Month: May 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) Sin, Repentance, and Judging Others (Doy Moyer)
2) God’s Perfect Law of Liberty (Mike Johnson)
3) “Almost” Is Not Enough! (Barney L. Keith)
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Sin, Repentance, and Judging Others

Doy Moyer

Some discussions just seem odd to me. One such oddity goes along these lines (and it seems to happen over and over, especially on social media, so this is not a reference to one particular discussion):

Person A: “People who engage in this activity are in sin and need to repent.” (What the specific sin is differs from case to case, and it is irrelevant for this point.)

Person B responds: “We shouldn’t judge others because we are all sinners who need forgiveness.”

By this response, person B sweeps away the point made by person A because we all sin and we don’t want to be judgmental of others. Now it is true that we all need forgiveness, and it is doubtful that many will deny this; no one is claiming perfection here. However, that does not negate the fact that we still need to call attention to sin and the need to repent. Recognizing that we are all guilty of sin is not a reason to think, “Therefore we should never tell anyone else that they ought to repent.”

Consider the case of Isaiah, who, overwhelmed by God’s glory, confessed his own sinfulness and the sinfulness of those around him. Upon receiving forgiveness, he was then ready to go preach to stubborn people who wouldn’t listen to the message of repentance (Isa. 6). The point is that Isaiah did not refrain from preaching about sin and repentance based upon the fact that he himself needed forgiveness.

How do we know we are all sinners who need to repent unless someone first tells us about sin and God’s will for repentance (2 Pet. 3:9; Acts 17:30-31)? Shall we just assume everyone knows this before they are told? If we are all sinners who need to repent, then someone told us at some point, and this assumes an understanding of sin and repentance. Shall we not give others this same message at the risk of sounding too judgmental? Shall our fear of sounding judgmental overcome our need to love others enough to present God’s message to them? Are we showing real love if we ignore the sin, fail to point people toward repentance, and just embrace their situation no matter what? Is that the godly thing to do? Jesus didn’t die in order to silence the message of repentance. His death provides the hope that is attached to the message, and we need to be preaching it with clarity.

The gospel is about grace and forgiveness, but knowing about that grace only works when we first understand why we need grace and forgiveness. If we don’t know about the sin, we won’t know about our need to repent. If we don’t know of our need to repent, we won’t know we need grace and mercy. Again, how can someone say, “We shouldn’t judge” based on the fact that we are all sinners, unless that person first knows the problem of sin? If not careful, the “we shouldn’t judge” mantra can become a mask that veils the fullness of the gospel.

We are not being self-righteously judgmental by expressing what God has said about sin and repentance; we are being true to His word. Our message is not, “You need to repent and I never have to.” We are all indeed in the same boat. We can show the problem of sin while recognizing our own guilt and need for God. We can do this with humility and grace. We can speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Calling out sin and the need to repent is not automatically unloving and self-righteous, and we must not assume that one who calls attention to sin is being some kind of prudish, holier-than-thou hypocrite. (We could point out that Person B is, in fact, judging person A for the perceived sin of being judgmental, with the implication that he ought to repent and quit being judgmental. Is that ironically unloving and judgmental?)

Paul knew of his own sins, but that didn’t stop him from rebuking Peter (Gal. 2). Peter surely was aware of his own weaknesses, but that didn’t stop him from rebuking Simon (Acts 8). Both Paul and Peter repented of sins, but they still told others what was necessary.

Show love. Show grace. Show kindness. But don’t, for a moment, think that these are in contradiction to calling out sin for what it is and pointing people to God’s message of repentance. Yet while doing this, let’s never stop short of sharing the answer to the problem — the blood of Jesus through which we find grace and forgiveness. Repentance is not an end in itself; salvation is the goal. Our purpose in calling out sin and showing the need to repent is not to condemn, but to point the way to that relationship with Christ in which there is “no condemnation” (Rom. 8:1-2).

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord…” (Acts 3:19).

— Via  Mind Your Faith, May 25, 2016
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Bible 7

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God’s Perfect Law of Liberty

Mike Johnson

James 1:25 says, “But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.”  This verse reveals some important points about God’s perfect law of liberty.  Those who obey this verse are put in contrast with the mere “hearers” of verse 22. Consider what is said in this passage about the perfect law of liberty.

1. It must be LOOKED INTO.  This is not speaking of a casual look or a glance at the Word of God.  The word in the Greek means “to gaze carefully by the side of, to peer into or to peep into” (Robertson’s Word Pictures).  It is the same word used in John 20:5 where John is described as looking into the empty tomb of Christ.  The NASB translates it “looks intently.” It is important that we engage in a very serious study of God’s Word.

2. It is PERFECT.  The word translated “perfect” means complete or full. This makes it clear that God’s law, the Bible, is God’s complete revelation for us today. It is all we need, and there is no need to use man-made creeds as guides. A number of passages speak of the finality and completeness of God’s revelation (Jude 3, II Tim. 3:16-17, Gal. 1:6-10, Rev. 22:18-19).

3. It is a LAW.  Some say we are not under “law” today.  It is true we are not under the Law of Moses, but a number of passages make it clear we are under a law.  The Scriptures point out we are under the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2, I Cor. 9:21), the law of the Spirit and life (Rom. 8:2), and the law of love (Rom. 13:10).

4. It is a law of LIBERTY.  The expression “law of liberty” may seem like  a contradiction to some.  But, true liberty can only exist where there is a law.  Those who follow their own passions and desires are the “servants” of Satan (Rom. 6:16-17) as they yield to him.  True freedom is in Christ.  Jesus said, (Jn. 8:32) “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Through Christ, we can be free from sin (Rom. 6:18).

5. It must be OBEYED.  Our verse says we must “continue in” the perfect law of liberty.  The NASB says, “abide by it.”  The verse also says one must be a “doer of the work” (“doing it” — NIV). This section is speaking of obedience to God’s Word.  Verse 22 says, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”  I Corinthians 15:58 says we must be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.

6. It will PRODUCE BLESSINGS.  We are also told that the person who obeys these instructions “would be blessed in what he does.”  How is this the case?  First, obeying the perfect law of liberty produces happiness here upon this earth.  Please note the following ways this can be seen.  1. Faithful Christians will generally make good choices in life which will result in greater happiness (Eph. 6:2-3).  2.  Also, Christians can have a clear conscience.  3.  Christians have a relationship with God which allows them to communicate with Him through prayer. 4. There are assurances regarding God providing the physical necessities of life (Mt. 6:33).  Second, in a separate category, faithful Christians will receive the ultimate reward which is a home in heaven (Mt. 25:46).  Psalm 19:11 points out that we are warned by God’s Law and then says, ” . . . And in keeping them there is great reward.”

HOW DO YOU REGARD GOD’S PERFECT LAW OF LIBERTY?

— via The Elon Challenger Vol. 13, No. 10, June 2016
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acts26_28

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“Almost” Is Not Enough!

Barney L. Keith

It is sometimes said of an individual who has not yet obeyed the gospel, “I believe he is almost ready to be baptized,” or that “she is close to becoming a Christian!”

Friend, are you one of those people? Can we not somehow impress upon you:

That “almost” is not sufficient to make one a Christian;

That being “close” is not the same thing as being “in Christ”;

That you are still in a LOST condition;

That Christ is coming in judgment one day?

It is essential for you to note the words of Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 where he states that those “who do not obey the gospel … will pay the penalty of eternal destruction.” We URGE you to take a serious look at your life, your need of salvation, and the hope that can be found only “in Christ.” Obey the gospel TODAY!

— Via The Elon Challenger, Vol. XIII, No. 9, May 2016
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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)
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) “Arrows in the Hand of a Mighty Man” (Jarrod Jacobs)
2) Rejoice in Hope (Joe R. Price)
3) The Holy Spirit: A Distinct, Divine Being (Greg Gwin)
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young family

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“Arrows in the Hand of a Mighty Man”

Jarrod Jacobs

David, the sweet psalmist of Israel (II Sam. 23:1), penned a song concerning the home and family in Psalm 127. He wrote, “Except the LORD build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep. Lo, children are a heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” While there are many things we could discuss from this psalm, in this article, let us focus upon verse 4: “As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.”

What a word picture this paints for us! Imagine the bowhunter who trains so as to make sure he hits his mark when it counts. This person not only works at his aim, but also takes care of his bow and arrows so they are ready for the hunt. He realizes that each piece cannot function properly without the other. In fact, his reputation as a “mighty man” is the result of where and when he shot his arrows!

Next, we see this man is “mighty” because he shot his arrows purposefully toward his intended mark. In other words, he did not shoot randomly like the poem, “I shot an arrow into the air, where it landed I know not where….” He had an intended target in mind, and shot his arrows toward that target. What does this statement from Psalm 127:4 teach us about parenting?

First, parents have a purpose. Parenting is more than just proving your ability to reproduce. Parenting means taking responsibility for another life (or lives) and trying to make sure this life is productive in following God’s will (Eph. 6:4) and productive in society. When we appreciate what God expects of us in parenting, it just proves again why God knows best in saying that parenting belongs to a married couple (Heb. 13:4). Not only does marriage keep us from fornication (I Cor. 7:2), but in such a relationship, we bring children into this world where both father and mother work together in the training and admonition of these precious ones. From Abraham’s day, we see this is God’s purpose for parents. God said of Abraham, “I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment …” (Gen. 18:19).

Second, Psalm 127:4 shows us that just as arrows don’t fire themselves from the bow, so also children cannot be left to raise themselves. David’s son Solomon understood this. He said, “The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame” (Prov. 29:15). Children make foolish decisions (Prov. 22:15), and they need training and encouragement from parents so that they can grow up, be parents themselves, and continue this process for another generation (Prov. 22:6). Parents, whether they have one or a dozen children, cannot put matters on “auto-pilot” and expect a good result when it comes to child-rearing!

Third, we see that the “mighty man” purposely sent his arrows in the direction intended. In other words, he had a purpose in mind. Sometimes, we find parents who never intend for their “arrows” to leave the “quiver”! Thus, children grow up and seem to have no direction, or purpose in their lives. This is not right. Parenting requires we send our “arrows” out into the world so that they can benefit this world as “shining lights” (Matt. 5:16; Phil. 2:14-15).

The Bible is clear concerning how parents ought to act and the parent’s purpose in training our children in the right way. If we have been lacking in this area, let us repent and start today to follow the Lord’s will. In truth, following what the Lord says will benefit us, our children, the church, and the community in which we live. Don’t be selfish, but selfless. Let us give our children the “tools” necessary for living in this world and preparing for the next, so that our children can prepare their children in the same way!

— Via The Old Paths, August 16, 2015
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Psalm71_4

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Rejoice in Hope

Joe R. Price

Why does the farmer plow his fields from sunrise to sundown during the blistering hot summer? Because he hopes for the harvest (1 Cor. 9:10). Hope energizes us to endure through present trials.

Hope combines our desires and expectations, producing a powerful force that influences faith and living. Unfortunately, hope can be misplaced. Many put their hope in the wrong things. They hope in money, as if that will solve their problems. It will not (Eccl. 2:8, 10-11; Matt. 6:19-21, 24; 1 Tim. 6:6-10). Others hope in their own wisdom and power (1 Cor. 1:18-25). Others hope in their fame. Some put their hope in their own strength to overcome, as if they need no one and nothing else (Jer. 17:5). None of these things give true hope. The Bible is clear that none of these things can possibly assure us of heaven.

Christians rejoice in the hope of eternal life that is found in Jesus Christ (Rom. 5:2; 12:12; Col. 1:27). We were “saved in hope” (Rom. 8:24). The gospel called us to the living hope of eternal life (Eph. 4:4; Titus 1:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:3). Christ is our “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). He alone is the source and the culmination of our hope of future, heavenly glory (Col. 3:4; Heb. 6:19-20).

Learning from the past strengthens our hope of the future. Romans 15:4 says this is exactly why we must learn the Old Testament Scriptures. Here are a few of those Scriptures that comfort us and strengthen our hope:

1) Genesis 3:15: The hope of victory over Satan and sin is predicted. The gospel reveals this victory in Jesus.

2) Judges 7: Hope is sustained as we watch Gideon and God’s 300 defeat the massive army of Midian. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world (1 Jno. 5:4).

3) 1 Samuel 17: David’s faith to face Goliath comforts us in hope as we face giant opponents of truth and godliness even today.

4) Psalm 16:8-11: We are comforted knowing David’s hope for the future was not in vain. God fulfilled His promises to David through Jesus Christ (Acts 2:25-32, 34-36). He will fulfill His promises to us, too.
5) 1 Kings 18:20-40: The dramatic display of God’s presence and power at Mt. Carmel confirms that our hope in the living God is properly placed.

6) Ezekiel 37:1-14: Ezekiel’s vision of the valley of dry bones returning to life gave the remnant hope to endure the Babylonian exile. God turns death into life. What joyous hope!

The Christian’s hope is sure and steadfast. Our hope is an anchor that secures us in life’s storms, safely mooring us to God’s grace through our faith (Heb. 6:19-20). Let us ever “rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).

— Via The Spirit’s Sword, May 8, 2016
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John16_13

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The Holy Spirit: A Distinct, Divine Being

Greg Gwin

The dictionary defines a “person” as: “a being characterized by conscious apprehension, rationality, and moral sense.”  Certainly, the Holy Spirit has the identifying marks of a distinct personal being.

Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as “He” (John 14:26; 16:13).  He possesses “will” or desire (1 Corinthians 12:8-11).  He makes judgments (Acts 15:28).  He does things which manifest personality.  He: searches (1 Cor. 2:11); teaches (1 Cor. 2:13); speaks (1 Tim. 4:1); testifies (John 15:26); leads (Rom. 8:14); forbids (Acts 16:6,7); convicts (Heb. 10:29); hears (John 16:13); and intercedes (Rom. 8:26,27).

The Holy Spirit suffers things that reflect personality. He: can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30); can be insulted (Hebrews 10:28,29); can be resisted (Acts 7:51); can be spoken against (Matthew 12:32); can be lied to (Acts 5:3,4).

Additionally, the Holy Spirit possesses the attributes of deity.  He is eternal (Hebrews 9:14).  He is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10).  He is omniscient (1 Corinthians 2:10-11).  And the works that God does (omnipotence) are also attributed to the Holy Spirit (Job 33:4; Psalms 104:30).  In fact, in Acts 5:3,4 the Holy Spirit is actually identified as God.

The Holy Spirit is one of the three divine beings of the Godhead.  He possesses distinct personality and owns all the attributes of deity.  We must acknowledge and honor Him as God.

— Via The Beacon, March 15, 2016
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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)
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) We Preach Christ Crucified (Joe R. Price)
2) “Buy the Truth and Sell it Not” (Bob Waldron)
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preaching_old_painting

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We Preach Christ Crucified

by Joe R. Price

“We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (I Corinthians 1:23). Let there be no mistake: Preaching “Christ crucified” is gospel preaching. The “word of the cross” is the power of God to save the lost (I Corinthians 1:18, 21; Romans 1:16). It reveals how God forgives sinners and what sinners must do to receive God’s forgiveness (Romans 1:17; 3:21-26; Acts 2:37). It must be preached.

The apostle Paul observed that when he preached at Corinth he “determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). Some hastily conclude that to preach Jesus is to preach only the life and death of Jesus and not the doctrine recorded in the inspired epistles by Christ’s apostles and prophets. We are told, in effect, that Jesus is more important than His doctrine. Yet, He is “the Truth,” which indisputably involves His doctrine (John 14:6; 7:16-17). Such minimizing of doctrine allows for the subjective interpretation of Scripture (“choose the doctrine of your choice”). Such a view affirms that Jesus approves of each person deciding what doctrine is important and what is unimportant. We are scolded when we teach there is one body of doctrine (teaching) that is truth for all (John 17:17). “Just preach Christ and leave others alone,” we are told.

In order to preach the “message of the cross” we must know what that preaching includes (I Corinthians 1:18, 21). Does it include the plan of salvation? Does it include principles of divine authority? Does it include the work and organization of the church? Does it include teaching about sin? Does it include instruction on human obedience? Does it include preaching the fulfillment of prophecy? The Scriptures answer “yes” to each of these questions. Let us see what it means to “preach Christ crucified.”

In Acts 8:5, Philip “preached Christ” to the city of Samaria. What did that entail? In Acts 8:12 we learn that he preached the “things concerning the kingdom of God.” Without question, preaching Christ is preaching about His kingdom, the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19). After all, the church is His body and fullness (Ephesians 1:22-23). How can one preach Christ and not preach about His body, the church? How can one preach Christ and not preach that He is the savior of His body, the church (Ephesians 5:23)?

When Philip “preached Christ” he preached concerning “the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12). He proclaimed Christ’s authority; His right to rule our lives (Matthew 28:18-19; Ephesians 1:20-23). To fully preach Christ we must preach His authority. Preaching how the authority of Christ is established and applied in Scripture should not be denounced as not preaching Jesus. Just the opposite is true; we will preach about Bible authority when we preach Christ. Whatever we say and do must be supported by His authority (Colossians 3:17). And, by the way, His authority is revealed to us in “the word of His power,” His New Testament — “the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5; Hebrews 1:1-3; John 16:13; II Timothy 3:16-17).

When Philip “preached Christ” he preached baptism, since “both men and women were baptized” (Acts 8:12). This means he preached about sin and how sinners are saved (Acts 2:37-38, 40). This means he taught the plan of salvation when he preached Christ to the Samaritans (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 1:8; 8:1, 4). Those who believed the gospel obeyed it and were saved (Acts 8:12-13). We conclude that Philip preached the continuing responsibilities of faithful, obedient discipleship (Acts 8:13). None should object to preaching the responsibilities of discipleship (such as moral purity, Romans 12:1-2) as not preaching Christ. “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).

When Philip “preached Christ” he preached fulfilled prophecy. In Acts 8:35, Philip “preached Jesus” from Isaiah 53:7-8, instructing the Ethiopian that Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. The Jesus whom we preach is the suffering Christ of Old Testament prophecy (Acts 17:2-3).

The New Testament of Christ is the apostles’ doctrine that was preached in the first century (Romans 16:25). It is what lost souls heard, believed and obeyed in order to be saved from their sins (Acts 2:40-41). The gospel they preached was not their own; it was revealed to them by the Spirit of God (John 16:12-15; Galatians 1:11-12; I Thessalonians 2:13). It was the “word of the cross” then, and it continues to be the “word of the cross” today (I Corinthians 1:18; I Peter 1:22-25).

We will not make distinctions in God’s word where there are none. To “preach Christ crucified” includes preaching that Jesus fulfilled God’s prophetic plan to save sinners. It includes His life, death, resurrection and exaltation; it includes man’s faith and obedience; it includes the church of Christ and the authority of Christ over our lives. We must preach the “whole counsel of God,” the inspired Scriptures (II Timothy 3:16-4:2; Acts 20:27). To do less is not preaching Christ crucified to the world.

— Via articles from the La Vista church of Christ
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Bible 6

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“Buy the Truth and Sell it Not”

Bob Waldron

One of the most important attitudes one can have in striving to go to heaven is that of intense zeal for the truth of God. Too often, people settle on something far less than the truth. Remember, a counterfeit, though it may look relatively genuine, is nevertheless worthless. Likewise, we cannot enjoy the benefits of truth just by getting pretty close. We must take our position firmly and foursquare on the truth. “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

There are many among us who, like Pilate, would ask, “What is truth?” (John 18:38). Many do not believe in absolute truth. The Bible, however, is absolute, unchanging truth. “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Psalms 119:89). The belief that there is absolute truth is fundamental to one who desires to “buy the truth and sell it not” (Proverbs 23:23).

One Can Be Wrong

It is a fact that anyone can mistakenly be wrong. Paul, when speaking of his past manner of life, before his conversion, said, “I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day” (Acts 23:1). Yet he was before a “persecutor, and a blasphemer, and injurious” (1 Timothy 1:13). How could he have lived in all good conscience when he had been so wrong? The answer is simple. He thought he was right. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25). The fact that we can be wrong means that it does not behoove us to close our minds to further investigation. Jeremiah said, “Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Faith vs. Opinion

Naturally, study brings us to certain conclusions. All of us live by certain principles. But upon what do our conclusions rest? All too often they rest upon mere opinion. Realize that if something is a matter of faith, then God must have said something about it. We cannot know the words of eternal life by opinions. One man’s opinion is just as good as another man’s; but no man’s opinion is worthy to be compared to God’s.

You would not want to risk crossing the ice over a river merely because somebody thinks you can. Neither should we risk trying to go to heaven by the opinions of men. The difference between an opinion and conviction is that an opinion is usually a spur-of-the-moment conclusion someone comes up with based upon skimpy premises, if any. A conviction is a conclusion based upon evidence which has been thoroughly studied and meditated upon. God has given us a wonderful book. It furnishes man with doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness, that he may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

The Bible is our evidence. It is the truth. When believed, it becomes subjective faith. The Bible did not come from men, so there need be no question about its reliability. It was given unto men though, and designed so they could understand it when they read it (Ephesians 3:3-5). This is not to say that all the Bible is simple to understand. There are difficult portions of it that demand much study. The matters of conversion to God and everyday living are simple and easy to understand. What many find difficult about such matters is the application of that which may be so simple to understand.

Feelings — A Poor Standard

Do not base your conviction upon some peculiar feeling you might have. Feelings are a poor standard of truth. We have already mentioned Paul. We might mention Jacob also who believed with all his heart that his son Joseph was dead, but that did not make it true. Remember, God has given us revelation, facts. Our convictions must rest upon these facts or else we will find ourselves upon shifting sand.

Conscience — Not a Reliable Guide

Neither is conscience a reliable guide in determining whether your convictions are sound or not. The conscience is very pliable to begin with. Our conscience is usually formed at a tender age. At that time it may be trained to approve good or evil. When we reach maturity our conscience alters and becomes almost unchangeable. From then on it tells us only whether we have done as we learned to do or not.

Changing the conscience then is a slow, difficult project. If your conscience were trained correctly, well and good. If it were trained incorrectly, then it will approve even when you do things that are really wrong, because it was taught that which was wrong. “Let your conscience be your guide” is therefore poor advice.

This brings us back again to the fact that we must ultimately make our stand upon the word of God. Everything is to be judged by it.

— Via The Charlottesville Beacon, September 25, 2011
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“Shout joyfully to God, all the earth; Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious” (Psalm 66:1,2, NASB).

“He who offers a sacrifice of thanksgiving honors Me; And to him who orders his way aright I shall show the salvation of God” (Psalm 50:12, NASB).
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe
in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent
of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith
in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).     
6) Continue in the faith,
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)
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) “Such a Time as This” (Bobby Witherington)
——————–

esther

-1-

“Such a Time as This”

Bobby Witherington

“For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).

The Old Testament book of Esther is one of two books in the Bible named after women — Ruth and Esther. Like the book of Ruth, Esther is an action-packed book, which reads like a novel, but which is completely non-fiction. The events contained in this book really happened. They occurred after the 70-year captivity of the Jews in Babylon; after about 50,000 Jews had returned to their native land, and while the Medo-Persian Empire was the super power of the world.

The book of Esther opens with king Ahasuerus hosting a “feast for all his officials and servants” at which time he showed off the riches of his kingdom; a feast lasting for 180 days (Esther 1:1-4). Following this feast, the king also hosted another feast lasting seven days for all the people present in Shushan the palace, at which time “royal wine in abundance” was served. On the seventh day, “when the heart of the king was merry with wine,” he commanded certain eunuchs to “bring Queen Vashti,” that he might “show her beauty to the people and the officials” (Esther 1:10-11). She “refused to come at the king’s command” so she was dethroned (Esther 1:12-19). Ultimately a search was made for another person to serve as queen; and Esther, whose Jewish nationality at the time was not divulged, was providentially selected to serve as queen. Esther was an orphan, who had been brought up by Mordecai, her cousin (Esther 2:7,15).

“After these things” the king promoted Haman, a first class jerk, above all the princes in his kingdom, and this promotion went to his head, especially when “all the king’s servants … within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage” to him (Esther 3:1-2). However, Mordecai, a faithful Jew, a cousin to Esther, refused to pay homage to Haman, resulting in his being “filled with wrath” and even determining to “destroy all the Jew … throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus” (Esther 3:5-6).

Clearly, those were critical times! Mordecai appealed to cousin Esther to use her womanly charm and queenly influence to persuade the king in behalf of the Jews, even though he knew (and she knew) that it could have meant her death!  In appealing to Esther, Mordecai reasoned, saying, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). Prayerfully and obediently, she responded, saying, “…and if I perish, I perish” (Esther 4: 16). To “make a long story short,” she was successful, her nation was spared, Haman was “hanged…on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai” and Mordecai was promoted to being “second to king Ahasureus” (Esther 7:10; 9:5; 10:3). To this very day the Jews celebrate the feast of Purim, which originated during Esther’s time, and which is held in honor of the nation being spared. And let us not forget that this was the nation from which would come the Messiah! Thank God for Esther!

What Kind of a “Time” Was It?

Remember that Mordecai asked Esther, “who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14)? Obviously, in view of what happened during that time period, and how the events were influenced by Esther, we know that she (providentially) had “come to the kingdom for such a time!” But what kind of a time was it?

1. It was a time when the king and the nation’s leaders were exceedingly wicked  — a time when a queen was deposed because of her modesty, a time when the king would execute any person who entered his chambers uninvited — unless he held out the golden scepter! Solomon said, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when a wicked man rules, the people groan” (Prov. 29:2).

2. It was a time of drinking and revelry — A time when the “royal wine” was served in “abundance” and all were allowed to “do according” to their “pleasure” (Esther 1:3-8).

3. It was a time of immodesty! — When the king demanded that Vashti display her beautiful body before the drunken and lustful eyes of all the people present in Shushan the palace.

4. It was a time when many did not respect the sanctity of marriage! The king got rid of Vashti through no fault of her own. It is true that the text does not specifically say she was his wife, but the advice he received and acted upon implies it (Esther 1:17-18).

5. It was a time when human life was devalued! Remember, the decree which the leaders signed called for the genocide of the Jews, all because one God-fearing Jew refused to bow before proud, egotistical Haman!

6. It was a time when the providence of God was at work! This reminds us of Genesis 22:14 when, after seeing the ram caught in a thicket and being able to offer it for a burnt offering instead of his son, Isaac, Abraham “called the name of the place, Jehovah-Jireh” meaning “the Lord will provide….” Indeed, God did provide the ram during Abraham’s time, and He provided deliverance to the whole nation during the time of Esther!

7. It was a time when one person could make a difference! Esther was that person. To have refused to thus act would have been criminal in nature. We should never underestimate the influence of one person. For example, in 1645 one vote gave Oliver Cromwell control of England. In 1941 one vote saved the selective service system, just three months before Pearl Harbor!

Application

Amazingly, some 2500 years have passed since the time of Esther. Yet, a look at their times and a look at our times reveal a great deal of similarity. We live in a time when many of our nation’s leaders are wicked, a time of drunkenness and revelry, a time of extreme immodesty, when multitudes do not respect the sanctity of marriage, and when human life is de-valued.

Regardless of when they appear in the history of man, the people of God have “come to the kingdom for such a time” as it relates to the generation and the society of which they are a part. Christians are to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13-16). As long as time lasts, they have a formidable foe, a vicious “adversary” who walks “about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). There will be times and places when it will be dangerous to be a Christian (cf. John 16:2). Our own government is becoming more and more antagonistic to the religion of Christ. For that matter, Islam is both on the rise and on the attack. Our children and grandchildren will likely face times unimaginable by people born and reared in America in previous generations. We can sit back, be quiet, play it safe and possibly die of natural causes at the end of a “ripe old age.” Or we can be like Esther, take a stand, take whatever risk may be involved, and refuse to give in to the forces of evil, while preaching the gospel to the world. God is still in control!  He still “rules in the kingdom of men” (Dan. 4:17).

Conclusion

In today’s world we need more Mordecais and more Esthers; saints who place their trust in God and do what is right because it is right. Such people can make a difference, because they are different! Who are we to think we should be exempt from making the sacrifices which sooner or later are inevitably demanded if we are to continue to enjoy both our political and spiritual freedoms? We have “come to the kingdom for such a time as this,” and each of us individually and all of us collectively can make a difference. Resolve to be an Esther or a Mordecai. By so doing, you can make a difference and be a blessing to your generation.

— Via The Railroad Avenue Bulletin, April 2013
——————–

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 without pictures)
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) Have a Heart…A Merry One (Bryan Gibson)
2) Benefits from Reading the Bible from Cover to Cover (Abraham Smith)
——————–

proverbs17_22b

-1-

Have a Heart…A Merry One

Bryan Gibson

“A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken…all the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast…a merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones” (Proverbs 15:13,15; 17:22). There’s no debating, then, the value of a merry heart.

That’s not to say that sadness is all bad, or that one should (or could) avoid it altogether. “Even in laughter the heart may be in pain, and the end of joy may be grief” (Proverbs 14:13). Albert Barnes, in commenting on this passage says, “Sorrow of some kind either mingles itself with outward joy, or follows hard upon it.” So it’s unavoidable, and it can also be quite helpful, even spiritually. “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better” (Ecclesiastes 7:3).

To remain, though, in the depths of sorrow and discouragement can be hazardous to our souls, and the souls of others. Here are just a few reasons: 1) It’s hard to stay busy doing good when we’re discouraged — it “dries the bones” or saps our strength. 2) We’re more vulnerable to false teachers, because they like to prey on the miserable. 3) We’re also more vulnerable to the lusts of the flesh, looking for that “quick fix.” 4) We’re much more likely to cause strife among brethren, because in this state we tend to see everything in a negative light. 5) Our influence will be greatly diminished — no one likes to hang out with a joyless person, and they sure don’t see us as someone to imitate. 6) For the same reasons, we may even turn some away from the truth.

So how do we maintain a merry heart, even in the midst of sorrow? Proverbs not only commends the merry heart, it also tells us how to keep it.

Find JOY in the truth, in the ways of the Lord — not in what “seems right” (14:12), but in what IS right. The satisfaction this brings to our souls just can’t be replaced. “The backslider in heart will be filled with his own ways, but a good man will be satisfied from above” (Proverbs 14:14). “The path of the just is like the shining sun, that shines ever brighter unto the perfect day” (Proverbs 4:18). “He who heeds the word wisely will find good, and whoever trusts in the LORD, happy is he” (Proverbs 16:20).

ENJOY the fruits of our labors — in the physical realm (“he who tills his land will be satisfied with bread” — Proverbs 12:11), but especially the spiritual realm. “A desire accomplished is sweet to the soul” (Proverbs 13:19), especially when that desire is to win souls (Proverbs 11:30).

Develop gratitude and contentment. “A satisfied soul loathes the honeycomb, but to a hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet” (27:7). We’re not entitled to anything, so let’s learn to be thankful for every “sweet” blessing — from the least to the greatest. “The leech has two daughters — Give and Give! There are three things that are never satisfied, four never say, ‘Enough!’ The grave, the barren womb, the earth that is not satisfied with water — and the fire never says, ‘Enough!’” (Proverbs 30:15-16). Gratitude and contentment — we’ll never be merry without them, and what’s worse, we’ll lose our souls.

Don’t drink the poison of envy, which in some cases may be the source of our unhappiness. “A sound heart is life to the body, but envy is rottenness to the bones” (Proverbs 14:39). “Rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15) — that’s the antidote to this crippling sin of envy, and one more key to a merry heart.

REJOICE in the hope of eternal life. “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but be zealous for the fear of the LORD all the day; for surely there is a hereafter, and your hope will not be cut off” (Proverbs 23:17-18). Can’t escape sorrow here, but we can there, and that prospect will surely sustain through whatever difficulties we face in this life.

Hard to find more fitting words with which to close: “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

— Via Plain Words from God’s Word, April 28, 2016
——————–

Bible 4


-2-

Benefits from Reading the Bible from Cover to Cover

Abraham Smith

In an earlier article, “Reading the Bible from Cover to Cover,” we considered several factors that hinder us from reading the Bible in its entirety. Let us now examine the benefits we get from routinely reading all of the Bible.

The road to understanding the Bible

The Bible is written in such a way that all the answers we seek are not contained in one verse or one chapter. This is the reason the Bible says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:10).

There are many passages of scriptures that we cannot understand without turning to other passages that may be in another book of the Bible. An example of this is Mark 9:1. Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death till they see the kingdom of God present with power.” We must turn to other passages to learn of what kingdom Jesus refers (Daniel 2:44; John 18:36), who is the King (1 Timothy 6:15-16), when the King would begin reigning (Psalm 2:6; Acts 2:29-36), the relationship of this power to the kingdom, and when the kingdom would be present with power (Acts 1:8; 2:1-4), and how one can enter into and become a citizen of this kingdom (John 3:3-5; Matthew 7:21; and Matthew 18:3).

So, in order to understand certain passages, we must have knowledge of other passages and see how they relate to the particular passage we wish to understand. We must be able to make that connection between the two passages. Reading the Bible regularly will increase our ability to connect passages that must be connected in order to be understood.

The more times we read any book of the Bible, the more specific pieces of information from that book we will remember. Thus, we will have specific pieces of information to link to other passages to help us understand these passages of Scripture. The fewer the number of times that we read a book, the fewer the pieces of information we will remember.

When we read a passage of Scripture without understanding it, the reason may be that this understanding will be provided by another passage. The more we read other passages, the more likely we are to associate these passages to the passage to be understood. Since we do not know where in the Bible these other passages are located, reading all the Bible regularly will ensure that we will be acquainted with them wherever they may be.

Have you ever tried to put together a jigsaw puzzle? I have found this task difficult when there are 1,000 or more pieces. What helps me to put together a large puzzle is having a picture as a guide. Sometimes understanding a particular passage is like that. This scripture is like a piece of a puzzle. Like a puzzle, in understanding the scriptures, we need an overall picture as a guide. That overall picture is provided by our familiarity of each book of the Bible containing each passage we seek to understand. But we get this overall picture of each book of the Bible by reading it often.

I believe that we should study passages of scriptures in detail. But unless we have the overall picture of a book of the Bible in which to fit the passage to be understood, we may find ourselves studying without understanding it. The book of Revelation is a good example of this.

Other benefits to reading the whole Bible

Another benefit in reading the whole Bible often is that we become familiar with the context of every book in the Bible. This familiarity of Scripture gives us the ability to recognize when passages are being taken out of context. Thus we will not be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting”  (Ephesians 4:14).

There are many other things we would discover if we would make time each day to read the Bible. We would discover that our inclinations for sin would be less (Psalm 119:9-11). Our strength to do good things would increase (1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 3:3-5,16,17). Our patience in difficult times would be maintained (Acts 20:32; Ephesians 4:1-3). Our contentment would increase (1 Timothy 6:6). Our peace would multiply (Philippians 4:6-9; Psalm 85:8). Our love would be stirred as well as our joy (Hebrews 10:24; Galatians 5:22-23). We would desire more for our Creator (Psalm 31:23; Psalm 73:25; Deuteronomy 6:5-9).

In addition to this, we would learn what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 3:3-4; 5:17). We may also learn that we have been told many things about the Bible that are not true. This false information would cause us to have a distorted impression of the Scriptures. We can help avoid such distortions if we set a time each day for the reading and studying of God’s precious words.

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

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 without pictures)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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