Month: August 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) “Ye Are Gods” (John 10:34) (Joe R. Price)
2) Hebrews 11:1-3 (NASB)
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“Ye Are Gods” (John 10:34)

Joe R. Price

In the last year of Jesus’ life during the Feast of Dedication (present-day Hanukkah), unbelieving individuals confronted him and demanded of him a plain declaration that he was the Christ (John 10:22-24). Like ravenous wolves the Jewish rulers had encircled him, ready to pounce upon their prey (v. 24).

The Context

Jesus was surrounded by unbelievers. They had seen his miraculous works and their results (i.e., the healing of the man ill for 38 years, John 5:2-18; sight restored to the man born blind, John 9:1-34) but still they did not believe on him. His works and his words had provided ample proof of his claims (John 5:36; 10:25). A further demonstration of his power would no doubt be casting pearls before swine (Matt. 7:6). They had made up their minds. They were looking for a reason to put Jesus to death.

His Sheep

Their failure to believe in Christ made it clear that they were not his sheep (John 10:26). They were not his disciples. Jesus made a contrast between his sheep and the unbelieving Jewish leaders in John 10:27-28. By so doing, he specifically stated the blessings of being his sheep. His sheep hear the voice of Christ (consequently, he knows them, John 10:14). They follow the words of Christ (consequently, he gives them eternal life, John 10:10). As a result, they shall never perish (no one shall snatch them out of the hand of Christ).

Jesus taught that human salvation rests upon the pillars of man’s faith and God’s grace (John 10:27-29; Eph. 2:8-9). Jesus rejected the Calvinistic doctrines of unconditional election and the perseverance of the saints. If the conditions of verse 27 are not obeyed, the blessings of verses 28-29 will not follow. As one hears and obeys the voice of Christ (the gospel) he receives the security of his soul that the Son and the Father provide. The Jewish rulers did not hear his voice nor did they follow him. Therefore, they did not have any true confidence of salvation. Because of their unbelief, Jesus implied that they would die in their sins (cf. John 8:23-24).

“I And The Father Are One”

Jesus claimed to possess the same power as the Father when he claimed power to give eternal life and to protect his sheep from danger (vv. 28-29). This mutual protective power illustrated his unity with the Father. As Lenski observes, “To snatch them out of his hand is the same as snatching them out of the Father’s hand.” So, what his enemies were pressing him for they now receive. Jesus uttered a clear and decisive statement of his divine nature by affirming, “I and the Father are one.” His works proceeded out of the Father and testified of his unity with the Father’s purposes and power (John 10:32; cf. 8:42).

To claim the same power as the Father was to claim oneness with the Father (John 10:29-30). The Jews immediately saw such a claim as blasphemous and tried to stone Jesus (John 10:31). They did not misunderstand what Jesus said. They simply did not believe him. They knew Jesus was “making himself God” (John 10:33). Jesus declared for himself equality (sameness) with God (cf. John 5:17-18). They considered his words to be blasphemous because they had rejected the evidence of his works which proved him to be divine. They thought he was just a man. So, they charged him with blasphemy and considered him worthy of death (John 10:33). Think of it! A man making himself God (v. 33)! Yet, the very works he did showed his declaration to be true (John 10:32; 5:36; 10:25, 38). Jesus is more than just a man. He is also God (John 1:1-3, 14). Had they believed his works, they would have readily received his words (John 10:37-38).

“Ye Are Gods”

The Jews were completely intolerant of Jesus’ claim of Godhood. Jesus continued his defense by exposing their inconsistency through an appeal to the authority of Scripture. “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, Ye are gods’? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came (and the scripture cannot be broken), say ye of him, whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘Thou blasphemest’; because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?” (John 10:34-36).

The Jews accepted the statement from their own law that described God’s appointed judges among his people as “gods” (Psa. 82:6). Jesus reminds his opponents of this (it is significant to note that he says the book of Psalms belonged to their “law” (cf. Rom. 3:19, 10-18). Jesus stated what his Jewish opponents conceded. Namely, that it stood written in the law (i.e., it was firmly established by the binding nature of God’s law) that God said of men “Ye are gods” (John 10:34-35). Then, Jesus affirmed the authoritative force of Scripture by saying, “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35). Inspired scripture cannot be deprived of its binding authority by the whims of men. All individuals are obligated to harmonize their beliefs and practices to the authority of God’s writings (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 14:37; Col. 3:17).

Not only did the Jews reject the evidence of Jesus’ works, in their charge of blasphemy they also failed to respect the authority of Scripture. In Psalms 82:6, the judges of Israel were called “gods” because of their representative position of authority and responsibility among the people. These judges were God’s representatives, charged with executing fair and impartial judgments in Israel (82:2-4). To go before the judges was to go before God (cf. Exod. 21:6; 22:8-9, 28), for they were charged with rendering God’s judgments (Deut, 1:16-17), The 82nd Psalm depicts God rebuking these “gods” (the unjust judges) for their corruption of justice. Because they failed to judge righteously, God would now judge them (82:1,7-8). Even so, because of their God-given position of power, the psalmist called the unrighteous judges “gods.” (Please note, these “gods” are on the earth judging among the poor, fatherless and needy, vv. 2-4. God’s judgment would be executed on “the earth” (v. 8). The Mormon explanation that this passage proves their doctrine of many gods is without contextual support (cf. 1 Cor. 8:4-6.)

The Jews had never considered the statement from Psalms 82:6 as blasphemous, even though it depicts unrighteous men as “god.” Yet they were charging Jesus (whose words and works showed that he was approved by God) with blasphemy because he said, “I am the Son of God” (10:36). That which had been written in their law must be accepted by them as authoritative (“the scripture cannot be broken”). Butler observes, “How then could the Jews have the right to accuse Jesus of blasphemy when He says, ‘I am the Son of God …’ especially since all of His miraculous works indicate that He has been sanctified and sent into the world by the Father” (Paul Butler, The Gospel of John, p. 127), The Jews were not being consistent in their reasoning. Since God’s law called unrighteous men “gods” because they had been sent by God to execute his judgments in Israel, the righteous Jesus was not blaspheming when he identified himself as one with the Father. Jesus argues from the lesser to the greater here. The Father had set him apart and sent him into the world with a far greater work than the judges of Israel received. Jesus’ works proved he was from the Father. He was righteous in every way. Truly, he is the Son of God (John 10:36).

Conclusion

“I and the Father are one” is equivalent to saying “I am the Son of God” (vv. 30,36). This was a clear declaration of deity by Jesus and the Jews took it as such (v. 33). Only in a representative sense have men ever been called “gods.” However, one has lived among us who was more than just man. Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:14; Col. 2:9). His works confirm it. His words attest to it. He has power to save and to protect your soul. Do you believe it? Are you his sheep?

— Via Guardian of Truth, Volume 40, Number 3 (Feb. 1, 1996)
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“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.  For by it the men of old gained approval.  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:1-3).
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

1) The Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Jesse Flowers)
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ethiopian eunuch

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The Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch

Jesse Flowers

When one comes to the eighth chapter of the Book of Acts, one comes to a very crucial time in the spread of the gospel in the first century. In the opening verses we read of a great persecution arising against the church immediately following the stoning of Stephen. A young, not yet converted Paul, goes about harassing and tormenting those belonging to the Way. Something which would normally be viewed as negative, turns into something quite positive: “Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

In the following verse we are introduced to a Christian and gospel preacher by the name of Philip. Of course, we are first introduced to him back in Acts 6, Philip being among the seven chosen to serve in a special capacity in administering to the Hellenistic widows that were being neglected in the daily distribution. He was chosen on account of his good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit, and wisdom (Acts 6:3). In Acts 8:5, we read of Philip going down to the city of Samaria in order to preach Christ to them. Preceding Jesus’ ascension he told the apostles that they would be witnesses to him in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth (Acts 1:8). The gospel of Christ had been proclaimed in Jerusalem and Judea, now the “good news” was brought to Samaria.

Philip is the man who makes his way to this despised area of Palestine, and there he begins to preach and teach. We find that the multitudes heeded the things spoken by Philip concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and both men and women were baptized. What a successful and encouraging beginning for this evangelist. As a result of his work, lives were being changed, souls were being saved, and thus a church is started in the city of Samaria. It is after this grand event that we come to the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch. The writer Luke pens these words in Acts 8:26: “Now an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise and go toward the south along the road which goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza. This is a deserted place….”

For a moment, put yourself in Philip’s shoes (sandals). Here you are in Samaria preaching and large numbers of people are coming to Christ as a result of your efforts.  Then in the midst of all that success, God instructs you to go to an area where, as far as you know, there isn’t anyone around! The Samaritans are hearing and obeying and now you’re being told to move on — do you ignore or do you listen? Well, Luke tells us in five words Philip’s response to the instruction he received from the angel of the Lord, “also he arose and went.” He goes from a well-populated city to an unpopulated desert. Most likely a strange request to the ears of Philip, but no questions were asked or hesitations made, for the instruction was a divine one. Behind him the good news was being preached, miracles were being performed, and people were being converted, but at God’s instruction he headed to Gaza. What an amazing attitude Philip possessed! Philip realized that this wasn’t his work he was leaving behind, it was God’s. God said, “Go,” and Philip, a man whose heart was sensitive to the word of God, went!

It is interesting to note that Gaza as a destination was really insignificant for Philip will never make it to the actual city. At this point, neither Philip nor the eunuch is even aware that the other exists. Yet out in a deserted place, the road going down from Jerusalem to Gaza, God will bring the paths of this sincere seeker and this sensitive teacher together.  It is on this road that we find a political leader riding in his chariot, reading the word of God and receptive to its truths. We learn that this man was employed in the service of Candace, who is described as being the queen of the Ethiopians. This eunuch was placed under tremendous responsibility for he had charge of all her treasury. He had traveled at least 800 miles in coming from Ethiopia to Jerusalem, and he had made that trip in order to worship! As the eunuch traveled back home he read aloud from the prophet Isaiah.

It is at this point that God will bring these two individuals together.  “Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near and overtake  this  chariot” (Acts 8:29). Philip, following the Spirit’s direction, engaged the eunuch in conversation. Philip did not wait for the man to lean out of his chariot to ask him for help. Rather, Philip took the initiative to ask him simply, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip’s tactfulness paid off. For he asked a question that opened the door for the message of the gospel to be taught. I believe it is interesting to note that Philip doesn’t shoot into some sermon, but first listens to what the Ethiopian eunuch is curious about. For part of the eunuch’s curiosity was not what was written, but to whom the passage applied. First Philip initiated the conversation, next he listened, and then he began to teach.  In fact, beginning at this wonderful passage in Isaiah 53, Philip proceeds to preach Jesus to him.

Philip recognized that for a man lost in sin, Jesus is the only issue that really matters! There is a multitude of subjects that can be discussed at a later time, but Jesus isn’t one of them.

One cannot help but to wonder what kind of things Philip spoke of when he preached to the eunuch about Jesus. Once again, God’s word does not always satisfy all of our curiosities. One subject we know without a doubt that Philip spoke to the eunuch about was the subject of baptism. It only makes sense that when one preaches Jesus, one preaches about baptism. As Philip spoke to this truth seeker about the identity of the One mentioned in Isaiah 53, the preacher must have spoken of God’s eternal plan in redeeming man from his sins. And that God’s only begotten Son, came to this earth and gave his life on the cross for the world, in order that all might have the opportunity to inherit eternal life. Naturally, Philip explained to this sinner that in order to come into contact with that precious blood that was shed for him there was a need to be baptized into Christ. It then makes perfect sense when the reader comes to verse 36, and sees the response of the eunuch.

“Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?” How wonderful those words must have been to the ears of Philip! Both go down into the water, Philip baptizes the eunuch, and then when they came up out of the water the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away. Philip’s part in bringing this Ethiopian eunuch to Christ was through, and the Lord  wasted no time to send him where he was needed next. Some of the sweetest words in all of this text is found in verse 39, when it simply states that the eunuch went on his way rejoicing! Because of God’s love, mercy, and grace for one soul he made it possible for this eunuch to hear the “good news” of salvation. After learning about  his loving Savior and after receiving the forgiveness of  sins, how could he do anything but go on his way rejoicing?!  Before  meeting Philip he was without Christ, but after hearing Philip tell him about Jesus, he found Christ. And didn’t each of us go on our way rejoicing when we came to Christ?!

In the conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8, we find a willing teacher + a sincere seeker + the providence of God = the saving of a soul. Philip started with the road the eunuch was on and from there led him to the cross. Earlier in Acts we have seen 3000 and 5000 souls saved, and it is easy to be impressed with such figures. Yet we must never forget that those big numbers represent individuals, single solitary souls. Philip was in Samaria where he was experiencing a tremendous amount of responses. God took this preacher and sent him to a desolate place and brought him across the path of a man who was searching. Sent him to a city that to our knowledge he never reached (Gaza), but in the process of his going, he was able to reach one man for Jesus. One is never a waste of time, one is never too much trouble, one is never insignificant. May God always help us to see the value of only one soul, and may that realization produce a zeal within us to bring as many souls as possible to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

— Via Truth Magazine, Volume XLII, Number 1, January 1, 1998
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://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) Morale Boosters (R.J. Evans)
2) Casting in the Tree (Jeff May)
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Acts11_23

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Morale Boosters

R.J. Evans

“Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thes. 5:14).

There are so many things that may get us discouraged and lower our morale as we live our lives here on this earth. At times, elders, deacons, and preachers get discouraged in dealing with problems and trying to assist others with their difficulties. Young people are being pressured by their peers to do many things that are sinful and worldly. So many families have problems, heartaches, and financial struggles. Those who have health issues, or who are grieving over the loss of a loved one, often become weary and discouraged. Single people may become lonely, and feel like they are always left out. Unfortunately, in some congregations, there are those who work behind the scenes to “put it down” rather than seek to “build it up.” These kind of devious actions to undermine the work of the church lower the morale of a congregation — especially as it relates to those who are young in the faith or weak. And the list could go on and on concerning things that tend to lower our morale.

In dealing with discouragements and low morale, there are several things we all can do. We can try to maintain a good, positive, loving attitude. We can work and labor in the kingdom as hard as possible. The Apostle Paul said: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). Please go back and re-read our text in view of putting it into practice.

What else can we do to lift each others’ spirits? We can try to be present for all the assemblies of the church. By doing so, we make ourselves available for our own edification, as well as availing ourselves of the opportunity to edify others (Eph. 4:16). Attending Bible classes and worship services lifts our morale, even when we’re not feeling well. This helps to “recharge our batteries.” It is God’s will that none of us forsake the assemblies of the church (Heb. 10:25). James says, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (Jas. 4:17). Thus, by attending all the services of the church, not only do we worship God “in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:24), we also encourage and boost the morale of one another.

Let’s all try to be like Joses, whose name was changed to “Barnabas” because he was an encourager. He encouraged or boosted the morale of other Christians wherever he went (Acts 4:36-37; 11:23; 15:26-42).

We can also seek to be the kind of Christian who refreshes others. Please consider the following examples: Philemon — “the hearts of the saints have been refreshed by you, brother” (v. 7); Paul told the Romans — that I “may be refreshed together with you” (Rom. 15:33); Paul wrote of several brethren who — “refreshed my spirit and yours” (1 Cor. 16: 18); The Corinthians had been a joy to Titus —  “because his spirit has been refreshed by you all” (2 Cor. 7:14); Paul said of Onesiphorus — he “often refreshed me” (2 Tim. 1:16). Every one of these was a morale booster.

In view of the above, let us each encourage and refresh one another so we will become MORALE BOOSTERS. We close with the words of the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians: “we…are fellow workers for your joy” (2 Cor. 1:24).

— Via bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana
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Marah and tree

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Casting in the Tree

Jeff May

Shortly after Israel escaped the clutches of Egyptian bondage, they came to Marah hoping to find water.  But the water was bitter.  Moses cried out and “the Lord showed him a tree.”  Moses cast it into the waters and the waters were made sweet.  Casting in the tree made all the difference (Exodus 15:22-25).

In the days of Elisha, he and his servants were cutting down trees for a new residence (2 Kings 5:1-7).  As one was cutting, the iron ax head fell into the water and sank to the bottom.  The servant cried out, “Alas, master!  For it was borrowed” (vs. 5).  No problem.  Elisha simply “cut off a stick and threw it in there; and he made the iron float” (vs. 6).

Here are two examples of bad situations made so much better by casting in the tree.  So it is with our lives.  Problems arise as we strive to serve God faithfully, but God has given us a tree: the tree of Calvary.  Cast it in!!  See the difference it makes.

Are you needing saving from your sins?  Cast in the tree.  When you and I sinned the very first time, we came under the death penalty (Rom. 6:23).  Our sentence would be eternal separation from God.  Worse yet, there was nothing we could do to remedy the problem.  But God cast in the tree!  Jesus “bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we having died to sins, might live for righteousness — by whose stripes you were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24).  Because of the tree being cast in, we can obey the gospel and no longer fear death (1 Cor. 15:55-57).

Do you want to get rid of your old sinful self?  Cast in the tree.  Are you tired of sin?  Are you tired of what it is doing to you?  Cast in the tree.  Not only did Jesus have a cross to die on, you do too.  In becoming a Christian, you crucify the old man and rise to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:1-7)  Say goodbye to the old man!!  You can live in a joyful new life and say with Paul, “I am crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20).

Are you tired of churches using gimmicks and recreation for “power” to draw people?  Cast in the tree.  How ashamed we ought to be if we ever think we need  to draw people to Christ with food, recreation and entertainment.  There’s enough power in the tree.  Jesus Himself said, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to Myself” (Jn. 12:32).  The man who sees his problem will come to the tree of Calvary for his remedy.  He needs nothing else.  He wants nothing else.  He desires only “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1-5).

Do you ever feel down?  Do you ever feel like quitting?  Cast in the tree.  Paul said he often was hard pressed, perplexed, persecuted and struck down (2 Cor. 4:8-9).  How can we hold up under all the discouraging things that come our way in this life?  Cast in the tree.  That was Paul’s answer.  He said he was “always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Cor. 2:10).  When it got hard, he just remembered Jesus.  He endured the cross and afterward sat down at God’s right hand in heaven (Heb. 12:2).  The world will look at us with bewilderment and wonder what keeps us going.  What a great testimony when they see that it is the tree!!

Has someone hurt you?  Are you struggling to forgive?  Is your patience with someone really wearing thin?  Cast in the tree.  Come on now.  Have any of us ever been hurt more than Jesus?  Can we hear Him saying on the tree, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34).  Can’t we do the same (Col. 3:13)?  Maybe the “scruples” of someone is testing your patience.  Are you tempted to push your way with no regard for their feelings?  Cast in the tree (Rom. 15:1-3).

Is some trial or happening in your life causing you to wonder if God loves you?  Cast in the tree.  Jesus has forever settled that matter.  The tree proves His love.  Let nothing deter you from serving Him and separating you from His love.  The one who did not spare His own Son will reward us well when this life is over (Rom. 8:31- 39).

No matter what comes into our lives, we can always cast in the tree.  It changes things.  Let us all praise God for the cross of our Lord.

–Via online articles at the Oakland church of Christ website, Athens, Alabama, March 12, 2012
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) The Truth is Still the Truth (T. Sean Sullivan)
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Psalm119_89

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The Truth is Still the Truth

T. Sean Sullivan

What causes people to walk away? Many of Christ’s disciples walked away for fear in John 6:66. The brethren in Galatia were wooed by another message (Gal. 1:6-8). Paul warned Timothy that many would turn aside to lies (2 Tim. 4:1-5).

Those who left Jesus must have believed someone else had the truth.  The Galatians must have believed that something other than the “gospel” was the truth. Those mentioned by Paul as leaving the truth for lies, in the future must be those who grow weary of the truth and attempt to seek their own idea of truth. All of these examples are of people who were influenced by the truth of God’s word and then for some reason came to believe that the truth had changed.

In all these cases we see a divergence from the truth of God’s word and an acceptance of some “alternative.” Is that how truth works? No, according to the Bible, it doesn’t. Truth as pictured by God is absolute. Titus states plainly that God cannot lie. That means that every word of God is truth (Tit. 1:2).  Jesus declared the same in his prayer recorded in John 17. Verse 17 resounds his words of “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.”

God’s word is the truth — the only soul saving truth. The plan of salvation made available by Jesus Christ is the only plan. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Knowing these things, how important is it for every one of us to search out, know, and do the truth of God’s will? Why then do so many walk away?

We need to consider some real life reasons we have seen others use to justify their leaving. Perhaps, we have had them cross our minds as well.  These thoughts need to be exposed for what they are: lies. We need to know more about these thoughts so that we might “reject” them and “exercise ourselves toward godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7-8).

The reality of this article is: we have one hope of heaven (John 14:6). We cannot afford to let anything distract us from that hope. Knowing that in heaven we will live in perfection forever and we will not be in hell — suffering forever (Rev. 14:11). Even when things go wrong, the truth of God’s word, and your personal responsibility to obey it, does not change.

The Truth Does Not Change If You Reject It

Many people have come to know the truth — through reading and studying the source of truth: the Bible. Everyone who comes to the knowledge of truth is faced with a decision — he must choose to flee or follow. Of course, choosing to follow the truth will set him free (John 8:31-32); and the doing of God’s will results in his rewards (Matt. 7:21; Heb. 10:35-39). On the other  hand, when people refuse to follow God’s way they will reap the wrath of God’s judgment (2 Cor. 5:10-11).

Why would someone reject the truth? Some reject it for worldly gain — social acceptance (Matt. 7:13-14). Others, because they do not want to give up what they already have (Matt. 18:8-9; 19:20-22). Many reject the truth because the truth condemns a loved one (Matt. 10:32-39).

Whatever reason one might give for leaving, the fact still remains — the truth is still the truth and it will always be the truth. When one rejects the truth, he rejects his only hope. Consider what Jesus said on this matter: Accept my words of truth and be set free by the truth (John 8:31-32). “Reject” my words of truth and be judged by the truth in the last day (John 12:48).

The Truth Does Not Change If Our Brethren Err

How many people have left the Lord’s church over another brother or sister’s error? The battle cry of “Hypocrite” rings out and another soldier turns on their heels and runs from the church. This reason has been worn out by overuse — brethren leaving the church because brother or sister “so and so” is a hypocrite. The one who leaves sees the hypocrite as one who did wrong, or one who hurt his feelings, or one who sinned. This may, at first, sound like proper grounds for leaving, but wait . . . if you leave was there any corrective measures taken? If you leave have you allowed sin to continue without proper rebuke?

There is only one church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4). If you leave are you not also doing wrong, hurting your brethren and sinning (Heb. 10:35-39; 1 Pet. 1:6-9; Rev. 2:10c)?

When one of our brethren errs what should we do? We must seek to resolve this problem according to the truth of God’s word. We need to correct the error quickly and get back doing the Lord’s work. There is a list of procedures found in Matthew 18:15-17. Many have wrongfully believed that these words contain the rules of kicking someone out of the church. What a sour attitude. Look carefully at this passage. These words are clearly focused on “gaining back” not “kicking out.” Yes, when all else fails, if the one in question will not return, he is to be no longer recognized as one of the brethren. This is when all attempts to “gain back” have been used. When you have left the congregation, how can you work on gaining back one of your brethren? Does it say, “Moreover if your brother sins against you. . .” leave the church? No! Seek to correct the problem, now! Seek to gain your brother back so that together you might hold fast to the truth and find your hope of Heaven.

The Truth Does Not Change if the Whole World Refuses It

Another reason that we have heard is, “How can this be right when so few people accept it?” There are two ways of looking at an answer to that question: First, Jesus said, “Few there are that find it” speaking in regard to God’s will (Matt. 7:13-14). Second, this answer points the finger back at you. It is our work to share the truth with everyone else, so that more will hear and obey the gospel (Matt. 28:19). Perhaps there are so few because we have not been evangelistic enough.

To God a few faithful is far better than many faithless (Heb. 11:6). God was willing to spare Gomorrah for the sake of ten souls who would not reject him (Gen. 18:32). Jesus died on the cross at a point where only eleven chosen men and the disciples totaled one hundred and twenty (Acts 1:13-15). One hundred twenty faithful out of the entire population of the earth and Christ still went to the cross to save them from sin. Few or many makes no difference with regard to the price that was paid (Heb. 10:22-28).

The world cannot be allowed to set your standards. We must obey God’s truth not the world’s popular decisions (Jas. 4:4-8; 1 John 2:15-17). We must obey God’s truth even when our “friends” mock us (1 Pet. 4:1-4). We must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). If the whole world rejects God  — “they will give an account to Him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet. 4:5).

Conclusion

Your only hope is this book — the Bible: God’s revealed will for your life. Do not reject your only hope. Rejecting the Bible is the same as rejecting a rope that is thrown out to save you from drowning. In our case, God is holding on to the other end; and his rope will save your soul from destruction. For you to get to Heaven, you must obey the truth and worship God with your brethren in a local congregation. To succeed, you must rely on your brethren; be patient with them and they must be patient with you. Everyone of us must trust and do the truth no matter what. For any congregation to be what it needs to be, we must pull together, never running away from the battle. When a brother or sister enters into error, we must work to gain him/her back until they absolutely refuse to return. Then we must move on in our battle without them. We cannot walk away from problems. Problems must be resolved. Sin must be corrected and the Lord’s work must continue to be done. “Do you also want to go away?” “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:67-68).

— Via Truth Magazine, June 15, 2006, Volume L, Number 12
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

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