Month: June 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) Judgment and God’s Compassion (Doy Moyer)
2) Maintaining the Christian Life (Doug Pennock)
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Judgment and God's Compassion

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Judgment and God’s Compassion

Doy Moyer

When Abraham was told about the destruction of cities known for unrepentant wickedness, he didn’t rejoice in that, but begged for them to be spared. When Jonah confronted a city of wickedness (and repentance), he pined for their destruction. Who are we more like?

Common to both accounts is 1) the absolute right of God to be the Judge, and 2) the compassion and lovingkindness of God to save. God judged Sodom because “their outcry has become so great before the Lord” (Gen. 19:13), and it was clear there would be no repentance. Yet, though Lot hesitated, the angels took the hands of Lot and his family and led them out, “for the compassion of the Lord was upon him” (vs. 16). Lot recognized that this magnified the lovingkindness of God because his life was saved (vs. 19). In the midst of judgment, God showed mercy and compassion. He has the right to both.

Jonah, on the other hand, was angry that God spared Nineveh, and his reasoning is interesting: “Please Lord, was not this what I said while I was still in my own country? Therefore in order to forestall this I fled to Tarshish, for I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, and one who relents concerning calamity” (4:2).

Again, God has the absolute right to judge, and sometimes because of unrepentant hearts He judges. That will always be His right, and His alone. Yet through His compassion and lovingkindness, He offers opportunities to repent and be saved. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4)

This is the gospel message. Judgment is coming, but salvation is offered by God’s grace.

Paul preached, “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30- 31).

Peter taught, “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).

Why repent? Because there is yet judgment coming due to wickedness. Failure to repent means being caught up in the judgment: “But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5).

Yet why repent? Because of God’s compassion and lovingkindness offering salvation. In His wrath, He remembers mercy (Hab. 3:1). In His mercy, He provides hope (Rom. 5:1-2).

Some have great difficulty reconciling these two facets of God, but Paul brings both together in Romans 2. To deny that God has the absolute right to judge is to fail to recognize 1) the unfathomable glory and holiness of God, and 2) the horrific nature of sin. God does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:3-4), but evil is so horrific that it cannot go unpunished. It’s interesting that many unbelievers will speak of “the problem of evil” and ask, “Why doesn’t God do anything about all the evil?” He has, and He will. That’s why God brings judgment. Yet it’s also why God offers salvation through Christ. “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

People want evil to be duly punished, but many never accept the fact all have participated in evil (Rom. 3:23) and repentance is God’s compassionate prescription for averting that judgment. No one has to suffer eternally for it. Sadly, many have come to expect mercy without repentance. It doesn’t work that way. Still others get angry at God because He would dare judge at all, as if God has no such right. What they don’t get is that whether or not they like what God does or who God is has absolutely no bearing on whether or not God exists. Failing to repent because of anger toward God does not wipe away that failure to repent. God still judges, and God still offers salvation to the repentant. Why fight that? “Therefore repent and return….”

We began by asking, “Who are we more like?” Jonah is not held up as an icon of faith in Scripture. Abraham, on the other hand, is. This is not to say that Abraham was perfect, but his faith, even in the judgment events, is well seen: “Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

Yes, He has, He does, and He will. Only God can determine the timing of judgment. Ours is to hold out the hope of the gospel so that as many as will may repent and follow the Lord. By granting repentance, God shows His mercy and grace. Let us never think lightly of this offer.

— Via Mind Your Faith, June 21, 2016
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Matthew_4_4

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Maintaining the Christian Life

Doug Pennock

Like our car needs maintenance to keep it running smoothly, we as Christians also need regular maintenance to keep us on the road to salvation. This should come in the form of regular worship of God and regular bible study. If we don’t do the former, what is the real object of our faith; and if we don’t do the latter, we will not grow as Christians and will invariably go the other direction and lessen our faith or even lose it entirely.

1 Peter 2:2 tells us “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word.” As a newborn baby desires its mother’s milk, so we should desire the word of God that we may grow into a full and mature Christian. The newborn needs mother’s milk in order to survive and so we as Christians need a steady diet of the word of God in order to survive.

Satan is forever tempting us to turn away from God and fill our hearts and minds with worldly concerns that will drown out the word if we do not continually replenish the supply. If we keep our hearts and minds full of the word, Satan will not be able to choke out the word (see the parable of the sower in Matthew 13) and we will be able to withstand better the temptations that he throws our way.

Jesus, when He was tempted by Satan (Matthew 4), answered every temptation with scripture (“it is written”) and so we can do the same when he tempts us to stray from the way of righteousness and to sin. By being filled with the word of God, we are filled with the Holy Spirit and can speak the oracles of God and give answer to those that ask of the hope that is in us (1 Peter 4:11; 1 Peter 3:15). This takes constant bible study and we should make a daily habit of looking into God’s word for the wisdom we need in this life.

What of worshiping God? Are we one of those that thinks it is okay to stay away from the assemblies of God’s children (the church) and try to worship God on our own? Hebrews 10:25 says: “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” God expects us to assemble ourselves together and has given us the church of His dear Son as the means whereby we may do so.

We assemble as the church of Christ (which is made up of its members and not a building) to worship God as He would be worshiped. We worship Him only in the way prescribed by the New Testament, not taking away from what we should do nor adding anything to what we find in the scriptures. This is how God must be worshiped in spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24). If we worship Him in any way that the scriptures do not authorize, we are not doing so in a way that is acceptable to Him and received by Him. (See post: “The One True Church.”)

So, if we are able to worship with the saints on a regular basis and learn to study accurately the word of God, we are able to maintain ourselves as Christians and stay true to the faith. We should also practice good works regularly as God would have us do and not let them slip, doing good to others as we have opportunity (Galatians 6:9,10). Of course we must be in Christ in the first place by following the plan of salvation and being baptized into Christ for the remission of our sins. (See Plan of Salvation above and under categories.)

May God bless and keep you until next time.

— Via Living the Godly Life, November 23, 2015
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe
in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent
of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith
in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized 
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).     
6) Continue in the faith,
living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://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) Does Romans Call for the Death of Homosexuals? (Doy Moyer)
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statue2_Doy_Moyer

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Does Romans Call for the Death of Homosexuals?

Doy Moyer

Bad interpretations can have devastating consequences. This is especially seen in the recent debates regarding the LGBT movement and the push to get those who oppose the practices to bow to the movement and, not just tolerate it, but affirm and condone it. A good example of the “bad interpretation” problem is seen in an article published on Roll Call. The headline says, “Homosexuals ‘Worthy of Death’ Bible Verse Read Before Key Note.” Rep. George Allen led a prayer by reading first from Romans 1:18-32. This, of course, has been condemned as being “vile and dangerous remarks,” and accuses Allen of spreading hate. The author writes, “Passages in the verses refer to homosexuality and the penalty for homosexual behavior.” This was interpreted to mean that those present “heard a Bible verse that calls for death for homosexuals.”

This is not about the circumstances in which the prayer was made or the political ramifications of what they were voting on, but rather how a Bible verse interpreted so badly can do more damage in the minds of the interpreters than can ever be warranted. The fault lies not with Scripture, but with horrific interpretive lenses based on political agendas rather than sound theology. We often make the point that people can make the Bible say anything they want if they are willing to twist things, and this is another case in point. Only this time it is not to allow for a practice that is desirable, but rather to try to show how a Bible passage spreads hatred by calling for practicing homosexuals to die.

Interestingly (though not funny), the same people who now say that this Bible reading calls for the death (i.e., execution) of homosexuals would have also told Bible believers that the Bible nowhere condemns homosexual behavior and should not be seen as a barrier to the acceptance of the LGBT agenda. Which is it? The fact that they react so strongly to Romans 1 shows that they know that Scripture does not condone homosexual practice. Now they take this another step by saying that the passage calls for their deaths. If they can make this stick, then they will have sufficient political warrant to ban Scripture altogether because it foments hatred and violence against the LGBT community. Just watch.

Not so fast. A careful reading of the text, coupled with a careful notation of the context of Romans, shows that the book does not in any way “call for the death” of homosexuals. It does show that the practice is sinful, so what does the whole “worthy of death” phrase mean in verse 32?

First, whether this passage is referring to spiritual or physical death is debated (I believe it is spiritual), but even if physical death is under view, it is not a call for others to take such action. That, in fact, goes against the whole message of Romans, which prohibits any individual from taking personal vengeance or harming anyone else (read chapters 12-13). It would simply be saying that sinners are “worthy” of it without calling for violent action against the practitioners. There is a difference, and the passage cannot rightly be interpreted as some kind of overarching call to kill anyone. In other words, it does not mean “kill those who do this,” and any interpretation that makes it say that is doing extreme violence to the text. Let’s pray that no believer would actually take it that way. The point is that we all know that death is a horrible consequence of sin.

Second, the point being made is not that certain people need to die. Paul is setting up a bigger argument here, and the text cannot be rightly interpreted in isolation. I wonder how many who are reading this passage as a “call for death” have actually studied Romans as a whole and seen the overarching context of Paul’s argument. It is unconscionable that anyone who has done this would ever come up with the interpretive spin being put on this text for political purposes.

Third, please notice in the reading of Romans 1:18-32 that those who engage in homosexual practices are not the only ones in the list: “God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful” (vv. 28-31).

If this is meant to be a “call for death” for homosexuals, then it is also a “call for death” for everyone who has ever been unrighteous, wicked, greedy, evil, envious, deceitful, malicious, murderous, and full of strife. This includes gossips, slanderers, the boastful, and the unmerciful. You get the point. Who among us is not in that same list somewhere? If this is meant to say that homosexuals ought to be executed, then it is meant to say that all of us ought to be executed. And then, no one would be left. But the truth stands: all of us are “worthy of death.” Romans 1:32 uses the legal term, “decree.” If we are standing on trial, we know the decree, and we know the penalty for violation. We are all guilty. None are righteous (Rom. 3:10).

This brings us to the point that Paul is really making. Sin makes everyone — EVERYONE — worthy of death. That includes me and you, straight or gay, male or female, American or otherwise. “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), and “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23a). To crook our fingers only over to homosexual behavior, then to act smugly like we don’t fit into that same passage, is to make the same grave mistake that many back then made:

“Therefore you have no excuse, everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Rom. 2:1-3)

But if all of us are worthy of death, then why is Paul writing Romans? Look, this is not a full exegesis of Romans, and I know all too well that there are debates over the interpretation of the whole book, but I hope we can all agree on this point. Paul wrote Romans in order to show that, even though all of us are worthy of death because of sin, God enacted another plan that changes the outcome of this problem. Paul wasn’t writing this in order to lay out the penalty that all should have known (sin causes death), but was writing in order to show the solution of grace. Legally, God can condemn us, but that’s not what He wants to do. Romans 1 is part of the set up to show how everyone is guilty, but God wasn’t willing to leave it at that.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus  (Rom. 3:23-24).

“Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:21-23).

Paul speaks of death multiple times in Romans, but he does this in order to demonstrate how God delivers sinners from death through His grace. In other words, Romans is a textbook gospel message, and even before he speaks of anyone being “worthy of death,” he has already proclaimed, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith’” (1:16-17).

In other words, we must not read any of the “worthy of death” language without also seeing God’s offer of grace, of which we are not worthy. God is willing to exchange what we are worthy of (death) for what we are not worthy of (grace, salvation). Thank the Lord for this!

Yet none of that should be mistaken for thinking that we can continue to do whatever we wish. The gospel is a message of salvation, but it is also a message of repentance from that which makes us all worthy of death. “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4)

If God’s patience, kindness, and grace does not lead us to repent, then we only have ourselves to blame for the outcome. We are all guilty. We are all deserving of death. We are all sinners in need of God’s mercy. Paul’s argument in Romans presents a beautiful picture of the grace of God, into which, through faith, we may gain access.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).

Please drop the horrible interpretations that foster only political agendas and divisions. See the book for what it is: a mature theology of God’s grace for those who otherwise could only see death because of sin. It’s for all of us.

— Via Doy Moyer’s facebook timeline, June 18, 2016
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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).
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Contents:

1) How Do We Pray? (Matt Arnold)
2) “Turning a Stray” (Dan Shipley)
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Praying man painting

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How Do We Pray?

Matt Arnold

There are many ways in which each of us could answer this question. Before we try to tell ourselves that God is satisfied with our prayer, let’s take an honest look at what we’re doing and compare it to a few passages in the Bible that show us what God expects.

James 5:16 says “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” I believe we sometimes skim over this without realizing the gravity of that statement. Based on this short phrase, and an even shorter phrase in 1 Thess. 5:17, I’d like to look at the “Three Qs” of prayer.

Quality- Now this doesn’t mean that every prayer we say to the Lord must be perfectly eloquent or long, but it does mean that when we talk to God, we should want to really talk to God. Prayer, while it should be something we participate in often, shouldn’t be routine or common. It is a wonderful gift, and I think far too often we take it for granted. Be mindful of what it is you’re saying to God when you approach the throne. Are we praising Him? Thanking Him? Confessing to Him? Asking for spiritual strength? There are a lot of things we might pray about that wouldn’t particularly be considered effective, as James laid out. Let’s reconsider the things we say and the way in which we say them to God.

Quantity- There isn’t a number given to us for how many times we ought to pray each day. I’m happy about that; because I believe that if there were, we would be tempted to make it habitual and meaningless. But Paul does instruct us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). This doesn’t mean we must have a constant prayer running all day long. What Paul is saying to us is that we should never give up prayer. It is such a powerful tool that God has given us, and it should be the first thing we do when faced with a problem, or with a wonderful blessing. When we look at people like Nehemiah, David, Daniel, Paul, Peter, and Jesus, we see they are consistently communicating with God! Quantity, or the amount you pray, is really more about your entire attitude toward communication with God. The amount of times that you earnestly and sincerely talk to God will reflect the place He has in your life.

Qualifiers- Let’s not fool ourselves and think that everyone’s prayers are answered indiscriminately by God. If we aren’t in a right relationship with God, He is not obligated to answer our prayers. We may claim to be a Christian, but if we aren’t truly following Him or if our hearts are in the wrong place, it’s not guaranteed that He will give us what we request. Thankfully, if we are living and striving in a way that pleases God, James gives us reassurance in the power of our prayer. James 1:5-8 contrasts the double-minded man and the humble servant in their requests. James again qualifies prayer in James 5:16. There are three, which I emphasized. Effectiveness goes back into the quality of what we are saying to God, whether it is vain repetition or fervent supplication. Righteous here refers to the state of the man’s soul when praying, his relationship with God. And then James says it can accomplish much. That is a reference to the power of the One to whom we are praying.

The 3 Qs are something I think about a lot, but it can be difficult to apply without specifics or some guidelines to get us thinking about the different things we ought to be praying about.  So, continuing with alliteration, this is a list I saw in a sermon several years ago; and I wrote it down because I found it very helpful. I’m hoping you do as well.

Purpose- Sometimes we begin to wonder why we matter or what we should be doing with our lives. God knows, ask Him.

Pals- Friends, family, etc. Praying for their needs and their safety can help them more than we know.

Personal- Time to talk about our needs, blessings, and growth. We can’t be afraid to get really intimate with God, because after all, He already knows. But He wants us to talk to Him about it.

Purity- Whether mental, sexual, or spiritual, this is something we have to address when we come before God. Remember the prayer of David, “Create in me a clean heart, O God…” (Psalm 51:10).

Possessions- It’s not wrong to pray about the physical things you have or need, but what I mean here is really the attitude with which you talk to God about money and your other blessings. Ask Him to help you be a good steward.

Pointers- We must always ask God for advice or help when faced with a problem. He has the solution, and He has made it known that He is willing to help. Let’s overcome our pride and realize that we cannot rely upon ourselves like we can rely upon God.

Perspective- Going back to James 1, we need to ask God for wisdom. When kneeling before the throne, ask for God’s wisdom and His help in seeing life the way we ought to. This past year, I had a lot of issues with my perspective on life, and after a lot of asking for the wrong things the wrong ways, I finally came back to this list and saw that I’d been going about my communication with God all wrong.

I hope and pray that this was helpful to you, and remember that I keep you all in my prayers.

— Via articles of the Danville church of Christ, Danville, Kentucky, April 6, 2016
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Hebrews2_1

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“Turning a Stray”

Dan Shipley

The bank just presented me with my annual dividend — a new wall calendar.  I like it.  Mostly, I guess, because it features a western scene.  Its central figure is a hard riding cowboy attempting to turn a galloping steer back to the herd.  The painting is appropriately called, “Turning  a  stray.”  As I reflected on this scene and its title, it brought  to mind another kind of stray — one whose plight ought to be the concern of every faithful Christian.

The spiritual stray represents one of the oldest and  most perplexing problems among God’s people.  Scarcely a congregation has escaped his hurtful effects, not to mention what he does to himself.  Many have agonized over solutions.  What can we do?  Well, regardless of what we decide, it may be helpful to ponder his plight for a moment.  How does one get to be a stray to start with?  Obviously, it is not a deliberate thing, as the world itself indicates.  Another word describing the same process is the word “drift” as found in Hebrews 2:1.  In this context (verses 1-3) we find a clue, not only to the cause of this condition, but to its cure as well: “Therefore we ought to give more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…?”  It is not that one plans to stray and many are a long time in realizing they have.  Herein  we  see  the deceptiveness of this gradual and almost unconscious process.  It always begins with a slight loss of spiritual appetite; a little less  interest; and a bit less involvement — almost imperceptible at first, not only to the stray but to his undiscerning brethren as well.

In fact, what we normally consider to be the first sign of drifting may be nearer the last — and that is  absenteeism from Bible classes and worship services.  This may be due to a faulty concept of faithfulness; one that is more oriented to the church than to the Lord.  While it is true that faithfulness involves our presence in assemblies, it does not follow that merely attending services makes one faithful.  Being in the pew and in the faith are not the same. Lips that say “Lord, Lord,” even from the pew, mean very little when the heart is far from Him (Matthew 15:8).  And such a heart is where the problem begins.  In spiritual deterioration the heart is always the first to go.  So it is the straying heart and not so much its symptoms that must be dealt with if meaningful changes are to be effected. And this brings us back to the remedy suggested in our context.

The key to faithfulness is giving heed to “the things that were heard”;  the Word of God — and the “more earnest” the better.  The more one’s attention is on God’s truth, the less apt he is to stray.  Not only will this keep one with God, it will restore the stray (if anything will).  You might say that heeding truth will keep us from turning astray and at the same time help us turn a stray.  Only an appeal to truth can bring men to God or return men to Him.  With it we can instruct, remind and admonish; but it is our only power to turn a stray.  The need is to heed!

— Via the University Heights Messenger, Volume 8, Number 17 (April 24, 2016), Lexington, Kentucky
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures)
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) “If You Show Partiality, You Commit Sin” (R.J. Evans)
2) Some Things That May Surprise You About the church of Christ (Ernest Finley)
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James2_9

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“If You Show Partiality, You Commit Sin”

R.J. Evans

We should ever be thankful that we serve an impartial God.  If that were not so, we would be in a hopeless condition.  But we are reminded a number of times throughout the scriptures that “there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11; Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:25).  To show partiality involves being prejudiced or biased in favor of one person compared with another.  Thus, it involves showing unfair favoritism.  The fact that God does not show respect of persons is expressed so well by the Apostle Peter when he preached the gospel to Cornelius, his relatives and friends — the first Gentiles (Acts 10:24).  After his arrival we are told —  “Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.  But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him’” (Acts 10:34-35).

In the days of Moses, when the heads of the tribes were chosen, they were instructed to “Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him.  You shall not show partiality in judgment” (Deut. 1:16-17).

Well, just as God shows no partiality, we are commanded to do the same.  But often we have difficulty with this.  After giving Timothy instructions on how to deal with an elder who had sinned, the Apostle Paul plainly told him: “I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Tim. 5:21).

Often we are tempted to think we are above certain people, and we treat them accordingly.  Perhaps we have convinced ourselves that we are superior to others, or that certain people we know are more important than others. The following is humorous, but it touches on what we are discussing.  Throughout my years of preaching, I have heard many members of the church say something like this about their local preacher:  “We have the best ‘little’ preacher.”  Why is the word “little” in that sentence?  Does it mean they are bigger, older, superior, or more important than the preacher? Some of those “little” preachers I have known are pretty “big” in size.  I’m still my aunt’s “little” nephew — she is nine years my senior.  I feel certain that is the reason why she refers to me in that manner.  The above has always been somewhat amusing to me, but there can also be a serious side to this way of thinking.

The scripture specifically warns against holding “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory with partiality” in our assemblies (Jas. 2:1-9).  If we rush to show friendliness, kindness, attention and interest in someone who is well-dressed and appears to be “important” — while at the same time ignoring a person who appears to be poor in our own estimation — notice carefully what James tells us.  He says, “You have dishonored the poor man” (v. 6), and most important of all, “if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (v. 9).  That’s how serious this matter is!

In the local church we must be so careful to not show partiality by purposefully ignoring or leaving someone out of certain activities.  When good deeds and good works are mutually shared, we need to do our best to make sure that everyone is included.  We have observed over the years that some will speak and be friendly to most of their brethren, but at the same time, make it a point to avoid other Christians. The person being avoided begins to think: Am I invisible?  Am I not worthy of being greeted or acknowledged?  Would not these kind of actions be showing partiality toward one, while discriminating against another?  Is this not being partial, and in practice, guilty of what James warns against?

When we show partiality among ourselves, it reveals itself in various other ways, none of which are good.  It fosters a heart filled with pride and superiority, we become rude, impolite, unfriendly, lacking good manners, untrustworthy, and not having a genuine love for our fellowman.  Perhaps there are other bad traits that accompany being partial; but again, the most important fact to remember is: “IF YOU SHOW PARTIALITY, YOU COMMIT SIN.”

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, May 15, 2016
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Psalm122_1

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Some Things That May Surprise You About The church of Christ!

Ernest Finley

1. You may be surprised that everyone in the assembly is invited to participate in the singing portion of the worship services. We have no choirs, special groups or solos. We use no pianos, drums, organs or guitars, etc. All music is a cappella (vocal) as the New Testament indicates it was in the apostolic days (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Contrary to what you may have heard, the singing is good singing, soul stirring and encouraging!

2. You may be surprised that visitors are NOT requested to make a contribution. Local members contribute on the first day of the week, each and every week. This is done without demand in the form of “dues” or “assessments.” Free-will giving on the basis of other New Testament principles is impressed as the plan of scriptural giving. No pie-suppers, crab feeds, raffles, or money-raising schemes are used! We do not bum or beg from those outside the Lord’s own family. All contributions, if the Lord’s Will is respected, are freely given.

3.  If you visit with us on any Lord’s Day (the “first day of the week”), you may be surprised to find that we commemorate the death of Christ by partaking of the Lord’s supper, which was instituted by Christ and commanded and taught by Paul, the Apostle (Matt. 26:26-29; 1 Cor. 11:23-26). In the first century, “upon the first day of the week the disciples came together to break bread” (Acts 20:7). Therefore, since every week has a first day, it follows that the Lord’s death must be commemorated every week! Not once every six months, or only on “Easter Sunday”!

4. You may be surprised that no hyper-emotional appeals are made. You will not be urged to act or move in response to the invitation of the Lord until you have sufficient knowledge of the Truth, to serve as a basis for your faith (Jn. 20:30-31; Acts 16:32).

5. It may surprise you that most Christians attend every assembly of the church because they want to, enjoy it, know it is commanded and because they realize that assembling to worship is vital to their spiritual growth and service to God (Acts 2:42; Heb. 10:25).

6. You may be surprised to know that we have no man-made prayer book, no church-authorized discipline, manual or creed and no ritualistic worship (2 Tim. 3:16-17 & 4:1-4).

7. You may be surprised at the manner of our services. You will not hear shouting, screaming or any other manifestation of unbridled emotions. No one will fall out in a faint, roll around on the floor or speak in “unknown” tongues. You will see that the admonition of the apostle Paul that all things “be done decently and in order,” is sincerely observed (1 Cor. 14:40).

8. You may be surprised that the service is NOT conducted by a man claiming to be a part of a special priesthood. Since the Lord Jesus Christ is our High Priest and all Christians now make up a general priesthood and can themselves approach God and offer their prayers and sacrifices, it should be evident that no special earthly priesthood is necessary today (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Heb. 4:14-16).

9. With virtually all denominations having earthly headquarters, it may surprise you that the church of Christ has neither earthly headquarters nor an earthly head. Christ alone is head of His body and the church’s headquarters is in heaven, where Christ now sits and rules with ALL authority (Col. 1:18; Eph. 1:22-23; Phil. 3:20-21).

10. Contrary to what you may have heard, you may be surprised to know that the church of Christ is not intent on condemning everyone to Hell, but invites all to come to our Lord in obedient faith, in faithful service and worship and in Godly living, that one may enjoy the benefits of His grace and strive for the hope of eternal life (Tit. 2:11-12; 1 Jn. 2:25).

11. Finally, you may be surprised to learn that the Lord’s church is neither Catholic, Protestant, sectarian nor denominational. The Lord’s church in the first century was obviously none of these. If we are correct in our claim that we follow His Word alone (admitting that not all “churches of Christ” can honestly make this claim) and in every way seek to be simply New Testament Christians, then we are the same as it was in the first century.  Being of the same head, doctrine and practice results in being the same body the Lord purchased or built and therefore antedates both Catholicism and all Protestant denominations (Acts 20:28; Matt. 16:18).

We greatly desire the unity for which Jesus prayed; but, we believe that scriptural unity is found only in Christ (Jn. 17:20-21). Both Catholicism and denominational sectarianism stand opposed to this unity. We stand upon the Word of our Lord alone, respecting His authority in everything and speaking only as He directs us if we “all be one” in Christ as He so fervently prayed (Matt. 28:18; 1 Pet. 4:11). PLEASE ATTEND OUR SERVICES AND SEE FOR YOURSELF!

— Via the website for the Railroad Avenue church of Christ
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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