Year: 2016 (Page 3 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).
——————–

Contents:

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

Psalm119_89

-1-

The Truth is Still the Truth

T. Sean Sullivan

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Truth Does Not Change If You Reject It

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

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

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

The Truth Does Not Change If Our Brethren Err

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

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

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

The Truth Does Not Change if the Whole World Refuses It

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

— Via Truth Magazine, June 15, 2006, Volume L, Number 12
——————–

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) Carrying More Than Bones (Jeff May)
——————–

Joseph

-1-

Carrying More Than Bones

Jeff May

By Bible standards, I am likely in the “older man” category.  The Bible doesn’t talk about middle age.  There’s the young.  There’s the old.  That’s it.  So, whether I like it or not I am probably closer to the latter group.

As I grow older, I think more about the things I want to one day leave behind for my children.  I look at the legacies of Bible men and women.  I suppose that none of them is more impressive to me than the legacy of Joseph.

Picture with me that grand processional of the Israelites as they left the clutches of Egypt to pursue freedom in God’s promised land.  A conservative figure shows 1.5 million people traveling through the desert.  Somewhere among the living are some bones; skeletal remains of Joseph.  Although not alive to see it, what’s left of Joseph’s earthly tent is making its way to Canaan.  On his death bed, Joseph had said, “God will surely visit you and you shall carry up my bones from here” (Gen. 50:25).  Israel honored his dying request (Exodus 13:19).

May I suggest that if only they had reflected on it, they were carrying more with them into the land than just the bones of Joseph.  They were carrying a legacy worthy of imitation.  If they had really contemplated Joseph’s life and imitated it, their entire history would have been different.  A nation full of Josephs would never have been “vomited” out of the promised land and into captivity.

Let us consider what they were carrying.

Joseph’s Godliness

Godliness means that we live every day with reverence being shown toward God and a keen awareness that all we do is done in His presence.  Could there be a better portrait of it than Joseph?

If ever a man could have been bitter against God, Joseph could.  He was thrown into a pit by his brothers who first wanted to kill him.  He was sold to a band of Ishmaelites and then into Potiphar’s household.  Bitterness could have caused him to say, “I’m done with God.  Why should I serve Him?  I’m in a pagan land.  No one will ever know what I do.  Why not just live it up in sin?”  Joseph never did that.  A lusty woman gave him every chance to do just that and yet what did he say? “How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God” (Gen. 39:9)?

Who would know?  God would.  Joseph’s godliness kept him reverent toward God, knowing there was an “all-seeing eye.”

What about you, dear reader?  How do you do at the office when none of your spiritual acquaintances are around?  What about when you are on vacation?  What if you are a young person who is dating and you know there are lots of places to find seclusion?

Godliness will hold you in check.  I wish Israel had carried Joseph’s godliness into the promised land with them, but I’m afraid all they carried were bones (Isa. 29:15-16).

Joseph’s Forgiving Spirit

Oh, the things his brothers did to him and all it led to!!  In his life he was hated, almost murdered, sold, lied about, thrown in prison and then forgotten about.  The poison of a bitter and unforgiving spirit could have eaten him alive!

The most touching of all moments comes at the end of Genesis when Jacob dies.  The brothers are thinking, “Joseph will harm us now.”  But Joseph says, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God?” (Gen. 50:19).  He comforts them and speaks kindly to them.

What about you?  Do you have a forgiving spirit?  Is there anyone you have written off for life?  Is forgiveness difficult for you?

In my early days of preaching there was an older man I spent a lot of time with who loved me as his own son.  He was like a father to me.  At this moment, I am sitting next to cabinets he and I made together for my books.  A picture of him is within reach.  I’ll never forget him telling me once, “Jeff, I don’t know why it is but the two most important things in life people need to say, they have so much trouble with.  Why do we struggle to say ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I love you’”?  I need to carry that with me.  My friend was buried not long ago but for me he left behind a lot more than bones.

I wish Israel had carried that spirit across the Jordan; but by the time Jesus came, many of them were full of hatred and bitterness.  Forgiveness did not come easy (Mt. 18:21-22).

Joseph’s Care For His Family

While Joseph was in Egypt, back home his dad was growing old and needed lots of help.  News that Joseph was alive would now allow him to go to his grave with some relief (Gen. 45:28).  His pilgrimage had been evil but Joseph would see to it that he was taken care of in his final days (Gen. 45:9-11; 46:29-34).

Do we do the same?  What will our attitude be when our family members enter the difficult days and they need us?  God is clear in his expectations (1 Tim. 5:4,8).

It is so sad to see parents in our society left lacking in love and care and support while their children go on their merry way.  I have always appreciated the Jewish proverb which says, “One woman can take care of ten children, but ten children can’t take care of one woman.”  It is true too many times.

If only Israel had carried that same care into the promised land.  Instead, many of them turned out to be neglectful to widows, aged people and their own parents.  It left Jesus infuriated (Mark 7:9-13).  Joseph didn’t do that.  Bless his bones.

Joseph’s Awareness of God’s Providence

Even when times are tough in our lives, we need to know God is working.  The things that are happening may not be good but God is working it all for good.  It’s sort of like a cake.  Who would eat Hershey’s cocoa by itself or raw eggs or flour?  But all together, it works for good.

Think about Joseph.  Now there was a life that could leave a bad taste in your mouth!  Yet, all his troubles worked for good.

This next thing I will share is amazing to me.  Let’s back it up.  Our Savior came out of a great nation.  But there can’t be a great nation without a place for them to grow and prosper.  We need to get those twelve sons of Jacob to Egypt.  We can’t do that without Joseph being in a position of power to help them.  We also need a famine to make them go to Egypt.  We can’t get Joseph to Pharaoh without him meeting the king’s butler.  The place to meet the king’s butler is in a prison, and you can’t get to the prison without a lying and lustful woman who makes false charges.  To meet such a woman, you need to be sold into her house.  You can’t be sold without the hatred of your brothers.  You don’t become hated without your coat of many colors and dreams.  Do you see God’s providence? Joseph did (Gen. 50:20).

I could only wish Israel had carried that confidence of God’s providence into the land of Canaan.  When things were bad, they turned against God (Dt. 1:26-27,31-32).  Oh to God they had stopped to think about what they were carrying.  It was surely more than bones.

So, I stop here to ask myself a question.  When my children carry me to my earthly resting place to await the resurrection, will they carry more than bones?  May God be blessed for what He made of Joseph and may such legacies bless our lives greatly.

— Via Living a Christian Life, January 30, 2012
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) When We Disagree (Doy Moyer)
2) “So Great Salvation” (Greg Gwin)
3) Where Do You Turn? (Shane Williams)
——————–

when we disagree_doy moyer

-1-

When We Disagree

Doy Moyer

The Lord wants unity, but disagreements in discussions are also a fact of life. Sometimes discussions can fall apart pretty quickly, even before we really understand why. How should we react to this? How should we proceed in discussions when we are dealing with disagreements? Here are some suggestions:

1. Be generous. Assume the best first. Don’t assign evil motives to other parties. They may have intended something else.  Let the principles of love guide our discussions. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). This is simply an extension of the “golden rule”: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Matt. 7:12).

2. Be respectful. Don’t begin a response by insulting and insinuating that the other parties are intellectually deficient. There should be no room for inflammatory comments. Just address the issue without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Kindness and respectfulness should mark all conversations. “What is desirable in a man is his kindness, and it is better to be a poor man than a liar” (Prov. 19:22; cf. Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:32).

3. Be Reasonable. It’s possible that we misunderstood something. Be willing to discuss and foster good communication through definition and clarification. “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). In the same way, be logical. It is one matter to just state, “I disagree,” or to just state a contrary proposition. It is another matter to state the disagreement along with reasons. Learn how to make actual arguments (in the good sense). If we want others to consider our positions, we need to able to give the “because” for our positions. If we can’t state the “because,” then we don’t have adequate grounds for decent discussion and we are just pointlessly naysaying.

4. Be open. It’s possible that we are wrong ourselves and haven’t thought something through as much as we should. Are we willing to change if we are shown to be in error? Consider the other position and make sure that we understand it before rejecting it outright. If we are still sure that we disagree, then proceed with the other principles in mind. Be a truth-seeker, and “understanding will watch over you” (Prov. 2:11).

5. Be honorable. One of the most frustrating parts of a disagreement is when the other party misrepresents what we believe. We all make honest mistakes in our reasoning and conclusions, but if we purposefully twist or distort something in order to win an argument, we have crossed over into dishonesty. This is never honorable or right. When representing what others believe, be fair and accurate. If we find that we have not been accurate in how we represent a position, then be willing to listen and gain further understanding. Never intentionally misrepresent just to win an argument. “A trustworthy (i.e., honest) witness will not lie, but a false witness utters lies” (Prov. 14:5).

6. Be direct. We may often be frustrated in discussion because we cannot pinpoint the real problem. Being generous and kind does not mean that we have to beat around the bush when we address the issue. State clearly the objection and the reasons for the disagreement. What is the real problem? The principle of being direct, whether in rebuke or disagreement, is part of wisdom: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6). We can be friendly, tactful, and kind while at the same time being straight-forward and addressing the real issue.

7. Be committed. First, be committed to the Lord and His truth. Then be committed to the well-being of others. Be committed to souls and seek salvation for all. Winning an argument is pointless just for its own sake and can be a form of self-glory. God calls us to a higher standard. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

You can probably think of more. Reason and persuasion are a part of being disciples (cf. Paul in Acts 17:17; 18:4; 19:8- 9). Scripture gives us the principles by which we may proceed in discussions that are often bottlenecked by stubbornness and unreasonable posturing. We can do better. We can seek the Lord, seek truth, and seek for the greatest benefit for others. This must be intentional, bearing in mind the wisdom of God.

— Via Mind Your Faith
——————–

Rev19_1

-2-

“So Great Salvation”

Greg Gwin

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him”  (Hebrews 2:3).

Christians should think long and meditate often about the wonderful salvation that God has made available to us through His Son.  Look at this text, and realize that we are the recipients of a:

“Great Salvation”: It is great because our past sins have been forgiven; we enjoy a present relationship with God as our loving Father; and we have the hope of a beautiful future in eternity.

“Spoken Salvation”: Too many people in the religious world trust their subjective feelings concerning their eternal souls.  They wouldn’t do that if it involved their material possessions or their financial security, but they do it with their souls.  It simply makes no sense.  God does not ask us to trust our salvation to such uncertainty.  Instead, he has given us His spoken word, whereby we can learn and understand the things essential to salvation (Rom. 1:16; 10:17; Eph. 3:3-5).

“Confirmed Salvation”: We can be sure that the salvation offered through Jesus Christ is legitimate.  The message of salvation was confirmed by the men who knew Jesus, who saw Him, heard Him, worked with Him.  They were eyewitnesses to His life, and their words and accounts assure us that these things are true.  In fact, their willingness to die for His cause is one of the surest proofs of all.  Furthermore, God also confirmed their testimony by way of the miracles they were empowered to do (see the previous verse, Heb. 2:4).

“Conditional Salvation”: A key word in this great text is the word IF.  It clearly teaches that our salvation is conditional upon meeting the requirements set forth in God’s word.  God offers us this wonderful gift.  We show our willingness to accept it by doing His will. Salvation is for “all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8,9).

— Via The Beacon, May 24, 2016
——————–

Zech1_3

-3-

Where Do You Turn?

Shane Williams

Where you turn when you’re in trouble reveals your character. What does it tell us about young kids whose trouble turns them toward gangs, guns or drugs? What do we learn about adults whose problems direct them toward alcohol, adultery or the weird teachings of a cult?

What about ourselves? Where do we turn when we have trouble in life? Do we look to the world or the Bible for wisdom? Where do we look for help when we are struggling with sin? We must turn to the Lord Jesus and to His Word. He is the only one who can help and certainly the only one who can offer us forgiveness. The answers of this world will never lead us to “real” help but only to destruction.

The Christians to whom Peter addressed were facing various trials (I Peter 1:6), slander and maligning (I Peter 3:15; 4:4), sufferings and reviling (I Peter 4:12-14). To whom should they turn? Not to the world or its ways, but rather to “the God of all grace” (I Peter 5:10). We need to look back and remember that He called us, recognize His glory in Christ, and look ahead to see how God is equipping us through our difficulties. “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (I Peter 5:10).

Trouble on the horizon? Put your confidence in God. He helped the early Christians who suffered through persecutions to overcome. He will help us through our troubles today.

— Via The Lilbourn Light, Vol. 10, No. 4, August, 2009
——————–

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) “He Who Wins Souls Is Wise” (R.J. Evans)
2) The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mike Johnson)
——————–

matthew16_26

-1-

“He Who Wins Souls Is Wise”

R.J. Evans

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise”  (Proverbs 11:30).

Every faithful Christian seeks to win souls because he is wise.  Without doubt, winning souls is one of the greatest works on earth.  Surely, no true disciple of the Lord can ignore the urgent need to seek the salvation of precious lost souls.  Our God is in the soul saving business (Jn. 3:16; Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16).  While on earth, Jesus stated, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).  Thus, every Christian should, likewise, be in the soul saving business.  No work in this life is more “Christ-like” than teaching the soul saving “gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

In this short article, let’s observe some important reasons why we ought to be soul winners.

1. The value of the soul.  The Bible clearly sets forth the value of the soul.  In the beginning, God created the soul of man in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27).  Jesus said, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).

2. The brevity and uncertainty of life.  It has been estimated that every time the clock ticks, thirteen people die somewhere in the world.  James said, “For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14).

3. The certainty of death and the judgment.  There is an appointment that all must keep.  “And as it is appointed for all men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

4. The horror of hell.  In the word of God, hell is described as a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30); “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30); “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:9); “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15); and a “lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

5. The beauties of heaven.  The human, finite mind cannot conceive or fully comprehend all of the eternal beauties of heaven.  But to get some idea as to how it will be, please read Revelation 21, where it tells us that there will be no more death, sorrow, tears, crying, or pain in heaven. Read about the “throne set in heaven” in Revelation 4 & 5. Oh, what a place!

6. Our own salvation depends upon it.  Consider carefully the words of Ezekiel: “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’  and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (Ezek. 33:8-9).  The Apostle Paul was able to tell the Ephesian elders: “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).

In view of all the above, this should surely cause us to appreciate the words of Proverbs 11:30 — “HE WHO WINS SOULS IS WISE.”  We sometimes sing, “I want to be a soul winner for Jesus everyday,”  but do we really mean and practice what we sing?  We close with the words of another song: “If the name of the Savior is precious to you, If His care has been constant and tender and true.  If the light of His presence has brightened you way…O will you not tell it today?”

— via article for the church bulletin at the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, July 10, 2016
——————–

matthew13_31b

-2-

The Parable of the Mustard Seed

Mike Johnson

Matthew 13:31-32 is one of the accounts where “The Parable of the Mustard Seed” is found, and it tells us about the growth of the kingdom. The passage says:

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and  becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”

Mustard Seed

In verse 32, the mustard seed is said to be the least of all seeds.  Those familiar with the mustard seed today are well aware of its small size.  However, the mustard seed is not the smallest seed known as there are several kinds of seed which are smaller.  It was, however, the smallest seed which would normally be planted in the fields by the Jews.  It seems Jesus used the expression (the least of all seeds) in that sense.  Also, the phrase “small as a grain of mustard seed” was a proverbial expression among the Jews.  It meant something very small.  Jesus used the expression again in Matthew 17:20 when He said, “. . . If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place and it shall be removed . . . .”

Mustard Tree

Verse 32 points out that the seed grew into a tree, and it was so large the birds came and lodged in the branches of it.  Most of us are unfamiliar with mustard plants which grow this large.  However, it seems that in the Palestine area these plants could grow much larger than what we are accustomed to.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia  points out, “Several varieties of mustard have notably small seed, and under  favorable conditions grow in a few months into tall herbs 10 to 12 feet.” Barnes, in his commentary on Matthew, quotes from an individual who said, “I have seen this plant on the rich plain of Akkar as tall as the horse and his rider.”

Application

The seed started out very small and produced a large plant. The kingdom, or church, is compared to this as it started out with small numbers and grew to a large size.

In Acts 2, we read of the beginning of the church and its growth. Here Peter preached to people who had actually been involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. He told them they needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (2:38).  Many realized their error and obeyed.  Acts 2:41 says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”  The early Christians faced much persecution, but this did not stop the growth of the Lord’s church.  Acts 4:4 shows that it continued to grow as it says, “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.”  Only the number of men is recorded. Clearly, however, there were many women who also obeyed the gospel which would have added to this number.  We can further see the growth of the church from Acts 5:14 which points out that believers were the more added to the Lord.   Acts 6:7 shows the continued growth of the early church as it says, “.  .  . and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”  After Stephen’s death, the disciples went everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:4).  The scattering of the church from Jerusalem, because of further persecution, only helped spread the Word even more.  Finally, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he pointed out that the gospel “. . . was preached to every creature which is under heaven. . . .”  The church clearly grew a lot.

It would be very difficult to say exactly how many people became Christians in the first century.  It is obvious, however, the growth was tremendous as Christ indicated it would be in this parable.  The growth has continued even until today.  Like the mustard seed, the church started out very small but grew to large proportions.

— Via The Elon Challenger, Volume XIII, Number 11, July 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) The Sponsoring Church Arrangement (Ethan R. Longhenry)
2) Love or Legalism? (Steven F. Deaton)
3) Looking Into God’s Mirror (James 1:22-25) (Mike Johnson)
——————–

Ethan_Longhenry

-1-

The Sponsoring Church Arrangement

Ethan R. Longhenry

God wills for all people to be saved in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9); Christians must go out and proclaim the Word of the Gospel to their fellow human beings (Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 10:14-17). The local church, as the Body of Christ manifest in a given area, has an important role to play in facilitating, funding, and encouraging the work of evangelism (1 Corinthians 9:1-14, 12:12-28, Ephesians 4:11-16). But are there limitations to the means by which a local church facilitates evangelism?

One of the major disagreements which led to the division between the Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches, and the Churches of Christ by the end of the nineteenth century involved the missionary society. Most among churches of Christ at the time recognized that the Scriptures did not authorize the local church to fund such endeavors. And yet, as many associated with the Gospel Advocate began agitating toward greater congregational support of parachurch institutions and organizations within a generation or two, a new and novel form of cooperation among local churches emerged. The means by which such coordination would take place became known as the sponsoring church arrangement in which the elders overseeing one local congregation would become the “sponsor” of a missionary family, an area of evangelistic effort abroad, or a regional or national evangelistic endeavor. Other congregations who agreed to help provide financial support for these endeavors would thus send their money to the “sponsoring” church, and they would then distribute the money as they saw fit. Early examples of the “sponsoring church arrangement” in terms of consolidating support for missions included the Broadway church of Lubbock, Texas, as the sponsor for the work in Germany and the Union Avenue church in Memphis, Tennessee, as the sponsor for the work in Japan. Meanwhile the Highland church in Abilene, Texas, established themselves as the sponsoring church for the Herald of Truth radio (and later television) program, ultimately supported by churches around the country. More recent examples of such arrangements include the “One Nation Under God” campaign sponsored by the Sycamore church in Cookeville, Tennessee, attempting to distribute religious literature to houses around the country in 1991, and the Gospel Broadcasting Network (GBN), sponsored by a church in Southaven, Mississippi, receives funding, from among other sources, the donated collections of local congregations.

By what authority does the sponsoring church arrangement exist? Its proponents believe that the major problem with the missionary societies was not the cooperative effort but the intermediating human institution. It is believed that financial cooperation can exist among churches as long as a given evangelistic work remains under the oversight of the elders of a local congregation. It is defended as being more efficient and providing the opportunity to maintain evangelistic endeavors which may go well beyond the ability of one local congregation to fund and maintain. Many will point to Philippians 4:10-19 as authority for the “sponsoring church arrangement,” claiming that the church in Philippi was Paul’s sponsor. Are these claims true?

While the presence of an intermediating human institution was assuredly one of the unauthorized and challenging aspects of the missionary society, it was not the only concern. The New Testament betrays no command, example, or suggestion that any local congregation took upon itself to organize the funding of evangelism for a given area.

The eldership of a local church has every right to encourage and promote evangelistic endeavors in their local areas and to provide sufficient funding for them; they also have the right to directly support evangelists working in other areas. But if a local church gives money to another church to do any such thing, they have given up all control over the resources, acceded their autonomy to a degree, and thus have abrogated their responsibilities before God in so doing, for God has not commanded local churches to give to other local churches to fund evangelism and evangelists, but for them to do the work and the support of the work themselves!

God expects each local church to carry out the work which He has given them independently, and for good reason. To abrogate that work to another congregation to create a greater or more efficient work centralizes influence to an unhealthy and unauthorized degree and neglects the very reason why the work is based in and centered around local congregations. Each local group must understand its own context and encourage people locally; mass media programs may provide some teaching but does not facilitate the important relational connections with the local church. What if the nationwide radio program no longer teaches the truth or seeks to tickle itching ears? What if people become dependent on the programming and neglect the development of spiritual relationships and accountability among God’s people in the local church? Why must the work of evangelism be done in these ways?

The “sponsoring church arrangement” has no more Biblical authority or standing than the missionary society. Elders and local churches should exist; nevertheless their existence does not justify the overreach of their authority and levels of cooperation not authorized in the New Testament. May every local church seek to accomplish the work of evangelism God has given it in its own area and context, financially supporting evangelists as they have opportunity, but always seeking to encourage reconciliation between God and the lost!

— Via the La Vista church of Christ
——————–

John14_15

-2-

Love or Legalism?

Steven F. Deaton

When we insist men must adhere strictly to the commandments of God, is it love or legalism?

Men say it is legalism. They say, “We should obey a Savior, not a system.” Or, “Give me the man, not a plan.” Their idea is that to admit the existence of a law by which man must live in order to be right with God, is legalism.

God, however, calls this love. The Spirit said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3). Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Keeping the commandments of God is an expression of love, not legalism. To insist others do the same is love for God and man, not legalism in a system or plan.

The Holy Spirit was sent to reveal all truth (John 16:13). Why would anyone think the truth was revealed so men could be cavalier toward it? It was revealed so men could obey it and be set free (John 8:32). Paul wrote, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17). This does not destroy a relationship with the Savior, for it is His system — the gospel (Hebrews 5:9).

— Bulletin article from the Collegevue church of Christ, Columbia, Tennessee, February 7, 2016
——————–

James1_22

-3-

Looking Into God’s Mirror

(James 1:22-25)

Mike Johnson

Mirrors are everywhere.  Most bathrooms have a mirror.  They also may be strategically placed in various places in a house.  We see them in stores, they are in our automobiles, and a woman will often carry a mirror in her purse.  It is not usually very difficult to find a mirror.

What is  a mirror for?  We look at mirrors to see if something about us is amiss — to see if anything needs to be changed.  Our tie might be crooked, our hair might not be properly combed or brushed, we might have food around our mouths or toothpaste on our lips.  A woman, for example, may look in a mirror to see if her make-up is properly applied.

James 1:21 points out we are to put away sin and wickedness and are to receive with meekness God’s Word.  Verse 22 says we are to be “doers” of God’s Word and not “hearers only.”  It is not enough to simply be a hearer of God’s Word; we must also obey it.  The writer then gives an illustration about looking into a mirror in verses 23-24.  He says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”

Generally speaking, a person does not look into a mirror; see something wrong and then not make a correction.  It is not uncommon, however, for a person to look into God’s mirror (the Bible); see sin in his life and make no changes whatsoever.  As with the analogy, this does not make much sense.

Many people hear the Word of God but are not willing to make changes.  It is great that one is willing to hear the Word of God, but it is also essential to do what it says.  On one occasion Jesus asked (Lk. 6:46), “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  In Luke 11:28, he said to a woman, “…blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

In verse 22, he said those who hear the word and do not obey it are “deceiving” themselves.  In what sense is this true?  They think that hearing the Word of God is good enough, and there is enough merit in only hearing the Word to make themselves acceptable in the eyes of God.  If someone thinks this, he is deceiving himself.

How you looked into God’s mirror lately?  If so, what did you see?  Seeing imperfections is not enough.  We must make the corrections!

— Via The Elon Challenger, Volume XIII, Number 10, June 2016
——————–

Isaiah declares: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me’” (Isaiah 6:8).
——————–


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) Don’t Allow Anyone to Steal Your Heart! (R.J. Evans)
2) How to Defeat Temptation (Kent Heaton)
——————–

Proverbs4_23


-1-

Don’t Allow Anyone to Steal Your Heart!

R.J. Evans

There were a number of sad and tragic events in the life of King David.  A series of events began with his sin with Bathsheba.  His adultery with her led to deceit, and ultimately, the murder of her husband, Uriah.  After David had Uriah killed and had taken this man’s wife, God told him: “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house….Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house” (2 Sam. 12:10-11).  Soon his troubles and heartaches began.  His infant son with Bathsheba died; his son Amnon raped his daughter, Tamar; his son, Absalom, murdered Amnon (2 Sam. 12-13).

Surely, one of the most heart-breaking developments in the life of David was when his son, Absalom, turned and rebelled against him. He committed treason against his own father — “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6).  When having to go to battle against his son, David instructed his commanders to “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom” (2 Sam. 18:5).  As the battle raged, David was asking, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” (2 Sam. 18:29,32).  When word came to David that his son had been killed, he cried out, “O my son Absalom — my son, my son Absalom — if only I had died in your place!  O Absalom my son, my son!”  (2 Sam. 18:33).  This has to be one of the saddest scenes that we read about in the Bible.

But let’s go back to the beginning when Absalom started stealing the hearts of the people.  He very cunningly became trusted and more popular than David.  He worked hard at it; he looked for troubled people; he reached out to them; he took a personal interest in them; he sympathized with them; he never personally attacked his father directly, he just promised to do better (2 Sam. 15:1-12).

This reminds me of what has been happening among God’s people today, especially to some of the young.  Over the past few years, I have learned of congregations being affected by this type of thing.  A young preacher (not always a preacher) comes in with false ideas, endears himself to the group, especially college students and young married couples, influences them and takes them away with his false teachings.  Just recently, a friend called and told me of something similar to the aforementioned scenario that happened where he worships.  A young preacher came in and preached the truth for about three years, all the while developing a close relationship with the young people.  Then he started teaching error, split the church, and took about 40-50 with him — a dangerous trend that has been developing.  We have great young people faithfully serving the Lord today, but some are being led astray.  Yes, there are problems that often exist, but some have reacted by going to the extreme with bitterness toward those who are sincerely seeking to hold fast to the ancient landmarks of faith — the “old paths” of truth.

Here are several examples of erroneous teachings that some are promoting in different parts of the country that have come to my attention over the past few years.   (1)  A person is saved or “born again” before baptism — that baptism is not essential to salvation.  They are using typical, Calvinistic, denominational arguments that teach salvation by “faith only.”  (2) Approved apostolic examples are not binding in establishing Bible authority for what is allowed or not allowed in the service of the Lord.  They are saying that books such as Acts are to be viewed simply as a narrative, not as an example for us to follow today.  (3) Social drinking is justified and accepted.  (4) Distorted views are held on worship — particularly the Lord’s Supper.  Sadly, there are brethren who are being influenced and led astray by these false teachings.

In principle, the actions of those who are teaching some of the above errors just cited are much like Absalom who “stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”  Thus, we all need to be alert to this potential problem.  We must be careful not to become bitter and unhappy, allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to false teachers and some of the dangerous trends that are occurring.  Much of what has been mentioned feeds off bitterness and dissatisfaction toward the truth and God’s people.  Brethren are being led astray!  The Apostle Paul said, “Watch, stand fast in the faith” (1 Cor. 16:13).  The Apostle John said, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).  Our hearts belong to God!  We are to love, serve, and obey Him with all our hearts.  Brethren, especially those of you who are young, don’t allow anyone to steal your heart!

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, March 6, 2016
——————–

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3,4, NASB).
——————–

matthew26_41

-2-

How to Defeat Temptation

Kent Heaton

Whenever we think of something as a temptation we consider it as evil. The original Latin could suggest something good or bad, but the evil sense has taken a predominate role in its definition. The idea of temptation is rooted in the challenge of character. Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to evil. Overcoming temptations is the focus of a daily walk in a world given over to the indulgence of temptations.

James exhorts us to “count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations” or “trials” (James 1:2). Barnes said, “Regard it as a thing to rejoice in; a matter which should afford you happiness. You are not to consider it as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity, but as a fit subject of felicitation (act of congratulating).” Paul reminds us that nothing will be put upon us that we cannot overcome with the power of the Lord. “No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13). Our prayers are to be laced with exhortations of faithfulness. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil” (Matthew 6:13).

No matter our best efforts we stumble and give in to temptations. Often we succumb to temptations because we fail to know the way of defeating temptation. Jesus offers the answer to defeating temptation in the garden of Gethsemane as He exhorts the disciples: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. Truly the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). The two-part answer to temptation is to be watchful and to be praying. The only way we can stand against temptation is to stand on the pillars of watch and pray.

Jesus did not say look and pray; He said watch and pray. The word “watch” carries with it the idea of vigilance and being alert. Often we see temptation and invite it in. Being watchful is being careful of what we are allowing to happen in our lives. Many things in life we cannot control, but allowing that thing to remain and become a temptation is when sin happens. In defining sin, James said that temptation comes about when “each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. And sin, when it is fully formed, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

Being watchful about temptation is to remove those things that would bring about temptation. We are to pray for the Lord not to lead us into temptation (Matthew 6:13) but we do not need to go running into it either. To the discerning mind, sin is easily defined by watching out for it and being aware of the dangers of giving in to temptation. As Barney Fife would say, “Nip it in the bud.” Good advice.

The second pillar of strength to overcome temptation is vital: prayer. Watching for temptation helps us identify sin, but prayer helps us defeat sin. Prayer is powerful (James 5:13-18). Prayer made the sun stand still (Joshua 10:12-14); the dead rise (II Kings 4:32- 37); the rain stop for three years and six months (James 5:17). The knee bent in prayer will keep the feet from running to evil. A humble heart of prayer will melt the fiery desire of temptation. In our text, Jesus is in the garden before His death, earnestly praying to His Father for strength. The cross was the greatest temptation Jesus faced. He had the power to destroy all those who sought to kill Him, but He chose to give His life a ransom. He overcame temptation through prayer.

The Lord will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to resist — provided we are watching and praying. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) is an admonition to help us overcome temptation “without ceasing.” Constant vigilance and watchful care for those things that will tempt us with harm and the continued spirit of prayer will defeat temptation. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

— Via article from the La Vista church of Christ
——————–

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) Judgment and God’s Compassion (Doy Moyer)
2) Maintaining the Christian Life (Doug Pennock)
——————–

Judgment and God's Compassion

-1-

Judgment and God’s Compassion

Doy Moyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peter taught, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Via Mind Your Faith, June 21, 2016
——————–

Matthew_4_4

-2-

Maintaining the Christian Life

Doug Pennock

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May God bless and keep you until next time.

— Via Living the Godly Life, November 23, 2015
——————–

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) Does Romans Call for the Death of Homosexuals? (Doy Moyer)
——————–

statue2_Doy_Moyer

-1-

Does Romans Call for the Death of Homosexuals?

Doy Moyer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Via Doy Moyer’s facebook timeline, June 18, 2016
——————–

Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) How Do We Pray? (Matt Arnold)
2) “Turning a Stray” (Dan Shipley)
——————–

Praying man painting

-1-

How Do We Pray?

Matt Arnold

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hebrews2_1

-2-

“Turning a Stray”

Dan Shipley

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

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

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

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

— Via the University Heights Messenger, Volume 8, Number 17 (April 24, 2016), Lexington, Kentucky
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) “If You Show Partiality, You Commit Sin” (R.J. Evans)
2) Some Things That May Surprise You About the church of Christ (Ernest Finley)
——————–

James2_9

-1-

“If You Show Partiality, You Commit Sin”

R.J. Evans

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Psalm122_1

-2-

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

Ernest Finley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

— Via the website for the Railroad Avenue church of Christ
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑