Year: 2017 (Page 1 of 6)

The Gospel Observer

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

1)  Godliness (Tom Edwards)
2) “Set My Face Like Flint” (Tom Edwards)
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1Timothy4_8

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Godliness

Tom Edwards

Paul had much to say to Timothy about godliness. He was to teach others to pray for all people everywhere – even “for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1,2).  And while “bodily discipline is only of little profit,” yet “godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).  Therefore, one should discipline himself “for the purpose of godliness” (v. 7) and pursue after  it, along with righteousness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11).

Peter also shows of the need for godliness — along with moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, brotherly kindness, and love – which is to be diligently added to one’s faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). For what good would faith be without godliness and these other virtues?

Peter also directs the attention to where godliness can be acquired – and it is through God’s word.  For he says in 2 Peter 1:3, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

And in view of the fact that “the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire…in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:7,10), we each should strive to be a people of “holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” (v. 11).

The Greek word for “godliness” in 2 Peter 3:11 is “eusebeia.” It is translated 14 times as “godliness” and once as “piety” in the New American Standard Bible.  Literally, it means “to worship well,” “to be very devout.”  The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary primarily defines godliness as “obeying and revering God; devout; pious.” W.E. Vine describes it as “that piety which, characterized by a God-ward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him.”  According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, godliness denotes a “character and conduct determined by the principle of love or fear of God in the heart.”  And E.W. Bullinger brings out an interesting point that godliness is “The opposite of… religion.  Eusebia relates to real, true, vital, and spiritual relation with God; while threskeia [religion] relates to the outward acts of religious observance or ceremonies, which can be performed by the flesh. Our English word ‘religion’ was never used in the sense of true godliness. It always meant the outward forms of worship…”

We can clearly see Bullinger’s definition demonstrated by many of the scribes and Pharisees whose “godliness” was only on the surface — like an impressive veneer. In other words, they performed acts that made them appear righteous, while in actuality they were far from being godly.  As Jesus states in Matthew 23:27-28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white-washed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

This is also seen in God’s rebuke of Judah who, though they went through the motions of being religious with their observance of sacrifices and feast days, yet were far from being godly (cf. Isa. 1:10-21). Compare also Amos 5:21-27.

This is similar to those whom Paul had told Timothy about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. There, the apostle lists numerous specific sins that individuals would be guilty of in the last days, when difficult times would come. In this group, he points out those who will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

Concerning this phrase, “holding to a form of godliness,” Bullinger points out that the Greek word for “form” (morphosis) has not only the meaning of “embodiment,” but also “form without substance.”  The latter describes these individuals who had a “form of godliness,” but in appearance only and not actuality.  Some other Bible translations render this as, “an outward form of godliness” (Analytical-Literal Translation), “having an appearance of godliness” (Douay-Rheims). The Contemporary English Version states, “Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real.” And the Weymouth New Testament renders it, “and will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet live in defiance of its power.”

When one is just going through the motions, that can lead to hypocrisy – and  true godliness and hypocrisy do not mix. Consider also Matthew  6:1-18, which warns against performing deeds merely to be seen (and praised) by men.  This was typical of many scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus states: “And everything they do they do with a view to being observed by men; for they widen their phylacteries and make the tassels large, and love the best seats at a dinner party or in the synagogues, and like to be bowed to in places of public resort, and to be addressed by men as ‘Rabbi’” (Matt. 23:5-7).

Instead, true godliness is characterized with a “God-ward attitude.” It means we are seeking to be seen and approved by God – rather than by man.  Unfortunately, gaining just the favor of men was the concern for many of the rulers.  As John writes: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (Jn. 12:42-43).  These, therefore, had a “man-ward attitude” rather than a “God-ward” one.

So we might summarize godliness as pious conduct that is carried out with a desire to please God. It begins in the heart and is manifest in conduct and actions.  And as we have seen in this lesson, godliness is a most valuable and necessary virtue to possess.  May we, therefore, ever strive to develop more of it in our lives.

(All Scriptures are from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
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“Set My Face Like Flint”

The above title is taken from a prophecy concerning Christ in Isaiah 50:6-7.  It states,

“I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
For the Lord GOD helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.”

To “set My face like flint” describes how determined the Lord was toward carrying out His Father’s will.

As we think about New Year’s Resolutions, may we also strive toward being as resolved and dedicated in our service to God as Jesus was!

– Tom
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe
in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent
of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith
in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith,
living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday:
7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer

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

1) Miracles of Jesus (Tom Edwards)
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Matthew9_35

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Miracles of Jesus

Tom Edwards

The miracles of Christ served to confirm what He taught and who He was (and is).  When some Jews had asked Him, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (Jn. 10:24), the Lord responded by saying, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me” (Jn. 10:25).  He then went on to say, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37-38).  In John 5:36, Jesus declares, “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish – the very works that I do – testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.”  Compare also John 10:25.

When John, while in prison, sent word to Jesus, asking, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (Matt. 11:3),  Jesus answered, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM” (vv. 4-5).

The Bible records some of the miracles Jesus performed while on earth. John says about them: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:30-31).

John then closes his account in John 21:25 with the following words: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”  This makes me often think of Jesus as being the great Creator (cf. Jn. 1:1-3), and wondering how many volumes of books it would take to just mention each individual star and other heavenly bodies that He has made.  For God “counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them” (Psa. 147:4).

The following is a list of some of the miracles that Christ performed while on earth:

1. He not only turned water into wine, but also into the best wine (Jn. 2:1-11).  For He has the power to bring about change and produce quality.  Through Him, the sinner can become a saint, the child of the devil can become a child of God, and those in the domain of darkness can be transferred into the kingdom of God’s dear Son by simply meeting His conditions.  For when cooperating with God in this way, He is then able to “work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  And Jesus made all that possible.

2. While in Cana of Galilee, Jesus healed a nobleman’s son who was about 16 miles away in Capernaum (John 4:46-54).  For Jesus is not limited nor hindered by distance — not even by the endless realm of infinity!  As the psalmist writes:

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make by bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,’
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psa. 139:7-12).

3. The Lord healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda who had been ill for 38 years (John 5:1-9).  For Jesus, who is from Eternity (cf. Micah 5:2 and Jn. 8:58), is also the One who brought our linear time into existence (cf. Gen. 1:14-19).  Jesus dwelt in eternity before there was time as we know it.  So time has no bearing on who He truly is.  For He “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).  And whatever effect time might have in making matters worse, it makes it no more difficult for Christ to resolve the problem — whether one had been sick for one day or thirty-eight years, etc.  As Peter writes, “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pet. 3:8).

4. In the first miraculous catch of fish, it was so abundant that the nets began to break; and the catch filled two boats to the extent that it caused them to begin to sink (Luke 5:1-11).  For Jesus also has the power to bring forth in great quantity.  This has truly been demonstrated in the innumerable, heavenly objects of His creation that go even beyond what astronomers have been able to fully discover (cf. Jn. 1:3).  His multiplying the few loaves of bread and a few fish to feed the great multitudes of “four thousand men, besides women and children” (Mark 15:38) and, on another occasion, “about five thousand men…besides women and children” (Matt. 14:21) show that He is not limited by the amount.  For He has the power to not only give increase, but also to even bring into existence — out of nothing — that which had not existed before.  And, according to Genesis 1:3, the Lord can do this by simply speaking what He wills into existence.  For He said, “..’Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).  After saying that “the worlds were prepared by the word of God,” the Hebrew writer then goes on to declare, “so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3).  And in the case of the miraculous catch of the fish, could it be that the Lord had commanded such a large number to go to those nets, just as God had brought the creatures to Noah that were to enter the ark? For after mentioning “every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds,” it then goes on to say, “so they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life” (Gen. 7:14-15).  “Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him” (v. 16).  So these creature “went into the ark to Noah.”  And Jesus could have caused this with the disciples’ catch of fish or He could have simply multiplied them as He did the few loaves of bread and few fish; but either way, it was a miraculous event — especially after catching nothing all night!

5. Casting out the unclean spirit (demon) (Mark 1:23-28; Luke 4:31-36).  By casting out demons, Jesus also showed that His power is superior to theirs.  And, yes, His power is infinitely greater than that of Satan and all the evil forces combined!

6. Healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Mat. 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39).  Healing of sickness was no problem for the Lord — regardless of whatever the illness or infirmity.  Unlike the many so-called faith-healers today, not once did Jesus ever fail in making anyone well again. Matthew records that “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, and demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them” (Matt. 4:23-24).

7. Cleansing a leper (Matt. 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16).  What a lonely life it must have been for many a leper who had to live apart from the rest of society, as an outcast; but Jesus reached out to these as well.  In Mark’s account, the Lord was not only willing to heal the leper, but was also “Moved with compassion” to do so (Mk. 1:41).

8. Healing a paralytic (Matt. 9:2-8; Mark 2:3-15; Luke 5:18-26).  It was by this miracle that Jesus also showed He had the power on earth to forgive sins.

9. Healing a man with a withered hand (Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-11).  Because Jesus did this on the Sabbath, some found fault with Him.  But the Lord pointed out their own inconsistency.  For they would help a sheep that had fallen into a pit on the Sabbath.  And Jesus said, “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!” (Matt. 12:12).  How did the Pharisees react to this?  They then “went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (v. 14).

10. Healing a centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13; Mark 7:1-10).  The centurion knew that just as he had soldiers under his charge who would do whatever he commanded them, the Lord had that same kind of authority even over any illness and infirmity.  He could simply will it to be gone — and it would be!

11. Raising a widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17).  Jesus has power over even death, for He is “the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25).  And He proved that by miraculously raising various people who had been deceased.

12. Healing a blind and dumb demoniac (Matt. 12:22; Luke 11:14).  This man had also been demon possessed, and the Lord’s casting out of that demon is seen in connection with the healing.  Of course when some of the Pharisees heard of this, who sought to turn people against the Lord, they falsely said, “This man  cast out demons  only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons” (Matt. 12:24).

13. Stilling a storm (Matt. 8:18, 23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25).  Here, Christ demonstrated His power over the elements of nature. For after all, it, too, was part of His creation.

14. Delivering the Gadarene demoniacs (Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39).  Two men had become so “extremely violent” by being demon-possessed that people would have to avoid them.  But Jesus went to them and cast the demons out, thus freeing those men.  Luke’s account focuses on just one of them and points out that he had been possessed by “many demons” that went by the name “Legion.” This man had lived unclothed for a long time, in the tombs.  There had been occasions when he “was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert” (Luke 8:29).  But thanks now to Jesus, this man was set free!  The demons were gone, and the man was now clothed and in his right mind and greatly desiring to accompany the Lord.  But Jesus told him to “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you” — and the man proclaimed that throughout the entire city (Luke 8:39).

15. Healing a woman with an issue of blood (Matt. 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-35; Luke 8:41-42).  This woman had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years. She had been to many doctors and spent all that she had, but none of them could make her well again.  With faith in Jesus, she believed that just touching His garment would heal her.  So she did so.  “Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction” (Mk. 5:29).  And when that was happening, Jesus was “perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth…” (v. 30) — a divine power that heals and makes well.

16. Raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-26; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56).  This was the daughter of a synagogue official who believed that the Lord could bring her back to life by merely laying His hand on her.  After the Lord took this deceased girl by the hand, she then arose — very much alive! (Matt. 9:25).

17. Healing two blind men (Matt. 9:27-31).  These men, who believed that Jesus could give them eyesight, had asked Jesus to have mercy on them.  “Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘It shall be done to you according to your faith” (v. 29) — and it was so!  (v. 30).

18. Delivering a dumb demoniac (Matt. 9:32-33).  Demon-possession appears to have been experienced by many during the time Jesus was on earth.  Would this not be in order that Christ could demonstrate His superiority over them — which He did?

19. Feeding the 5,000 (Matt. 14:14-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:4-13).  In seeing this miracle, the people said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jn. 6:14) — and they wanted to “take  Him by force to make Him king” (v. 15).  For, sad to say, their concern was on the physical rather than the spiritual.  For later, when they sought Jesus, He said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (Jn. 6:26).

20. Walking on the water (Matt. 14:24-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21).  Again, we see Jesus having power over the laws of nature — and now, specifically, the law of gravity.  For He is the One who also made that law.

21. Delivering a Syrophoenician’s daughter who had been demon-possessed (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30).  The mother of this daughter was a Canaanite and very humble. For after the Lord had told her that He was sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” and that “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” this woman, who had bowed down before Him, replied, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Matt. 15:24-27).  The Lord then commended her for her great faith, and He healed her daughter.

22. Healing a deaf mute in Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37).  In this case, the Lord performed the healing by putting His fingers into the deaf man’s ears, “and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said, to him, ‘Ephphatha!” that is, ‘Be opened!’  And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly” (vv. 33-35).

23. Feeding the 4,000 by multiplying the seven loaves of bread and a few small fish (Matt. 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9).  It was the Lord’s compassion for these people that led to the feeding of them.  For some had even come a great distance; and it was now three days they had been with Him and without anything to eat.

24. Healing a blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26).  Here again we see another unusual way the Lord performed a healing. He spat on the blind man’s eyes and laid His hands on him.  Immediately, the man saw men, but they appeared to him “like trees, walking around” (v. 24). The Lord then laid His hands on the man’s eyes, and he then could see “everything clearly” (v. 25).  This is the only case in which it appears that a healing was done in two-stages. But  could it be that after the first time, the Lord’s spittle could have been causing the blur and distorted images, which was then cleared after the Lord touched the man’s eyes?

25. Delivering a demon-possessed boy (Matt. 17:14-18; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:38-43).  In reading the different accounts, this boy is described as having been a “lunatic” and “very ill” (Matt. 17:15) and had an “unclean spirit” (“demon”) (Luke 9:42) that caused the boy to go into convulsions, foam at the mouth, be mute, be slammed to the ground, and become rigid.  This demon had also “often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy hm” (Mark 9:22).  When Jesus told the father that “All things are possible to him who believes,” the father responded, by saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24).  Jesus then commanded the deaf, mute spirit to come out of the son and never enter him again (v. 25).

26. Finding the tribute money in the first caught fish’s mouth (Matt. 17:24-27).  Jesus had instructed Peter to “..go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel…” (v. 27).

27. Healing a man born blind (John 9:1-7).  This man was healed though he did not even believe, at the time, in the sinlessness of Christ.  For the now healed man said about Jesus, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (v. 25).  Coming to him later, Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  And the former blind man said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”  Jesus said, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking to you.”  The man then said, “Lord, I believe” and worshiped Him (vv. 35-38).

28. Healing a woman on the Sabbath who had been crippled for 18 years (Luke 13:10-17).  The account shows that the woman’s infirmity had been caused by a spirit (v. 11).  While she glorified God for her healing, the synagogue official found fault with Jesus for doing this on the Sabbath day and told the people that “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, not on the Sabbath day” (v. 14).  Jesus then said the following which humiliated his opponents: “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long  years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath Day?’” (vv. 15-16).

29. Healing a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1- 6).  According to MedicineNet.com, dropsy is “An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy.  Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.”

30. Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:17-44).  Lazarus, along with his sisters Mary and Martha, had been a good friend of Jesus.  Jesus did not go immediately to heal Lazarus when he was sick, but stayed even two days longer, after hearing the news. For the Lord had said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (v. 4).  By the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days.  But at the Lord’s command, “Lazarus, come forth!,” it was so! (Jn. 11:43). By that miracle, Jesus also confirmed what He had previously declared about Himself that “I am the resurrection and the life…”  (v. 25).

31. Cleansing the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19).  Though all were healed, only one of them had turned back to loudly glorify God, having prostrated himself before Jesus and thanking Him. And that healed and grateful man was a Samaritan.

32. Healing Blind Bartimaeus (Matt. 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43).  Though some were sternly telling Bartimaeus “to be quiet…he  kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’” (Luke 18:39).  Jesus certainly didn’t tell him to be quite; but, rather, asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  (v. 41).  “Lord, I want to regain my sight!,” was his reply.  Jesus then said, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well” (v. 42).  That led to not only his glorifying God and following Jesus, but also all the people praising God as well.

33. Cursing the fig tree (Matt. 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14).  Because the fig tree was barren of its fruit, the Lord had cursed it so that it would never bear fruit again. It would seem that the Lord did this to make a lasting impression upon all of the need for the individual to be fruitful, as Jesus also speaks of in John 15:1-8.  For it actually was not the season for figs (Mark 11:13), but the thought of a barren fig tree being cursed could serve as a deterrent toward our own unfruitfulness.

34. Restoring Malchus’ ear that had been lopped off by Peter when the Roman soldiers had come to seize Jesus (Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10). Jesus had previously prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).  Knowing that the cross was now just hours away and what His Father wanted Him to submit to, Jesus was intent on doing so and did not want His followers to hinder Him from that, as Peter was trying to do.  And Jesus, even during this time of His betrayal by Judas and now to be taken into custody by the Roman soldiers, also graciously took the time to work a miracle for Malchus.  Of all people to drag off!  Here is One performing a miracle before them all, as He also did so many other times during His public ministry.  So much good Christ could accomplish for mankind, yet He is now being taken away to what  would eventually lead to a most torturous death on a cross.  And though He knew this and had been “very distressed and troubled” over it (Mark 14:33), He still took the time to heal this man of his severed ear.

35. Second miraculous catch of fish – 153 of them, and the net was not torn (John 21:1-14).  This occurred at the Sea of Galilee, following the Lord’s resurrection, and about 70 miles from where He had been crucified.  The apostles had been out in their boats fishing that night — but with no success. As day began to break, Jesus called out from the beach, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.”  They did so — “and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish” (v. 6).  This was the third time that Jesus had appeared to His disciples, following His resurrection.

Again, these are just some of the miracles that Jesus performed while on earth; but they have been recorded that we might believe in Him, submit to Him, and become a part of the family of God.

To think that with God all things are possible and nothing is too  difficult!  How wonderful heaven will be — and so much more than we have ever known or could ever imagine!  It is a place of perfect love, continual peace, and everlasting bliss.  May we each earnestly strive for that heavenly home.  For to miss out on that would certainly be our greatest regret!

(All Scripture is from the NASB.)

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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Our Common Salvation (Tom Edwards)
——————–

Jude1_3

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Our Common Salvation

Tom Edwards

Though we often think of the word “common” to refer to that which is ordinary, usual, frequent, or unexceptional, it also has the meaning of “shared equally.” And it is this latter definition that applies to Jude’s mention of “our common salvation” (Jude 1:3). For it is the one plan of redemption that is to be accepted by all people of every race, nation, and social status.

Meets a Common Need

This common salvation meets a common need. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23. cf. v. 10). This is true of everyone, except for those in a “safe state” who have not reached the age of accountability (cf. Matt. 19:14; Matt. 18:3; 1 Cor. 14:20).

Demanded a Common Sacrifice

Throughout the history of the world, only one sacrifice has been able to atone for the sins of mankind; and that was the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself, which was made for every transgressor — whether of the past, of that present time, or of any time yet to come.  Jesus accomplished what all the millions of Old Testament sacrifices had not been able to do. For they could not blot out even one sin (cf. Heb. 10:4). But that is certainly not the case with the atonement Jesus made by His death at Calvary. For “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (vv. 11-14).  Yes, Jesus came to this world, taking on a human body, “…so that by the grace of God He might taste death for EVERYONE” (Heb. 2:9, emphasis mine).

Demands a Common Faith

Though we live in a world that is filled with various kinds of faiths (doctrines, beliefs, creeds), yet the Bible speaks of just one that we are to “contend earnestly for”; and it is “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Paul also shows the oneness of that faith when pointing out that just as there is only “one body,” “one Spirit,” “one hope,” “one Lord,” “one baptism,” and “one God,” even so, there is just “one faith” (Eph. 4:4-6).  This faith is the gospel — for it can be obeyed: As Luke writes, “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient TO THE FAITH” (Acts 6:7, emphasis mine).  So the oneness of that faith is seen in the oneness of the gospel, and that is something that is not to be swapped for another.  Concerning that, Paul warns: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Gal. 1:6-9).  The gospel shows what one must believe and how to obtain salvation.  And these words of Jesus very well apply to it, that “the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14).  Note, too, that He speaks of this as “the way” — and not as “the ways.”  For salvation in this Gospel Age is not of different ways for different people; but, rather, it is that one common way for all.

Enjoyed in a Common Body

As we saw above, there is just “one body” (Eph. 4:4); and that body is the church: Paul declares, “…I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church…” (Col. 1:24).  Consider also Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 5:23.

The church is not the Savior. It is the saved! And one must, therefore, be in the church in order to have that salvation. This automatically happens when one becomes a Christian. For God Himself then adds that one to that universal body of redeemed people.  As an example of this, concerning the many who were becoming Christians in Jerusalem, “…the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).  So it is God who adds the Christian to the universal church — but each redeemed person is to also become a member of a local congregation in order to work and worship together with the brethren there. That, therefore, pertains to our responsibility.  For it is not in the universal church, but in the local congregation in which we carry out the specific activities that God has instructed just the congregation to do.

The only plurality of churches in the New Testament is with regard to various congregations, but all adhering to the common faith. For there were no denominations at that time.

Many people in our day put little emphasis — or none at all — on the church, its importance, and the need to be a part of it. Perhaps they have been disillusioned by the differing bodies of denominationalism, the religious confusion of conflicting beliefs and practices in the world today, and the wrongful things that have been carried out that bring reproach upon the Lord and the church.  For how often do people stereotype individuals, thus viewing others in the same negative light or as equally guilty — and even toward those who are serving and worshiping God correctly?  But the wrong of others should not deter us from doing what is right and striving to please the Lord by worshiping and serving Him in the way in which His word teaches — and even if we are being misrepresented. For God wants His people to worship and serve Him, and we are warned about “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES” (Heb. 10:25-27).

The very fact that Jesus had to suffer and die in order that there could even be a church — for it was “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28) — should also help us realize the importance of it.  For how can we minimize that which was obtained at such a great cost?!

Demands a Common Authority

The common salvation is based on the common authority in God’s word. Paul exhorted the Corinthians toward this, when instructing, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). It is only through God’s word that Scriptural unity can be attained.  So it was what Paul taught “everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17).

Entered on Common Terms

As mentioned, there are not different plans of how to become a Christian — with some doing it one way, while others, another. There is just the one plan for all. And it includes the need to hear God’s word – for that is how faith comes (cf. Rom. 10:17), to believe in Jesus and His Deity (Jn. 8:24), to repent of sins (Luke 13:5), to confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and to be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26, 27; 1 Pet. 3:21). And then, as Christians, to maintain our relationship with God by following His word (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 10:36-39).

Gives a Common Hope

Paul speaks of those Gentiles who prior to their conversion were “separate from Christ… having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But what a blessing and great hope had come to them when becoming Christians! “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom. 8:24-25). This common hope goes way beyond any kind of worldly hope.

The hope that God instills has been defined as “desire plus expectation” (which is based on God’s word). The need for both has been illustrated by the young boy who desired to make good grades – but he did not expect them. Then after seeing his report card and on his way home, he did not desire to receive a spanking – but he expected it! In neither case, did this poor, young fellow have hope.

Some have attributed to Shakespeare that “We are never beneath hope, while above hell; nor above hope, while beneath heaven.”

Having the hope of eternal life is a beautiful and helpful possession.  For no matter how much we enjoy our lives on earth, we also know (by our faith and hope) that the best is yet to come!

Conclusion

Our common salvation is far from being common in the sense of ordinary, usual, or unexceptional. Rather, what could be greater, more life-changing, more needful, and more of a reason to be thankful than in having this wonderful salvation that God has made possible for every sinner through His Son Jesus Christ!  For to simply be forgiven by God and to become His child is not just of great worth, but that which is of infinite and eternal value!

So may all come to Jesus, through obedience to His salvation plan.  For “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  And Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

(All Scripture from the NASB.)
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Temptation (Tom Edwards)
——————–

temptation
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Temptation

Tom Edwards

Temptation is common to all. We are each confronted with it every day in various ways. Paul also speaks of its universal nature when saying, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The Greek word for “temptation” (peirasmos) has a variation of meanings. It is defined as “an experiment, attempt, trial, proving. …  1b) the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy  1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances  1b2) an internal temptation to sin …  1b4) adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness  1c) temptation (i.e. trial) of God by men” (Thayer).  This Greek word is also translated four times as “trials” in the New American Standard Bible and seen in Luke 22:28, Acts 20:19, James 1:2, and 1 Peter 1:6.

So the same Greek word can refer to inward temptations as well as the outward.  And we also see in this that not all temptations are sinful in themselves, but could be an adversity or affliction that will test the caliber of the individual. It is in that sense that Genesis 22:1 declares that “God did tempt Abraham…” (King James Version).  Or, “God tested Abraham…” (NASB).  When we read on in the chapter, we see exactly how that was done. God commanded Abraham to offer his son on the altar as a burnt offering. The Lord, of course, was not trying to cause Abraham to sin; but was testing the faith and obedience of Abraham.  For it was never the Lord’s intent that Isaac would be killed.

Though we normally think of the word “tempt” as implying something evil, such as in trying to allure someone into committing a sin, its obsolete meaning, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to make trial of: test.”  And that is how it is being used in Genesis 22:1 of the KJV.

That is also indicated by James, the half-brother of the Lord, who has some things to say about this topic in James 1:13-16.  There we learn that “God…does not tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

From this passage, we see of a process that begins with temptation and ends in spiritual death; but there are also the steps in between that involve one’s yielding to the temptation and carrying out a sinful act.  So just being tempted in itself does not necessarily mean that one has sinned as a result.

Temptation, therefore, has been likened to a bird landing on one’s head. If that happened to you, you would probably swat the creature away immediately, as with a natural reflex – instead of allowing it the time to get cozy or to make a nest there.  So that can illustrate a temptation that one does not spend time wrongfully entertaining in mind and yielding to.

Also, if simply being tempted would in itself be a sin to the one experiencing it, then what about Jesus?  For the Bible says of Him, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Going through difficult times can be a challenge. Temptations, adversities, tragedies, heartaches, disappointments, things that break and cease to function, or whatever the troubles, we would probably prefer not to experience any of them.

But one thing that can help us when undergoing such is to realize that even times like that can be for our good and spiritual development as we face those difficulties the way God wants us to.  For when we are striving to please Him, in spite of the adverse circumstances, we will be strengthened in the Lord and helped through those trying times.

Going along with this, James exhorts, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

As we see in this passage, James speaks of “various trials” (NASB).  The KJV renders that as “divers temptations” — but we should not think of that in the limited sense of “allurements to sin, but trials or distresses of any kind which test and purify the Christian character” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary).”

One of the ways in which temptation can come is through adversities that befall us.  For during such times, some people will turn to the wrong instead of to God. They might try to find an escape from their hardships through illicit drugs, intoxication, immorality, or in some other ungodly way.  So though they do want to find a way out from their troubles, they are tempted to turn in the wrong direction and often do.

Christians, of course, are not exempt from adverse circumstances.  And many through the years have incurred such by simply living a life in service to God.  As Paul told Timothy centuries ago, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).   Consider also John 15:20, Acts 14:22, and 1 Peter 4:12-16.

External trials, such as the persecutions upon the early church, could lead to internal temptation, such as the temptation to deny Christ in order to save one’s physical life from martyrdom. So whether we are talking about outward trials or inner temptations, God can use either for our spiritual development if we keep faithful to Him.

While the Bible shows that God does not tempt us, yet neither does He remove all temptations from us.  Throughout life, we are continually faced with making decisions for one thing or another.  This also means that God allows people to run their own course – whether for good or for evil – though we will all have to give an account of ourselves in the Judgment Day; and should, therefore, choose the way of the Lord while we have the time to do so.

Furthermore, if God were to remove all temptations, would He not have to remove all sinners who would seek to lead others astray from the gospel – whether they are doing that intentionally or unintentionally?  For they would be an external temptation that could possibly evoke internal temptations in others to sin against God.

May we all continue to do as in the exhortation of that old spiritual song (written in 1868 by Horatio R. Palmer), which begins the first four words of its lyrics with its title: “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin…”

(All Scriptures are from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday:
7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Was Christ’s Resurrected Body a Different One? (Tom Edwards)
——————–

Acts2_31

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Was Christ’s Resurrected Body a Different One?

Tom Edwards

When Jesus arose from the dead, was it with the same body He had prior to His resurrection or was it some type of  “spiritual” body that replicated it?

Recently, I read of an unusual belief held by the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” with regard to this.  According to their doctrine, Jesus “said that he would give his ‘flesh in behalf of the world,’ as a ransom for mankind. … If he had taken back his flesh when he was resurrected, he would have canceled that ransom sacrifice” (JW.org). Therefore, according to their view, “At his resurrection from the dead, Jesus was brought forth with a spirit body” (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 334).

So there you have it. According to their teaching, the body Jesus had while on this planet, prior to His resurrection, was not the same body He had when risen from the dead and appearing to witnesses over a period of 40 days, before His ascending back to heaven. But is this what the Bible also teaches?

It is true that Jesus had to die in order to make an atonement for sin – but where does the Bible say that the Lord’s body that was put to death on the cross must remain dead, that there was to be no resurrection for it?

Instead, do we not read the exact opposite?  For Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).

The verse that the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” appear to be alluding to, in the phrase of Jesus saying that He would give His “flesh in behalf of the world,” is John 6:51. In this passage, Jesus declares, “I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he shall live forever. And truly the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

But how would that same body being resurrected nullify the atonement Jesus made by His death with that body?  And where does it say in the Scriptures that the crucified body of Jesus must remain dead in order for the atonement to continue to be effectual?

If Christ’s body prior to His resurrection remained dead, and it was switched with some type of “spirit body” that appeared human in His resurrection, why did Peter quote David who “looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:31-32).

So if the Lord was given a different body for the resurrection, what happened to the one that suffered and died on the cross? Would it not have undergone decay, if it had never been resurrected?

Also, what part of Christ was risen from the dead? Was it only His eternal spirit (His soul, His true essence)? And if so, where does the Bible say that that part of Christ died and only that part would arise?

Jesus declares, “if anyone keeps My word he will never see death” (Jn. 8:51).  But what part of these obedient ones would never die? Their bodies would die, but not their eternal souls (spirits). Now what about Jesus? How well did He do in keeping His Father’s word? He obeyed Him always and fully, having never failed even once. Christ never sinned. But still His body was put to death, while His spirit (His soul, His true essence) never died. But that spirit, which had been in the Paradise section of Hades for three days, following His death (cf. Luke 23:43; Acts 2:31), was then rejoined to His crucified body that was risen from the dead.

So the point is, in the resurrection, it is that which is dead that is brought back to life. And since it was the body of Christ that was put to death (and not His spirit/soul/true essence), that same body was then also risen from the dead.

Being the same body, it still had the wounds that had been made from the crucifixion. But if that had been some type of “spirit body,” a replica of what only appeared as His former body, wouldn’t that be deceptive, such as in the case of Thomas who wanted to see for himself and touch those wounds in the Lord’s hands and side?

It is true that some of the apostles thought they were seeing a spirit when they saw the resurrected Christ.  But that was apparently the only explanation they could come up with at the time, since they had not be expecting to see Him arisen from the dead (Luke 24:37). But what did the Lord then say to them? “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (vv. 38-39).

Doubting Thomas, who did not believe the testimony the other apostles had given about having seen the risen Lord, said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25).

It was then that next Sunday, when Thomas had been with the other apostles, that the Lord appeared to all of them: “Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (Jn. 20:27). Thomas’ response was, “My Lord and My God!” (v. 28).

Some people, who hold to the belief of a “spirit body” that only appeared human in the Lord’s resurrected form, point out that Jesus had the ability with that “spirit body” to go through closed doors. This is seen, as in the above passage that points out that “Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst…” Some Bible versions refer to those doors as having been “locked” (CEV, ESV, GNB, GW, ISV, LITV, WEB, Weymouth, and the NIV to name some).  Of course, even in the versions that speak of the doors being “shut,” it is also in the same passage that says they were shut “for fear of the Jews” (Jn. 20:19).   So would not that also indicate that they would be doors that were not only shut, but also locked?  Yet, the same verse also says that “Jesus came and stood in their midst.”

Why should we think, though, that the previous indicates that the body Jesus had on earth prior to His resurrection must have been a different one that was limited from doing what He could with His resurrected body?

Even prior to His resurrection, the Lord did some very astonishing things that would not seem to be humanly possible. In John 6:16-21, for example, the apostles got into a boat in order to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. That body of water is said to be at its farthest points about 13 miles from north to south and 7 miles at its widest part. But regardless of how far or close they were to their destination, as soon as they received Jesus into the boat, who had been walking on the water, the boat was  “immediately” at the land to which they were going. Various commentators view that sudden arrival as a miracle, which, of course, would be a miracle over space and time.

And it is also in that same section that says, “when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened” (v. 19). Was Jesus transformed to some type of “spirit body” that appeared as a human body to accomplish that? If so, what about Peter when he also came walking on the water to Jesus – at least for a moment? (See Matt. 14:29.) It wasn’t because Peter had a human body that the Lord rebuked him for sinking. Rather, it was because of Peter’s “little faith” and doubting (v. 31).

Also, in Luke 4:28-30, “all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage,” as they heard the teaching of Jesus. They then “got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill…to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went away.” How could Jesus have just walked through the midst of an angry mob without something miraculous about that?

So even with just a human body, Jesus did some mighty, amazing things! And we should not have trouble believing any of it, for with God “all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26) and “Nothing is too difficult” (Jer. 32:17).

Christ’s resurrected body was the same as the one He had on earth, prior to His resurrection.  And the resurrection of that body did not make void His atonement for sin, but was part of what makes forgiveness possible:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

(All Scriptures are from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday:
7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Confessing Christ (Tom Edwards)
2) The Power of Influence (David Padfield)
——————–

Matthew10_32

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Confessing Christ

Tom Edwards

How much more meaningful certain Bible passages can be when they are considered in the light of their context rather than as isolated quotations.  For example, the familiar quote of the words of Jesus from Matthew 10:32-33 says, “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven.”

How often have we heard that passage without even taking into consideration the context for why the Lord declared such?

We sometimes view a detached verse of the Bible from the perspective of our own present-day situations, those familiar conditions that we relate to.  Therefore, in thinking of confessing Christ in our time — and here in Waycross, Georgia — is one thing; but in the context of which the Lord made that statement, He is referring to a much different circumstance.

In the context, the Lord shows what times would be like during that early period, and the ordeals that some Christians would be up against.  Notice, for instance, in the previous verses of that chapter, His instruction to His twelve apostles when sending them out to preach: “But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues; and you will even be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. … Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved” (Matt. 10:17-22).

To help His disciples face such persecutions and even martyrdom, the Lord then tells them, “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (v. 28).

His followers could, therefore, draw comfort in knowing that the most important part of them – their eternal soul – could not be destroyed nor harmed by the foe.

And the Lord continues with His encouraging words to help strengthen the disciples: “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows” (vv. 29-31).  We should be comforted in knowing how well God knows us — and even in the smallest details of our lives —  and that to Him, we are worth something.

It was after Jesus told His apostles, “So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows,” that He then went on to say: “Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven.  But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33).

So we are seeing in this a connection of confessing one’s faith in Christ with persecution and even death.  For acknowledging or denying the Lord could make a great deal of difference in how the Christian would be treated by the world — since there were times in which confessing faith in Christ would lead to not only death, but also a torturous one, while denying the Lord could save one’s physical life at the cost of one’s soul.

Even while Jesus was on earth, some were not willing to admit their belief in Him, due to what that could lead to.  For example: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (John 12:42-43).

Also, when the parents of the blind man whom Jesus healed were questioned concerning their son’s healing, they would not answer because “they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue” (Jn. 9:22).

The persecution, of course, became much worse than merely being put out of the synagogue.  It sometimes involved scourging; imprisonment; loss of property; and, as mentioned above, even a torturous death (cf. Acts 8:1-4; Acts 22:4-5; Acts 26:9-11).  Numerous examples of persecution are recorded in the New Testament.  Soon after the church was  established, the cruel treatment upon the Christians was first inflicted by the Jews.  Later, during Nero’s reign in A.D. 64, following the great fire of Rome, Christians were persecuted and put to death in that city.  And when under the rule of Domitian, who reigned from A.D. 81 to 96, Roman persecution was even worse in having become more extensive, beyond the boundaries of Rome.

In metaphorically describing how bad the persecution had been in Smyrna (a city in Asia Minor), Jesus states, “Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10).  The King James Version renders “until” in this passage as “unto,” which better expresses the willingness on the part of the Christian to remain faithful to the Lord even if it resulted in death!  Satan, of course, was not literally the jailer in that city of Smyrna; but the evil that was being inflicted upon the Christians, through persecution, was by those who, in a manner of speaking, were in league with the devil and his opposition to the gospel, though they probably had no idea they were acting as his servants.

Similarly, in addressing the church at Pergamum, Jesus says, “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is; and you hold fast to My name, and did not deny My faith even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful  one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells” (Rev. 2:13).  Again, Satan did not actually have a physical throne there; but the Lord is figuratively indicating just how given over that city was to the opposition of the gospel and the persecution toward those Christians who would strive to obey the Lord.  How much more wickedly could a city be described than being one where Satan has his throne to rule over others?

Even in our times and in some places of the world, we are hearing more and more of people being persecuted and even put to death for simply believing in the Deity of Jesus.  Such atrocities have been inflicted by those who are ignorant of the gospel of Jesus Christ, or do not believe it, or simply refuse to submit to it.  But they will all give an account before God in the great Judgment Day.

Let us continue to pray for the world that all will come to know the saving message of the gospel.  That all will believe it, love it, and submit to it, that we may all strive to do our part in making the world a better place and showing our love to God and one another, and that His peace may abound.

May we each be encouraged by all those, down through time, who continued to confess their faith in Christ — regardless of the difficulties, the persecutions, and even the loss of their own physical lives that it led to — and be motivated to do likewise in acknowledging the Lord Jesus Christ by our words and by our actions!

(All Scriptures are from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
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Young man with hat and Bible

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The Power of Influence

David Padfield

Webster defines the word influence as “the power of persons or things to affect others, seen only in its effects.” Though the word influence is only found one time in the King James Version, its meaning is on every page.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his disciples that they are the “salt of the earth” (Matt. 5:13-16). There are many interesting things you can say about this figure of speech. Salt is totally worthless while sitting on a shelf, it has to be applied. Salt can also lose its saltiness.  When it loses its power to flavor, it is good for nothing and must be discarded.

Paul told the brethren at Corinth they were an “epistle of Christ known and read by all men” (2 Cor. 3:1-3). Whether we like it or not, every Christian is an advertisement for Christ. It is rather scary to think the honor of Christ is in the hands of his disciples. Men of the world will judge Christ by the character of his followers.

Have you ever considered what type of an advertisement you are?  One of our songs suggests that…

“We are the only Bible the careless world will read,
We are the sinners gospel, we are the scoffers’ creed,
We are the Lord’s last message, given in deed and word,
What if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?”

The majority of worldly people will pay very little attention to what we say, but our actions will always be scrutinized.  When they think of our character and reputation, our actions will speak louder than our words.

— Via the bulletin of the Collegevue church of Christ, November 12, 2017
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

1) Is Jesus Not As Great As God the Father? (Tom Edwards)
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john1_1c

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Is Jesus Not As Great As God the Father?

Tom Edwards

Based on John 14:28, one might wonder if Jesus is a “lesser” God.  For Jesus says in the last part of this verse that “the Father is greater than I.”  But when did Jesus say this, and what was His relationship with the Father at that time?  It, of course, was after Jesus had greatly humbled Himself to come to earth and had taken on “the form of a bond-servant” (Phil. 2:7), where He, as “the Son of God,” had been living in submission to His Father in heaven.

Normally, we think in a father-son relationship that the father is greater than the son. Therefore, it is the son who is in subjection to the father — and not the father to the son.  So these terms serve as  accommodating language to express the role Jesus took upon Himself when coming to earth.  For it appears that prior to the creation, there was not a Father-Son relationship, as also indicated in Hebrews 1:5: “For to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU’? And again, ‘I WILL BE A FATHER TO HIM AND HE SHALL BE A SON TO ME’?”  The “will be” and “shall be,” which I underlined, indicate a time when that type of relationship would begin.  So what was it prior?

The very same chapter also declares that Jesus “is the radiance” of His Father’s glory and “the exact representation” of His Father’s nature (Heb. 1:3).  So Jesus was not just 50%, 75%, or 99% — but, rather, was 100% of the “exact” nature of Deity that His Father also possessed.

Paul, too, speaks of that in Colossians 2:9: “For in Him ALL THE FULLNESS OF DEITY dwells in bodily form” (emphasis mine). The “Him,” of course, refers to Christ, as mentioned in verse 8. Again, Jesus is as much God as the Father; but was in subjection to Him while on earth.

This might also remind you of what Jesus says in John 14:7: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (Jn. 14:7); and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (v. 9).  Though two distinct persons, yet same in Deity.

And what about the Holy Spirit?  He is also a divine person who makes up the Godhead, but why is He never referred to as a “Son”?  Though the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” see Him as a power  — and not a person — yet  the Bible speaks of Him as a person when using masculine pronouns, such as “Him” (Jn. 16:7) and “He” (v. 8).  Furthermore, the Holy Spirit is One who can “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (v.  8); and He can “guide,” “speak,” “hear,” “disclose,” “glorify” God, and take from God (vv. 13-15).  He can also be “grieved” (Eph. 4:30).  How could just a power, like electricity, be grieved?

Paul speaks of that “sacrifice” Jesus made in humbling Himself to leave heaven and lay aside that glorified state He had there — in order to become a man: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard EQUALITY WITH GOD a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being found in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5-8, emphasis mine).

So Jesus was in an “EQUALITY WITH GOD” before coming to earth. And what He “emptied Himself” of was not His Deity, but the blessings of dwelling in heaven and His heavenly “body” that was replaced with a human one that would experience hunger, thirst, weariness, pain, and temptations — a body that was much inferior to what He had in heaven. This is why the Hebrew writer says, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9).  Jesus was not “lower than the angels” when it came to rank because He was still God, and angels were part of His creation. The angels worshiped Christ, but He did not worship them. But He became “lower than the angels” by taking on an inferior body compared to the perfect, heavenly body that they possess. And this verse also shows why Christ did that: “so that…He might taste death for everyone.” Jesus had to become a man so that He could make an atonement for sin by His death on the cross.

So though He had been in “equality with God” in heaven, He did not feel that He had to cling to that and all the blissfulness that goes with it, but willingly gave up the privileges and blessings He had there in order to come to earth, humbly take on “the form of a bond-servant,” and subjectively and faithfully carry out His role as the Son of God in submission to His Father in heaven.

In thinking more of the Lord’s equality with His Father, John 1:1-3 is an excellent passage.  It declares: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (emphasis mine). This “Word” is Jesus, and He is not referred to as a “lesser” God, but as “God”! John then goes on to say in verse 14, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Recently, I was talking with a couple “Jehovah’s Witnesses”; and when pointing out this passage to them to show how much Jesus is God, and asking why their New World Translation renders Him as “a god” (in John 1:1), one responded by saying that it is a different Greek word than the previous one referring to the Father.  But that is incorrect, for they are both from the same Greek word “theos.”

The “Jehovah’s Witnesses” do not see Jesus as being as great as He really is. For they not only teach of Him as being a “lesser” God, but also as one that is a created being — and, therefore, not eternal like His Father.  To them, Jesus is Michael the archangel and the first of God’s creation.

One passage they misused was Colossians 1:15 to assert that Jesus was created.  For that verse speaks of Him as being the “first-born of all creation.”  But if “first-born” is to be taken literally, who gave birth to Christ prior to the creation?  So even in that, we can infer that “first-born” is being used figuratively.

During the Mosaical Age, the firstborn son was to receive a double portion of the inheritance from his father (cf. Deut. 21:15-17).  So in that, we see of a preeminence the firstborn had over his siblings; and that idea also came to take on a metaphorical usage in the Scriptures.  For example, Isaiah 14:30 says that “the firstborn of the poor shall feed, and the needy shall lie down in safety…” (KJV).  But “firstborn” is not used literally in this passage.  Rather, it is referring to those who were most poor.  Notice, for instance, how this is rendered in some other Bible translations: “Those who are most helpless will eat, And the needy will lie down in security…” (NASB).  And in the NIV: “The poorest of the poor will find pasture, and the needy will lie down in  safety…”  Consider, too, Psalm 89:27: “I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth” (emphases mine in these passages).

Especially with that last verse, we can easily see the figurative usage of “firstborn” to indicate exaltation or the preeminence that God would give to that one.  And that is the way it is used in Colossians 1:15.  For notice the context: After speaking of Jesus being “…the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,” it then goes on to say: “for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col. 1:15-19).

To “have first place in everything” is to have the preeminence over everything, and that is what the idea of Jesus being “the firstborn of all creation” is figuratively expressing.  For He is not merely the firstborn of a particular family, which He was; but, rather, He is said to be the firstborn over “all creation.”  How highly exalted Christ is!  He has “the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:9).  He is the “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:6); and, as He declares in Matthew 28:18, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

We saw also in Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created…”  Every created thing has been made possible by Jesus Christ.  Going along with this, John 1:3 declares, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”

Well, if the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” are correct that Jesus is a created being then it could not be said that “by Him all things were created.”  For if that be so, then Jesus would have had to create Himself!  So what do they do with Colossians 1:16 so that it does not clash with their belief?  They “solved” it with the word “other.”  Quoting from their New World Translation, “by means of him all other things were created in the heavens and on the earth…” (emphasis mine). By inserting the word “other,” they can now say that “God created Jesus, and Jesus then created all other created things.”  But that is not what the Bible teaches.  In the 23 different Bible translations I looked this up in, not even one of them uses the word “other” to imply that Jesus was also a created being.

It is said of Jesus that “they shall call His name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God with us” (Matt. 1:23, ASV).  Yes, Jesus was God incarnate, Deity in human flesh while on earth.

But when the Jews said to Jesus, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?,” the Lord responded by saying, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I AM” (John. 8:57-58, emphasis mine). Notice that Jesus doesn’t just say, “I was,” which would have still been an awesome thing to say, and which would have probably been what He would have said if He had been a created being prior to Abraham; but Jesus did not say that. Rather, He said, “I AM,” which expresses His eternal nature. He had no beginning, for He has always been and always will be.

Notice how the psalmist expresses God’s eternal nature:

“Before the mountains were born Or You gave birth to the earth and the world, Even FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING, You are God” (Psa. 90:2, emphasis mine). And who did we earlier see as being credited with the creation in John 1:2? Jesus.  Also in Hebrews 1:2: God “in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, THROUGH WHOM ALSO HE MADE THE WORLD (emphasis mine). And what does God the Father call His Son in Hebrews 1:8? “But of the Son He says, ‘…O GOD…”

That Jesus was involved in the great work of creation is also seen in the first verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). We have pointed out that “God” in this passage is from “Elohim,” the plural form of God; and look what we go on to see: “Then God said, ‘Let US make man in OUR image, according to OUR likeness…God created man in His own image…” (Gen. 1:26-27, emphasis mine). Notice the plural pronouns. God the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were all involved in the work of creation. Concerning the Holy Spirit, Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” The psalmist declares of God, “You send forth Your Spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground” (Psa. 104:30).

So getting back to that phrase, “FROM EVERLASTING TO EVERLASTING, You are God,” notice that it doesn’t say, “from everlasting to everlasting, You HAVE BEEN God” or “from everlasting to everlasting, You WILL BE God”; but “from everlasting to everlasting, You ARE God” (emphases mine). God already fills all eternity. Eternity is not like our realm of time, which is linear like a timeline. God will not be a day older tomorrow, or a year older next year. He does not age. He does not wear out or diminish in any way. I describe Him as being “eternally new.” The Hebrew writer says that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

Do you remember what Micah said when prophesying Jesus’ birth, as to where He would be born and from where He had come? Several hundred years before Christ was born in Bethlehem to the virgin Mary, Micah wrote: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, FROM THE DAYS OF ETERNITY” (Micah 5:2). Think of the oldest person you know. Can that person be referred to as having come “from the days of eternity”? Even of Methuselah, who lived to be 969 years old, you could not say was from the days of eternity.

In thinking more of Christ’s eternal nature, and that He was not a created being, look at Isaiah 9:6: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” So not only is Jesus called “God,” but also  “Eternal Father.” This probably sounds very wrong to many to refer to Jesus as “Father”; but, as one commentator writes, when Isaiah had said this, “the distinctions of Persons in the Godhead had not yet been revealed” (Pulpit Commentary). The thought of Jesus being the “Eternal Father” has also been viewed as His being the “Father of Eternity.” In other words, eternity did not bring about God, but eternity is because God is! And here, Jesus is the One in the Godhead being referred to and being shown in His relationship — not to the other two persons that make up the Godhead, but to eternity itself. He is the Father of it.

Is it not important that the world comes to believe in Jesus for who He truly is – and not some lesser being?  For Jesus says, “unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).

(All Scripture from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Setting Forth the Right Example (Tom Edwards)
2) Paul’s Commitment to God (Tom Edwards)
3) “I’ve Been Studying This For A Long Time” (Greg Gwin)
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Matthew5_14c

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Setting Forth the Right Example

Tom Edwards

Back in the early 80s, I heard a sermon by Raymond Castillo about “the legacy parents leave their children.”  Though, perhaps, we would normally think of a legacy as something tangible, such as property or money obtained through a will, it has also come to have a broader meaning.  And the preacher then went on to point out the most important kind of legacy that a parent can leave to his children — and it did not pertain to personal property nor material wealth; but, rather, to the example of a godly life!

Setting forth the right example is what we are to do for the Lord.  As Paul instructs, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14-15).

Yes, we are to be “lights”; and Jesus also spoke about that in Matthew 5:14-16: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.  Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

As the “light of the silvery moon” is but a reflection of the sun, the light that we are to shine as Christians is a light that comes from Jesus Christ, the Son of God.  For as He states in John 8:12: “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” And we learn how to follow — and thus acquire that Light — through “the light of the gospel” (2 Cor. 4:4).  For God’s word is, as the psalmist declares, “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105).

People glorifying God because of the good works they had seen in others was certainly true of the many whom the Lord’s life had made an impact upon: “So the crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, and the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel” (Matt. 15:31).  “But when the crowds saw this [Jesus healing the paralytic], they were awestruck, and glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (Matt. 19:8).

Though we do not perform miraculous works today, yet our lives, when following the Lord, can still cause others to look to and glorify God.  In writing to the Christians who were “as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia” (1 Pet. 1:1), Peter exhorts, “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12).

Commenting on this passage, E.M. Zerr writes: “When the test comes upon these disciples in the form of persecutions (the day of visitation), and the heathen see how they are patient and law abiding, it will disprove the false charges they have been making.  It will then be evident that such a conduct is caused by their faith in God and as a result these heathen accusers will give God the glory.”

So being a light is being the right example; and Paul specifies several things to Timothy to be an example in, which sum up how we each should also be.  He states: “…in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12).

We are each probably often reminded of someone or of others whose godly lives have made a lasting impression upon us.  That though these people are no longer in the land of the living, yet they have left behind an encouraging, godly example that continues to live on in the memory of those who knew them. And though these deceased ones have not been gone as long as Adam and Eve’s son Abel, yet the principle is still true with them as it was with him that “though he is dead, he still speaks” (Heb. 11:4).

May we each live our lives in such a way that we, too, will be good examples for the Lord that will encourage others toward doing the same.  For what better legacy can we leave behind for our children and for anyone else as well?

(All Scriptures are from the NASB unless otherwise indicated, and all emphases mine.)
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2Timothy4_7

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Paul’s Commitment to God

Tom Edwards

In our previous article, we considered the need to let our light shine for the Lord by living that right kind of example that can also encourage others to do likewise and give glory to God!

The apostle Paul was one who lived such a life — a life of great dedication to the Lord.  And many of us have come to admire, respect, and be encouraged by that dedication.

For those of us who are already familiar with the following passages, how can we ever forget Paul’s great commitment, zeal, and determination to carry out the Lord’s will in his life?  For Paul loved the Lord and His word and strove to live according to that truth in spite of the adversities it led to, such as the “shipwrecks,” “afflictions,” “hardships,” “distress,” “imprisonments,” “tumults,” “sleeplessness,” “hunger” (2 Cor 6:4-6); being “stoned,” “beaten times without number,” “in danger of death,” having received “195 lashes,” experiencing “dangers from rivers…from robbers…from countrymen…from the Gentiles,” undergoing “dangers in the city…in the wilderness…on the sea…among false brethren,” “in cold and exposure,” and “a night and a day…spent in the deep” (2 Cor. 11:23-27).  In spite of all of these adversities that living for the Lord had brought upon Paul, yet he continued to do so.

The Bible does not give graphic detail about the scourging Paul underwent.  But how terribly and permanently lacerated his body must have been from those 195 lashes, mentioned above, that he received.  In Galatians 6:17, Paul declares, “…for I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.”  Here, he is referring to those lashes.  But Jesus, of course, was not the one who had inflicted those upon Paul; but it was because of Paul’s service to Christ, and the persecution that led to, that those brand-marks were made.

This is also the case with many of these other adversities and sufferings that had befallen Paul.  They happened because he was living for the Lord.  So this was all part of Paul’s carrying his “cross” for Jesus (cf. Luke 9:23).  For when we think of a cross we think of suffering; and when bearing our cross for Christ, it refers to those sufferings, such as persecution, that are incurred for serving the Lord — rather than for just sufferings in general that are for other reasons.

I don’t imagine there is much of anything that anyone would want to persist in, if it brought on the same hardships and tribulations as what Paul’s obedience to the gospel did — unless one strongly believed in that cause.  Paul’s faith in Jesus and love for Him helped him through these difficulties.  The ill treatment and other terrible circumstances did not lead to his giving up, nor did they lessen his love for the truth.  Consider, for instance, his regard for God’s word, in spite of all the troubles that living for it had brought upon him:

“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’” (Rom. 1:16-17).

Paul had a deep, undying respect for the gospel.  He lived it with great dedication and preached it with conviction, humility, and thoroughness.  To the elders of Ephesus, he reminded them that “…’You yourselves know, from the first day that I set foot in Asia, how I was with you the whole time, serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials which came upon me through the plots of the Jews; how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you publicly and from house to house, solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that all of you, among whom I went about preaching the kingdom, will no longer see my face. Therefore, I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God’” (Acts 20:18-27).

That Paul practiced what he preached can also be seen in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, near the very end of Paul’s earthly life: “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

Because of the faithful life Paul lived, he was able to say, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).  Is that true of us?  Can we say we are following after Paul’s example? Or do we see the need to make some changes in our lives in order to better do so?  May his example, along with that of every righteous soul we know, continue to encourage us to always strive to be the imitators we are to be – until it all becomes a natural part of our lives!  For we are each to set forth that right example, and may that unswerving commitment of Paul toward God also instill within us that same kind of dedication!

(All Scriptures are from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
——————–

writing

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“I’ve Been Studying This For A Long Time”

Greg Gwin

It seems there is an increasing tendency to start a religious discussion by claiming a lengthy and  in-depth study of the subject at  hand.  “I’ve been studying this for a long time” is the initial assertion by one of the  disputants.  We think this is a faulty approach to proving one’s position, and we offer these observations in reaction to this common declaration:

1) The very statement (“I’ve been studying this…”) contains an implication that others have not been doing so.  This is an affront to all other serious students and is an insulting way to begin a discussion.

2) The one who argues this way seems to suggest that others have not been clever enough to notice what he has now unraveled.  Not likely!  True scholars have been pouring over the Bible for centuries.  Faithful brethren have devoted their lives to the Word.  Do you really imagine that you have discovered what they did not find!?!

3) Is something learned after one year of study necessarily more accurate than something learned after one day of study?  We are certainly in favor of deep, lengthy, dedicated study of God’s Word.  But the amount of time it took you to unearth the truth is not the determinant of whether or not your conclusions are correct.  Truth is truth, no matter how long it took you to find it.

4)  There is a tendency on the part of some to assume that if a thing has been believed and practiced for a long time by our brethren it is probably wrong.  We think the opposite.  If good men have traditionally held to a position we will not immediately assume it is wrong.  In fact, it’s probably right.  Yes, we want to search it out for ourselves, but we will not start with the assumption that others have ‘missed it’ while we have ‘found it.’

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (Romans 11: 33).  Let us all apply ourselves diligently to know and obey His will.  Think!

—- Via bulletin for the Collegevue church of Christ, October 29, 2017
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday:
7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Preparation and Working Together (Tom Edwards)
——————–

Ephesians4_16

-1-

Preparation and Working Together

Tom Edwards

Numerous Bible passages indicate the need for preparation.  For example: “But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Pet. 3:15, emphasis mine).

Peter’s exhortation toward “always being ready” does not pertain to only the preachers, the Bible class teachers, the elders, the deacons, or to just a certain other few within the body of Christ.  Rather, it pertains to all of us who are Christians!  For in the Hebrew writer’s rebuke of the brethren who had become “dull of hearing” (Heb. 5:11) and had a “need again for someone to teach” them “the elementary principles of the oracles of God” (v. 12), he also points out that they, in view of how long they had been Christians, should have already been able to be teachers themselves (v. 12).

Teaching, of course, is very needful.  For one of the important works of the church is to edify, which Webster defines as “to instruct or benefit, esp. morally or spiritually; uplift; enlighten.”  To edify is to build up; and when that is pertaining to the spiritual upbuilding of Christians, then it involves instructing, exhorting, and reproving with God’s word that the child of God can grow thereby and conform more to the likeness of Christ.  This is one of the reasons why we have God’s word and need to not only study it, but also apply it.  So that “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Eph. 4:14-16).

Notice especially that the “proper working” together involves “each individual part.”  Everyone, therefore, has an important role toward the upbuilding of the church. This is also seen  in 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 where members of the body of Christ (Christians in the church) are likened to different parts of one’s physical body, such as the foot, the hand, the ear, the eye, etc.  They do not all have the same function, but they all work together for the one body.  So each Christian is needed.

In Chinese humor: “Said the feet to the mouth, ‘You are the luckiest thing on earth. You are forever getting the best of me.  Here I am, running around all day, wearing myself out, and all for the sake of your eating.’

“Retorted the mouth:  ‘Don’t accuse me. How would you like it if I stopped eating so that you could stop running around?’”

Again we see that they each had their own role to carry out, but it would be for the one common good.

Sometimes, however, hindrances can get in the way, such as…

Self-Centeredness – An Obstacle Toward Working Together

As the subtitle shows, self-centeredness can be a hindrance toward working together – and this is so in any kind of relationship — whether in the church, in a marriage, in family relationships, and in other affiliations.

People are often too self-centered!  It has been said that Dr. Clyde Miller of Columbia University likes to sometimes play a prank on his friends by using boring books that have been sent to him by their publishers.  He will attach a note, making it look as if it were from the author, saying, “I hope you will be pleased by the references made to you in this volume, and hope that you will not have any objection to this use of your name.”  As you might have already imagined, Mr. Miller’s friends will diligently search through the book, just trying to find a reference to themselves.

A similar illustration concerns a novelists that met an old friend.  After talking for two hours, the novelist said, “Now we’ve talked about me long enough – let’s talk about you!  What did you think of my last novel?”

Self-Centeredness is to be Overcome

According to the Bible, a person is to actually place himself last of all.  For it is God who needs to be placed above ourselves and above all others as well.  Jesus indicates this when saying, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).  Going along with that, Jesus also declares, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37).  A person would be putting others above God and loving them more when compromising or disregarding God’s word in order to please them. But that would not be true love.

And rather than oneself being next on the list, others are to be, as Paul declares: “…Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).  Yes, we are to be servants of the Lord; and we have a duty toward others: “Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to his edification” (Rom. 15:1-2).

So in this order, we see the acrostic that some have given in reference to true joy, which is…

Jesus first.
Others second.
Yourself last.

When we learn to put God first, others second, and ourselves last, then we can really begin to work together in the best way – in the home, on the job, in the church, in the community, in the world, etc.

Notice that kind of attitude in the following relationships:

In marriage: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…  So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church” (Eph. 5:25, 28-29).  “but as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything” (v. 24).  “The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. But this I say by way of concession, not of command” (1 Cor. 7:3-6).

In the family: It has been said that “The family is the most basic of all social institutions… It was the first social group formed by human beings.”  We’ve just considered the husband and wife relationship, but how about the children?  “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER (which is the first commandment with a promise)” (Eph. 6:1-2).  “Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (Col. 3:20).

In the work realm We can see a principle in the ancient master-slave relationship to apply to employer-employee relationships: “Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:22-24).

In the community: “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:8-10).

In today’s lesson, we have considered the need to prepare ourselves with God’s truth that we might be able to teach others also to their edification.  We also noted the danger of self-centeredness that can  hinder us from being as we should in various relationships of life.

God certainly knew what He was doing when he made man.  But even more important than our physical makeup is that which pertains to our inner man that has been created in the image of God and, therefore, we should strive to develop that kind of godly character.

Think, too, of the unity that exists between God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  How well they all worked together in the creation (Gen. 1:1,26; Heb.1:1-2; Psa. 104:30).  How united as “one” they were — and are!  Jesus prayed that all His people will also be that way in relation to one another:  “I do not ask on behalf of these alone [the apostles], but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17:20-21).

During the spiritual renewal of Israel, after their return from captivity, they were truly concerned with hearing the law of God and conforming to it.  Nehemiah 8:1 reads: “And all the people gathered as one man at the square which was in front of the Water Gate, and they asked Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the law of Moses which the LORD had given to Israel.  Then  Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women, and all who could listen with understanding… He read from it…from early morning until midday…and all the people were attentive to the book of the law” (Neh. 8:1-3, emphasis mine).

For this gathering to be “as one man” truly indicates how united they were in the common interest of hearing, reverencing, and submitting to God’s word.  How well — minds like that can work together!  And may that also be the kind of mind we continue to develop even more, as we mature in Christ and work together for His cause.

(All scripture from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday:
7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) The Prophecy About Josiah (Tom Edwards)
2) “Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work” (R.J. Evans)
3) How to Answer When You Don’t Know the Answer (Greg Gwin)
——————–

1Kings13_2

-1-

The Prophecy About Josiah

Tom Edwards

“Now behold, there came a man of God from Judah to Bethel by the word of the LORD, while Jeroboam was standing by the altar to burn incense.  He cried against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, ‘O altar, altar, thus says the LORD, “Behold, a son shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you, and human bones shall be burned on you”’” (1 Kings 13:1-2).

Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, during the Divided Kingdom, had just set up “two golden calves,” which he referred to as “your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt” (1 Kings 12:28).  One of these was set up in Bethel, while the other was placed in Dan (v. 29). For these two locations were at the southern and northern extremities, respectively, of the northern kingdom; and Jeroboam placed them there as a matter of convenience for his people and so that they would not return to Jerusalem to worship and end up leaving Israel to side with Judah and even bring death to Jeroboam (vv. 26-27).  It was also at that time in which Jeroboam made “houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi” (v. 31).  He even instituted his own feast for Israel and went up himself “to the altar which he had made in Bethel” to observe it “on the fifteenth day in the eighth month…to burn incense” (v. 33).

So it was at that same time when the man of God had also come to cry out against the altar and give the prophecy he did concerning it, which was mentioned above.  And to confirm the truthfulness of that prophecy, the man of God also “gave a sign the same day, saying, ‘This is the sign which the LORD has spoken, “Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the ashes which are on it shall be poured out”’” (1 Kings 13:3)  — and this came to pass that same day (v. 5)!

Though the work of a prophet was primarily declaring God’s message rather than predicting future events (consider the “prophet” Moses, for example, Acts 3:22), yet here in 1 Kings 13:2 is a foretelling of that which would come to pass about 352 years later.   The prophecy is certainly not a mere generalization of what some anonymous person would do.  Rather, it specifically mentions the fulfiller by name, along with the lineage he was of, and exactly what he would do.

The fulfillment of this prophecy is seen in 2 Kings 23: “…that altar that was at Bethel and the high place which Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel sin, had made, even that altar and the high place he broke down.  Then he demolished its stones, ground them to dust, and burned the Asherah.  Now when Josiah turned, he saw the graves that were there on the mountain, and he sent and took the stones from the graves and burned them on the altar and defiled it according to the word of the LORD which the man of God proclaimed, who proclaimed these things. Then he said, ‘what is this monument that I see?’ And the men of the city told him, ‘It is the grave of the man of God who came from Judah and proclaimed these things which you have done against the altar of Bethel.’ He said, ‘Let him alone; let no one disturb his bones.’ So they left his bones undisturbed with the bones of the prophet who came from Samaria. Josiah also removed all the houses of the high places which were in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had made provoking the LORD; and he did to them just as he had done in Bethel. All the priests of the high places who were there he slaughtered on the altars and burned human bones on them; then he return to Jerusalem” (vv. 15-20).

The previous verses in 2 Kings 23 also speak of more of the idolatrous practices that Josiah brought to an end.

Josiah was born about 648 B.C.  He not only became Judah’s 16th king, but also reigned for 31 years as one of its best.

Isn’t it something how God has the ability to know in advance of even the specific details of future events — and has proven that through prophecies and their fulfillments!  In this case of Josiah, the prophecy was made about three and a half centuries before it came to pass – but it did so, just as the Lord said it would!

(All Scripture from the NASB.)
——————–

Hebrews12_1b

-2-

“Let Patience Have Its Perfect Work”

R.J. Evans

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Patience, a fruit of the Spirit, has been described as love and endurance under pressure.  Patience is a characteristic that is longsuffering and does not retaliate; a willingness to wait; to expect; to hope for.

We are not born with patience.  We need only to hear a baby cry for their immediate needs or hear a child selfishly say, “No!” or “Mine!”  However, it doesn’t take much insight to see that maturity and strength under pressure is much more difficult than it is to return evil for evil and be swift to strike back.  It takes courage, strength, and love not to return injury and insult to others.  An old Chinese proverb says: “Patience is power.  With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes a silk gown.”  Patience is the ability to endure to the end.

Patience is a fruit of the Spirit that is to be demonstrated in our relationships with one another.  Love suffers (endures) long, and we are called upon to be patient and forbearing with one another (1 Cor. 13:4; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12).  Love, with patience, hopes all things.  Patience is not passive–it is consecrated active faith and strength.

The Hebrew writer tells us to run the race set before us with patience (Heb. 12:1).  Truly, life is much like a race, and patience keeps doing God’s will regardless of the difficulties or the discouragements.  The New Testament word for patience means “to abide under.”  We are reminded of the great patience of the prophets and Job in James 5:10-11.  It does not suggest giving up, compromising, or becoming complacent.  Patience is keeping the course in spite of our circumstances.

Patience has a calm anticipation of hope.  The New Testament speaks of the patience of hope (Rom. 5:4; 8:25).  Hope produces patience.  When we love and have hope in God, we are inclined to be more patient.  If we believe in the promises of God, we can patiently wait for them.  The hope, power, and blessings of the gospel fill us with patience.

Pessimism is often due to a lack of patience.  We look around and see awful conditions and think God is too slow (read the book of Habakkuk as an example of this).  Some lose their faith and hope, but true patience can wait, endure, and persevere.  Let us not be like the one who prayed in this manner–”Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now!” Therefore, LET PATIENCE HAVE ITS PERFECT WORK.

— via bulletin of the Southside church of Christ,  10/15/17
——————–

question mark

-3-

How to Answer When You Don’t Know the Answer

Greg Gwin

No one likes to be ‘put on the spot.’  We dread the possibility of being asked questions that we can’t answer.  This is especially true when the questions are about religion.

Perhaps one of the biggest hindrances to spreading the gospel is this fear of being asked questions.  If you feel uneasy about your level of Bible knowledge, you may try to avoid potentially embarrassing situations — sidestepping any discussion that might turn to religious themes. Unfortunately this keeps us from many ‘open doors’ for personal evangelism.

Since no one has ALL of the answers, it is important for us to know what to do when questions arise that ‘stump’ us. Here are some suggestions:

1) Realize — and be ready to explain — that there are simply some pieces of information that we do not have because God has not supplied them. “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God” (Deut. 29:29).  But, we have “all truth” (John 16:12-13), and “all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).  So, every piece of essential information has been supplied.

2) When you do not know the answer, it is best to simply admit it.  This is much better than trying to ‘bluff’ your way through.  Humbly say, “I don’t know.”  But do not fail to add: “I’ll find out and get back to you on that.”  Following this procedure will actually provide additional opportunities to teach.  It keeps the door open to further discussions.

3) Study, study, study!  You will feel less intimidated and more willing to engage in biblical discussions if you build your confidence level by increasing your Bible knowledge.  Pay special attention to areas where you presently feel ‘weak’ in knowledge and understanding.  Be well prepared to deal with popular denominational errors.  Be ready to explain ‘issues’ that divide brethren.

4) Never shy away from a chance to talk about God and His Word.  The more you do this, the easier it will become.  Every such conversation serves as an opportunity for you to ‘sharpen your sword.’

— Via the bulletin of the Collegevue 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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday:
7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor:
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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