Month: March 2016

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) Bible Quiz: Water Baptism (Tom Edwards)
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Bible Quiz: Water Baptism

Tom Edwards

The following is part one of a two-part quiz on Bible baptism that I had also made for the Internet many years ago, as well as for the bulletin in November 1998. It is primarily for those who do not realize the purpose and need for water baptism, but also to help us in better learning the Bible verses on this subject and with brief comments.

First, the questions:

1. Which of the following men made the statement in one of his epistles that “baptism now saves you”? Was it a) Paul, b) Peter, c) James, or d) Jude?

2. Who in the book of Mark declares that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved”?

3. What two conditions are specified in Acts 2:38 that one must do in order to have sins forgiven?

4. According to Romans 6:3,4, baptism is for which one of the following reasons: a) to show our sins have already been forgiven, b) to be able to walk in newness of life, or c) to become a member of a particular denomination?

5. In Galatians 3:26,27, Paul shows how one is put into Christ.  What two conditions are necessary for this to happen, according to this passage?

6. In John 3:5, Jesus teaches that a man must be born again before he can enter the kingdom of heaven. What are the two things one must be born of in order to make this possible?

7. “Paul’s sins were forgiven after having met the Lord on the road to Damascus and prior to his being baptized.”  True or False? (For help on this, see Acts 22:16, which occurs 3 days after Paul’s encounter with the Lord on the road to Damascus.)

8. In Colossians 2:12, does Paul speak of baptism as a) a sprinkling, b) a burial, or c) a pouring?

9. The “WHEREIN also ye are risen with him” (KJV) or, as the NASB renders it, “IN WHICH you were also raised up with Him” (Col. 2:12) is referring to which one of the following?  a) baptism, b) faith, or c) the Spirit?

ANSWERS

Number 1: b) Peter

It is in 1 Peter 3:21 where Peter declares that “…baptism now saves you….”

Here is the verse in the Revised Standard Version:

“Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”

“Appeal” has been defined as “a call for aid, support, mercy, etc.; an earnest request or entreaty; to appeal is to ask earnestly for help or support….”, which helps us to understand how that people are “calling” non-verbally on the name of the Lord by the act of baptism (see Acts 22:16).  They are making their “appeal to God” by that act.  Similarly, it can be said that a person had called on his friend by pushing a doorbell button.  That would not have been a verbal call, but a calling through the act of pressing that button.  To become a Christian, after we have believed, repented, and confessed faith in Christ, there still remains that final step of baptism to call on the Lord.

Consider also Acts 2:21, 36-38. In this first verse, Peter quotes Joel’s prophecy that “…everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved”; but according to the account, the way this was done was not by merely praying a “sinner’s prayer.” Rather, it was accomplished by their faith in Jesus (v. 36), along with their repentance and water baptism (v. 38). They sought God’s mercy and forgiveness by meeting His conditions.  And though not mentioned, confessing their faith in Christ was also necessary (cf. Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).

The KJV states in 1 Peter 3:21 that “…baptism doth also now save us…” and does so as “the answer of a good conscience toward God….”

However, the Greek word rendered as “answer” in this verse is defined as “a question, an asking; enquiry after, seeking by enquiry” (A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament by E. W. Bullinger).

So, clearly, baptism is not for those “already saved”; but rather for penitent believers who want to make their appeal to God for salvation. (Baptism is part of the condition one must meet to benefit from the death of Christ.)
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Number 2: Jesus

Yes, it is the Lord Himself who states in Mark 16:16 that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved….”

Surely, if this were the only verse in all the Bible that placed baptism in connection with salvation, that would suffice — but it is not!  There are various others that also remain consistent to this truth.  For instance, just to show a few, people must be baptized in order to…

* be saved (1 Peter 3:21)

* receive the “remission of sins” (Acts 2:38)

* “wash away” sins (Acts 22:16)

* “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4)

Throughout the New Testament, water baptism is seen as part of the plan to have sins forgiven and become a Christian, which is all in harmony with what Jesus declares in Mark 16:16 that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved….”
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Number 3: “Repent” and “be baptized

Contrary to the thinking of many people today, Acts 2:38 shows that one must do more than merely repent to be forgiven — one must also be baptized!

In 1977 I became a Christian. Prior to that time, I had been in various religious denominations that taught salvation by “faith only,” or by praying “a sinner’s prayer.”  I can remember reading Acts 2:38 way back then and knowing that it did say I had to also be baptized; but, at the time, I would have to blot out from my mind that “be baptized” part because it wasn’t in harmony with what the denominational preacher and the others there were teaching. How wrong I had been!

I heard a story once about a Christian who was trying to teach a woman the need for water baptism. It seemed that he was not getting anywhere, so he asked the woman to merely read Acts 2:38, while he would not say a thing.  After reading the verse, the woman looked up to the silent man and said, “But that’s your opinion.”

Still another non-Christian once said during the course of a Bible study, “You can’t get baptism out of Acts 2:38!” “That’s right, ma’m,” the Christian gladly replied. “It’s there to stay!”

“And Peter said to them, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins….” (Acts 2:38, NASB).

And could this verse be any clearer than how it is worded in the 1973 edition of the New International Version?  “Peter replied, `Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ SO THAT YOUR SINS MAY BE FORGIVEN….” (emphasis mine).
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Number 4: b) Baptism

Baptism is “…in order that…  we too might walk in newness of life.”

What is this “newness of life”? Isn’t it obvious that it would be referring to the time when one becomes a Christian? Jesus had said that He had come in order that people might have life and have it more abundantly (Jn. 10:10). This is received when one is “born again” (Jn. 3:3-5), which enables the person to be a “new creature” in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17). By far, it is much more than merely “turning over a new leaf.”

Again, it is evident that baptism must be performed before one can receive this new life.
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Number 5: Faith and baptism

Just as Jesus said in Mark 16:16 that “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved,” Paul is showing the same need for faith and baptism in Galatians 3:26,27.

It is good to see all the wonderful things the Bible has to say about being “in Christ.” For example, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1); “redemption” is “in Christ” (Rom. 3:24); one is “alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11); “eternal life” is “in Christ” (Rom. 6:23); and there are many other verses as well, along this line.  And here in Galatians 3:26,27, one learns the important answer as to how a person can get “into” Christ for all these blessings; and it is through faith and baptism.
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Number 6: “water and the Spirit

It was Jesus who told Nicodemus of the need for man to be “born again,” to be “born of water and the Spirit” in order to enter the kingdom of God (John 3:3-5).

The only way in which we ever find water in the New Testament used in connection with salvation is in water baptism for the remission of sins.

Surprisingly, I once heard a preacher say, “How much water is in baptism?” After a several-second pause, he then answered his own question by declaring, “Not one drop!” This truly got the attention of the audience. He then went on to point out that the Greek word “baptizo” (from which “baptize” is a transliteration) simply means “to dip or immerse”; but there is no indication in the word itself as to what the element is to be in which the immersing is to be performed.

It is only from other verses in the Scriptures that we learn that Bible baptism is to be in water, so that our past sins will be forgiven (cf, Acts 8:36-38; Acts 10:47,48).
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Number 7: False

In order for Paul to be forgiven, he had to first be baptized in water, as we see in Acts 22:16. Therefore, Paul wasn’t saved by merely “faith only,” after having met the Lord on the road to Damascus.  Nor was he saved by his faith and repentance only, which is manifest in the way he conducted himself after having met the Lord: for three days, Paul fasted and prayed, while he waited in Damascus in obedience to the Lord’s command — for there, Paul would be told what he needed to do.

The only thing that Ananias revealed to Paul that he had not already heard from the Lord was the need to “arise, and be baptized, and wash away your sins….” (Acts 22:16).

During his three days of fasting and praying, and regardless of how many times Paul must have asked God to forgive him for the wrongs he had committed in his ignorance, he did not obtain forgiveness through prayer.  Rather, it required his faith, repentance, confession of faith in the Lord, and baptism before his sins could be blotted out.

For if his sins had been washed away by prayer, then there would have been no need for Ananias to command Paul to be baptized to “wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16).
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Number 8: b) a burial

Paul speaks of baptism as being a burial in Colossians 2:12, just as he also does in Romans 6:3,4. Therefore, we do not even need to know the meaning of the Greek word to understand that baptism is to be an immersion or submersion — and not a mere sprinkling or a pouring.

If sprinkling or pouring were intended, then the Greek word “rhantizo” or “ekcheo” could have been used, respectively. But neither of these terms is used; nor do they convey the idea of a “burial,” as “baptizo” does.
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Number 9: a) baptism

Though many people believe that it is merely some type of “spiritual baptism” — apart from the water — which saves, Paul shows that the baptism involved is one in which a person can be buried in and raised up from — water baptism. And that one is raised up from this baptism in order to be with Christ.  As Paul also shows in Romans 6:3,4, one is raised up from water baptism to “walk in newness of life.”

(concluded next week)

—  via The Gospel Observer (slightly edited), November 15, 1998
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe
in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent
of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith
in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).     
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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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
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com/
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) The Christian’s GPS Guide (Steve Locklair)
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The Christian’s GPS Guide

Steve Locklair

Most people are familiar with the GPS, a global navigation satellite system developed by the Department of Defense which transmits precise signals allowing receivers to calculate and display accurate location, speed, and time information to the user. These global positioning systems work in most weather conditions, day or night, 24 hours a day, around the globe, and we can use them to help us get to our destinations. You simply put in your destination address, and it will tell you turn by turn directions for the roads you need to travel to get you there. Some models will even alert you to traffic and construction delays that you might encounter and will allow you to avoid them. Using the acronym GPS, let us consider a few comparisons between this man-made GPS and God, and how we should use our spiritual GPS.  First, we should recognize God’s Powerful Sight. God is like the man-made GPS in that He knows exactly where you are at and where you are going, both physically and spiritually, just as he did with Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:9-13, 17ff). But while the man-made GPS makes mistakes and is dependent on the accuracy of the installed map, God is infallible, inerrant, and eternal, which all men should realize or they are without excuse (Romans 1:20; Proverbs 15:3). God has given us an inspired, infallible, and inerrant word to correct us when we are wrong and instruct us in doing what is right in His sight so that we will have the wisdom to get to our eternal destination through Christ (2 Timothy 3:14-17; John 14:1-6). Are you doing what is right in your own eyes or the eyes of the Lord (Judges 17:6; 21:25)?

In addition, we should follow God’s Powerful Standard. Just as the GPS has to make choices as to which road to go on, we also make decisions as to our eternal destination. God has created us in His image without sin when we are born, but at some point in our youth we choose to sin (Ezekiel 18:20; Jeremiah 3:25; James 1:13-16; Romans 3:23; 1 John 3:4). When we make choices based upon our feelings without divine revelation, the GPS tells us that it will eventually lead to eternal condemnation (Proverbs 14: 12; Revelation 21:8). We cannot guide our own footsteps in righteousness (Jeremiah 10:23). Thankfully, through the power of His blood and resurrection from the dead, we can be born again to a living hope through the reliable standard of the Scriptures (John 11: 25-26; 1 Peter 1:3-5, 19, 22- 25). If you are not on the right road that leads to heaven (through God’s Powerful Standard), you will not escape the righteous judgment of God (Hebrews 4:12-13).

We must also avoid the Great Prowling Schemer (Satan). Realizing God’s Powerful Sight and following God’s Powerful Standard will put us on the right road, but through our journey, we will encounter many traffic snares, construction delays, and road blocks that we must detour around or persevere through. We also can be honestly and sincerely thinking we’re going the right way but still be wrong. An example of this is following a man-made GPS and taking the wrong turn. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light and uses those who appear to be righteous in order to deceive others (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

Even though he appears innocent, we must not let our guard down, because the Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion seeking to devour souls (1 Peter 5:8). Satan is always scheming in order to get people to curse God and disobey Him (Job 1:11). But how does he get people to do that?

Satan can use families.

Satan took away everything Job had but allowed his wife to live so that she would do Satan’s bidding when she told Job to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9). What if your loved one told you to quit serving God when you were suffering through trials? Would you do it? Job overcame the great prowling schemer and did not curse God (Job 1:22; 2:10). You must love Jesus more than any other family member and not give in when they tell you to sin; discourage you from doing what is right; or become your enemy; otherwise you are not worthy of Him (Matthew 10:34ff; Luke 6:46). Will you put on the whole armor of God so that you will be able to stand firm and overcome the schemes of Satan (Ephesians 6:10ff)?

Satan can use friendships.

The Bible warns about bad company corrupting good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). But in an attempt to be popular, or get along with others in order to avoid persecution, many will decide to hang out with the wrong crowd. If you do this and continue to be their friends, ultimately, you will think, talk, dress and act like them. But if you delight in God’s word, you will overcome the GPS (Satan) by saying no to their enticements to sin (Psalms 1:1ff; Proverbs 1:10ff). Even if you have faithful friends, Satan can use them to lead you astray. They may judge you by appearance, traditions, or assumptions (Job 4:8; 8:8; 11:5-6; 19:14; 32:3; 42:7). Will you say no when your friends entice you to sin or will you give in to the great prowling schemer?

Satan can use ministers.

Satan disguises himself as a minister of righteousness so that he can deceive people into believing a lie. “No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Satan can use his ministers to tell people… that “all roads lead to heaven”; “just accept Christ as your personal Savior and you will be saved”; “once you’re saved, you’re always saved”; “it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are honest and sincere”; etc. We must not think of any man above that which is written (1 Corinthians 4:6), and we must test the spirits to see whether they are from God (1 John 4:1) so that we will not fall victim to the deceptions of the Great Prowling Schemer.

Finally, we must obey God’s Plan of Salvation. With the man-made GPS, the mileage will change as you get closer to your destination. Even though there are different answers along the way, it is still accurate (unless it has malfunctioned). It is the same way concerning God’s plan of salvation. In the book of Acts, different answers are given to people depending on where they are at spiritually. They are not told everything they need to do at one time. Remember that the sum of God’s word is truth (Psalms 119:160).

An unbeliever should examine the facts of the gospel so that he might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God or he will die in his sins (John 20:30-31; 8:24). The only way anyone can have faith is by hearing God’s Powerful Standard (Romans 10:17), not by a vision, miracle, feeling, or strong conviction.

A person who believes that Jesus Christ is the Son of God must have the conviction to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:19-20; John 14:15; Hebrews 5:8). A person who does not obey God’s plan of salvation will be punished forever in torment (2 Thessalonians 1:7ff).

The Ethiopian eunuch heard preaching about Jesus and asked what hindered him from being baptized. He was told if he believed with all his heart he could. Then he said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37). This was in accordance with Jesus’ command to believe and be baptized in order to be saved (Mark 16:15-16).

Those who were pricked in their heart that Jesus is Christ and Lord on the Day of Pentecost were told to repent and be baptized. Why? So that they could have the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). A penitent believer was told to “arise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). Why was he baptized? So that his sins would be washed away. Then a Christian is told to learn to obey everything Jesus commanded and grow in the grace and knowledge of His will (Matthew 28:20; 2 Peter 3:18).

In conclusion, you will need to use your spiritual GPS (God’s Powerful Standard) everyday of your life so that you will be able to overcome the Great Prowling Schemer and obey God’s Plan of Salvation so that you can eventually go to heaven. Satan is trying to deceive people into believing that the way to heaven is broad and easy and many will go there. Do not be deceived! God’s Powerful Standard is narrow, difficult, and few will actually go to heaven. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).

— Via The Watchman Magazine, January 26, 2010
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe
in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent
of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith
in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).     
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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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/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) Evidences of Faith: A Prophet Like Moses (Jim Robson)
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Evidences of Faith:
A Prophet Like Moses

Jim Robson

The book of Deuteronomy, which was written somewhere around 1450 BC, records the final words of Moses to the nation of Israel, before their long-awaited entry into the promised land of Canaan. One of the things Moses told the people was this:

“The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren” (Deuteronomy 18:15).

At first blush, this may not seem very exceptional; throughout the long history of the Israelites, God sent many prophets to them. However, God did not send many prophets like Moses.

On the contrary, God Himself made a distinction between Moses and all of the other prophets:

“Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make Myself known to him in a vision; I speak to him in a dream. Not so with My servant Moses; he is faithful in all My house. I speak with him plainly, and not in dark sayings; and he sees the form of the Lord” (Numbers 12:6-8).

Even among the prophets, Moses was exceptional. God spoke of him in a way that set him, as it were, in a class by himself. So, when Moses indicated that God would at some point raise up another prophet like him, he was saying something truly extraordinary.

And, when we consider Moses’ life as a whole, it was indeed most extraordinary. At his birth, Moses narrowly escaped death: the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt, and Pharaoh had ordered all of the male Hebrew babies killed (Exodus 1:15-22). Moses’ mother hid her newborn son as long as she could, then placed him in a waterproofed basket in the reeds at the bank of the river, where Pharaoh’s own daughter found him, had compassion on him, and raised him as her own son (Exodus 2:1-10). Thus, the baby Moses was saved from the king’s decree.

Later in his life, Moses was sent by God to lead His people out of their Egyptian slavery (Exodus 3:9-10). After the people were out of the land of Egypt, they became trapped between the Egyptian army and the Red Sea:

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided” (Exodus 14:21).

Thus, God effectively gave Moses power over the sea. Moreover, Moses freed the people from their enslavement to the Egyptians: for the Egyptians were driven back into the sea, and Moses closed it on them, drowning every man (Exodus 14:27-28).

To commemorate the people’s deliverance from bondage, Moses established the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread:

“So you shall observe the feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this same day I will have brought your armies out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as an everlasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:17).

This feast would serve as a reminder of how the people were in bondage in Egypt and were freed by God through Moses. It reminded them how they went from being slaves, to being God’s chosen people.

As we noted earlier, God spoke to Moses, giving him laws to deliver to the people. Moses then told the people all the words of the Lord and all His judgments (Exodus 24:3). Moses spoke whatever God told him to say (Exodus 4:12). But when Moses was on Mount Sinai, and God was speaking to him, he did something else impressive:

“So he was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water…” (Exodus 34:28).

Forty days is a long time to go without food or drink. And that is still not all; as a result of his meetings with God, Moses’ appearance changed:

“Now it was so, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai (and the two tablets of the Testimony were in Moses’ hand when he came down from the mountain), that the skin of his face shone while he talked with Him. So when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone, and they were afraid to come near him” (Exodus 34:29-30).

As a result of the meeting with God on the mountain, Moses’ face glowed. No wonder the people feared him!

Because of the people’s continual complaining, Moses came to realize that the responsibility of leading them was too much for him to handle on his own. So, like all men of faith, he brought his concerns to God in prayer:

So the Lord said to Moses: “Gather to Me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them; bring them to the tabernacle of meeting, that they may stand there with you” (Numbers 11:16).

God answered Moses’ prayer by providing him with seventy men who could help him accomplish his mission.

One of the most impressive things about Moses’ character is that, in spite of the repeated complaints and rebellions of the people, he never stopped caring for them. In fact, Moses continually interceded for the people with God:

“Yet now, if You will forgive their sin — but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written” (Exodus 32:32).

In his prayer, Moses reveals a deep concern for the people, that he cared for them every bit as much as he cared for himself: even to the point of being willing to suffer the condemnation they incurred with their sins.

At this point, you may begin to think of someone else in the Bible who was willing to suffer for the sins of His people. You may think of Jesus, “who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness…”  (I Peter 2:24). Interestingly, on the night He was betrayed, Jesus even prayed for His people in such a way that revealed His deep concern for them:

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

Jesus prayed that His people share in His rightful place in heaven, thus showing that He cared for them every bit as much as He did for Himself.

It is also interesting to note that, during His ministry on earth, Jesus had seventy men to work with Him:

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go” (Luke 10:1).

You will recall that this is the same as the number of elders who were appointed to help Moses in his work.

You will also recall that Moses’ face glowed while he was on the mountain with God:

“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matthew 17:1-2).

Nor was Moses the only one to fast for forty days:

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He became hungry” (Matthew 4:1-2).

Nor indeed was Moses the only one to speak what God told him:

“For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak” (John 12:49-50).

Thus Jesus related the commands of God the Father to His people, just as Moses had done for the Israelites.

Moreover, Moses was not the only one who was involved in freeing slaves. As Jesus said, “…whoever commits sin is a slave of sin” (John 8:34). By giving Himself on the cross, Jesus paid the price for sins, thus setting His people — His disciples — free (John 8:31-36). Not only that, He provided them with a way to remember the event that brought them from slavery to freedom:

“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:19).

Jesus established this memorial at His last meal with the apostles before His crucifixion. This meal was a Passover meal (Luke 22:7), and so there would be no bread available except unleavened bread. Thus the commemoration established by Jesus, like the one established by Moses, was a feast of unleavened bread.

And, of course, we all remember what happened when Jesus and His disciples were at sea, and a storm arose that threatened the boat and their lives:

“Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39).

Jesus evidently had inherent authority over the sea and the wind, whereas Moses could not have parted the Red Sea without God’s direct intervention. And no doubt, Jesus freed His people from a spiritual bondage that has eternal consequences, whereas the deliverance accomplished by Moses was physical and temporal. And while Moses expressed a willingness to die with his people, Jesus actually died for His. In short, Jesus was, in point after point, greater than Moses. Nonetheless, the parallels are striking.

We have yet one more parallel to mention. When Moses was born, Pharaoh had ordered all the male Hebrew babies to be killed, as a security measure. When Jesus was born, it was King Herod’s turn:

“Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men” (Matthew 2:16).

Of course, Herod did not succeed in killing the newborn King, because Joseph had been warned by an angel to flee to Egypt. Thus both Jesus and Moses narrowly escaped death as babies.

Having considered all of these things, it is important to remember that at the time of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountain, two of the greatest prophets of all time appeared with Him: Moses and Elijah. When Peter wanted to erect tabernacles for the three of them, God said:

“This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:5)

When the apostles opened their eyes, Jesus was the only one of the three still there. Thus God spoke of Jesus in such a way as to separate Him from all other prophets, as He had once done for Moses. Jesus is indeed in a class by Himself.

Not surprisingly, in Acts 3:22-26, the apostle Peter identifies Jesus as the Prophet whom God had promised, the Prophet like Moses. When we consider that Moses had so many points in common with Jesus, it is difficult to regard them all as nothing more than coincidences. Moreover, Moses was by no means the only foreshadow of Christ in the Old Testament: there are many of them. The various foreshadows do not appear very similar to each other, and yet each and every one points to Jesus. It is simply not within the realm of reason to take all of these as mere coincidence. The Bible is the product of One who cannot only foresee the future, but who can even orchestrate events in such a way as to illustrate what is going to happen hundreds or even thousands of years later. He is a truly mighty God.

— Via The Watchman Magazine, October 1, 1988
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe
in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent
of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith
in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).     
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

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

The Gospel Observer

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
——————–

Contents:

1) Evidences of Faith: Eyewitness Testimony (Jim Robson)
——————–

Acts4_33

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Evidences of Faith:
Eyewitness Testimony

Jim Robson

“And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up — if in fact the dead do not rise” (1 Corinthians 15:14-15). The conviction that Jesus rose from the dead lies at the very heart of the Christian’s faith. Therefore, if we can be certain that He did rise, then we can be certain that we are correct in following Him. Likewise, if we cannot be certain that He rose, then our faith as Christians is without a substantial foundation. It is of the utmost importance, then, that we can be completely certain of Jesus’ resurrection. But, how can we be certain, seeing that we were not present to witness it for ourselves?

This question can be addressed in a number of ways. One way to approach this question is to take a hard look at those who claimed to see the risen Christ: are they reliable witnesses, or a bunch of charlatans? If they are frauds, then there is no reason to follow Christ over any other philosopher or religious figure — for example, Gandhi or Buddha or Muhammad. However, if the individuals who testified of Jesus’ resurrection prove to be reliable witnesses, then we have solid reason to place our faith squarely in Him. Paul indicated that hundreds of individuals saw the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:6), but for our purposes we will focus on the handful of witness who knew Him best: the apostles.

In order to determine whether we can believe their testimony, we may start with the question, “What did the apostles have to gain?” If we are going to believe that these men fabricated the resurrection story, then we ought to be able to determine a motive. In point of fact, however, they did not have much of anything to gain. They did not attain wealth for their efforts, nor is there any evidence that they tried to. They did not achieve any political power; in fact, all of their efforts at preaching were focused on the spiritual well-being of the hearers, and no attempt was made to form any kind of political or social movement. Indeed, so far from gaining anything, the apostles suffered grievously for their teaching. They were arrested, imprisoned, and beaten. They were ostracized by the rulers of their own people. Some of them were even killed for their beliefs. These things being so, there is no apparent reason for them to conjure up such a lie. The necessary conclusion, then, is that they were honest men.

To see this point even more clearly, consider in particular the apostle Peter. On the night Jesus was arrested, Peter was so afraid of punishment that he denied knowing Jesus not once, but three times (Matthew 26:69-75). After seeing the resurrected Jesus, and watching Him ascend to heaven, this same Peter began publicly preaching that Jesus is the Christ, and that he himself was a witness (Acts 2:32-36). In fact, Peter had grown so bold that, when he was arrested for preaching Jesus, he proceeded to preach Jesus to those who had arrested him (Acts 4:8-13)! It is difficult to explain such a drastic change in Peter’s character, unless he truly believed that Jesus had risen from the dead: the fabrication of a lie would never transform a coward into a hero, but witnessing a Man risen from the dead could.

Another question that may be asked is, “Were the apostles just a bunch of dupes?” This is a fair question. It is not enough to know that they were honest men; there is, after all, such a thing as an honest mistake. Perhaps they so badly wanted to believe that Jesus had risen, that they were easily convinced. To answer this, we may begin with Mark’s account:

“Now when He rose early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom He had cast seven demons. She went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe” (Mark 16:11).

Far from being easily persuaded, these men appear to be downright skeptical. And the account continues:

“After that, he appeared in another form to two of them as they walked and went into the country. And they went and told it to the rest, but they did not believe them either. Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen” (vs. 12-14).

The apostles seem to have been reluctant to believe that Jesus had risen, rather than eager to believe it.

Most famous in this regard, of course, was the man from whom we derive the expression, “doubting Thomas”:

“Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ So he said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe’” (John 20:24-25).

Clearly, these men were not easily persuaded of the resurrection. Therefore, the fact that they became so thoroughly convinced of it that they were willing to suffer and die in order to preach it to others, gives us compelling reason to believe their testimony.

A Hostile Witness

So far, we have looked at the apostles who traveled with Jesus while He was on earth in order to establish the reliability of their testimony, and we have found them to be credible witnesses. Now, let us look at another individual who claimed to see the risen Christ, and examine his credibility as a witness. Let us look at Saul of Tarsus.  When we first encounter Saul of Tarsus, he is guarding the clothes of those who are stoning Stephen to death (Acts 7:58). Stephen was put to death because he was proclaiming Jesus as the Christ, and rebuking those of his countrymen who refused to believe in Him. We are told that “Saul was consenting to his death” (Acts 8:1). Moreover, Saul was not content with the death of one disciple. On the contrary, “he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (8:3). When many of the disciples fled from Jerusalem, Saul was not content to let them go:

“Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem…” (Acts 9:1-2).

Clearly, Saul was vehemently opposed to the notion that Jesus was the Messiah. It did not seem likely that he would ever become a believer.

When we consider Saul’s training, and his place in the Jewish society of that day, it is not surprising that he was opposed to the gospel of Christ. Saul was a Pharisee, and the Pharisees were one of the more powerful sects among the Jews. The Pharisees regarded the gospel as a threat to their position and their nation (John 11:47-48). Not only that, they constituted the strictest sect among the Jews (Acts 26:5): they were determined to preserve the precepts of the Old Testament, the law of Moses (Acts 15:5). The disciples of Jesus Christ, of course, were preaching that God had made a new covenant with mankind through the blood of Christ, and therefore the law of Moses was no longer in effect (Hebrews 8:7-13). Such teaching would seem like blasphemy to a Pharisee: and Saul, being a very zealous young Pharisee, was determined to see this teaching stamped out.

So then, let us consider Saul of Tarsus. As any Pharisee, he was a well-educated and well-respected member of his society. His position in life appeared to be secure and comfortable. To him, the gospel of Christ appeared to be blasphemy, and repugnant to everything he stood for. His zealous opposition to the gospel caused him to ruthlessly persecute those who believed and taught it. It would seem abundantly evident that such a man would never become a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Yet, he did become a disciple: and not only a disciple, one of the most energetic and well-known gospel preachers of all time. As you may already know, Saul of Tarsus is the man who is better known to history as the apostle Paul. The question is, what made him change? What could convince such a hostile opponent of Jesus to become one of His most ardent followers? According to Paul, it was the fact that he saw the risen Christ:

“I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished. Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light shone around me, and I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, `Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, `Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, `I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting’” (Acts 22:4-8).

The result of this vision was that Paul believed in Jesus, was baptized, and immediately began preaching the gospel to others (Acts 9:10-22).

If there ever was a man who was unlikely to admit to seeing Jesus risen from the dead, that man was Saul of Tarsus. And yet, he not only admitted it, he boldly proclaimed it throughout the Roman Empire. Our next question might be, what did Saul have to gain by becoming a preacher of the gospel? The answer is that, like the other apostles, his efforts to spread the gospel resulted in persecution and suffering, as he wrote to the church at Corinth:

“From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren…” (2 Corinthians 11:24-26).

In exchange for his life of security and comfort, Paul received a life of suffering and danger. Clearly, he did not claim to have seen Jesus for the sake of personal gain. Paul must have truly believed that he had seen the risen Christ.

So then, the question that remains is whether Paul had the mental stability to make him a believable witness. We may begin to answer this by noting that he appears to have had the respect of the rulers of his people. As mentioned above, when Saul went to the chief priest and asked for letters to the synagogues of Damascus, he was given them. He even called upon the high priest and the council of elders as his witnesses, when defending himself before the mob in Jerusalem (Acts 22:5). It is not likely that the rulers of the nation would have placed such trust in a man whom they regarded as unstable. Moreover, when we read Paul’s writings (Romans through Philemon), it appears that he was a highly intelligent man who had a completely rational mind: his method of argumentation is thoroughly logical. It is reasonable to conclude, based upon the available evidence, that Paul was in his right mind.

We have every reason, therefore, to regard Paul as a reliable witness. He had nothing to gain by his testimony, and much to lose. He had every reason to deny that Jesus had risen from the dead. He gave every appearance of being a sane and rational man. So then, we may add Paul’s testimony to our long list of reasons to believe. And, we may ask those who do not believe this question: why not? As Jesus said to Saul, “It is hard for you to kick against the goads” (Acts 26:14).

— Via Watchman Magazine, July 1, 1998
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe
in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent
of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith
in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).     
6) Continue in the faith;
for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

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

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