Year: 2016 (Page 2 of 6)

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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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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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
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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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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).
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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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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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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)

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) When Joy Follows Weeping (R.J. Evans)
2) Does God Hear All Prayers? (Roger D. Campbell)
3) Simplifying Cubit Conversions to Yards or Feet (Tom Edwards)
——————–

psalm-30_11

-1-

When Joy Follows Weeping

R.J. Evans

“Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning” (Psa. 30:5).

Even the most faithful of God’s people experience affliction and sorrow.  The Psalmist stated, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all” (Psa. 34:19).  Paul and Barnabas told the new disciples in Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch that “We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  While this might be somewhat disturbing and alarming, it may look different when we realize that joy often follows periods of sorrow.  And it is most certainly encouraging to realize that the ultimate eternal joy of heaven will follow whatever afflictions, persecutions or sufferings we may have to endure while here on earth.  Our text is not the only Scripture which says that joy follows weeping.  In this article, let us notice a few examples of this principle.

Just a few verses below our text, we find the Psalmist saying, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness” (Psa. 30:11).  Job spent many long nights of weeping, but finally joy came in the morning (Job 42).  In the days of Esther, wicked Haman sought to destroy the Jews.  They, no doubt, had many long nights of weeping.  But they were delivered through the efforts of Esther, resulting in Haman being hanged instead of Mordecai.  The Bible referred to this as “the month which was turned from sorrow to joy for them, and from mourning to a holiday” (Esther 9:22).  Looking toward the cross and the empty tomb, Jesus said to His disciples, “you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy” (Jn. 16:20).

Surely no one ever experiences joy following weeping more than the sinner who comes to Jesus in gospel obedience and is forgiven of all his sins (Matt. 11:28).  We may never, in this life, fully understand why Christians often experience joy after weeping.  One reason, however, may be found in Ecclesiastes 7:3 — “Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.”  Perhaps weeping helps get our heart in a condition for a blessing.  Weeping has a way of releasing us from our sorrows. Also, I feel confident that joy so often follows weeping because our Lord is touched by our tears and responds to our needs.  We close with this wonderful assurance: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana (January 4, 2015)
——————–

“But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the “greatest of these is love” (1 Cor. 13:13, NASB).
——————–

praying_daniel

-2-

Does God Hear All Prayers?

Roger D. Campbell

God communicates the thoughts and desires of His mind (that is, His will) to you and me through His word, the Bible.  The way that we, as humans, communicate or speak the message of our mind to God is through what the Bible calls prayer.  In both the Old Testament and the New Testament, we often read about prayer.  The truth is, it is only through the teaching of the Bible that we can know the Lord’s will concerning prayer.  Thus, for any question about prayer, we must turn to the word of God and see what it says.  Doesn’t that make sense to you?

Does the God of heaven hear the prayers of humans?  If you mean, “Does God know when people are praying to Him?” then the answer is “yes.”  God knows all that is taking place on the earth at all times.  He knows our every thought, every action, and every word spoken, including our prayers.  How can we be sure about this?  Because the Bible says, “God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20).  All the affairs of mankind are “naked and open unto the eyes” of the Lord (Hebrews 4:13).  So, yes, God knows when humans are praying.

Does the God of heaven hear prayers that are offered to Him in different languages of the world at the same time?  Because He is the “Almighty God” (Genesis 17:1), there is nothing that is too hard for Him (Genesis 18:14).  He understands all languages of men.  And, yes, He can handle all the prayers that might be coming His way all at the same time, regardless of the language!

Should we conclude, though, that every prayer is acceptable to the Lord?  To say that He can hear and understand when people speak to Him is one thing.  To say that every prayer is acceptable to Him, well, that is another matter entirely.  In Proverb 28:9 it is written, “He who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.”  This verse makes it clear that if a person refuses to heed or obey the message of God’s law, then he should not expect the Lord to receive his prayer.  Why?  Because God counts it as an abomination when men refuse to obey Him, and all the praying in the world cannot change that.  Prayer cannot take the place of obedience.  The Lord rejects the prayer or cry of a disobedient person.

What does the New Testament say?  In 1 Peter 3:12 we read, “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ear is open to their prayers….”  According to this verse, which prayers does the Lord receive?  The prayers of “the righteous.”  A righteous person is one who does righteousness (1 John 3:7).  Since all of God’s commands are righteousness (Psalm 119:172), then a righteous person is one who keeps the commandments of the Lord.  The Lord promises to receive the prayers of such a person, but not the prayers of the unrighteous.

One final consideration.  What about praying for salvation?  Never in the Bible do we read that the Lord or any of His inspired spokesmen told a person that had never been saved something like this: “To be saved from your past sins, you need to pray to God, and He will forgive you.”  The so-called “sinner’s prayer” is not to be found in the Bible at all.  It is true that there are New Testament passages in which we read that people were told to pray in order to receive forgiveness, but when we closely examine the contexts of those verses, what do we find?  They were addressed or spoken to those who were already Christians and had committed sin after being saved.  Thus, as Christians or children of God, in order to get back into the right relationship with God, what they needed to do was pray.  Simon, who had already believed and been baptized (saved — Acts 2:38-41, 47), was told to pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:13, 21-23).  We also read “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).  Again, however, this was not spoken to non-Christians, but to those who were already God’s children (compare 1 John 2:12).

Does God want men to pray?  The Bible says He does.  But does He accept all prayers?  Not according to the Bible.  Let us all search the Scriptures and accept the instruction that we find therein concerning prayer.

— via Seek The Old Paths, January 2015)
——————–

“and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight” (1 John 3:22, NASB).
——

Pray “…on behalf of all men” (1 Timothy 2:1, NASB).
——

“pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17, NASB).
——————–

calculator-3

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Simplifying Cubit Conversions to Yards or Feet

Tom Edwards

This is very simple, but maybe something often overlooked and not used:  As pointed out back in April, we don’t have to convert Hebrew cubits to yards by multiplying the number of cubits by 18 (the length of a Hebrew cubit in inches) and then dividing by 36.  Rather, we can simplify that by dividing the number of cubits by 2 (just by glancing at it).  So 50 cubits equals 25 yards.

Of course, we could then also easily multiply the 25 yards by 3 to convert it to feet; but here, too, is another way, which wasn’t mentioned last time:  Simply add to the number of cubits 1/2 of that number.  So you can think of 50 cubits, for example, as “50 cubits + 25 cubits = 75 feet.”

This was helpful in a recent daily Bible reading that ended with Esther 5:14.  In that passage, Haman, who was filled with much anger toward Mordecai for never bowing down to him and giving homage, was advised by his wife and friends to “Have a gallows fifty cubits high made and in the morning ask the king to have Mordecai hanged on it….”   If you’re like me, then you find it much easier to visualize seventy-five feet rather than 50 cubits; and of which it appears (by that extraordinary height for a gallows) that Haman wanted to make sure that this display would be observable from anywhere in the city!  Of course, little did Haman know at the time that it would actually be him — and not Mordecai — that would end up on the gallows! (Esther 7:10).

The word “cubit” comes from the Latin “cubitum,” the “elbow.”  The length of a cubit is the distance between the elbow and the tip of the middle finger, which is usually about 18 inches (or 45.72 cm).
——————–

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) Peace With All Men (Richie Jenkins)
2) “Departing From The Living God” (Stephen J. Wallace)
——————–

matthew5_9

-1-

Peace With All Men

Richie Jenkins

“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
——————–

john6_66
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“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).
——————–

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).
——————–

1) The Mocking of the Messiah (Terry Slack)
2) We NEED Doctrinal Teaching (Greg Gwin)
——————–

mark-15_29-31

-1-

The Mocking of the Messiah

Terry Slack

For those of us who were adults in the ’70s and ’80s, the name Ted Bundy conjures up a variety of thoughts — none of which are pleasant. As a serial kidnapper and killer, the accounts of his crimes turn even the strongest of stomachs. After years of eluding law enforcement, he was eventually captured in Florida in 1978 and convicted for the murders of 3 young women. Living in Florida at the time, I remember his capture and conviction being prominent stories in the local news. Sentenced to death, the appeals would last for years before Bundy was finally executed in Florida’s electric chair in January, 1989.

By 1989 I was now living in Indiana and vividly recall the images televised on the network news. Outside the prison gathered the typical group of folks protesting the death penalty, some carrying signs proclaiming it was unbiblical. Though that contingent bothered me, there was another group I found even more troubling. In a field across the road from the prison were gathered more than 2000, some of whom professing a connection to Jesus. These had come for a very different reason. They sang, danced, and even set off fireworks at the moment of Bundy’s execution. As the hearse carried the body away from the prison, these same revelers cheered loudly in celebration.

Did Ted Bundy deserve to die for his crimes? I believe he did. Does the Bible teach that the government has the authority to carry out such executions? I’m convinced it does (Romans 13:4). Was I repulsed by the actions of those who chose to revel in his death? Yes, yes I was. Justice was being served. There was no cause to celebrate the end of Bundy’s life in such an egregious manner — surely death was enough.

If I was appalled by such actions toward a guilty man, surely there must be even greater disgust when similar brutality is demonstrated toward a man who is totally innocent.

Though there were no TV cameras present to capture the images, the gospels reveal such a scene centuries earlier at a place called Golgotha. After years of hatred and hostility, the religious leaders had finally achieved their objective. They were about to eliminate this itinerant rabbi they believed to pose such a threat to their power and position. Under compulsion, the Roman governor sentenced Jesus of Nazareth to die by crucifixion. When we consider the barbarity and the horrible agony involved, how could anyone ever think of it as a time for mockery? But for many, the cross was a joke and Jesus would be the recipient of their derision. Having stripped Him of His freedom, His rights, His friends and His clothing, they now seek to strip the sinless Jesus of any dignity that remained.

The writers of these accounts say very little about the crucifixion itself. In fact, their extreme restraint is evidenced in just four English words: “There they crucified Him” (Luke 23:33). But while they say nothing specific about the procedure itself, since the original readers were well acquainted with the particulars, they reveal much regarding the attitudes of those gathered. Achieving their objective of getting rid of Jesus (after all, no one survived crucifixion) and witnessing such horrible anguish (this was not a “humane” death by electrocution or lethal injection), one might think they would simply leave Jesus to die. But in Luke 23:33-39 we read of four groups for whom death was not enough. Instead, they are intent on inflicting even greater suffering.

While Luke 23:35 tells us that people stood by, looking on, both Matthew and Mark reveal even the passers-by taunted Jesus, “Save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross!” (Matthew 27:40). Some of these may well have been healed by Jesus at some point during His ministry or eaten from the few loaves and a couple of fish miraculously provided along the shore of Galilee. No doubt many had heard Him preach and witnessed His compassion. Now as they watch Him fight for every breath, they repay His kindness with sarcasm and scorn.

In the same verse we also read of the religious leaders “sneering at Him” with a similar declaration: “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” They deride Him by way of two Messianic titles, relishing the fact they have vanquished, what is in their minds, a phony king!

As Luke’s account continues the soldiers join in (23:36-38). Though they know little about Jewish theology, they follow the same line of merciless insults, taunting Him to “save Himself.” There’s the added component of their offers of sour wine as they pretend to “serve” Him as mock courtiers for Israel’s alleged “monarch.”

Finally, there are the thieves who have been crucified with Him (Luke 23:39). Both Matthew and Mark inform us that initially both men were casting similar insults. Even those on the lowest rung of human society, those who were in the process of dying themselves, play the same cruel game of ridicule.

Considering the brutal nature of crucifixion, one might think that such a horrific death was enough. Instead, those at the cross seek to add insult to injury as they treat Him with as much disdain as they could muster. In their minds it was utterly absurd that this man would claim to be a king! Yet, this was blasphemy without equal, evil in its very lowest form as they mock deity, ridiculing the very Son of God with one sarcastic taunt after another. They couldn’t have done more to offend a righteous God. After all, Jesus was the only truly innocent person present! If there was ever a time when divine justice was demanded, surely this was it!

Yet, judgment falls, not on them, but on Jesus. The wrath that should have crushed them instead crushes Him. He willingly bears both their insults — and their sin! What kind of cruelty would be required to witness a fellow human experiencing such incredible agony, yet delightfully engage in such merciless ridicule? And what kind of love would it demand to refuse their scornful suggestions “Save Yourself!” in order to be able to save them instead?

Had I been present, would my voice have been heard among the mockers? Would those same vicious taunts fall from my lips? The mere thought of such brutality sickens me. Surely I wouldn’t have done that! Or would I? That question will never be answered. What I can know is that He endured the agony of the cross and the anguish of their taunts so He could save me — and anyone else who would bow in humble submission to God’s crucified King.  (See Hebrews 12:2 — and understand how much Jesus loves you!)

— Via the Gallatin Road church of Christ, Scottsville, Kentucky, April 18, 2015
——————–

john8_31-32
-2-

We NEED Doctrinal Teaching

Greg Gwin

It has been reported that American students are not doing well in important Math and Science studies.  In fact, they rank 35th in the world on achievement tests in Math, and 27th in Science[1].  However, it is also reported that the very same American students rank among the highest in the world regarding how they feel about their Math and Science abilities.  This is direct evidence of the over-emphasis that has been given in recent years to the subjective matters of self-worth and self-esteem.  Our educators have obviously worried too much about “feelings,” and not enough about real learning.

We may be following the same mistaken agenda in our spiritual teaching.  It seems that we have lost a sense of balance in our preaching and in our Bible class studies.   We may be stressing certain “feel good” themes too much, while neglecting important instruction in matters of doctrine.  The results tend to indicate this.  We have a generation of Christians that don’t know and can’t explain simple doctrinal truths.  Many would be hard pressed to explain what’s wrong with instrumental music in worship, why we oppose church sponsored recreational and social activities, or what the Bible teaches about institutionalism and unscriptural church cooperative enterprises.   Some could not even describe the simple New Testament plan of salvation, or prove that baptism is essential for the remission of sins.

Members of the Lord’s church once had the reputation as “people of the Book.”  We knew and could defend the truth on a wide variety of Bible subjects.  Members of various denominations dreaded, and even avoided, discussions with us because they knew that we knew the Bible and could answer their faulty arguments.  Sadly, we’ve lost much of that reputation.  Let’s get back to teaching and emphasizing “all the counsel of God,” while “keeping back nothing that is profitable” (Acts 20:20,27).

[1] Pew Research Center , 2/2/15

—  Via The Beacon, June 14, 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://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) Jesus Receives Sinners (Mike Willis)
2) Are We Ashamed? (Whit Sasser)
——————–

luke-5_32

-1-

Jesus Receives Sinners

Mike Willis

One of the charges frequently made against Jesus was that he received and ate with sinners. The charge was made when he attended a feast at the house of the publican Matthew (Matt. 9:9-12; Mark 2:16-17). Some charged that he was a “friend of publicans and sinners” at the same time they said he was a winebibber and glutton (Matt. 11:19). When he went into the home of Zacchaeus, his enemies charged, “That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner” (Luke 19:7).

The occasion for the three parables in Luke 15 was this: “Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them” (Luke 15:1-2). In response to this charge, Jesus gave the three parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the lost son (the prodigal son) to show how the loving God searches for and seeks the ones who are lost.

The Conduct of the Pharisees

Why were the Pharisees upset by Jesus’ association with sinners? What were they charging him with when they criticized him? To answer this, one must know how the Pharisees treated sinners. The Pharisees were the “separated ones” because they refused to associate with sinners.

We get a glimpse of how they treated sinners from several allusions in the Gospels. When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, she was astounded and said, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans” (John 4:9).

When Jesus went into the house of Simon the Pharisee, an immoral woman washed Jesus’ feet with her tears, dried them with her hair, and put ointment on them. Simon thought, “This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner” (Luke 7:39). Again, we see how the Jews treated sinners.

Lenski explains that the Pharisees’ practice of washing one’s hands before they eat was “for fear that the hands had brushed against a Gentile or against something belonging to a Gentile” (Matthew 582).

A Sinful Separation From Sinners

There is a sinful kind of separation from sinners of which the Pharisees were guilty and which saints must avoid. There is a separation from sinners born of self-righteousness, contempt for others, and condescension. This is what the Pharisees had. We must guard our hearts from feeling a similar superiority to the lost. Sometimes, a person feels morally superior to others as if he is what he is through human achievement — through works. The temptation to be self-righteous and show contempt for others may occur when one sees a homosexual suffering from AIDS, an alcoholic, a homeless person, or other socially contemptible sinners. We should have the same mind as Paul when he said, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Several years ago, I drove by a homeless person in Nashville, Tennessee. The woman did not look like she had taken a bath in months. Her hair was matted worse than any dog’s hair that I have seen. Suddenly, the thought flashed through my mind, “Some mother gave birth to this person. She was her precious little baby. I must remember that her soul is just as precious as mine.” Let us guard ourselves from viewing sinners like the Pharisees did.

A Sinful Association With Sinners

There is a sinful kind of association with sinners. The Scriptures command a certain kind of separation in such passages as the following:

“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners” (1 Cor. 15:33).

“My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not. If they say, Come with us, let us lay wait for blood, let us lurk privily for the innocent without cause: Let us swallow them up alive as the grave; and whole, as those that go down into the pit: We shall find all precious substance, we shall fill our houses with spoil: Cast in thy lot among us; let us all have one purse: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path” (Prov. 1:10-15).

“Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away” (Prov. 4:14-15).

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you” (2 Cor. 6:14-17).

Whenever a man associates with sinners in such a way as to (a) participate with them in that which is sinful or (b) condone their sinful activity, he has been guilty of sin! Jesus never was guilty of doing either of these.

The Charge Against Jesus

When the Pharisees charged Jesus with associating with publicans and sinners, they were charging him with having fellowship with sin and sinners. We have an adage that says, “Birds of a feather flock together.” This is basically the Pharisees’ charge against Jesus. The Pharisees charged that Jesus associated with publicans and sinners because he was a sinner.

Why Jesus Associated With Sinners

Jesus associated with sinners for the express purpose of saving their souls. He compared his association with sinners to that of a physician associating with the sick, saying, “They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Mark 2:17). Again he said, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

What Jesus Did

Jesus ate with sinners. When he was invited into their homes as a guest, he went for the express purpose of trying to save their souls. I wonder how we would view Jesus’ actions today.

If one of our faithful members went to a restaurant with one who had a vile reputation, would we think of him like the Pharisees thought of Jesus? If one invited one with a vile reputation into his home or went to their home would someone criticize him or worry that he may be “slipping” because some of his best friends were non-Christians?

Conclusion

We must have enough association with sinners to reach them with the gospel. If we withdraw ourselves from all contact with sinners, we can never save their souls. The monks and nuns have withdrawn their association from sinners to such an extent that they dwell in a convent. We may have acted in a similar way by our lack of association with lost. How can we ever convert someone with whom we do not associate?

— Via Guardian of Truth XL: 5 p. 2,  March 7, 1996
——————–

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:10, 23).
——————–

bible-4

-2-

Are We Ashamed?

Whit Sasser

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16)

When churches try to lure people to their services by means of gimmicks and big promotions, they make a big mistake. Bingo parties, musical entertainment, films, dinners and such like, only cheapen the gospel in the minds of thinking people.   A bigger attendance may be the short term effect, but less respect for God is the long term effect. If you gain souls by carnal means, then carnal means will be needed to hold them. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of GOD unto salvation, and though fewer may respond to it, salvation is only therein.

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

-1-

“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)
——————–

“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).
——————–

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 Conversion of the Ethiopian Eunuch (Jesse Flowers)
——————–

ethiopian eunuch

-1-

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
——————–

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) Morale Boosters (R.J. Evans)
2) Casting in the Tree (Jeff May)
——————–

Acts11_23

-1-

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

-2-

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
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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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