Month: May 2017

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) Facing and Undergoing the Torment of the Cross (Tom Edwards)
2) Isaiah 53:5-7 (NASB)
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Garden of Gethsemane

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Facing and Undergoing the Torment of the Cross

Tom Edwards

Though God in human flesh (Jn. 1:1,14; Matt. 1:23), yet Jesus was not exempt from the human frailness of that flesh. For He still became “hungry” (Matt. 4:2), “thirsty” (Jn. 19:28), “wearied” (Jn. 4:6), “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4: 15) — and He could feel pain! But exchanging His glorious heavenly “form” for an inferior human body was necessary “because of the suffering of death…so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone” (Heb. 2:9); and “…that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (vv. 14,15).

In realizing what Jesus was up against in facing and undergoing the cross, we should be able to better appreciate the determination He had in going to that extreme to carry out His Father’s will. Paul also speaks of this in Philippians 2:8, when saying that Jesus “…humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, EVEN DEATH ON A CROSS” (emphasis mine). Of all the ways to die, being nailed to a cross to suffer for hours in excruciating torment would be a most difficult way to go. Yet, the Lord willingly went through with it! And this He indicates in John 10:17,18: “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.”  It is also in this same chapter that Jesus says of Himself, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (v. 11).

Prior to His crucifixion, just the mere thought of it had led to an inner torment for the Son of God. For instance, on the night of His betrayal, only hours away from being severely scourged and nailed to the cross, Jesus “began to be very distressed and troubled. And He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death…’” (Mark 14:33,34).  He, therefore, “went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by” (v. 35). Three times He prayed concerning this: “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:43). The Hebrew writer also speaks of the Lord’s impassioned appeals to His Father when “In the days of His flesh, He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His piety” (Heb. 5:7).

Notice, too, what Luke’s account brings out about this time in the garden: “And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).

Various versions refer to this sweat as being “like” drops of blood. But could that be said because it was not 100% blood, but a somewhat mixture of blood with sweat? If so, and which various scholars agree, it is then indicating that Jesus was actually experiencing hematidrosis, which is also sometimes written as  hemathidrosis,” “hematohidrosis” and “hemidrosis.” It is defined as “a condition in which capillary blood vessels that feed the sweat glands rupture, causing them to exude blood, occurring under conditions of extreme physical or emotional stress” (Dr. Frederick Zugibe). Only in the gospel of Luke, who was a physician, is mention made of the Lord’s sweat becoming “like drops of blood.” According to Segen’s Medical Dictionary, Hematidrosis is “An extremely rare condition characterized by the sweating of blood, which is said to occur when a person is facing death or other highly stressful events. It has been seen in prisoners before execution and occurred during the London Blitz. … Hematohidrosis is attributed to rupture of the capillaries surrounding sweat glands, with oozing of blood into the glands and out the sweat ducts.”

As we had previously seen, Jesus was under extreme pressure while realizing His crucifixion was just hours away. And something else that indicates that, which we might have failed to take into consideration, is that it was not an overly warm night that was causing all that sweating. For just the opposite was true!  It was a night cold enough for the need of warmth, as seen in John 18:18: “Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves; and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.”

So could it be that it was “like” drops of blood because it was not 100% blood; but, rather, would have been a slight mixture of blood to the sweat, which then gave it a bloody appearance?

Another effect from hematidrosis is that it causes the skin to become “extremely tender and fragile” and, thus, even more sensitive toward pain. So that would certainly intensify the suffering on a cross also!

And what else would make the suffering even more difficult?  Would it not be the prior flogging that was carried out most severely?  According to Unger’s Bible Dictionary, “Crucifixion was preceded by scourging with thongs, to which were sometimes added nails, pieces of bone, etc., to heighten the pain, often so intense as to cause death.”

Incidentally, the word “excruciating,” which we use to express a most intense pain or torture, has its etymology around A.D. 1560-70 from the Latin “excruciatus,” which is a past participle of excruciare and means “to torment, torture.” The root of that word, “cruciare,” is derived from crux, which means “cross” (Webster’s Random House College Dictionary). So, again, we see the cross in connection with extreme pain.

We recall that after the Lord’s scourging, He was initially the One who was “bearing His own cross, to the place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha” (Jn. 19:17).  According to the custom of  that time, it would not have been the entire cross, which might weigh over 300 pounds, but just the upper crossbeam that would be carried, and with the upright portion of the cross already in the ground where it would permanently remain.  But even that lighter crossbeam, which could be from about 75 to 125 pounds (New World Encyclopedia), Jesus was not able to continue carrying, due to the intense scourging, loss of blood, and physical weakness it had led to.  So Simon of Cyrene was “pressed into service” to bear the Lord’s cross (Matt. 27:32).  Simon was “a passer-by coming from the country” (Mark 15:21), and they “placed on him the cross to carry behind Jesus” (Luke 23:26).

About 1,000 years prior to the Lord’s crucifixion, the means of His death was already indicated in prophecy. Numerous verses in Psalm 22 foretell the crucifixion scene. And though at that time the Law of Moses spoke of execution by the sword (Exod. 32:27,28), by fire (Lev. 21:9), and by stoning (Lev. 20:2), yet Psalm 22:16 indicates the future way that Jesus would be executed: “For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet.”

Herodotus, the “father of history,” who was born about 484 B.C. and a contemporary of Socrates, speaks of crucifixion as originating with the Persians (Hist. i.128.2; iii. 132.2, 159.1).  The Britannica Encyclopedia states that “In 519 BC Darius I, king of Persia, crucified 3,000 political opponents in Babylon.”  Rome’s use of crucifixion, which they picked up and “perfected” from the Persians, is said to have not been until the first century B.C.

But, as we have seen,  God knew even before the world began how Jesus would be put to death and the events surrounding that.

So may the Lord’s willingness to submit to such extreme agony in order that an atonement could be made for every lost soul cause us to realize even more the great love that God has for us and His desire for all to be saved!  By His death, Jesus made it possible that our greatest need, which is the forgiveness of sins, can be met!  And that must have been one of the reasons why the Hebrew writer says about Christ that “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).  Jesus’ love for us could not be hindered even though it would involve torturous sufferings!  He loved us that much — and still does!

(All Scriptures from the NASB.)
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Isaiah 53:5-7

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,|
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth” (NASB).
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 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) Seeing From a Better Perspective (Tom Edwards)
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Phil2_5

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Seeing From a Better Perspective

Tom Edwards

“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” This was actually the very last sentence in a 14-page essay, entitled, “Is Theology Poetry?,” that C.S. Lewis delivered on November 6, 1944 to the Oxford Socratic Club, a debating society. Later, in 1962, that work was then published with the new title of, “They Asked for a Paper.”

What a great illuminating orb the sun has been for our planet! Much of what the darkness hides can be clearly seen by the sun’s reaching and revealing rays. I’ve even noticed how much easier it is to read a Kindle that is set to its smallest font when out in the direct sunlight.

And just as the sun has brought numerous things to light, even more importantly are those things that Jesus, who is “the Son of God” (Mark 1:1) and “the light of the world” (Jn. 8:12), has shone into our lives. His words are illuminating, “imperishable… living and enduring” and enabling one to be “born again” (1 Pet. 1:23).  For His words are “spirit,” and they are “life” (Jn. 6:63), and truly an enlightenment at the highest level.  Surely we can say of the words of Christ, just as the psalmist said of God’s word in the Old Testament times, that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psa. 119:105) — and how necessary that is. For with God’s word to light the way in our journey through life, wrong turns and dangers can be avoided, comforts and blessings can accompany us, needs can be met along the way (Psa. 23:1; Matt. 6:33), and we can eventually reach our longed-for destination. For as Jesus says, “…he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life” (Jn. 8:12).

When Jesus came to “the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, by the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles,” Isaiah’s prophecy was fulfilled: “The people who were sitting in darkness saw a great light, and those who were sitting in the land and shadow of death, upon them a light dawned” (Matt. 4:15,16, cf. Isa. 9:1, 2).

The light of the gospel not only illumines our way, but also develops within us “the mind of Christ” (Phil. 2:5), as we make God’s word an active part of our daily lives (cf. Eph. 3:3-5; Rom. 12:2; Gal. 4:19; Eph. 4:11-13).

Paul was one who testified toward having “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16), and notice the perspective it allowed him to have even toward severe persecution that he underwent: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Cor. 4:16-18).

Paul calls it “momentary, light affliction.”  But how can he say that in view of all that he went through for the cause of Christ — the “far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death”?  The 5 times he received 39 lashes, for a total of  195? The 3 times he was beaten with rods, the once he was stoned, the 3 times he was shipwrecked, the night and a day that he spent in the deep?  The frequent journeys, the dangers from rivers, from robbers, from his countrymen, from the Gentiles, from the city, from the wilderness, from on the sea, and from among false brethren?  The labor and hardship, the many sleepless nights, the hunger and thirst, and often without food, and in cold and exposure, along with the daily pressure he had for all the churches (2 Cor. 11:23-28)?  Yet, even in spite of all that, he viewed it as only “momentary, light affliction” because Paul had the mind of Christ and could see even these persecutions and sufferings from a better perspective.

We see this also in Jesus who “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).  The Lord could see beyond the cross and its terrible agony.  He could think of what His sacrifice would accomplish for a world of lost sinners and His soon being back in heaven’s glory, after having faithfully completed His mission on earth.

When we are in Christ, as Christians, we can also have a better perspective toward difficult trials that challenge our faith.  As James writes, “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).

Through God’s word we learn of the better ways of viewing things.  Consider also the words of Jesus: “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you” (Matt. 5:11,12).

Peter exhorts the brethren, by saying, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet. 4:12-14).

These passages show of the better perspective we can have while undergoing difficult situations, and we see that type of mind in the apostles who after being imprisoned and flogged were “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:42). How often would you find an innocent non-Christian today who would be wrongfully punished with scourging and imprisonment, but would then be able to rejoice in view of it?  Having the mind of Christ sure made a difference for the apostles!  It gave them the right perspective.

Philippians 2:5 is also rendered as, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (NASB).  How often have we been guilty of having a wrong attitude that has led to trouble?  Paul’s exhortation, however, goes on to illustrate the mind or attitude of Christ by showing His willingness to leave the blissfulness of heaven; to submit to receiving an inferior human body in place of His heavenly, glorified one, so He could humbly become a servant among men and obey His Father even to the degree of giving Himself over to the torturous death on the cross (vv. 6-8).

How can any of us even come close to willingly giving up as much as Jesus did, which shows such supreme self-denial, in order to carry out the Father’s will?

It is also by developing the mind of Christ that we can reach the spiritual maturity that enables us to “discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14), to “be transformed” (Rom. 12:2), and to have the right moral perspectives based on God’s standard.

Unfortunately, this is greatly lacking in our world today. Far too many want to endorse the wrong and live according to it, while shunning things that are morally good and virtuous. Of course, this problem has been around for a long time.  Way back in the days of Noah, who was in the 10th generation from Adam, “…the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and…every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).  Isaiah, who began his prophetic ministry roughly about 750 B.C., declares in Isaiah 5:20 the following: “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20).  What he said then is still often seen and heard in our time, and how tragic if folks guilty of such won’t come to that realization until the Judgment Day, when it will be too late!

What better perspective can we have toward anything than by first developing the mind of Christ so that even our very conscience will react in accordance with it – rather than to be like those “whose consciences have lost all feeling” (1 Tim. 4:2, CEV)? Or, as the NASB speaks of those, as having been “seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron”?

Let us, therefore, remember the words of the apostle Paul to “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus” and each strive to fully develop that mind that we may become more like the Savior and live and act and react in greater harmony with the Scriptures, thus improving our lives, and increasing our ability in seeing all things from a better perspective.  For what we see and encounter, as we go through life, is one thing; but how we view that and how we react to what we face or undergo is another.  So may that always be with the mind of Christ!

(Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible.)
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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) God of Wrath vs. God of Love? (Tom Edwards)
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Rom11_22

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God of Wrath vs. God of Love?

Tom Edwards

Is the God of the Old Testament the same as the God of the New? For while some folks view the former as a God of wrath, they also see the latter in the New Testament as a God of love.  But are these two different Gods?

It is true that we have more examples of God’s wrath in the Old Testament, such as the global flood of Noah’s day in which only 8 people survived (Gen. 6-8); the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah that eventually resulted in only 3 souls saved (Gen. 19:1-25); the drowning of Pharaoh’s army in the Red Sea (Exod. 14); some of the Hebrews destroyed by fire for murmuring (Num. 11:1-3); the earth that opened up and swallowed Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, along with their families, for rebelling over the leadership of Moses and Aaron, along with the 250 consumed by fire for also doing so (Num. 16).  Many of the Israelites then grumbled against Moses and Aaron, accusing them of being the cause for the death of Korah and these others. So God brought a plague upon these grumblers that led to the death of 14,700 of them (Num. 16:49). Many of Israel died for complaining about the food God provided (Num. 21:4-9).  For joining in with the idolatrous worship of Baal, 24,000 Israelites perished by a plague (Num. 25:1-9).  When David sinned by wrongfully numbering Judah and Israel, it resulted in 70,000 dying from Dan to Beersheba (2 Sam. 24:15).  In defense of the city of Jerusalem and for the Lord’s sake, as well as for David’s, the angel of the Lord put to death 185,000 Assyrians who would have come up against the city (2 Kings 19:35).  These are just some of the examples in the Old Testament of God’s wrath that brought about death.

Could it be that we don’t take God seriously enough, in our time, with regard to sin?  Do we think more lightly of it because we are not seeing God’s wrath being outpoured today as it was in Old Testament times?  Of course, it could very well be that the Lord sometimes still does carry out His wrath providentially, which we are not aware of nor can determine.  But if He did, and we knew of it, would that change our attitude toward sin and our behavior?

What examples do we have in the New Testament of God’s wrath leading to the death of the wrongdoer?  In Acts 5:1-11, Ananias and his wife Sapphira were both struck down by God for lying, which resulted in “great fear” that “came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things” (v. 11).

Though people lie today without losing their lives for it, does that mean that God now approves of such?  Is not lying still wrong?  And would not God’s attitude still be the same toward it as when Ananias and Sapphira did so?  Of course, the worse penalty of all for lying is that it is a sin by which one can be lost, ultimately kept out of  heaven, and end up in the lake of fire eternally (cf. Rev. 21:8).

Another example is that of Herod.  When acclaimed as having “the voice of a god and not of a man,” after delivering a speech, Herod was then  struck down and died “because he did not give God the glory” (Acts 12:20-23).  Again, however, does it mean it is now all right to do the same today, as what Herod was guilty of, just because that person would not be immediately struck by God for having done so?

Paul points out to the Corinthians that “many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep” (1 Cor. 11:30) for having incurred “judgment” by failing to remember Christ’s death when observing the Lord’s Supper (v. 29).  Instead, some were making a common meal out of it to fill their bellies rather than think upon the Lord’s great sacrifice and atonement for our sins. The King James Version speaks of that “judgment” as being “damnation” brought upon oneself.

So it is not only the love side of God that we see in the New Testament, nor only the wrath side of God that we see in the Old Testament.  For even in the Old Testament it shows of the Lord’s great compassion for His people.  And out of that far-surpassing love, He sent His prophets numerous times to the wayward ones to urge them to repent and return to Him. For as God instructs Ezekiel, “Say to them, ‘As I live!’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!  Why then will you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezek. 33:11).

Consider also His message through the prophet Joel: “’Yet even now’ declares the LORD, ‘Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; And rend your heart and not your garments.’  Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil” (Joel 2:12,13).

Let us remind ourselves that God sent His Son during the Old Testament times, who was “born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4,5).  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (Jn. 3:16).  Though that is read in the “New Testament,” yet the actual giving of His Son was during Old Testament times, as well as the life He lived up to His death (cf. Heb. 9:15-28).  And the promise of the Messiah and the giving of His life for every sinner was prophesied several centuries prior to the New Testament Age (Isa. 53, Psa. 22).  What a greatest of all indication of God’s love that was and is!

It must also be realized that God’s nature does not change (Mal. 3:6).  Jesus Christ, who is “the exact representation of His [Father’s] nature” (Heb. 1:3) and, therefore, as much God as the Father (cf. Jn. 1:1-3), is also spoken of as being “…the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).

That God, who never changes, has a love-side as well as a wrath-side can also be seen in Romans 11:22:  “Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.”  And we also see this in John 3:36: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  It makes a great deal of difference in whether we choose to go the way of Christ or not.

By knowing that the God of the New Testament is the same as the God of the Old Testament, perhaps seeing those examples of His wrath will instill in us a greater reverence for God and the need to comply with His commands – rather than thinking of Him, as C.S. Lewis once wrote of the case  of those who “….want not so much a Father but a grandfather in heaven, a God who said of anything we happened to like doing, ‘What does it matter so long as they are contended?’” (via The Problem of Pain).

And some go to even more extremes in actually wanting to have as little to do with God as possible.  Lewis also writes in the same book, “We regard God as an airman regards his parachute; it’s there for emergencies but he hopes he’ll never have to use it.”

May the examples of God’s wrath in the Bible prompt us to realize more seriously the dangers of sin and be motivated to live holy lives instead.  “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. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said,  ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:26-31).

But, as we have seen, the choice is up to us.  We can  either find it a terrifying thing to be in the hands of God, due to incurring His wrath, or a place of great blessing and protection and from which no one can pluck us out, due to abiding in His love by our obedience to the gospel.  As Jesus teaches in John 10:27-29, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”  To hear the voice of the Lord (by hearing the gospel) and following (by our obedience) is the key to avoiding the wrath side of God and enjoying His love — and may it be that we will ever do that!

(All Scripture from the New American Standard Bible, 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).
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Contents:

1) Timeless Benefits of the Old Testament (Tom Edwards)
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Timeless Benefits of the Old Testament

Tom Edwards

Even though we are not under the Patriarchal nor Mosaical Laws today, and we live in a different time and culture, yet does not a reading of the Old Testament, and the seeing of God’s dealings with His people and what He required of them, also help us in developing the right attitude toward God and spiritual things? For does not the reading of that also enable us to have a deeper understanding of the Lord, to be more aware of His reality, to realize more the seriousness of sin and the need to obey God by not adding to nor taking away from His word, to be more humble in view of the Lord’s far-surpassing greatness, to be more reverent, to be more concerned for spiritual things, and to be more submissive to the will of God for our time?

We are to be mindful of the things above – to set our affection upon those things (cf. Col. 3:1-3); and looking to the Holy Scriptures helps us to do just that! And is it not spiritual thoughts that are required to help us be spiritual people? In writing to the Corinthians, Paul acknowledges, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words” (1 Cor. 2:12,13). By our reading, we are acquiring those same divine truths that had been miraculously revealed in time’s past (cf. Eph. 3:3-5). And that same Spirit also led men into writing the Old Testament. For “no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (2 Pet. 2:20,21). Paul also wrote that “All Scripture is inspired by God” and went on to say that it is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16,17). In the same context, Paul had previously told Timothy “…that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15).

The Old Testament is filled with numerous prophecy that came to fulfillment in New Testament times and, thus, indicates the divine inspiration of the Bible. It has been said that there are about 332 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning Christ alone! Some of these are specific, such as the place of Jesus’ birth being in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); the exact amount of 30 pieces of silver that He was betrayed for, and the potter’s field it ended up going to (Zech. 11:12,13; Matt. 26:14-16; 27:3-10); and the piercing of His hands and feet (Psa. 22:16; Mk. 15:25; Luke 24:36-40), etc. These prophecies and their fulfillments are one of the evidences that help us to believe in God and in His word.

And for those who think we should not study that part of the Bible, the Old Testament is actually quoted or alluded to hundreds of times in the New Testament! For example, in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is referring back to Israel, shortly after they came out of Egyptian bondage, and points out specific sins they had so soon become guilty of. He then declares, “Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved” (v. 6). He then gives a similar statement in verse 10 and includes that these Old Testament examples “were written for our instruction…”

God’s word – even in the Old Testament — can help us in many ways. For one of those, have you ever felt a little depressed, but then began reading the book of Psalms, that hymn book of ancient Israel, and soon found your spirit uplifted and joining in with the psalmist in praises and appeals to the Almighty God?

In reading of the miracles in the Old Testament, do you do so with unbelief or with a humbleness, a childlike faith, and a somewhat amazement in taking to heart these supernatural events that God had brought about? To the believer, these miracles bring to our attention and help us realize that “all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27) and “Nothing is too difficult” for Him (Jer. 32:17) – and this is the God to whom we His children pray!

In the Old Testament, some major questions are answered. Here are three of them:

1) “How did the universe, man, and all living things come about?” The very first chapter in the Bible answers this: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (v. 1); and chapters 1 and 2 show that it did not take eons of time for Him to do so. For it was “in the beginning” that God created the heavens and the earth; and that “beginning” is not the beginning of God – for He is eternal – but it is the beginning of creation itself. For time, as we know it, is accurately regulated by the creation (cf. Gen. 1:14-16). We also note that the earth was not formed more than 9 billion years after the beginning of the universe. Nor did man (as more like humans today) first come into existence more than 4 billion years after the earth was made (or more than 13 billion years after the universe began). For man was made on the 6th day of creation (Gen. 1:24-31). And hear how Jesus refers to this in Mark 10:6: “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.” How could it be said that man was made at the “beginning of creation,” if he didn’t come to exist until more than 13 billion years later? You can believe what men may hypothesize and say about this or you can believe the words of Jesus, but who do you think is right? I would advise you to go with the One who knows what He is talking about – Jesus Christ the Creator (cf. Jn. 1:1-3,14; Col. 1:15,16).

2) “What is the reason – if there is a reason – for our being here?” The Old Testament also makes that clear: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13). Man was made for God (cf. Isa. 43:21), for His purpose (cf. Prov. 16:4), and for His glory (cf. Isa. 43:7).

3) “Will we exist beyond the grave?” Job rhetorically asks, “If a man dies, will he live again?” In the same verse, he then continues by saying, “All the days of my struggle I will wait Until my change comes” (Job 14:14). Yes, Job knew that death does not end it all. For he also declares, “Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God” (Job 19:26). King David also believed in life after death. In speaking of his deceased child, David explained, “But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23). Though our body dies, yet we (our eternal souls) will always exist! Those Old Testament believers referred to in Hebrews 11:16 also believed in the hereafter in that “better country, that is a heavenly one” where God had prepared them a “city.”

And how else does the Old Testament help in our relationship with the Lord? What about in reading of those whose faith in God and love for Him enabled them to take such a strong stand for His ways and maintain an unwavering commitment toward the Lord – and regardless of the jeopardy, the physical pain, or even the death which that could lead to? Are we not encouraged and motivated by them? Is our faith not strengthened? Such as in hearing the case of the three friends of Daniel — Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego — who chose to be thrown into the fiery furnace, rather than sin against the Almighty God by bowing down in idolatrous worship to the 90-foot golden image that Nebuchadnezzar, the Babylonian king, had made. Are we not moved by their dedication? The command had been given: “that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire” (Dan. 3:5,6). When it was brought to the king’s attention that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego would not comply, Nebuchadnezzar was infuriated and ordered that those three be brought before him. The king was willing to give them another chance to save their lives. But they responded, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up” (Dan. 3:16-18).

That is truly commitment! Maintaining a right relationship with God meant something of great importance to these three loyal and dedicated followers. To them, it was a top priority! And it should be that to us as well. Reading of their example can also increase that kind of incentive in every true believer.

As we read the Old Testament, even in silence, God sees our hearts, knows our reactions, is aware of our devotion toward Him. Like some type of spiritual umbilical cord, these positive reactions — including our reverence, our worshipful respect, our admiration, and our faith and love toward God — stem from our hearts all the way up to the heart of God in heaven. As His children, we are connected to Him.

In speaking of the Old Testament, Paul says that it was “written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). And now we are also seeing various other benefits from it.

So let us not neglect our study of the Old Testament, realizing that much good for our spiritual development and well-being can come from that as well.

(All Scripture 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).
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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)

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