“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) 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)
Setting Forth the Right Example
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.)
Paul’s Commitment to God
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.)
“I’ve Been Studying This For A Long Time”
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).
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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)