grasp an incorruptible inheritance? This inheritance that God offers his people is alone incorruptible. In this respect it is like its Maker who is called by Paul in Romans 1:23 the “incorruptible God.” Heaven is without change, as it is without end.

Our inheritance is also identified as being “undefiled.” Being “undefiled” our inheritance is not subject to contamination. The things that spoil our world or mar its beauty will have no place in heaven. Sin, misery, death, separations, loneliness, physical handicaps, mental pains and all tears will be gone. Nothing impure can enter it. Deterioration is thus impossible. It is pure and lofty. It is an inheritance we can desire without any reservations. Material inheritances may corrupt the heart (Lk. 12:13-15). They may tempt us to extravagance, covetousness or lust. The heavenly inheritance will never tend in any means to defile. Heaven is like our great High Priest, even Jesus, “who is holy, harmless, undefiled” (Heb. 7:26).

Peter’s final negative describing our inheritance is that it “will not fade away.” The word translated here is properly applied to that which does not fade or wither, as a cut flower. It denotes that which is enduring. Our inheritance will not lose anything as a result of age, illness or familiarity. It will not be marred by impurity or through damage by our enjoyment. Such suggests our inheritance will be kept in its original brightness and beauty. In view of this thought, the figures used in Scripture to describe heaven would roughly translate into these thoughts: the streets will lose none of their luster, the crown of life will not need elbow grease to polish it up, nor will the flowers on the banks of the river of life ever fade. Man has searched for the fountain of youth where all things are able to remain in their prime. This picture of our inheritance offers a perpetual fountain of youth.

Here is an inheritance appointed for us who are kept by one who cannot lie and can bestow all that he has promised. It is not available in this life. The people for whom this heavenly inheritance is reserved are described, not by name, but by character: “for you” or “for us.” It is for those who have been begotten again to a lively hope (1 Pet. 1:3) and have remained faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10). The inheritance is reserved for such as these. All others will be shut out forever (Matt. 25:10). This inheritance is reserved in heaven and is not to be expected on this earth (2 Pet. 3:10-13). Our inheritance is in heaven where Jesus has gone to prepare us a place (Jn. 14:1-3). He keeps it safe. Earthly inheritances may be lost by careless or unscrupulous guardians. Our inheritance is as sure as the God who offers it.

Having an eternal inheritance gives us perspective. Perspective is what helps us determine what is really important in life. This is illustrated, without the use of the word inheritance, in Hebrews 10:34, “For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.” This is what gives direction in our lives. This is our hope for when this life is completed.

Going to heaven is not the natural result of simply having lived. It involves a choice. When Jesus taught concerning the foolish virgins (Matt. 25:1-13), he was trying to impress upon our minds that everybody who anticipates going to heaven isn’t going to go there. The foolish virgins were not foolish because they were immoral, they were virgins. They were not foolish because they were in the wrong company, they were with the wise. They were foolish because they had a vain expectation of seeing the bridegroom. They had not been willing to prepare for him. They counted on others to have their preparation for them. Finally it was too late. They were on the outside looking in, as the door was shut. To go to heaven takes time, prayer, thought, planning, discipline and perseverance.

1 Peter 1:3-4 combines the beginning of our spiritual life with its consummation. Daily life lies between these two extremes. Living in a world that is often hostile to us, our hearts ought to be filled with longing for the inheritance set before us. What a weighty incentive to faithfulness is our eternal inheritance!

The “inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,” is an appeal to the aspiring. Why seek earthly distinctions which must pass away, when within your reach is the unfading inheritance of God? This is stimulus to endure the combat of daily life. Why grow weary, why sink fainthearted in the strife, when there is stretched forth before and above you, the Divine and imperishable inheritance of heaven?

— Via Guardian of Truth XXXV: 20, pp. 611-612, October 17, 1991
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“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
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proverbs21_23

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“Keep Watch Over the Door of My Lips”

Greg Gwin

Our  words  have  powerful  potential  for  good  and  for evil  –  to  help  or  to  harm.   Knowing  this, we need to exercise great caution concerning the things we say.

Have  you ever been hurt – seriously  wounded – by the words of another?  Has  a brother or sister  spoken  something  that  seemed  to  cut  like  a  knife?   And  then,  when  you  responded,  they replied: “Well, that’s not what I meant.”  Or, “you took that in a way that was not intended.”

Okay,  we  accept  that  explanation  if  sincerely  offered,  but  we  would  warn  to  be  ever  more careful  with  your  words.   Even  when  not  intended,  words  carelessly  chosen  can  do  much damage.   And,  who  knows  how  often  we  might  have  said  things  that  unknowingly  hurt  another and they suffered silently, never mentioning how painful our words were to them.  Be careful!

Know that your words can cut like a sharp sword (Psalm 57:4).  Make sure that what you say will build up and not tear down (Ephesians 4:29).  By taking great precautions with our words we will keep ourselves out of trouble (Proverbs 21:23).  Let  us  pray  as  the  psalmist  did:  “Set  a  guard,  O  Lord,  over  my  mouth;  keep  watch  over  the door of my lips” (Psalm 141:3).  Think!

— Via bulletin articles from the Collegevue church of Christ, November 13, 2016
——————–

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, living for the Lord; 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)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 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) Marionettes, Robots, and the Human Being (Tom Edwards)
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puppet_robot_human

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Marionettes, Robots, and the Human Being

Tom Edwards

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As I imagine you know, the previous paragraph is in the binary code, which a computer uses.  But what you might not know is that the above contains only 11 words, along with punctuation marks and numbers, which declare the following:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

Even though the binary code uses only two different digits, what are the odds of each one being the right one in its own place to write this simple, short sentence from Genesis 1:1, if each of those 568 digits had to be selected from a vast number of them and then put in the right places while blindfolded?  Would we not think of that as an impossibility?

Similarly, in thinking of the wooden marionette in the above picture, would I be able to convince you that given enough time — such as billions or trillions of years — that such a puppet could simply evolve on its own to form all the right parts with all the right shapes in all the right places, including the strings and the necessary bendable joints with their needful pins to allow movement?  I imagine you would think me to have no more mind than a marionette when it comes to even suggesting such a thought.

But why is that so seemingly impossible for a lifeless and mindless piece of wood to develop into a marionette without an intelligent source to design it, but not so in the thinking of many people today towards the existence of every different living creature, with its own brain and needful parts, that inhabits our planet on land or in water?

We, of course, are far more advanced than any simple, inanimate marionette, and regardless of how skillfully it has been made. For it exists without knowing, without experiencing, with no sense of being, as if it never was.

While we, on the other hand, have been designed with wondrous complexity of exactly what is needed – the many parts with their individualized and special functions which all work together to make one body.

And think, too, of not only the five senses we have been given of sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste; but also of the senses of balance, of hunger, of thirst, of physical attraction, of motion, etc.  So much we can experience, and we have also been provided with a free will “to pull our own strings.”

But have you ever imagined yourself as being some type of advanced robot — or, more precisely, instead of being some kind of cybernetic organism, you were simply developed as just an organism with only biological parts and without any mechanical or man-made substance? Is that rather far-fetched?

When we think of all in which man has been able to invent, why should we think it so strange that there is a Superior Being much greater than man who also has the ability to have ideas and bring them to reality?  But unlike man, God can even give life to that which He makes!

Recently, I watched an interesting 60-Minutes documentary, hosted by Charlie Rose, that originally aired October 9, 2016, on the subject of Artificial Intelligence and focused on “Watson,” a super-computer built about 5 years ago, which actually, unlike other computers, has been reading and learning on its own and has even been used to diagnose cancer patients and suggest proper treatments.  Watson can read the equivalent of 1 million books in 1 second, which makes it easy for it to keep up with the 8,000 medical research papers that are published every day; and, therefore, able to base cases on the latest findings, rather than using that which might be a year or two old.  In 1,000 patient-cases, Watson suggested the same treatment for 99% of the patients as the physicians had.  But, in addition to that, it also suggested treatment, which the physicians had not known about, for 30% of the other patients, thus helping 300 more.  After spending a week in initially being taught to read medical literature, Watson then read 25 million papers in a following week, plus scanned the web for more clinical information.  Watson also reads medical charts and can spot abnormalities (http://www.cbsnews.com/news/60-minutes-artificial-intelligence-charlie-rose-robot-sophia/).

How helpful Watson can be!  But there are those with some reservations: Perhaps Watson will become too smart – and without caring for mankind.  He was still in just his “infancy” when winning on Jeopardy a few years ago and has advanced since then.

In some futuristic movies, robots, which of course, had to initially be made by man, had evolved into being able to build themselves.   Unfortunately, some of these ended up turning against man, viewed him as a threat, so sought to destroy all human kind.

I wonder where the sci-fi writers got an idea like that?

How many people today, who owe their very existence to God, are actually in rebellion toward Him, their Creator?  How many have closed their ears to His beckoning?  How many are running away from Him?  Ignoring Him?  How many of His prophets, who came to declare God’s message, were persecuted and killed for doing so? How many today try to destroy even the thought of God from the thinking of others, to strive to turn them away from Him, too?  And how can we ever forget what man had done to God’s Son, Jesus Christ (through whom we have been made – – John 1:1-3), whom they severely scourged and torturously put to death by nailing Him to a cross — thus killing their Creator!

Perhaps why it is easy to liken our body to some type of machine is because of all the intricate and interrelated parts that make our bodies what they are –- nerves, arteries, veins, all running where they need to go; heart, lungs, brain, stomach, kidneys, intestines, liver, etc., needful organs with their own special functions for our very existence; eyes, ears, mouth, nose, fingers, toes, hands, feet, legs, arms, skin, etc.  You truly are a marvel when you take the time to ponder these things!

Though it can be interesting to imagine ourselves as some type of advanced biological robot that has been given a mind that can be developed, still we find the most meaning of all in our existence when facing the reality of it and realizing that we are what we are because “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Gen. 1:27). So man is not an animal, nor a machine, nor just some meaningless entity; but, rather, a human being who has been given dominion over all that God has made on earth (v. 26).  And even more wondrous than our physical body is our eternal soul, for that is the part of us that has been created in God’s image.  For “God is Spirit…” (Jn. 4:24), but “…a spirit does not have flesh and bones…” (Luke 24:39).

Yes, we are each truly marvels when we take the time to really consider all that makes us what we are, as David did when he declared, “For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well” (Psalm 139:13,14).

And as we think of the contrast between us and a marionette, will there not be even more of a contrast between the earthly body of man and that which the redeemed will have in heaven?  For as Paul writes, “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 the 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” (1 Cor. 15:50-57).

In view of this wonderful change that is coming for the faithful child of God, let us take heed to what Paul goes on to say: “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” (v. 57).

The apostle John also writes of this, by saying, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be.  We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.  And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).

If a mindless puppet required someone with intelligence to make it, how much more should we realize the need for our Creator in making us what we are?

In creating man, God also provided us with a free will and the ability to develop intellectually, socially, and spiritually.  He made it possible that we can strive to fulfill our primary purpose for being here, which Solomon declares in Ecclesiastes 12:13: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: For this is the whole duty of man.”

Yes, God could have made various puppets and pulled their strings to do whatever He chose; but those puppets would never be able to show love to God, commune with Him in prayer, have spiritual fellowship with Him and enjoy and be thankful for His blessings.

But we, who have been created in God’s image, can.  By our faith and obedience to the Lord we can honor, submit to, worship, and love God, thus also enjoying and being grateful for the blessings He has made possible for us in His Son Jesus Christ! (cf. Jn. 14:21; Jn.15:10; 1 Jn. 5:3).

Though there are those who believe that humans have descended from a single-celled organism that had first come into being in some mud pond more than 3.6 billion years ago and went through many evolutionary changes, over long periods of time to become what we are today, that is not the account that our Creator gives in His Divinely Inspired word, the Bible.  And how much more comforting God’s truth is — to know that we are a part of His doing!  Our bodies, as well as our eternal souls, were made possible by Him!  And those who have been redeemed, through that wonderful atonement that Jesus made by His death on the cross of Calvary for every sinner (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18,19; Heb. 2:9; Rom. 5:6-10), will one day come to see what even greater things God can do for them in eternal glory, if they remain true and faithful to Him while here on earth.  For now Jesus rules over all, from the right hand of God (cf. Matt. 28:18); and to whom we willingly and gladly submit, as we await that great day when all the saved will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air and ever be with Him in glory (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18).  Oh, what a day to be ready for — a day of great change from the earthly to the heavenly, from the mortal to the immortal!  What great design God will have for us there!  For He is the Designer of that as well.  As we see in the Lord’s promise to His apostles: “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. 14:2,3, emphasis mine).

We often give recognition and praise where it is due.  Artists, sculptors, inventors, writers, musicians, etc., are often acclaimed for their great works.  Isn’t it sad that so many see the many wonders of creation, but know of no one to whom they can acknowledge as the Designer of it all to give praise and thanksgiving toward?  But just as seeing a marionette or a robot reminds us that someone made it, seeing the wonders of creation, should cause us all to do likewise, in realizing our need, as well as all other created things, for an Intelligent Designer.
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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, living for the Lord; 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) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 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) Who Are the “Captives” of Ephesians 4:8? (Tom Edwards)
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Who Are the “Captives” of Ephesians 4:8?

Tom Edwards

In the above passage, Paul states, “There it says, ‘WHEN HE ASCENDED ON HIGH, HE LED CAPTIVE A HOST OF CAPTIVES, AND HE GAVE GIFTS TO MEN.’”

But just who were these who were led captive?

Though some people view this as pertaining to those who had formerly been in bondage to Satan and sin, but were now set free by Christ, it appears to rather be speaking of not the redeemed, but of those who are the conquered enemies of the Lord.

So though it is true that Christ came to this world “to proclaim release to the captives” (Luke 4:18) — that release is for just those who will submit their lives to the Lord.  For if we do not, we will remain in bondage.

In the Bible in Basic English and the Contemporary English Version, these captives are referred to as “prisoners.”  And also in the Holman Christian Standard Bible, which words it as, “…He took prisoners into captivity….”

That certainly doesn’t sound like a deliverance in being set free; but, instead, an imprisonment.

The language, especially in the New International Version, is reminiscent of the long-ago custom by triumphant armies to victoriously return from the battle with a train of chained prisoners following behind them, and, thus, manifesting the enemies’ defeat and the victors’ triumph. The NIV uses this term “train” in our passage under consideration, by saying, “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train….”

In the song of Deborah and Barak, it is said, “Awake, awake, Deborah; Awake, awake, sing a song! Arise, Barak, and take away your captives, O son of Ahinoam” (Judges 5:12, emphasis mine). As Adam Clarke writes, “the conqueror was placed in a very elevated chariot. … The conquered kings and generals were usually bound behind the chariot of the conqueror, to grace the triumph.” Tacitus writes of the capture of Caratacus as “an incident as glorious as the exhibition to the Roman people of Syphax by Publius Scipio, or Perseus by Lucius Paulus, of other manacled kings by other generals” (annals, XII, 38, emphasis mine).

Part of this ancient custom of the train of chained prisoners following their conquerors in procession is said to have also involved the giving of gifts, which was the plunder taken from the enemy and now distributed to the triumphant army and their people, after returning from the victory.

So the language pertaining to Christ in the above passage appears to be an allusion toward that ancient military custom. And the “booty” He gave are the gifts mentioned just three verses down, 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” (Eph. 4:11,12).

How needful these “gifts” were to the early church to be led in the way of truth, while the gospel was still being revealed, part by part; and men, at that time, were seeing as if only “in a mirror dimly” (which was just polished metal in those days), since the completed New Testament, which would enable them to see clearly, as if “face to face,” was not yet all revealed (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-12 — “the perfect” is the gospel in its entirety).

And did not Jesus have to first conquer Satan, sin, and death before those “gifts” could truly be given? For though the apostles were apostles even prior to the Lord’s ascension, yet at that previous time they were lacking in knowledge and power. Therefore, Jesus said to them, with regard to the promise of the Holy Spirit, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come” (John 16:12,13, NASB). This is why, following His resurrection and prior to His ascension, Jesus “commanded” His apostles “…not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, ‘Which,’ He said, ‘you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” (Acts 1:4,5).

This is also why, in comforting the apostles about His soon departure, Jesus told them that “…It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you” (Jn. 16:7).

The “Helper” is the Holy Spirit (Jn. 14:16-17,26; Jn. 15:26,27; 16:7-15), whom the apostles received on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), ten days after the Lord’s ascension (Acts 1:4,5, 9-11). So the Holy Spirit was that “power from on high” (Luke 24:49) that they were to receive in Jerusalem, in order to be effectual witnesses of Christ, empowered and led by the Holy Spirit and enabled to work miraculous signs to confirm the divinely inspired word of which they proclaimed (cf. Mark 16:20; Acts 4:9,10; 2 Cor. 12:12).

The very fact that the Holy Spirit was outpoured on the apostles in Jerusalem, and made evident by their speaking in tongues (Acts 2), is also an indication that Christ truly did ascend back to God’s right hand in the glories of heaven to fulfill that promise! For it was also at that time of His arrival that he received “dominion, glory, and a kingdom” (Dan. 7:13).

In Acts 1:9-11, the apostles saw the Lord ascend into a cloud that went toward heaven; but Daniel’s prophecy in Daniel 7:13,14 is from the perspective of heaven, and seeing Jesus COMING UP  “with the clouds of heaven…to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him” (NASB, emphasis mine).

Ephesians 4:8 is suggestive of Psalm 68:18, which is spoken of as being a triumphal psalm. Paul is using it to indicate the Lord’s triumph over sin, over death, and over all the dark forces of wickedness.

By his life, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus triumphed over all his enemies; and that is what Ephesians 4:8 is expressing with the phrase “he led captives in his train.” Corresponding with this, Colossians 2:15 states, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”

Though Christ had come to “preach the gospel to the poor…” and “to proclaim release to the captives,” the “captives” of Ephesians 4:8 are not the redeemed. Rather, they are the enemies of the Lord whom He has taken “captive” and made “prisoners” out of. Vincent Word Studies refers to these “prisoners” as being “Satan, Sin, and Death.”

Destroying the works of the devil was one of the reasons why Jesus came to earth.  As John writes, “the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8, NASB). To accomplish this, the Lord had to become flesh so that He could be put to death and, thus, make an atonement by that death for every sinner. The Hebrew writer states, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).

Christ was not made lower in rank, but simply lower in form by taking on a human body in place of his heavenly one. But, again, this was not only so that He could make that atoning sacrifice on our behalf, but also so that He could take away the power of Satan. As the writer goes on to say, “Therefore since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (vv. 14,15). As Paul also writes, “having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him” (Col. 2:14,15).

So Jesus had “disarmed” these “rulers and authorities.” In some versions, they are referred to as “the principalities and the powers” (ASV) and “all powers and forces” (CEV). To “destroy the works of the devil,” Jesus had to bind Satan; and that was truly accomplished. As the old preacher used to say, “Satan now has no more power over you than what you give him.” The Bible tells us, “But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lusts” (James 1:14); and James goes on to show the remedy in James 4:7: “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

In Mark 3:27, Jesus says, “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.” The Lord said this after being wrongfully accused of being possessed by Beelzebub and casting out demons by the ruler of the demons. Jesus then declared, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. … If Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but he is finished!” (vv. 23-26).  But it was the Lord who out-powered the “strong man” (Satan) and brought him down, making him powerless.

The phrase, “led captive” (Eph. 4:8) is from just one Greek word (“aichmaloteuo”), which, according to Robertson Word Pictures, means “captive in war.”

The phrase “a host of captives” (in the same verse) is also from just one Greek word (“aichmalosia”) and is used in just one other place in the Bible: “If anyone is destined to captivity, to captivity he goes…” (Rev. 13:10).

Jesus truly did ascend to glory, as we just saw in the prophecy of Daniel 7:13,14, and where He was also made “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).  His dominion is over all (Matt. 28:18). Paul declares, “which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:20-23).

Jesus triumphed over Satan, over sin, and over death. By His conquering of these, and, in a manner of speaking, leading them away as His captives, we can now have the victory of Christ’s accomplishment, so that we are no longer under the power of evil, when we submit to God’s plan of salvation and strive to live faithfully, in fellowship with the Lord. For as Paul declares: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, ‘FOR YOUR SAKE WE ARE BEING PUT TO DEATH ALL DAY LONG; WE WERE CONSIDERED AS SHEEP TO BE SLAUGHTERED.’ But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:35-39).

Jesus fully obeyed His Father and triumphed over all evil; and because of that, we can now also have the victory in Him if we truly do hear His word and follow (cf. John 10:27-29)!
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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, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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) Is Thy Heart Right with God? (John Isaac Edwards)
2) Gossip: A Heart Disease (David Hartsell)
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matthew5_8

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Is Thy Heart Right with God?

John Isaac Edwards

The Scriptures often make reference to the heart, the thinking part of man (Prov. 23:7).

Wise Solomon counseled, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov.  4:23). When Simon thought he could purchase the gift of God with money, he was told, “…thy heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21).  Thus we ask, “Is thy heart right with God?” It would be good for each of us to have a spiritual heart exam. You might use this study as a personal checklist to help determine whether your heart is right with God. Do you have…

1) A Loving Heart?

When asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mt. 22:36), Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Mt. 22:37).  Do you have a heart that loves God above everyone and everything else?

2) An Honest and Good Heart?

In the Parable of the Sower, as recorded in Luke 8:4-15, Jesus told about four places the seed fell. These soils represent different hearts. “…that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Lk. 8:15).  Does this describe your heart?

3) A Pricked Heart?

When devout Jews on Pentecost heard Christ preached, “…they were pricked in their heart, and said…what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). We need a heart that is so touched by the word of God that we would ask, “what shall we do?” And whatever the Lord would have us to do, we will gladly do it as, “…they that gladly received his word were baptized…” (Acts 2:41).  How does your heart respond to the word of God?

4) A Single Heart?

Those who obeyed the gospel on Pentecost were described as having “…singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46).  Paul instructed Ephesian and Colossian servants to be obedient to their masters “…in singleness of your heart…” (Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22). A single heart is without double-mindedness.  It’s not divided. It does not seek to please outwardly, but is one of sincerity.

5) A Believing Heart?

When the treasurer asked about being baptized, Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).  Paul taught, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).  Is your heart a believing heart?

6) A Purposed Heart?

Remember Daniel?  He “…purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…”  (Dan. 1:8).  Barnabas exhorted first-century Christians, “…that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23).  Our giving is to be, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart…” (2 Cor. 9:7).  Is your heart resolved or determined in this way?

7) An Obedient Heart?

Paul wrote, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). Without an obedient heart, we will not be saved!  Christ is “…the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).

8) A Melody-Making Heart?

Ephesians 5:19 teaches, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”  Is there within your heart a melody? It is also written, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).

9) A Will of God-Doing Heart?

The Ephesians were instructed, “…as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6).  Is your heart committed to doing the will of God?  Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21).

10) A Pure Heart?

Paul admonished Timothy to have “…a pure heart…” (1 Tim. 1:5) and “…follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).  Peter penned, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet. 1:22).

11)  A True Heart?

Exhorting Christians to be steadfast and unmoveable, the Hebrew writer declared, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” (Heb. 10:22).  When Christians do not hold fast, waver, fail to consider one another and forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is a symptom of spiritual heart trouble! (Heb. 10:23-27).
Can you put a check mark next to all of these?  Is thy heart right with God?

— Via The Terre Haute Speaker, Volume 4, Number 50, December 13, 2015
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ladies-from-long-ago

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Gossip: A Heart Disease

David Hartsell

What is gossip? It is negative, unflattering words that when spread hurt the reputation of others. Sometimes gossip is made up out of thin air. Other times the bare facts related, might be true, but many significant factors are left out, thus leaving a wrong impression. Gossip can be true but serves no good to pass it on. How does the Bible describe it? God’s Word often uses words like whispers, backbiters, and evil speaking (Rom. 1:29-32; 2 Cor. 12:20 & 1 Pet. 1:1). How serious is this behavior to God? Briefly, let us look at some truths about gossip and its spiritual dangers.

Why is whispering so detrimental? What are its fruits? First, whispering can cause strong friendships to dissolve (Prov. 16:28). Imagine how this would interrupt spiritual unity and progress in the church if the conflicting friends were brethren? We must carefully measure everything we say. The consequences can be powerfully negative. Also, backbiting can feel like the “piercing of a sword” (Prov. 12:18).  Has unfair, critical talk about you gotten back to you? It hurts so deeply! This is not what Jesus taught us to do. He commands us to treat others in the way we would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12). Loose speech not only damages the reputation of others, but it diminishes the usefulness of the gossiper. The only one who wins in this scenario is Satan.

Since God’s Word offers such serious warnings against whispering, why do people do it? There are many reasons people participate in loose talk. Some pass on negative information either because they are unaware of the truth or unconcerned about its veracity. Paul said he was slandered when people reported he taught it was all right to do wrong as long as good was accomplished (Rom. 3:8).

That concept is not true. He did not teach it. And it, no doubt, hurt his influence with some. Envy is another reason people will gossip. Some at Corinth were jealous of Paul’s authority and influence  over the brethren there. Therefore, they strongly criticized his right and ability to lead God’s people (2 Cor. 10:10-11).  Paul warned those backbiters that he would deal with them when he came back to Corinth. Finally, some just like meddling in other people’s affairs. It’s exciting to them.  Peter strongly  cautions disciples not to be busybodies (1 Pet.4:15).  He puts this  sin in the same category as being a thief, and evil doer, or a murderer. God disapproves of careless speech.

How can I refrain from gossiping? The simplest answer is to love God. We show our love  for Him by “keeping His commands” (1  John 5:3). When we love Him we love each other. Jesus once said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John13:35). That love will not just refrain from evil speech but it will uplift and encourage others (Eph. 4:29).  Are we a faithful, wise Christian who can listen to sensitive things and  give sound advice while keeping quiet about the whole matter?  God has shown us what is good.  Let’s not forget it!

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…” (Colossians 4:6).

— Via the bulletin of the Birchwood Avenue church of Christ
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“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. … Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:13,16, NASB).
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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, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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).
——————–

1) Beatitudes: “Nothing Succeeds Like Failure” (Paul Earnhart)
2) Truth Is A Mountain (Robert F. Turner)
3) Virtue (Greg Gwin)
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psalm34_18

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Beatitudes: “Nothing Succeeds Like Failure”

Paul Earnhart

Perhaps there is no better statement of the message of the beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) than G. K. Chesterton’s curious little maxim, “Nothing succeeds like failure.” Of course, Jesus was not speaking of real failure even as Chesterton was not, but of what men have generally viewed as failure. The cross was certainly a colossal disaster by every conventional standard. It only seems “right” to many of us now because we have acquiesced in nineteen hundred years of well-established tradition. It is not so remarkable then that a kingdom destined to be hoisted to power on a cross should be full of surprises and that Jesus should say that only those who were apparent failures had any hope of its blessedness. In the following beatitudes the Savior makes very clear that the kingdom of heaven belongs, not to the full, but to the empty.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). Jesus begins by touching the wellspring of the character of the kingdom citizen — his attitude toward himself in the presence of God. Luke abbreviates this beatitude to, “Blessed are you poor” (Luke 6:20) and records also a woe pronounced by Jesus upon the rich (Luke 6:24). In the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus had read Isaiah’s messianic prophecy of the poor (“meek,” ASV) having the gospel preached to them (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) and was later to soberly warn that the rich would not come easily into the kingdom (Luke 18:24-25). But while it is true that “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37) because the rigors of the poor bring them to humility more easily than does the comfortable affluence of the rich, Matthew’s account of the sermon makes evident that Jesus is not speaking of economic poverty. It is not impossible for the poor to be arrogant nor for the rich to be humble. These “poor” are those who, possessing little or much, have a sense of their own spiritual destitution.

The Greek word here translated “poor” comes from a root word which means to crouch or to cringe. It refers not simply to those for whom life is a struggle, but to men who are reduced to the most abject begging because they have absolutely nothing (Luke 16:20-21). Here it is applied to the sinful emptiness of an absolute spiritual bankruptcy in which a person is compelled to plead for that which he is powerless to obtain (Jeremiah 10:23) and to which he has no right (Luke 15:18-19; 18:13), but without which he cannot live. Begging comes hard to men (Luke 16:3) — especially proud, self-reliant Americans — but that is where our sinful ways have brought us and we will not see the kingdom of heaven until we face up to this reality with humble simplicity.

“Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). Men have been brought up to believe that tears must be avoided if they are to be happy. Jesus simply says that this is not true. There is some sorrow which must be embraced, not because it is inescapable and the struggle futile, but because true happiness is impossible without it.

Even grief that is unavoidable to mortal men whatever their station can have salutary effects on our lives if we allow it to. It can, as Solomon says, remind us of the wispy momentariness of our lives and set us to thinking seriously about the most important things (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4). The psalmist who gave us such a rich meditation on the greatness of God’s law has linked pain and understanding. “Before I was afflicted,” he reflected, “I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” He then concludes, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:67,71). Tears have always taught us more than has laughter about life’s verities.

But there is something more to the mourning in this gem-like paradox than the tears we cannot escape, the sorrow that comes unbidden and unsought. This grief comes to us by choice, not necessity. The Old Testament should influence our understanding of these words first spoken to a Jewish audience. Isaiah foresaw that the Lord’s anointed would come to “heal the brokenhearted” and “comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2). But these words applied only to a remnant of Israel which would come through the nation’s affliction for its sins, humbled and grieved. Ezekiel’s vision of God’s wrath on a corrupt Jerusalem revealed that only those “who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” were to be spared (Ezekiel 9:4). Zephaniah issued a similar warning (Zephaniah 3:11-13,18).

The prophets would have us understand this mourning as the grief experienced by those who in their reverence for God are horrified by their own sins and those of their fellows, and are moved to tears of bitter shame and grief. This is the “godly sorrow” of which Paul writes, a sorrow that “produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). These are the tears we must choose to shed, renouncing our stubborn pride; and out of that choice will come the unspeakable comfort of a God who forgives us all, takes us to Himself, and will ultimately wipe all tears away (Revelation 21:4). Nothing save God’s mercy can assuage a grief like this.

— Via Articles from the Douglas Hills church of Christ, January 1, 2016
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1timothy4_16

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Truth Is A Mountain

Robert Turner

There is challenge in TRUTH. Towering, majestic and awesome, it beckons the climber. Great and wonderful, clothed in mysteries, it threatens and promises. Benevolently reaching to the world, it summons all; yet sternly holds aloft its crown, to defy the casual.

Below, in railed and graded trails move masses. Camera-clicking tourists, worn by travel, scarce grasp their guide’s trained words, and far less understand the magic scene. And as the way grows steeper, more and more are faint, and wander aimlessly — adrift in parks and glades of theory, with their creeds.

Content to pay lip service to the fountain-head above, they sip its waters, grimace, and add sweets or bitters to their taste. “It’s wonderful,” they say. “We must organize a party and bring others to this way.” So they sip, and talk; they praise with shallow phrase, then pause to rest, and resting, sleep.

Still TRUTH — glorious, wondrous, whole truth, wreathes its head with hoary clouds, and calls with voice of thunder: Onward! Upward! Excelsior!!! Error shouts derision, and stops the ear. With arrogance he hides his wounds and walks another way. Tradition, richly garbed and stiff with age, dares not attempt the rugged path. And weaklings, fearing to look heavenward, support a course that others plan, and wish themselves in better clime.

But faith responds, and in the earnest seeker whets desire. He dares look up. Toiling, sweating, step-by-step, he climbs. Struggling across downed timbers on the slope, he pushes upward. Pressing through the bush, slipping with the shale, he moves onward. Onward, upward, higher and higher, his lungs afire, he climbs with foot, and hand, with heart, and soul.

For TRUTH he lives and, if needs be, dies. He asks no quarter, hears no scorn. His hope is fastened on this goal, whose misty drapery sometimes part and to his raptured eyes reveal its sun swept crest.

He needs no other prize than this, for here men humbly walk with God.

— via Plain Talk, Vol. 16, No. III, pg. 1, May 1979
——————–

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day…” (2 Tim. 4:7,8).
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courage

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Virtue

Greg Gwin

Peter instructs us that we must “add to your faith virtue” (2 Peter 1:5).  What is this “virtue,” and how do we manifest it?

Thayer says that virtue is a word  that could be used to describe any kind of excellence in a person or thing.  When used of a person, it might denote a quality of body or mind.  But, when used in the ethical sense, Thayer says it specifically means “moral goodness or excellence.” Another commentator suggests that it is “courage . . . a resolute determination to do what it right . . . steadfast strength of will to choose always the good part” (Caffin).

How do we demonstrate this “moral courage?”  What will be the signs that we are “adding to our faith virtue?”  Numerous examples can be found in the Word of God.  Famous heroes of the faith displayed virtue.  Noah did in the matter of living faith-fully in the midst of an entirely wicked world.  Abraham did when he left the comforts of home to obey God, and later when he was willing to offer his own son at God’s command.  Moses did  when he chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).

However, most of us will not find ourselves in the momentous situations of a Noah, Abraham or Moses.  Instead, we will be faced with the constant challenges of our everyday lives.  It is interesting that one of the most familiar uses of this terminology is found in application to a woman.  In Proverbs 31 the “virtuous woman” is described.  Hers was not the work of a soldier in battle, or that of a famous prophet standing up for truth and righteousness.  Instead, we read of her faithfully fulfilling her role as a wife and mother.  It was her God given job, and she did it well.  She was “virtuous.”

Christian, will you courageously do what is right regardless of the consequences?  Will you show “moral excellence” in how you talk, act, dress, etc.?  Will you take your stand — always — with those who are faithfully doing the will of God?  It will not always be popular or easy, but when you do you will be showing “virtue.”  Think!

— Via The Beacon, September 20, 2016
——————–

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, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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