Month: October 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) Is Thy Heart Right with God? (John Isaac Edwards)
2) Gossip: A Heart Disease (David Hartsell)
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matthew5_8

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Is Thy Heart Right with God?

John Isaac Edwards

The Scriptures often make reference to the heart, the thinking part of man (Prov. 23:7).

Wise Solomon counseled, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov.  4:23). When Simon thought he could purchase the gift of God with money, he was told, “…thy heart is not right in the sight of God” (Acts 8:21).  Thus we ask, “Is thy heart right with God?” It would be good for each of us to have a spiritual heart exam. You might use this study as a personal checklist to help determine whether your heart is right with God. Do you have…

1) A Loving Heart?

When asked, “Master, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Mt. 22:36), Jesus answered, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” (Mt. 22:37).  Do you have a heart that loves God above everyone and everything else?

2) An Honest and Good Heart?

In the Parable of the Sower, as recorded in Luke 8:4-15, Jesus told about four places the seed fell. These soils represent different hearts. “…that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience” (Lk. 8:15).  Does this describe your heart?

3) A Pricked Heart?

When devout Jews on Pentecost heard Christ preached, “…they were pricked in their heart, and said…what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). We need a heart that is so touched by the word of God that we would ask, “what shall we do?” And whatever the Lord would have us to do, we will gladly do it as, “…they that gladly received his word were baptized…” (Acts 2:41).  How does your heart respond to the word of God?

4) A Single Heart?

Those who obeyed the gospel on Pentecost were described as having “…singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46).  Paul instructed Ephesian and Colossian servants to be obedient to their masters “…in singleness of your heart…” (Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22). A single heart is without double-mindedness.  It’s not divided. It does not seek to please outwardly, but is one of sincerity.

5) A Believing Heart?

When the treasurer asked about being baptized, Philip said, “If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest.  And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God” (Acts 8:37).  Paul taught, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10).  Is your heart a believing heart?

6) A Purposed Heart?

Remember Daniel?  He “…purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself…”  (Dan. 1:8).  Barnabas exhorted first-century Christians, “…that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord” (Acts 11:23).  Our giving is to be, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart…” (2 Cor. 9:7).  Is your heart resolved or determined in this way?

7) An Obedient Heart?

Paul wrote, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.  Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18). Without an obedient heart, we will not be saved!  Christ is “…the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:9).

8) A Melody-Making Heart?

Ephesians 5:19 teaches, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.”  Is there within your heart a melody? It is also written, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3:16).

9) A Will of God-Doing Heart?

The Ephesians were instructed, “…as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Eph. 6:6).  Is your heart committed to doing the will of God?  Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21).

10) A Pure Heart?

Paul admonished Timothy to have “…a pure heart…” (1 Tim. 1:5) and “…follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).  Peter penned, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently” (1 Pet. 1:22).

11)  A True Heart?

Exhorting Christians to be steadfast and unmoveable, the Hebrew writer declared, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith…” (Heb. 10:22).  When Christians do not hold fast, waver, fail to consider one another and forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is a symptom of spiritual heart trouble! (Heb. 10:23-27).
Can you put a check mark next to all of these?  Is thy heart right with God?

— Via The Terre Haute Speaker, Volume 4, Number 50, December 13, 2015
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ladies-from-long-ago

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Gossip: A Heart Disease

David Hartsell

What is gossip? It is negative, unflattering words that when spread hurt the reputation of others. Sometimes gossip is made up out of thin air. Other times the bare facts related, might be true, but many significant factors are left out, thus leaving a wrong impression. Gossip can be true but serves no good to pass it on. How does the Bible describe it? God’s Word often uses words like whispers, backbiters, and evil speaking (Rom. 1:29-32; 2 Cor. 12:20 & 1 Pet. 1:1). How serious is this behavior to God? Briefly, let us look at some truths about gossip and its spiritual dangers.

Why is whispering so detrimental? What are its fruits? First, whispering can cause strong friendships to dissolve (Prov. 16:28). Imagine how this would interrupt spiritual unity and progress in the church if the conflicting friends were brethren? We must carefully measure everything we say. The consequences can be powerfully negative. Also, backbiting can feel like the “piercing of a sword” (Prov. 12:18).  Has unfair, critical talk about you gotten back to you? It hurts so deeply! This is not what Jesus taught us to do. He commands us to treat others in the way we would like to be treated (Matt. 7:12). Loose speech not only damages the reputation of others, but it diminishes the usefulness of the gossiper. The only one who wins in this scenario is Satan.

Since God’s Word offers such serious warnings against whispering, why do people do it? There are many reasons people participate in loose talk. Some pass on negative information either because they are unaware of the truth or unconcerned about its veracity. Paul said he was slandered when people reported he taught it was all right to do wrong as long as good was accomplished (Rom. 3:8).

That concept is not true. He did not teach it. And it, no doubt, hurt his influence with some. Envy is another reason people will gossip. Some at Corinth were jealous of Paul’s authority and influence  over the brethren there. Therefore, they strongly criticized his right and ability to lead God’s people (2 Cor. 10:10-11).  Paul warned those backbiters that he would deal with them when he came back to Corinth. Finally, some just like meddling in other people’s affairs. It’s exciting to them.  Peter strongly  cautions disciples not to be busybodies (1 Pet.4:15).  He puts this  sin in the same category as being a thief, and evil doer, or a murderer. God disapproves of careless speech.

How can I refrain from gossiping? The simplest answer is to love God. We show our love  for Him by “keeping His commands” (1  John 5:3). When we love Him we love each other. Jesus once said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John13:35). That love will not just refrain from evil speech but it will uplift and encourage others (Eph. 4:29).  Are we a faithful, wise Christian who can listen to sensitive things and  give sound advice while keeping quiet about the whole matter?  God has shown us what is good.  Let’s not forget it!

“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…” (Colossians 4:6).

— Via the bulletin of the Birchwood Avenue church of Christ
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“Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. … Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:13,16, NASB).
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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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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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1) Beatitudes: “Nothing Succeeds Like Failure” (Paul Earnhart)
2) Truth Is A Mountain (Robert F. Turner)
3) Virtue (Greg Gwin)
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psalm34_18

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Beatitudes: “Nothing Succeeds Like Failure”

Paul Earnhart

Perhaps there is no better statement of the message of the beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12) than G. K. Chesterton’s curious little maxim, “Nothing succeeds like failure.” Of course, Jesus was not speaking of real failure even as Chesterton was not, but of what men have generally viewed as failure. The cross was certainly a colossal disaster by every conventional standard. It only seems “right” to many of us now because we have acquiesced in nineteen hundred years of well-established tradition. It is not so remarkable then that a kingdom destined to be hoisted to power on a cross should be full of surprises and that Jesus should say that only those who were apparent failures had any hope of its blessedness. In the following beatitudes the Savior makes very clear that the kingdom of heaven belongs, not to the full, but to the empty.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matthew 5:3). Jesus begins by touching the wellspring of the character of the kingdom citizen — his attitude toward himself in the presence of God. Luke abbreviates this beatitude to, “Blessed are you poor” (Luke 6:20) and records also a woe pronounced by Jesus upon the rich (Luke 6:24). In the synagogue at Nazareth Jesus had read Isaiah’s messianic prophecy of the poor (“meek,” ASV) having the gospel preached to them (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18) and was later to soberly warn that the rich would not come easily into the kingdom (Luke 18:24-25). But while it is true that “the common people heard Him gladly” (Mark 12:37) because the rigors of the poor bring them to humility more easily than does the comfortable affluence of the rich, Matthew’s account of the sermon makes evident that Jesus is not speaking of economic poverty. It is not impossible for the poor to be arrogant nor for the rich to be humble. These “poor” are those who, possessing little or much, have a sense of their own spiritual destitution.

The Greek word here translated “poor” comes from a root word which means to crouch or to cringe. It refers not simply to those for whom life is a struggle, but to men who are reduced to the most abject begging because they have absolutely nothing (Luke 16:20-21). Here it is applied to the sinful emptiness of an absolute spiritual bankruptcy in which a person is compelled to plead for that which he is powerless to obtain (Jeremiah 10:23) and to which he has no right (Luke 15:18-19; 18:13), but without which he cannot live. Begging comes hard to men (Luke 16:3) — especially proud, self-reliant Americans — but that is where our sinful ways have brought us and we will not see the kingdom of heaven until we face up to this reality with humble simplicity.

“Blessed are those who mourn” (Matthew 5:4). Men have been brought up to believe that tears must be avoided if they are to be happy. Jesus simply says that this is not true. There is some sorrow which must be embraced, not because it is inescapable and the struggle futile, but because true happiness is impossible without it.

Even grief that is unavoidable to mortal men whatever their station can have salutary effects on our lives if we allow it to. It can, as Solomon says, remind us of the wispy momentariness of our lives and set us to thinking seriously about the most important things (Ecclesiastes 7:2-4). The psalmist who gave us such a rich meditation on the greatness of God’s law has linked pain and understanding. “Before I was afflicted,” he reflected, “I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” He then concludes, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” (Psalm 119:67,71). Tears have always taught us more than has laughter about life’s verities.

But there is something more to the mourning in this gem-like paradox than the tears we cannot escape, the sorrow that comes unbidden and unsought. This grief comes to us by choice, not necessity. The Old Testament should influence our understanding of these words first spoken to a Jewish audience. Isaiah foresaw that the Lord’s anointed would come to “heal the brokenhearted” and “comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2). But these words applied only to a remnant of Israel which would come through the nation’s affliction for its sins, humbled and grieved. Ezekiel’s vision of God’s wrath on a corrupt Jerusalem revealed that only those “who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it” were to be spared (Ezekiel 9:4). Zephaniah issued a similar warning (Zephaniah 3:11-13,18).

The prophets would have us understand this mourning as the grief experienced by those who in their reverence for God are horrified by their own sins and those of their fellows, and are moved to tears of bitter shame and grief. This is the “godly sorrow” of which Paul writes, a sorrow that “produces repentance leading to salvation” (2 Corinthians 7:10). These are the tears we must choose to shed, renouncing our stubborn pride; and out of that choice will come the unspeakable comfort of a God who forgives us all, takes us to Himself, and will ultimately wipe all tears away (Revelation 21:4). Nothing save God’s mercy can assuage a grief like this.

— Via Articles from the Douglas Hills church of Christ, January 1, 2016
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1timothy4_16

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Truth Is A Mountain

Robert Turner

There is challenge in TRUTH. Towering, majestic and awesome, it beckons the climber. Great and wonderful, clothed in mysteries, it threatens and promises. Benevolently reaching to the world, it summons all; yet sternly holds aloft its crown, to defy the casual.

Below, in railed and graded trails move masses. Camera-clicking tourists, worn by travel, scarce grasp their guide’s trained words, and far less understand the magic scene. And as the way grows steeper, more and more are faint, and wander aimlessly — adrift in parks and glades of theory, with their creeds.

Content to pay lip service to the fountain-head above, they sip its waters, grimace, and add sweets or bitters to their taste. “It’s wonderful,” they say. “We must organize a party and bring others to this way.” So they sip, and talk; they praise with shallow phrase, then pause to rest, and resting, sleep.

Still TRUTH — glorious, wondrous, whole truth, wreathes its head with hoary clouds, and calls with voice of thunder: Onward! Upward! Excelsior!!! Error shouts derision, and stops the ear. With arrogance he hides his wounds and walks another way. Tradition, richly garbed and stiff with age, dares not attempt the rugged path. And weaklings, fearing to look heavenward, support a course that others plan, and wish themselves in better clime.

But faith responds, and in the earnest seeker whets desire. He dares look up. Toiling, sweating, step-by-step, he climbs. Struggling across downed timbers on the slope, he pushes upward. Pressing through the bush, slipping with the shale, he moves onward. Onward, upward, higher and higher, his lungs afire, he climbs with foot, and hand, with heart, and soul.

For TRUTH he lives and, if needs be, dies. He asks no quarter, hears no scorn. His hope is fastened on this goal, whose misty drapery sometimes part and to his raptured eyes reveal its sun swept crest.

He needs no other prize than this, for here men humbly walk with God.

— via Plain Talk, Vol. 16, No. III, pg. 1, May 1979
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“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day…” (2 Tim. 4:7,8).
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courage

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Virtue

Greg Gwin

Peter instructs us that we must “add to your faith virtue” (2 Peter 1:5).  What is this “virtue,” and how do we manifest it?

Thayer says that virtue is a word  that could be used to describe any kind of excellence in a person or thing.  When used of a person, it might denote a quality of body or mind.  But, when used in the ethical sense, Thayer says it specifically means “moral goodness or excellence.” Another commentator suggests that it is “courage . . . a resolute determination to do what it right . . . steadfast strength of will to choose always the good part” (Caffin).

How do we demonstrate this “moral courage?”  What will be the signs that we are “adding to our faith virtue?”  Numerous examples can be found in the Word of God.  Famous heroes of the faith displayed virtue.  Noah did in the matter of living faith-fully in the midst of an entirely wicked world.  Abraham did when he left the comforts of home to obey God, and later when he was willing to offer his own son at God’s command.  Moses did  when he chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Hebrews 11:25).

However, most of us will not find ourselves in the momentous situations of a Noah, Abraham or Moses.  Instead, we will be faced with the constant challenges of our everyday lives.  It is interesting that one of the most familiar uses of this terminology is found in application to a woman.  In Proverbs 31 the “virtuous woman” is described.  Hers was not the work of a soldier in battle, or that of a famous prophet standing up for truth and righteousness.  Instead, we read of her faithfully fulfilling her role as a wife and mother.  It was her God given job, and she did it well.  She was “virtuous.”

Christian, will you courageously do what is right regardless of the consequences?  Will you show “moral excellence” in how you talk, act, dress, etc.?  Will you take your stand — always — with those who are faithfully doing the will of God?  It will not always be popular or easy, but when you do you will be showing “virtue.”  Think!

— Via The Beacon, September 20, 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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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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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) Can We Believe the Bible? (Dan King)
2) God is Concerned About “Little Things,” Too (Paul Earnhart)
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isaiah_scroll

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Can We Believe the Bible?

Dan King

Question:

“What proof do we have that we can trust the Bible for everything it says?  The Bible has been handed down so many times. The translation has been changed, and everybody knows when you’re passing on information the meaning never comes back the way it originated. One word changed can change the whole meaning of the passage. The Bible was written so long ago how do we know its meaning is still the same and how do we know it’s not just another man-made project?”

Answer:

The poof that you ask about is found in many places.

First, there is archaeology.  Archaeologists have uncovered evidence in many places and from across many centuries about many different aspects of the Bible.  For example, at one time skeptics doubted whether the Hittites, which are mentioned only briefly and with little detail in the Genesis account, actually ever existed at all.  Eventually archaeological discovery in Asia Minor uncovered an entire civilization, with their distinctive culture, language and history.  The simple biblical references were found to be representative of a people who settled and traded throughout the entire ancient Near East in the time of Abraham and the other patriarchs.

Many biblical cities have been uncovered and excavated to reveal distinctive events such as destruction layers which coincide with the biblical story of the Exodus from Egypt and capture of many of the cities of ancient Canaan in the books of Joshua and Judges.  Many other such things are well attested in both the literature of the other peoples and from excavation activities.  For example, during the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C., the book of Jeremiah (with 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings) represents the fall of the surrounding cities while Jerusalem lay under siege.  In the excavation of the city of Lachish, the so-called “Lachish letters” were found, which detail the gradual capture of the towns precisely as Jeremiah and the books of history describe. Furthermore, it mentions some who were “weakening the hands of the people” in the midst of the siege, which is precisely the charge leveled against Jeremiah in the book by his name.  There are many other things, far too numerous to mention here, which establish the general tenor of the biblical writings as recording genuine history.

Further, as to the fact that the Bible has been handed down to us in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament through many hands and many centuries, let it be noted that the Bible is the best attested ancient book in the entire world. There are literally thousands of copies of both the OT and the NT in their original languages which have come down to us — some of them extremely ancient.  For example, many copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Hebrew manuscripts of OT books) go back to the first century before the time of Jesus, others perhaps even a century earlier than that.  If we may trust that we have the works of Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, and the host of other ancient writers whose materials are not nearly so well attested, why would we not also be able to believe that we have the precise words of Christ and his apostles, as well as those of Moses and the Old Testament prophets?

As to whether the words were changed in the process of time and transmission to our day, you must remember that the transmitters (scribes) of ancient times were extraordinarily careful, believing that a curse from heaven was upon the one who would change even a single word of Holy Scripture (see Deut. 4:2; 12:32; Matt. 5:18; Rev. 22:18,19).  But since mistakes did occasionally occur because of oversights and writing errors, it was the hundreds of other copies of the scripture that acted as a countermeasure to assure the mistakes could be corrected.

This process of establishing the original text has come to be called “the science of textual criticism.”  The translation process itself is really the most convincing part.  Think of all the translations there are out there — literally hundreds of different ones in the English language alone.  Take a few translations and compare them side by side.  You know what happens?  You come up with very little difference between them. Most only differ in the different ways of saying the exact same things!

The ultimate answer is YES, we can definitely trust the Bible.

— Via bulletin articles from the Collegevue church of Christ, August 28, 2016
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“To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).
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matthew-6_11

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God is Concerned About “Little Things,” Too

Paul Earnhart

The order of Jesus’ model prayer makes clear that the glory of God and the accomplishing of His will in the world must always be at the heart of the life and thinking of the Christian.  His prayers, like his life, should begin and end there.  It is on just such a note that the section of the sermon which contains this instructive prayer concludes (Matthew 6:33).  Yet this does not preclude the bringing of our own needs and burdens to God’s throne.  This is made evident by the three (some say four) concluding requests of the prayer (Matthew 6:11-13).  These all center on basic human necessities.

“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).   With these words the Lord makes a sudden shift from the exalted to the commonplace.  The apparent discontinuity of  it caused many of the ancient commentators to spiritualize the “bread,” but there is nothing in the context to justify it.  On the face of things it just seems that physical considerations should be left till last, after forgiveness and the the strength to endure temptation.  But that is not where Jesus put them (either here or in Luke 11:2-4).  He certainly does not intend that physical necessities become life’s overriding concern (Matthew 6:19-32) but He is also not discounting their importance.  The “Word” who became flesh understood from experience the bodily needs of men (Hebrews 2:18; 4:15) and demonstrated how seriously He took them in His compassion for the sick and hungry (Mark 1:40-41; Matthew 15:32; 25:41-43). The inclusion of this brief petition demonstrated that there is no matter so small that we may not with confidence bring it to our Father.  Paul urges this: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication… let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).  Peter says the same: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).  Once we have determined to do His will at all costs, we may speak freely to Him of all our needs from the least to the greatest.

This simple petition speaks not only of God’s wide-ranging concern but of our own complete dependence on Him.  “Bread” as here used likely stands for all of life’s bodily needs — food, shelter, health, family, etc.  In any case we cannot by our own unaided strength supply one of them.  As Clovis Chappell once observed, we could no more create one loaf of bread than we could create the universe.  “The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness” (Psalm 24:1).  Hence we have no real choice but to trust God even at the most elemental level.

The English translation “daily bread” is somewhat of an educated guess since the Greek word for “daily” occurs nowhere else for  certain in Greek literature.  It may suggest bread for the day ahead or bread sufficient to sustain us.  In either case Jesus teaches us to ask for no more than a day’s supply.  This is a tough assignment for people like ourselves who are inclined to fall to pieces without a lifetime provision in hand and fully insured.  If we follow the Lord’s counsel we will quit trusting in bread (John 6:25) and learn to lean wholly on God and His promises.  Learning to live trustingly with what we have each day calls to mind God’s manna experiment with Israel while they were in the wilderness.  “He humbled, you,” wrote Moses, “allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna… that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD” (Deuteronomy 8:3).  Jesus had used this passage once to great advantage (Matthew 4:4).  We can do the same.

However much, then, it might have seemed at first that this prayer for bread was prayer from a very low ground, it turns out to have powerful spiritual benefit.  It teaches us faith.  And this is a prayer for the poor and the rich alike; for no matter how little or how much we have or how hard we struggle to obtain and keep it, God alone can secure it.  If we will learn to trust Him, God’s children can live serenely in the confidence once expressed by the aged David: “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Psalm 37:25).  And if we learn this kind of
trust about bread, it will free us to get about the things that are even more important.

— Via Articles from the Douglas Hills church of Christ, January 1, 2016
——————–

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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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) Question About Judas and Jesus (Keith Sharp)
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Question About Judas and Jesus

Keith Sharp

Question

“You can’t show Jesus existed. There is no historic record. Judas is the ‘sacrifice’ in the Gospel of Judas, so what does it say about Jesus being sacrificed? It was just a scam to start a new religion.”

Answer

Of course, the canonical gospels, those accepted by believers in Christ for twenty centuries as the inspired, accurate record of the life of Jesus, present Judas as the evil (John 6:70-71), covetous (John 12:5-6) betrayer of Christ (Matthew 26:14-15, 21-25, 47-50; Mark 14:10-11, 18-21, 43-46; Luke 22:3-6, 21-22, 47-48; John 13:10-11, 18, 21-30; 18:2-5) who subsequently committed suicide (Matthew 27:3- 5; Acts 1:16-18) and is lost (Acts 1:25).

Should we believe the canonical gospels or the “Gospel of Judas”?

Luke, a physician, was Paul’s traveling companion (Colossians 4:14; 2 Timothy 4:11). He probably wrote the account of the life of Christ that bears his name in A.D. 60, toward the end of Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea, when he had the opportunity to interview Judean eye witnesses of the life of the Lord (Luke 1:1-4). Early Christians characteristically considered the account by Matthew to be the earliest record of Jesus’ life, so the apostle Matthew probably wrote before A.D. 60.

Mark was as close to Peter as Timothy was to Paul (1 Peter 5:13). Writers of the second century believed that Mark recorded Peter’s sermons about the life of Jesus Christ. In fact, Peter’s sermon on Jesus to the Roman centurion Cornelius is almost a very brief version of Mark (Acts 10:36-43). Early Christians generally believed his account of Christ was third in time order.

John lived longer than the other apostles, though he was exiled to Patmos for the cause of Christ (Revelation 1:9). He wrote five New Testament books: John, First, Second, and Third John, and Revelation. They were probably written toward the end of the first century.

We have the first hand testimony of Matthew and John (Matthew 28:16-17; John 20:1-10, 19-29, 21:1-24), who were intimate with the Lord during His ministry. We have the historical record of Luke, who researched his subject by interviewing the eyewitnesses (Luke 1:1-4, New American Standard Bible; Luke chapter 24; Acts 1:1-11), and the testimony of Mark, who was probably the spokesman for Peter, the eyewitness.

In history as well as in a court of law, the most powerful witnesses are those who, while confirming the testimony in question, are either disinterested or hostile. The apostle Paul qualifies as a hostile witness, for, as Saul of Tarsus, he “persecuted…to the death” the disciples of Christ and, before those who could refute his testimony if it were false, called upon the high priest and elders of the Jews as his witnesses to this fact (Acts 22:4-5). Yet, Paul’s own letters confirm the truth of the gospel story (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-8).

Josephus, the great Jewish historian contemporary with Paul, qualifies as a neutral witness. Leaving out the part of his notice of Jesus that negative critics claim Christians later added, Josephus testified:

“At this time there appeared Jesus, a wise man….. For he was a doer of startling deeds, a teacher of people who receive the truth with pleasure. And he gained a following both among many Jews and among many of Greek origin…. And when Pilate, because of accusation made by the leading men among us, condemned him to the cross, those who loved him previously did not cease to do so…. And up until this very day the tribe of Christians, named after him, has not died out” (Johnson. 114).

The parts of the quote from Josephus which are omitted confess Jesus to be more than a man, to be the Messiah, and to have appeared to the disciples after His death in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophets. The quote actually reads smoother with those portions still intact, and there is just as much textual evidence for them being the words of Josephus as to the portion quoted. But the quote which even the negative critics allow testifies that Jesus lived, was a wise teacher who worked great deeds, taught the truth, gained a wide following, was crucified by Pilate at the instigation of the Jewish leaders, and still had a wide following of people named after Him.

Finally, the unbeliever cannot account for the most important fact of all concerning the witness of the gospel writers. Why were they willing to be savagely persecuted and even killed for their testimony, when they had nothing earthly to gain for telling it? (cf Acts 4:1-31; 5:17-42; 6:8-8:4) Not even one of the apostles of Christ ever changed or recanted His testimony, although tradition assigns a violent death at the hands of persecutors to all but John, who was exiled to a lonely, barren, rocky ancient Alcatraz (the island of Patmos) for his faith.

The writings of many early Christians and heretics, particularly Gnostics, from the second and third century have been preserved, are available in English translation, and bear witness to Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as the true historical records of Jesus. In the first generation after the apostles there is Clement (letter to Rome, A.D. 95), Ignatius (martyred before 117), Polycarp (letter, 108-117), Basiledes, a Gnostic (117-139), and the Epistle of Barnabas (not the New Testament Barnabas, sometime between A.D. 70 and 130). The second generation includes Marcion, a Gnostic, before 140, Papias, about 140, and Justin (martyred in 148). Other early witnesses to the New Testament canon of Scripture are the Muratorion Canon (about 170), the Peshitto (Syriac New Testament, mid second century), and the Old Latin Version (second century). By the year 170, there is credible witness to the existence and acceptance of every one of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament and to no others. As Professor R. Laird Harris has written:

“It seems clear that the New Testament books arose in the latter half of the first century A.D., and almost all of them were clearly known, reverenced, canonized, and collected well before a hundred years had passed” (202).

This is almost incredible, when we consider that Christians were a small, persecuted, group of social outcasts without means of publishing books, communicating, or enforcing a standard on all believers in Christ. Furthermore, the various books were originally handwritten parchments produced in a single copy.

By the middle of the third century (about A.D. 250), all the books of our present New Testament and no others were known and accepted as Scripture. Origen (185-253) “names the books of the New Testament as we recognize the canon now” (Frost, 12). This was a lifetime before the Emperor Constantine or any church councils.

The Gospel of Judas was developed by a Gnostic sect in the second century A.D. and was originally written in Greek around 130-170. This fact alone tells us that it was not authored by Judas himself. The oldest extant copy is a Coptic manuscript written in Sahidic (last phase of ancient Egyptian) in the fourth or fifth century.

The Gospel of Judas apparently depicts Judas in favorable terms and commends him as doing God’s work when he betrayed Christ to the Jewish religious leaders. This, of course, contradicts what was written by the apostles in their gospels of Matthew and John as well as those gospels written by Mark and Luke who are under the direction of Peter and Paul.

“The Gospel of Judas falls into the category of pseudepigraphal writings. This means that the gospel is not authentic but is a false writing. In fact, the gospel was not written by Judas, but by a later Gnostic sect in support of Judas. Gnosticism was an ancient heresy that taught salvation through esoteric (understood by or meant for only the select few — K.S.) knowledge. Gnosticism was known at the time of the writing of the later epistles in the New Testament and was rejected by the apostle John.

“The ancient writer Irenaeus (A.D. 130-202) in his work called Refutation of All Heresies said that the gospel of Judas was a fictitious history….

“We can conclude that the Gospel of Judas is not authentic, is not inspired, and was properly rejected by the early church as an unreliable and inaccurate depiction of what really happened concerning Judas.

“Of course, the complaint is often raised that this opinion, like that of the early church, simply rejected anything that opposed a preconceived idea. But, this complaint falls by the wayside when we understand that the early church knew which documents were authored by the apostles and which were not. God did not make a mistake when he led the Christian Church to recognize what is and is not inspired. The Gospel of Judas was never recognized by the church as being inspired” (Slick).

The skeptic through prejudice rejects the only primary sources we have for the historical Jesus and is thus both confused and ignorant of Christ. He does not accept the facts of Jesus’ life, does not understand their significance, and fails to acknowledge who the Lord is. His stubborn adherence to unbelief leaves him incapable of knowing the real Jesus.

The informed Christian accepts the Jesus of the gospels, not through blind, unreasoning faith, but because of the evidence from multiple, unimpeachable, primary sources. Thus, Christians alone truly know the historical Jesus, the real Jesus, the risen Lord of glory. He is the Christ the Son of the living God, God who became flesh and dwelt among us.

Skeptics vainly inquire, Will the real Jesus please rise? Christians triumphantly declare, He is risen!

*****

Works Cited

Gene Frost, History of Our English Bible.

R. Laird Harris, Inspiration and Canonicity of the Bible.

Luke Timothy Johnson. The Real Jesus: The Misguided Quest for the Historical Jesus and the Truth of the Traditional Gospels.

Matt Slick, “The Gospel of Judas,” https:// carm.org/.

— Via Highway 5 South church of Christ, Mountain Home, AK, October 5, 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 i
n 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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
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) Beatitudes: The Strength of “Weakness” (Paul Earnhart)
2) Hope for Eternity (Frank Vondracek)
3) Anger (selected)
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Beatitudes: The Strength of “Weakness”

Paul Earnhart

The second basic statement of the beatitudes is that the kingdom of God does not yield itself to the “mighty” who seek to take it by force, but it is easily accessible to the “weak” who yield their cause patiently to God and abandon their own rights for the sake of others. The world in which the beatitudes were first spoken was not a hospitable place for such an idea. Seneca, a prominent first-century Stoic philosopher and brother of Gallio (Acts 18:12), gave expression to the sentiment of his times in the following words: “Pity is a mental illness induced by the spectacle of other people’s miseries….The sage does not succumb to mental diseases of that sort” (Arnold Toynbee, An Historian’s Approach to Religion, p. 68). Wholly outside the spirit of His age, Jesus announced the blessedness of the meek, the merciful, the peacemakers and the persecuted. It was not an idea “whose time had come.” It still is not.

“Blessed are the meek” (Matthew 5:5, KJV). In a world of harshness and cruelty, meekness would appear to be a quick way to commit suicide. The violent and self-willed prevail. The meek are summarily run over. The truth is that in the short run this may indeed be so. People that are drawn to the kingdom of God must face this. The gentleness of Jesus did not save Him from the cross. But, ultimately, Jesus teaches us, it is meekness alone that will survive. The challenge for us is to understand what true meekness is.

Meekness is not a natural disposition. It is not an inborn mildness of temperament. It is not the obsequious behavior of a slave whose powerless station forces him to adopt a servile manner which he despises and would abandon at the first opportunity. Meekness is an attitude toward God and others which is the product of choice. It is a disposition held by a steely moral resolve at a time when one may have the power, and the inclination, to behave otherwise.

Meekness is not an indifference to evil. Jesus endured with much patience the assaults made on Him, but He was strong to defend His Father’s name and will. He hated iniquity as much as He loved righteousness (Hebrews 1:9). Moses was the meekest of men when it came to abuse offered to him (Numbers 12:3), but his anger could burn hot against irreverence offered to God (Exodus 32:19). The meek man may endure mistreatment patiently (he is not concerned with self-defense) but he is not passive about evil (Romans 12:9). There is in him a burning hatred for every false way (Galatians 1:8-9; Psalm 119:104).

Meekness is not weakness. There is no flabbiness in it. The one who had 72,000 angels at His command (Matthew 26:53) described Himself as “gentle and lowly in heart” (Matthew 11:29). The depth of meekness in a man may indeed be gauged in direct proportion to his ability to crush his adversaries. Jesus was not meek because He was powerless. He was meek because He had His immense power under the control of great principles — His love for His Father (John 14:31) and His love for lost men (Ephesians 5:2). It would have been far easier for Him to have simply annihilated His foes than to patiently endure their abuse. He took the hard road.

The meekness of the Son of God is powerfully demonstrated in His attitude toward the privileges of His station (“who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself,” Philippians 2:6-7 ASV), and in His submission to His Father (“though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered,” Hebrews 5:8). He came into the world as a servant. He emptied Himself for the sake of others.

Although kingdom meekness derives from a new view of oneself in the presence of God (“poor in spirit”) it’s primary emphasis is on a man’s view of himself in the presence of others. “Meekness” (Greek, praus) is found in the constant company of words like “lowliness,” “kindness,” “longsuffering,” “forbearance,” and “gentleness” (Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12-13; 2 Timothy 2:24-25; Titus 3:2; 2 Corinthians 10:1). Even when applied to our Savior the word seems to speak to His relationship to men rather than to His Father (Matthew 11:28-30; 2 Corinthians 10:1). “Meekness” (praus) had a special use in the ancient Greek world. It was applied to an animal that had been tamed (Barclay, New Testament Words, p. 241). The meek man is one who has been tamed to the yoke of Christ (Matthew 11:29) and, consequently, has taken up the burdens of other men (Galatians 6:2). He no longer seeks to take by force even that which is rightfully his nor attempts to avenge the injustices done him — not because he is powerless to do so, but because he has submitted his cause to a higher court (Romans 12:19). Instead he is concerned to be a blessing, not only to his brethren (Romans 15:3), but even to his enemies (Luke 6:27-28).

The meek man has had enough of himself. He has felt his own ultimate spiritual emptiness and yearned for a right relationship with God. Self-righteousness has become a disaster and self-will a sickness. The very ideas of self-confidence and self-assertiveness have become a stench in his nostrils. He has emptied his heart of self and filled it with God and others. Like his Master, he has become the ultimate servant. And for this very reason the future belongs to him.

— Via Articles from the Douglas Hills church of Christ, January 1, 2016
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Hope for Eternity

Frank Vondracek

Hope is defined by Webster as — (1) a feeling that what is wanted will happen, and (2) to want and expect. When we hope, we are counting on our desires becoming reality. Something hoped for is not yet come to be reality. The apostle Paul wrote, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:24-25).

All of us have wishes, desires, dreams and hopes. It has been said that “life void of all hope would be a heavy and spiritless thing.” Hope helps to stimulate us on in life. We are refreshed by the expectation that tomorrow hopefully will be a day for us to enjoy being alive. We hope for the pleasant welfare of ourselves and others. We have high hopes for our children’s lives to be better than ours have been. We hope for the recovery of a sick loved one. We hope that our world will be at peace more often than at war. Hope takes a priority place in our days of living. It is as a fuel which feeds the fires of life.

Do you have a capacity for hope beyond this life? Do you look forward to the time when time will be no more and we will be enveloped by eternity? The Bible teaches us — “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Each person will be in eternity someplace. Jesus Christ said, “And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46). Where does your hope lie for eternity: in everlasting punishment because you are yet in your sins, unforgiven by God, or in eternal bliss because the Lord has found you faithful in all things? I believe that everyone reading this article has hope of spending eternity in life with God and not in eternity separated from God. What have you been doing NOW with your life to have the confidence that your hope will become reality in eternity?

Jesus Christ declared — “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). God’s word is truth (John 17:17). The truth of God’s word is that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The truth of God’s word is that the saved (those whose sins have been forgiven by God) are saved “by grace through faith” (Ephesians 2:8). You cannot forgive or remove your own sins, only God can do that (Mark 2:7). And yet, some people tend to live in careless and reckless lifestyles which put their souls in jeopardy for eternity. Living in such a manner and saying at the same time, “God will forgive me,” is folly.

But to learn God’s will and see His expectations for man’s life (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14) is a much better way to go through life. With repentance (changing ones mind about how one is living and living in God’s way) is the safest way. Remember, if you really want to have true hope for eternity, it can only be found in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. That’s why God sent His Son to find the lost. To bring them to God for all eternity. Is your hope in Christ? Unless it is, one does not have much to hope for in eternity.

— Via Articles from the Gallatin Road church of Christ, July 1, 2014
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proverbs14_17

-3-

Anger

A short-tempered man is a fool. It’s in the Bible, Ecclesiastes 7:9, Proverbs 19:11, and 16:32: “Don’t be quick-tempered — that is being a fool.” “A wise man restrains his anger and overlooks insults. This is to his credit.” “It is better to be slow-tempered than famous; it is better to have self-control than to control an army.”

Get over anger quickly. It’s in the Bible, Ephesians 4:26-27: “If you are angry, don’t sin by nursing your grudge. Don’t let the sun go down with you still angry — get over it quickly; For when you are angry you give a mighty foothold to the devil.”

Don’t fight back when wronged. It’s in the Bible, I Peter 3:9:  “Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t snap back at those who say unkind things about you. Instead, pray for God’s help for them, for we are to be kind to others, and God will bless us for it.”

Anger produces strife. It’s in the Bible, Proverbs 30:33: “For as churning the milk produces butter, and as twisting the nose produces blood, so stirring up anger produces strife.”

— selected  (via The Beacon, May 10, 2016)
——————–

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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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