“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Peace With All Men (Richie Jenkins)
2) “Departing From The Living God” (Stephen J. Wallace)
Peace With All Men
“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18).
Paul implies peace may not always be possible, but it is an object of desire. “As much as lieth in you,” that is, do your best to preserve peace. Don’t begin or originate a quarrel. Don’t stir up trouble over things of no vital importance. So far as we are concerned, we are to seek peace; but it doesn’t always depend on us. We may be attacked one day by snarling, biting dogs. We may be called upon to defend truth. Ours is to live peaceably. We start no strife, or contention.
It was not possible for Paul to live peaceable with all men. He will reference many times how he was among those who sought to do him harm (2 Cor. 11:24-26). Paul referred to the wild beasts in Ephesus. He said that “Alexander did me much harm” (2 Tim 4:14). Even our Lord did not find it possible to live peaceably with all men. He overthrew the table of the money changers on two separate occasions. He warned His own disciples, “If the world hates me they will hate you” (John 15:18). The Jews were determined to kill Him. Caiaphas said, “This man has got to die for the nation” (John 11:51-52). However, Jesus nor Paul went about looking to start a fight or stir up trouble. When they faced the difficulty of living peaceably with others they made sure it was others who stirred the strife.
We ought to be a peace-loving people. In fact, we are commanded to “seek peace” (1 Pet. 3:11). Peace is something we must pursue (2 Tim. 2:22). Peace is to be a present characteristic of our life. We also need to pursue peace so that our lives may be tranquil and live at peace before God in the same way we live righteously before God. Peace is as foundational as faith, love and righteousness. It is not optional! Yet, at times we find ourselves embroiled with others who just will not live peaceably and so we are left to contend for what is right or what is truth. Jesus said, “Blessed are the peace makers…” (Mt 5). That is an interesting concept. He did not say, Blessed are those who enjoy peace, nor, those that want peace, or even, maintain peace. But, instead, make peace. Making peace means there is a situation where peace does not exist. The Lord had in mind, first and foremost, peace with God.
So here is the real question. How do we live peaceably? Well, first we will not be able to live in peace with others until we live in peace with God (Romans 5:1). If we find ourselves enemies of the Creator we are not at peace. Peace is found in salvation. Salvation is found in the Savior. The Savior brings peace. Enemies are reconciled to Him by His blood (Eph. 2:13-14). There is no peace with God apart from Jesus. He is the Prince of Peace.
So for us, peace can be attained in this manner: “to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility” (Tit. 3:2). See the family of words? They all form a unit. Get the point! We live peaceable with all men when we do not speak evil, when we are gentle and show all humility. Notice right before peaceable is speaking evil of no one. How many times is peace interrupted because someone has a poorly thought out word? It only takes one word to do it. Then notice what follows. What would be the impact on peace if we put gentle into the equation? Not a harsh word or action. What if everybody were gentle? Would that contribute a lot to peace? Would that make it possible to live peaceably with all men? Then see, “showing all humility.” Man is at the apex of all God created. Man is made in God’s own image. To depreciate man is to depreciate God. Humility is a chosen place in which one chooses to take second place to others. We let someone go before us. We give our self second place. We do that not because the other is better than us but because we think they deserve to be first. We show humility because that makes us like God (Matthew 5:45). Did the Lord ask the impossible of us?
Sadly, in spite of all this it is still not possible to live peaceably with all men. But, when it is not possible I need to make sure I am not the reason why. Sometimes we may have to fight a war to have peace. However, I need to make sure I am not just wanting to make war. We have confused those who contend for the faith and those who are contentious. Contentious people like to fight. They do not care what the fight is about. Fighting for the faith is just a convenient excuse to fight. Some just like to stir the pot. They destroy unity, set everyone on edge, and make people suspicious of others. Controversy for the sake of controversy is not seeking peace. Ephesians 4:1-3 sets the tone and attitudes necessary for brethren to get along. Patience, forbearing, humility are the necessary ingredients. True enough we may have to be at war. The call to peace is not a figure. It is a factual matter. We have been called to be peaceable people. The angels declared at the birth of Jesus that He would bring “Peace on Earth.” The prophets called Him the “Prince of Peace.” The people of Jesus follow that model. That does not mean peace over right or heresy. It means we have been called in a high priority matter to be peaceable, as much as we can, in all circumstances, and with all people. That is built into the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7). It only takes one to disturb the peace. I can only control me and what I am pursuing. I need to make sure I am pursuing peace. I need to make sure I am fighting only when the fight is necessary. Can we carry grudges? Can we be a grouch to those around us? Can we be obstinate and obnoxious so that we do not get along with anybody? Yes. And, we cannot say, “Well, that is just the way I am.” There are consequences if we behave that way. “Pursue peace with all men,” not just brethren. That is our call.
Peace is not the absence of trouble. It is hard work. It deals with our spirit, our heart. It is attainable. The Lord expects it. We are to pursue it. Here is a novel idea, “Let’s give it a try and see how it works.” The fruit is better (Jas. 3:17). The church will be better. Our homes will be better. Society will be better. I will be better. The path to heaven is through Christ. He provides peace. Give His way a try.
— Via Focus Online, March 12, 2013
“Departing From the Living God”
Stephen J. Wallace
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12).
The pathway of Christ is filled with warning signs and remedies. The heart that departs is “evil” and its apostasy stems from “unbelief.” All kinds of evil can flow out of the heart (Matt. 15:19). Unbelief is not necessarily something that man would readily classify as being evil, but it is. Anything that leads us away from God is evil. It is true that unbelief is often propped up by ignorance and pride; but envy, loving what is wicked, and being stubbornly unreasonable are more specific components of skepticism (envy, Acts 13:45; Mk. 15:10; loving unrighteousness, 2 Thess. 2:12; Jude 4; unreasonable, 2 Thess. 3:2). It is a lie to believe that faith is unreasonable. Paul spoke words of truth and reason (Acts 26:25). Atheism and its various forms of unbelief present the most unreasonable platform ever. Look only at what it proposes and applauds!
When the evidence for the truth is clearly presented, it is sinful to not believe it. Jesus rebuked the apostles for their unbelief for not heeding those who had seen Him after He had risen (Mk. 16:14). “…he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (Jn. 3:36). “But without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Heb. 11:6).
The evil of departure is seen in considering what one actually departs from when he leaves God.
* He departs from his duties to worship God. God is worthy of worship, for He is worthy of all honor. “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created” (Rev. 4:11; cf. Ps. 18:3).
* He departs from his duties to his brethren. “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). Actions to the brethren are to the Lord (Mt. 25:40; Acts 9:1, 4).
* He departs from the words of life. When Jesus taught some things that offended some, many departed and followed Him no more (Jn. 6:66). Jesus asked the twelve if they also wanted to leave, to which Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn. 6:68). Leaving Jesus results in leaving the words of life. What a sad loss!
* He departs from a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3). What hope for the soul does one have who walks away from God? To what guide can he trust in? To what can he look forward? To whom can he solicit strength in trial, and to whom can he thank when delivered? Leaving the living God is leaving a living well of truth and hope. “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13).
The solution is daily exhortation (Heb. 3:13). The Christian’s faith must be cared for daily. Where sin hardens the heart slowly, daily exhortation provides a remedy. “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:14).
— via Articles from the Gallatin Road church of Christ, September 18, 2014
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)