Year: 2018 (Page 2 of 6)

The Gospel Observer

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

1) Your Most Valuable Possession (Wayne Goff)
2) Responsibility (Fred A. Shewmaker)
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treasure chest 2

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Your Most Valuable Possession

Wayne Goff

If someone were to ask you what is your most valuable possession, then what would you say? Your house, your car, your bank account, your retirement portfolio? In reality, it is none of these things. Your most valuable possession is your human spirit, your soul, because it alone lasts for all eternity!

Jesus taught us that when He said, “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26)

What would you give for the well-being of your eternal soul? Everything. Literally. Period. Everything. You may not believe it now, my friend, but Jesus was not mistaken about it. He has been to heaven. He dwelled in eternity before coming to earth as a lowly Servant. You should listen to Him who not only gave His life on the cross of Calvary for your sins (Matthew 26:28), but who also gave up His high station in eternity to come here to help you (Philippians 2:6-7)! While He was rich in eternity, being in the form of God, He became poor for your sakes (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus thought your soul’s well-being was important enough to come down to the earth and die on the cross. Don’t you think it’s important, too?
Another thought worth considering is how one’s hope of heaven serves as an anchor in this life! There is something irreplaceable in the knowledge that heaven is your ultimate goal, and nothing in this life can prevent it. “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus,…” (Heb. 6:19-20). When life’s troubles get you down, when earthly suffering makes life unbearable, when your earthly hopes and dreams have been smashed to pieces . . . there’s still the hope of something better on the other side. So don’t give up! Don’t grow weary in doing well!

Jesus is our “forerunner” who has entered the eternal abode behind the veil of this flesh. Follow in His footsteps in this life and you will wind up exactly where He is today — in heavenly bliss! Your most valuable possession will thank you for it if you do.

— via Articles from the Roanridge church of Christ,  October 14, 2018
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romans15_25-26

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Responsibility

Fred A. Shewmaker

A generally accepted rule among brethren is that ability plus opportunity equals responsibility. As given, this appears to me to be a good rule. However, there seems to be a tendency on the part of some to make this rule say something else altogether. We are so very much aware of mathematical equations that some are apparently trying to apply this equation as they would in mathematics. The reasoning seems to be that responsibility equals opportunity plus ability. But thus stated the equation is not always and in every circumstance true.

In Acts 3, 4, and 6 we see that the local church has a responsibility to provide for the physical needs of her members. In these chapters the Jerusalem church had the opportunity plus the ability to provide relief of the physical needs of some of her members. Thus she was responsible to do it.

Years later when the church in Jerusalem had poor saints among her members, did she still have a responsibility to provide for their physical needs? If our equation would work backward, we could say that Jerusalem now had no responsibility to provide for the physical needs of her poor members. WHY? Because if responsibility equals opportunity plus ability, the Jerusalem church being without ability would be absolved of responsibility. We can occupy a position or have a relationship in which responsibility is inherent. What I am saying is that the loss of ability does not necessarily absolve us of responsibility.

Why were the saints in Jerusalem in need? They did not have the ability to provide for their own physical necessities. These poor saints were responsible to provide for themselves food, shelter, clothing, and medical supplies as required. But they had lost the ability to provide these things for themselves. They were in the condition of being responsible to do a thing that they did not have the ability to do. Their need was for the ability to be supplied. A church has the responsibility to provide her members with the necessities they can not provide for themselves. The Jerusalem church had the opportunity to provide her poor members with that which they could not provide for themselves: ABILITY. The responsibility of the Jerusalem church to provide her poor members with the ability to fulfill their own individual responsibilities was inherent in the relationship that existed between her, as a church, and her members.

The Jerusalem church did not have the ability to fulfill her responsibility to her poor members. The Jerusalem church thus became a needy church. She did not need some other church to take over her responsibility. She needed ability to be supplied her. Those churches in Macedonia, Achaia, and Galatia that could help supplied Jerusalem with ability. Jerusalem could then supply her poor members with ability, fulfilling her responsibility to them. With ability the poor saints could fulfill their individual responsibility of feeding, housing, clothing, and supplying medicine for themselves.

Some have suggested the following hypothetical situation to show that the church may and does on occasion relieve non-saints.

“There are two families in a congregation each with a fifteen year old son. The parents are members of the church and one of the boys is a member but the other is not. Each of these boys is stricken with a serious disease. The hospital bills have consumed the savings of each family and are still piling up. Now according to the ‘saints only’ contention the church could only help the family where the son is a Christian. To help the other family would be helping, a non-saint.”

NOT SO! The church is not responsible to relieve either of these boys. Neither boy is financially obligated in any way. Therefore neither boy is in need of financial relief. The fathers of these boys are the ones responsible for the hospital bills. If you think that I am wrong, just try to get a fifteen year old boy admitted to any hospital on his own financial responsibility. Now both these Christians who are the fathers of these boys are lacking in ability to fulfill their individual responsibilities. A church can supply her members with the necessities they can not provide for themselves. The church can supply both fathers with that which they need: ABILITY. When the ability is supplied, it is supplied to saints. The idea that non-saints are relieved in the situation described is altogether incorrect.

The benefit derived by a non-saint in such circumstances is not the result of the church helping a non-saint but due to the relationship that the non-saint has with a saint. In the case considered, the relationship would be that of son to father.

It seems that we have learned how to determine new responsibility but have failed to understand inherent responsibility or how to determine the duration of responsibility.

Consider the following:

1. We have responsibility because it is inherent in our position or relationships.

2. New responsibility is acquired when we have an opportunity plus ability.

3. Responsibility legitimately acquired is not absolved by a lack of ability.

4. Responsibility ends when the opportunity, position, or relationship ends.

— Via TRUTH MAGAZINE, XII: 11, pp.21-22, August 1968
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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) Truth (Frank Himmel)
2) Learning From Jesus (Wayne Goff)
3) A Bible Syllogism (Tom Edwards)
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john18_37-38

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Truth

Frank Himmel

Jesus had much to say about truth. Consider these references from the gospel of John.

Truth originates with God. “But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God” (John 8:40a). God’s righteousness, omniscience, and timelessness give Him a perspective and insight far beyond ours.

God’s word is truth. “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (John 17:17). While truth begins in God’s nature, it finds expression in His word, His communication to us of His nature. Apart from that communication, we cannot know His will.

Jesus testified to the truth.  He told Pilate, “For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth” (John 19:37b). Earlier He said, “For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. . . Therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me” (12:49-50).

We can know the truth.  Logic says if Jesus testified to the truth, we can know the truth by listening to His testimony. Jesus concurred: “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth . . .” (John 8:31-32). Notice in these references that Jesus referred to the truth — not your truth, my truth, and other such expressions popular in our relativistic culture. There is a fixed body of truth and we can know it!

Truth makes us free.  That is the rest of the Lord’s statement: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (John 8:32).  Sin results from following error. Knowing God’s will helps us avoid sin. The truth also reveals God’s plan for our salvation from sin’s consequences.

Jesus is the truth. “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Jesus did not merely speak the truth, He lived it. More to the point, He is it: God’s plan for all of us comes together in Him. As Paul put it, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Colossians 1:19-20a).

The Spirit completed the revelation of truth.  The night before His crucifixion, Jesus told the apostles, “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth” (John 16:12-13a). The Spirit completed the work Jesus began. Like Jesus, He spoke only the Father’s message (v. 13b). That means when the apostles preached or wrote by inspiration, by the Spirit’s guidance, what they said is just as much truth, just as authoritative, as what Jesus said personally.

God must be worshiped in truth.  “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Truth governs everything: every relationship and every action among men, and everything about our relationship with God. That includes our worship in the formal sense, the context of this verse. Our personal preferences do not determine what constitutes acceptable worship: truth does.

Some people want the truth.  After telling Pilate that He came into the world to testify to the truth, Jesus observed, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice” (John 19:37c).

Some people do not want the truth.  They prefer their own thoughts and actions. Jesus accused some in His generation of being like the devil, whose existence is based on falsehood, not truth (John 8:44). He then made the application: “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me” (v. 45).  Just after the wonderful gospel summary that is John 3:16, the Lord added:

“This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God” (John 3:19-21).

Do you prefer light or darkness? Are you content with suppositions and guesswork, or do you want the truth? Have you accepted the truth—all the truth—Jesus revealed? If not, reflect on His question: “If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?” (John 8:46b).

— Via PathLights, June 18, 2017
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study Bible

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Learning From Jesus

Wayne Goff

“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29).

How can we “learn” from Jesus? Primarily, the word means “to learn, be taught” by Jesus. So you must enroll in His class, become His disciple, and study His Word.

Secondarily, you “learn” by “practice or experience” as you “acquire a custom or habit.” For example, Paul learned by experience how to live frugally or abundantly, based upon his outward circumstances, Philippians 4:11. We learn by experience how to be patient, longsuffering, enduring, etc. Jesus’ teaching is not just theory but practice.

Thirdly, one can learn by ascertaining information, becoming informed. One of the best ways to learn from Jesus is to ask questions. Often as a young preacher I would be confronted with a question or a situation that I could not answer or deal with. That led me to ask how to answer that question or how to deal with that situation. Bible study, learning the answer, and recalling it for the next time I needed it was invaluable. That kind of learning sticks with you.

So What? {The Application}

The “so what?” of all of this is simple. When you sit in on a sermon or a Bible class, come prepared to learn. Proper hearing involves learning. Sermon-hearing is not a spectator sport! When the teacher or preacher is teaching from the Bible, then God is speaking to you at that moment (provided the teacher is speaking the truth). When you read the Bible, that is God speaking to you. Take Jesus’ yoke upon you and learn from Him! It will give you rest from a troubled soul, and from a sin-burdened heart.

— Via Articles from the Roanridge church of Christ, September 2, 2018
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john8_52

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A Bible Syllogism

Tom Edwards

The term “syllogism” comes from a Greek word (syllogismos) that means “conclusion” or “inference.” It has been defined as “1. a deductive scheme of a formal argument consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion (as in ‘every virtue is laudable; kindness is a virtue; therefore kindness is laudable’”) (Merriam-Webster).

Here is one we find in the Bible in the words of Christ:

“But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God: ‘I AM THE GOD OF ABRAHAM, AND THE GOD OF ISAAC, AND THE GOD OF JACOB’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (Matt. 22:32).

Major Premise: God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

Minor Premise: God is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Conclusion: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are not dead, but living.

Though their bodies have passed away, their souls are still alive and kept by God. Corresponding to this, Jesus says, “…if anyone keeps My word, he will never taste of death” (Jn. 8:52, NASB).

While the body returns to the dust, from which Adam’s was made, the departed souls of the saved go to Paradise (Luke 23:43; Luke 16:19-31) — and what a blissful place that is to experience!

That the body dies while the soul can live on is also seen in the Lord’s statement in Matthew 10:28: “Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul…”

In the above syllogism of Matthew 22:32, Jesus was addressing the Sadducees (v. 23), who “say that there is no resurrection, nor an angel, nor a spirit” (Acts 23:8). So Jesus speaks of these three men of faith who had passed on from this earth life, yet are still living on in a much better place.

(First posted on facebook Aug. 21, 2018)
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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) Do You Believe in Three Gods or One? (Dudley Ross Spears)
2) “Let Nothing Be Done Through Selfish Ambition” (R.J. Evans)
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Trinity

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Do You Believe in Three Gods or One?

Dudley Ross Spears

Question: Our pastor says the Church of Christ believes in three Gods and he says the Bible teaches there is only one God. Why do you believe in three Gods? Don’t you believe the Bible?

Answer: Thanks for the question. No offense intended but your “pastor” is wrong. Yes, indeed, we believe every word of the Bible. It doesn’t matter what the “Church of Christ” believes; what matters is what the Bible teaches. We believe in the one true and living God because the Bible teaches it. Your “pastor” actually believes there is only one person of God. That person to him is Jesus alone, as the one person in the Godhead. The Bible teaches there is one God, but there are three divine Beings that make up the one God.

Notice how “one” is used in the Scriptures: Paul said in Romans 12:4, “Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” Paul added, “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12). You can see that one body does not mean only one person, but rather many persons making up one body.

Jesus taught that two persons are one without losing their individual identity. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:5-6). You can clearly see that one here includes two persons. The same is true with the word God.

Jesus prayed that all believers might be one. Read John 17:20-22: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one.” One in this passage cannot and does not mean only one person. Furthermore, Jesus prayed that his followers would be one AS (note the adverb of comparison) he and his father are one. “As” means “in this way,” or “in this manner.” Therefore one God does not mean only one person of God.

Paul spoke to the citizens of Athens, saying: “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device” (Acts 17:29). The word Godhead is also found in Romans 1:20 and Colossians 2:9. It means “Deity, the state of being God or divinity.” One God is the same as saying one Deity. The Bible says there is one God (Deity) but never says there is only one person who is deity. The Bible says a husband and wife are one, but they remain two distinct people. All believers are one in Christ (John 17:20) but not one person. If countless billions can be “one” and remain distinct human persons, three divine Beings can be one and remain distinct divine persons.

A United Pentecostal creed book reads: “We believe in the one ever living, eternal God: infinite in power, holy in nature, attributes and purpose; and possessing absolute, indivisible deity. This one true God has revealed Himself as Father, through His Son, in redemption; and as the Holy Spirit, by emanation. … This one true God manifested Himself in the Old Testament in divers ways; in the Son while He walked among men; as the Holy Spirit after the ascension” (Manual, United Pentecostal Church, page 17). Some of those who adhere to this creedal dictum explain it this way. “God is one person, who has manifested Himself in creation as Father, in redemption as Son, and in the Church as the Holy Ghost.”

This is false doctrine about God’s being. If God exists eternally as only one person, manifesting Himself in three different modes, He is not (and cannot be) a manifestation of all three simultaneously. Either God is Father (as Pentecostals say He was in creation) or He is the Son, as they claim He was in redemption, or He is the Holy Spirit now. He cannot be all three at the same time and be but one person. Thus, if Jesus was God manifest in the Son in redemption, but is now manifesting Himself as the Holy Spirit in the church, Jesus is not now the Son of God.

Those who deny that Jesus is (present tense) the Son of God are anti-Christ. “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: but he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23). Those who affirm only one person of God but three separate manifestations cannot acknowledge the Son and the Father also and are forced to deny that Jesus is now manifest as God. It is just that simple — and is very serious. I urge to you and everyone else to reject this idea of “Only One Person in the Godhead” heresy.

— Via  Articles from the LaVista church of Christ
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Matt6_33

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“Let Nothing Be Done Through Selfish Ambition”

R.J. Evans

For a number of years our culture has had the philosophy of “have it your way” and “no one can tell me what to do.”  This is strictly a selfish attitude that is usually fostered from early childhood onward.  So many young people grow up getting everything they want and are not accustomed to being disciplined in any way.  When these kind of attitudes start permeating a congregation, the local church will start having problems.

Our Lord taught the very opposite.  Instead of seeking self interests first, He tells us to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness”  (Matt. 6:33).  Thus, we must always put Christ and the advancement of His Cause first and foremost in our lives.  If we have created problems because we have to have everything our way, we need to humbly bow our heads in shame and repent of our selfish demands which have disrupted the peace, harmony, and progress of the church.

Our Lord was even willing to be abused and mistreated for righteousness sake—”who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23).  And just before the verse cited, we are told that we should look to His example and “follow His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

While living on earth, Jesus said of Himself, “I am meek and lowly in heart” (Matt. 11:29).  Moses, God’s chosen leader of the Israelites, “was very meek, above all men which were upon the face of the earth” (Num. 12: 3).  Likewise, the word of God teaches those of us who are Christians the following: “Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Pet. 5:5-6).

Being a faithful child of God is a life of ministry and humble service to others.  Jesus taught this throughout His earthly ministry; and at the end of His life, He demonstrated what He had been teaching by washing His disciples’ feet (Jn. 13:5).  So the next time you selfishly feel it has to be your way, or no way, think of Christ’s example and teaching.  We should give some serious thought to what the true spirit of service involves before we begin to assert our rights in the church by demanding that we have to have it our way in every matter.  Like the Apostle Paul, we must be willing to forego our rights or liberties when we know that we are offending or upsetting other Christians by our actions (See 1 Cor. 8:12-13; 9;1-18; 10:32).  Selfishness has no place in the service of the Lord!

— Via the bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, August 19, 2018
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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) Not Our Workmanship, But His (Bill Hall)
2) The Myth (Shane Williams)
3) What Makes the Difference? (Bill Crews)
4) Whose Orders? (Bob Hines)
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Phil1_6c

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Not Our Workmanship, But His

Bill Hall

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

When one is baptized he becomes a new creation, but he is not the creation of any man. He is the workmanship of God.

He is not the workmanship of the person who converted him — not primarily, anyway. Man can teach, influence, persuade, and baptize; but only God can cleanse, and give him new life. He is God’s creation — God’s workmanship. Just as surely as no man could create an “Adam,” just that surely no man can create a new creature in Christ.

Neither is one self-made. In Christ, one does not lift himself “by his own bootstraps.” Christianity is not a “do-it-yourself religion” — not in the fullest sense. One does not effect his own salvation through his own merit. Rather, in obedience to the gospel and faithfulness as a Christian, he places himself as clay in God’s hand, to become the work of the divine Potter, who molds, shapes, and perfects him that he might be fashioned in the image of His Son.

He is the workmanship of God because his salvation is “by grace…through faith,” “the gift of” God (Ephesians 2:8,9). If one’s salvation were of meritorious works, he would not be the workmanship of God. This is the primary thrust of the passage.

The workmanship of God exists as a monument to the greatness of the Potter; as a beautiful painting is a monument to an artist, so a mature and perfected Christian is a monument to the marvelous power of God. Such a person is a product of God’s grace and exists for “the praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; 3:14-19). That God could take a Peter, a John, a Saul of Tarsus, an Aquila, a Priscilla, a John Mark, and mold him or her into the lovely vessel each became is a manifestation of His greatness. That He could do the same for people this writer has known and observed equally manifests His greatness. That He can and will do the same for me if I will but submit myself to His care in humble obedience, trust, and prayer is the greatest marvel of all.

The workmanship of God must be handled with care. Such a person is special, precious, priceless to God. As one is cautious in handling a family heirloom or rare piece of pottery fashioned by the hands of a master, so we must be cautious in our treatment of that creation which is the work of God. “Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food,” Paul warned the Romans (Romans 14:20). That person toward whose tender conscience you are showing little regard or whose soul you are placing in jeopardy is the work of God. Love that person. Appreciate him. Be tender toward him. Recognize his value. Handle with care!

The workmanship of God must never be content until it is brought to perfection. “Finish then Thy new creation,” Charles Wesley wrote in his familiar hymn, “Love Divine.” In keeping with this, Paul could express his confidence in the Philippian Christians, “That He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6,7). Only those who remain in the Potter’s hands until brought to completion and perfection become vessels of honor. All others become marred and fit only for destruction (II Timothy 2:19-21).

Let not man, then, boast of himself. Self-righteousness has no place in the heart of a Christian. If any man boast, “let him glory in the Lord” (I Corinthians 1:31) and “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). We are His workmanship.

— via Gospel Power, Vol. 13, No. 33, Aug. 13, 2006
——————–

Woman caught in rain

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The Myth

Shane Williams

Once we decide to obey God completely, it’s easy to assume that the rest of our life will run smoothly. If it does, we think this proves that we’re doing God’s Will. If we run into obstacles, however, we’re quick to conclude that we must be doing something wrong or God is unhappy with us. Rather than question our measuring stick, we question our dedication, and sometimes even God.

It’s a myth to believe that if we obey God, everything will always go well. Being dedicated to God means going with Him even when things don’t go our way. In fact, as you consider the growth of the church in the first century, the Bible is clear that the gospel advanced during times of suffering.

Although Paul was imprisoned when he wrote to the Philippians, his adversity didn’t cause him concern. His objective was to preach the gospel and he didn’t question that goal just because he had been arrested. He made the most of the circumstances and continued to proclaim Jesus even to his captors. His imprisonment furthered the gospel!

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the Word of God without fear” (Philippians 1:12-14).

How would you and I react if we were in Paul’s shoes? Would we question our faithfulness, God’s love for us, or perhaps question if there was even a God?

Don’t be fooled by the misleading notion that life will be easy if you obey God. God doesn’t always remove difficulties; He uses them for your good and for His glory.

— via The Lilbourn Light, Vol. 9, Nos. 4,5, Aug/Sept. 2008
——————–

1John4_1b

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What Makes the Difference?

Bill Crews

* If a man has money and is not willing to have it examined, people think it is counterfeit.

* If a man is afraid to take a lie detector test, people think he is guilty of crime.

* If a man conducts a business and is unwilling to let anyone investigate it, folks think he is running a crooked business.

But, many preachers teach doctrines that under no circumstances will they test or allow to be tested by the Bible. Yet millions of people will accept them as upright, honest teachers of the truth, and will risk their salvation upon them. What makes the difference? The Bible instructs us to try the teachers (I John 4:1). The truth never fears investigation!

— Via La Vista church of Christ
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train1

-4-

Whose Orders?

Bob Hines

Years ago I read notice of a horrible train wreck in which many people died painfully amid the twisted burning wreckage. The engineer was killed as well. But as he lay near death he showed those nearby a paper, saying, “Take this. It will show I was given the wrong orders.” And, they were the wrong orders. He had been on the wrong track, yet he was still dying, along with many others.

Friend, you have an eternal soul. What orders are you following: God’s, or man’s idea of religion? Make sure, because sincerity is not enough!

— via The Beacon, July 8, 2018
——————–

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 Obedience of Faith (Steve Dewhirst)
2) Save Yourselves (Terry W. Benton)
——————–

Heb5_9c

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The Obedience of Faith

Steve Dewhirst

How odd, that one of the Bible’s most fundamental teachings should have become so puzzling to folks. God is not the author of confusion, but man is. And during the centuries since Jesus walked the earth, the very nature of the faith that saves has been obscured by an improper balance of principles.

Without controversy should be the straightforward declaration, “by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). To deny the truth of the statement is to deny the gospel. But, as with other subjects, to isolate this verse to the exclusion of all others is to guarantee oneself the wrong perception. This verse surely tells us of salvation through faith, itself. We should never question that we are saved through faith, but we should certainly arrive toward a better understanding of what faith is and how it is expressed.

Faith can be defined as a deep, abiding trust and confidence in God — but to stop there is to leave the picture incomplete. It is this notion that faith is nothing more than the intellectual acknowledgment that God exists, that has led many to think that He makes no requirements of us. But that simply won’t square with Scripture. After all, Hebrews 5:9 says that Jesus is “the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Now faith, or belief, is not the same as obedience. But obviously, weighing the principle of faith beside that of obedience should cause us to dig a little deeper into the nature of the faith that saves. Saving faith cannot exist in a vacuum. In other words, faith doesn’t exist as an isolated concept, separate from the life of the believer. Faith is a living, active ingredient of one’s character. It effects the believer’s conduct for good. James 2:14 poses two critical questions. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it?” These are rhetorical questions; requiring no answer. A “faith” that does nothing cannot save anyone. Even demons believe that God exists (James 2:19), but no one believes they will be saved. No, faith needs something else to make it complete. James cites the example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God and asks, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22).

So our earlier definition of faith needs to be amended. Faith is a deep, abiding trust and confidence in God, that creates a willingness to do what God says. Any definition of faith that excludes an obedient heart has failed to consider God’s Word completely. But just a note of caution is in order. Just as some men incorrectly deem faith to be a mental assent of God’s goodness, others ignore faith and believe that righteousness lies in obedience. Both views are woefully wrong. No one will ever be justified before God on the basis of his obedience, for no one’s obedience is perfect (Galatians 3:10,11; Romans 3:23). Obedience for the sake of “scoring points” with God is an exercise in futility. The only obedience God will accept is that which is born of our faith in Him. The obedience of faith is that service which is motivated by our trust that God knows best, and our desire to honor His Will. It is this faith that Paul advocates in his great epistle to the Romans. In introducing his theme, Paul says he has received grace and apostleship “unto the obedience of faith among all the nations” (Romans 1:5 ASV). Plainly put, Paul is working as an apostle in order to bring about the obedience which rightly stems from faith. Paul never taught “rote” obedience in keeping with a ritualistic traditionalism. Instead, Paul taught that we can only be saved by recognizing our sinfulness, seeking the grace and mercy of God, and coming to Him through a faith in Christ that is willing to meet His conditions of pardon.

Man’s salvation through faith shouldn’t be puzzling. The most natural thing in the world ought to be our willingness to obey the God in whom we have faith. If we have come to redemption through the sacrifice of God’s only Son, how can we fail to humble our spirits before His Word? A faith that refuses to obey is really no faith at all.

— via Gospel Power, Vol. 12, No. 17, April 24, 2005
——————–

“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household…” (Heb. 11:7, NASB).
——————–

Acts2_40

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Save Yourselves

Terry W. Benton

Only because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and only through knowledge of what He did can we engage in the activity of faith that will result in our salvation. There is a common expression these days that “there is nothing you can do, Jesus did it all for you” which is misleading. Jesus did not believe for you. He did not repent for you, and He was not baptized for you. When Peter told the Jews who asked “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) what they should do (Acts 2:38), and then told them with many other words to “save yourselves from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40), he was not denying that Jesus had paid the price for their sins, but he was affirming that the benefit of what Jesus did is not automatically applied to our account until and unless we meet these conditions. No one is saved by the blood of Christ until and unless they truly believe enough to meet these conditions: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins….” The gift is offered freely on those terms. Those who believe will “gladly receive his word” (Acts 2:41) and be baptized accordingly. Those who do not will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).

Now, let us also observe that baptism is to be “in the name of Jesus Christ,” which is by His authority. On our own authority we could not be baptized and the act itself save us or give us remission of sins. But, baptism that is done in the name of Jesus Christ will be active faith that puts us in the position to have saved ourselves from this perverse generation. It is a separating act that cuts out sins and ties to a perverse generation of people and allows us to cross the Red Sea of Jesus’ blood to rise on the other side totally free from the past sins and now totally committed to the leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (I Corinthians 10:1-3; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; Acts 22:16; Acts 8:33ff). 3,000 gladly received his word, were baptized, crossed over into the heavenly land, the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3,7; Colossians 1:13), and were saved from sin and condemnation (Romans 8:1). They were now risen to new life in Christ with Christ as their head. This is what happens when a person gladly takes the exit route Jesus offers. This is how they were able to “save themselves.” This is how we must cut the ties we have to a perverse generation and save ourselves from the condemnation that is certain to come upon a world of spiritually blind people (II Corinthians 4:2-4). Jesus wants you to be saved (Matthew 11: 28ff; II Peter 3:9). Jesus died to pay for your sins. He told you what to do now to save yourself. Have you done it? If not, why not?

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

“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, 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

Contents:

1) Jesus Emptied Himself: A Basic Approach (Doy Moyer)
2) How Does the Spirit “Bear Witness?” (Greg Gwin)
——————–

Phil2_5-7

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Jesus Emptied Himself: A Basic Approach

Doy Moyer

That Jesus “emptied himself” is not a debatable issue (Phil. 2:6-7). Of what he emptied himself, or exactly what that phrase means, has been an ancient debate. What I have to offer here may not solve any controversies, but I hope it will give some food for thought.

1. Any position which effectively destroys the deity of Jesus is wrong. This is the effect of the position that teaches Jesus gave up his divine attributes and characteristics. Those who teach this need to explain how Jesus could remain God while giving up the nature of God. The nature of something is the attributes and characteristics that make it what it is. If Jesus did not have the nature of God, he was not God (see Gal. 4:8).

2. The text does not say that Jesus emptied himself “of” anything. When we add “of” to the phrase, and then start enumerating upon what all he supposedly gave up to come to earth, we are not being faithful to the text. We are reading into the text what it does not say. As opposed to being “full of” himself (a modern idiom), he “emptied himself.” He did not empty himself “of” a bunch of things.

3. To insist that “emptied himself” should be taken literally to mean that Jesus had to dump something out of himself before he could take something else on is a misuse of the text. The text says, “He emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant.” That is self-explanatory. His taking on servanthood was a self-emptying act.

4. A good comparison can be made with Isaiah 53, a text describing the suffering Servant. Note in verse 12 the phrase, “He poured out himself to death.” Does that not have a striking resemblance to “emptied himself,” and “humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death” (Phil. 2:7-8)? As the suffering Servant, he emptied himself, poured himself out even to death.

5. The context of Philippians 2 itself shows what it means by the phrase “emptied himself.” Paul’s point of the text is to urge the brethren to be of the same mind, to be united and intent on one purpose (v. 2). To accomplish this, he instructs: “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (vv. 3-4). These are the instructions, but how does one do this? “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus” (v. 5). To reach the point of selflessness, one must look to Jesus. Why? Because he is the perfect example of these instructions. Though he himself is God, while on earth he did not grasp after his godhood by trying to exercise his own independent will apart from the Father (“did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped”). Rather, he “emptied himself,” which is the perfect phrase to describe the attitude of verses 3-4.

So what does it mean that Jesus “emptied himself”? Jesus Christ, in his role of the Servant, did nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but in lowliness of mind he regarded others as more important than himself. He looked out for the personal interests of others. How did he do this? Ultimately, by dying on the cross.

So, Paul’s point is that, as Jesus emptied himself, so must we all empty ourselves. It is simply another way of saying that we need to deny ourselves (Luke 9:23), for this is what Jesus did when he fulfilled his mission for a lost world. He set himself aside so that everything he did was selfless. Mark says it this way: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). These passages say the same thing.

6. The idea that Jesus emptied himself of attributes and characteristics is completely foreign to Paul’s argument. He points to Jesus as our example of self-humiliation. If Jesus emptied out of himself a bunch of attributes, then how can we follow this example? We can’t divest ourselves of our human nature any more than he could divest his divine nature. The line of reasoning that Paul uses to say that we should be selfless becomes meaningless through such an interpretation. It is an attitude that he is teaching.

7. Very simply, then, the text tells us that we should empty ourselves. We should deny ourselves, doing nothing out of selfishness. We do this by taking the attitude of Jesus, the supreme example of self-denial. He emptied himself. As a servant, he completely submitted to the Father and poured out himself unto death. Afterwards, he was exalted. If we, too, will humble ourselves in like manner, God promises that we will be exalted (Jas. 4:10).

— Via The Auburn Beacon, June 4, 2017, Volume 8, Issue 38
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Eph6_17b

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How Does the Spirit “Bear Witness?”

Greg Gwin

Romans 8:16 says, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” The big question is, of course, how does He do this?

There are many that would suggest that the Spirit “bears witness” by means of some better-felt-than-told experience. Usually we are given an account of some episode that left the person with an overwhelming emotional feeling. Because of this experience the person claims salvation and is certain that it was the work of the Spirit that caused it all to happen.

There are some problems with this approach. First, as we study cases of conversion in the New Testament, we find not a single case of an individual who was saved through such an experience. In cases where individuals actually had supernatural “experiences,” they still had to hear the Word and obey its commands. (Saul – Acts 9; Cornelius – Acts 10; the Jailer – Acts 16, etc.)

Also, we are puzzled by the fact that various individuals who claim to have experienced this confirmation of the Spirit have differing views on fundamental doctrinal issues. We wonder how that could be if they are truly receiving some action directly from the Holy Spirit. Do you see the problem?

So, how does the Spirit “bear witness with our spirit that we are the children of God?” How can we have this confidence and confirmation of the Spirit?

The Holy Spirit through inspiration produced the written word of God. When we compare our lives with that perfect revelation, we are able to see if we have done those things that are commanded in order to be a child of God. Have you believed (Heb. 11:6), repented of sins (Lk. 13:3), confessed faith in Christ (Rom. 10:10), and been baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38)? Do you continue to faithfully serve the Lord (Rev. 2:10)? If so, the Spirit “bears witness” through the Scriptures that you are a child of God.

– Via The Beacon, September 11, 2018
——————–

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) Divine Authority and Human Relations (Connie W. Adams)
——————–

relationships

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Divine Authority and Human Relations

Connie W. Adams

When Satan tempted Jesus to make stones into bread, Jesus responded by saying, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). This was a reference to the incident recorded in Deuteronomy 8 when God gave the Israelites manna in the wilderness. He gave specific instructions as to how much to gather for a day’s supply. Any more than that would breed worms and stink and they could not use it. They were to look beyond the actual manna to the source of their very existence. God was their provider and they were answerable to him. So it is in all human relations. The God who made the world and who made us has the right to command, to direct, and to enforce obedience. He also has the right to enact punishment upon the disobedient.

Order in the Family

Concerning the family Jesus said, “Have you not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they two shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6). Marriage was created by God, even as he created the universe and set in motion the laws by which it is ordered. As God made man and determined the bounds of his habitation, even so God made marriage and set in motion the laws by which it functions. Notice that “at the beginning” he made them male and female. That denies evolution, even the theistic brand. Both male and female were distinctly formed by God and that was done “at the beginning.”

Notice further that in marriage male and female become one. There is a perfect and intimate union of mind, soul, and body. They function not as adversaries, or competitors, but with one heart and soul. This union is a divine creation and it is just as damaging to disregard that as it is to reject God’s authority in the natural creation. For man to “put asunder” what “God hath joined together” is to invite great harm upon this relationship. The balance of moral behavior is poised upon the permanence and stability of God’s divine order for the family. To “put asunder” what God has joined together is to tear down the basic unit of all orderly human society. No wonder such violation of divine authority results in broken hearts, devastated children, rebellious behavior, hatred, and every evil work. Malice, bitterness, jealousy, envy, hatred, lying, cheating, stealing, and murder often follow in the wake of man’s presumption in tearing apart what God joined together.

There is something else here worthy of note and that is that marriage is more than a social or civil ceremony. While the customs and laws of man require certain things which validate a marriage in any given culture (and devout people ought to respect such things), it is God who creates the bond. Only divinely expressed authority can sever that. Death severs this bond (Rom. 7:1-3). In the context of the passage we are considering (Matt. 19), Jesus taught that fornication grants the injured party the right to put away the guilty (v. 9). But while we debate the exception, let it not be forgotten that there is a rule here. It is simply that God created marriage. He establishes the bond and man is not to put it asunder. Any violation of what he taught about it flaunts divine authority. That cannot be done without a price to pay.

Order in the Civil Government

The same divine power that created the universe, made man in his image, designed the family and fashioned the laws by which each of these is ordered, designed civil government for the good of mankind. “Let every soul be subject to the higher power, for there is no power but of God and the powers that be are ordained of God” (Rom. 13:1). Without specifying any one form of civil rule over another, God still ordained “the powers that be.” By divine authority they function. Peter clearly stated the design of civil government. “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well” (1 Pet. 2:13-14).

It is the duty of civil rulers to “punish the evil doers.” Lawbreakers, the rebellious, those who do not respect the rule of law, are not to be tolerated. They are to be punished. In every dispensation this principle is revealed. In Genesis 9:6 God said, “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.” It is this same principle revealed in the law of Moses which contained over 30 instances in which capital punishment was to be inflicted. Ezra spelled out the demand for punishment upon the law-breakers, showing the punishment suited to the seriousness of the crime. “And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether it be unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment” (Ezra 7:26). Note that whatever punishment was to be administered to suit the nature of the crime, it was to be done “speedily” (KJV, NKJV). The New American Standard Version reads “strictly.” There was to be no dalliance. The offender was not to “get off.” The punishment was exact, determined beforehand according to the offense and it was to be executed with speed. Solomon added that failure to carry out sentence against an evil work “speedily” would cause the hearts of men to be set on evil (Eccl. 8:11). Is strict punishment a deterrent to crime? The Lord thought so and revealed it through inspired men. The whole debate on this issue now springs from a lack of respect for the divine authority of the Almighty.

In the New Testament, Paul said the civil ruler is “the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Rom. 13:4). The civil ruler has a “sword,” a weapon of force. Who gave it to him? By what right does he use it? “He is the minister of God, a revenger, to execute wrath on him that doeth evil.” Civil law exercised without prompt and certain punishment for those who violate that law, opens the door to anarchy. When policemen are stripped of power, when the system is rigged in favor of the criminal and his “rights” transcend those of his victims, then justice is perverted and an escalation in crime is inevitable. When cases are decided without regard to the evidence and verdicts are based on emotion in spite of clear evidence, then the rule of law has suffered a serious blow.

Peter said the rulers are also to “praise those who do well.” The rights and safety of those who are submissive to law must be secured by rulers. The greatest asset which law enforcement has is the presence of God-fearing, law-abiding citizens who are not only concerned with their “rights” but the “rights” of others as well. People who pay their debts, go to work on time, work hard, and observe the laws (whether the speed limit, the requirement for hunting or fishing licenses), rear decent and honorable children, and who practice the Golden Rule are benefactors to the powers that be. They ought to be encouraged in right doing. Any time laws are slanted to punish people for doing right, then God’s will is not done. When married people are taxed at a higher rate than those who simply “live together” then evil is encouraged and those who do well are disadvantaged. Instead of mocking and working to punish those who live by the law, not just out of fear of punishment, but because they believe this to be the will of God, civil rulers ought to protect and praise those who do well, as Peter said. Something surely is out of whack in these times! What is the real problem? It is disrespect for God who authorized civil government.

— Via Navarre Messenger, May 21, 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) Predestination (Kelly Ellis)
2) Jesus Washed Feet, Should We? (J.F. Dancer)
3) Who Is Your Father? (Wayne Goff)
4) Does God Tempt Man? (Tom Edwards)
——————–

2Pe3_9b

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Predestination

Kelly Ellis

The Calvinistic concept of the predestination of men — apart from their will and choice — issues from the false assumption that men are “born in sin” having inherited the original sin of Adam; and, “being wholly inclined to evil,” with no good in them, such a condition required an “unconditional election” on the part of God. This election limited the atonement of Christ to the “elect,” who are saved by the “irresistible grace of God,” and will therefore, never be able to forfeit their right to eternal life. On the other hand, all who are not of the “elect” are completely shut off from the grace of God that He has extended to all men through Christ, and are eternally consigned to damnation and separation from God in the world to come. This doctrine stands opposed to New Testament teaching on at least 5 points:

1. It makes God a respecter of persons in that He has predestinated some to eternal life and others to eternal damnation: this is contrary to the very nature of God (Romans 2:11; Deuteronomy 32:4).

2. It makes God responsible for the loss of souls in hell; but the New Testament teaches that He is not “willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). He “would have all men to be saved” (I Timothy 2:4).

3. It destroys man’s power of choice. If my destiny is already sealed, there is nothing I can do to change it; I have no choice open to me, and my will cannot be exercised in any way whatever. However, the Bible says, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (Joshua 24:15), and the “Spirit and the bride say, Come … and whosoever WILL, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).  Jesus said, “If any man WILL” (John 7:17).

4. It nullifies the commission of Christ (Mark 16:15-16). If one’s eternal destiny has already been determined by the Father, why preach to him?

5. The whole system makes man an irresponsible being. If man is born in sin, if he is a sinner by birth, he is not responsible for those transgressions. But man does not inherit sin — he commits it (Ezekiel 18:1-24). This passage also teaches that man does not inherit righteousness; he does it.

— via Eastside church of Christ, December 31, 2017
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Jesus Washed Feet, Should We?

J.F. Dancer

In John 13, after Jesus had instituted the Lord’s Supper, we find that he washed his disciples’ feet (vs. 4-16). Many times the question arises, “Since Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, should we not wash one another’s feet?” Some in the denominational world have used this as justification to have a “foot washing service” as a part of the worship to God.

Washing feet is also mentioned in Luke 7 where a woman washed the feet of Jesus with her tears and wiped them with her hair. Then it is mentioned in 1 Timothy 5 as one of the deeds that would characterize some widows.

The usual mode of travel in Jesus’ day was walking. The roads and pathways were usually dusty. One of the signs of hospitality in that time was to wash (or, have a servant to wash) the feet of a guest when they arrived in your house. This seems to be the thought in Luke 7 and seems to be given as a symbol of hospitality in 1 Timothy 5. It is certain that the lesson Jesus taught in John 13 was that of humility and service.

Saints still need to be humble in the sight of God (James 4:10) and in this humility be willing to do anything they can to relieve the distress of another — including washing their body (not just feet). We should show hospitality to those who visit us, but washing another’s feet is not necessarily the only way to manifest this. And, we all (not just widows) should be active in doing good deeds.

To go through a ceremony of washing another’s feet when they don’t need washing is NOT a show of humility nor godliness. So far as I can see it is NOT something to be done in worship to God.

Let us leave it as the Bible does — a symbol of hospitality and good works. Let us manifest hospitality in other ways and do all good works expected by God — but let us not fall into a ritual of washing feet in applying the Scripture improperly.

– Via The Beacon (from the Collegevue church of Christ), June 27, 2017
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Who Is Your Father?

Wayne Goff

I would suppose that it goes without saying that most, if not all, of us know who our earthly father is. But who is your spiritual Father?

If you’re reading this article, then you would probably say that God is your spiritual Father. That’s the right answer, but how do you know for sure? The Jewish enemies of Jesus claimed that Jehovah was their Father, but Jesus denied it and said that the Devil was their father! What a difference that is! So let’s suggest a few proofs that tell us who is really your father:

If God is your Father, then you trust Him with all your heart. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). While Jesus was on earth in a position of subservience, He learned to put His trust in the Father (Hebrews 2:13). We must do the same.

If God is your Father, then you believe what He says.  Jesus said, “He who is of God hears God’s words…” (Jn. 8:47). It is not enough to say that God is our Father, we must demonstrate it by that in which we believe.

If God is your Father, then you delight in His company. “Therefore submit to God. … Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you doubleminded” (James 4:7a, 8). God’s house of worship is your delight: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the LORD’” (Psalm 122:1).

If God is your Father, then you strive to be like Him. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44-45).

There are other proofs of sonship, but these are sufficient to give you something by which to examine yourselves. Who IS your father?

— Via the Roanridge Reader, June 17, 2018
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Does God Tempt Man?

Tom Edwards

“Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13, NASB).

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham…” (Gen. 22:1, KJV).

The above verses might sound to be contradicting each other, but not when we understand how the word “tempt” is being used.

Though we probably think of the word to primarily involve the tempting of someone to do evil, it also has an obsolete meaning, according to Webster, of “to try or test.” In that sense, we can easily think of God who did not tempt Abraham to do wrong, but was testing him to see if he would do right.

Many modern Bible translations render the Hebrew word for “tempt” as “tested” (or another form of that word) in Genesis 22:1. For the particular Hebrew word for it (H5254) is primarily defined as “to test, try, prove, tempt, assay, put to the proof or test” (Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions).
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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) Living with Guilt (Dan Gatlin)
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Living With Guilt

Dan Gatlin

Do different sins carry different consequences? Well, that depends on how we look at it. From a spiritual perspective the answer is no. The Bible tells us that all sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). Though man distinguishes between “big sins” and “little sins,” the New Testament does not. James writes, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (2:10-11). James is not saying that the murderer is also guilty of adultery, rather, that one stands before God as either forgiven or condemned. In our courts, if someone is convicted of stealing he cannot successfully argue, “I should be set free because I have never murdered, committed arson, or assaulted anyone.” We stand before the judge as either innocent or a violator of the law. Violating even one law, though we keep the rest, makes us guilty.

From the standpoint of church discipline all sin should carry the same consequence. It matters not whether a Christian is guilty of gossip, forsaking the assembly, fornication, or teaching false doctrine, if they refuse to repent (1 Jn. 5:16-17), discipline should follow (2 Thess. 3:6-15).

But the simple fact is that different sins can vary widely in their earthly consequences. One who repents of a “little white lie” (if there is such a thing) may immediately regain his reputation. But the young woman who repents of fornication may find herself with a child to raise. Both may be forgiven, but the consequence of the latter endures while the former is more easily forgotten.

The alcoholic/drug addict may destroy every important relationship he has. Family, friends, and neighbors, may all abandon him, yet if he “comes to himself” (Lk. 15:17) he can find forgiveness with God. His other relationships may never be repaired. The adulterer may find himself divorced and in a position where he can never remarry (as far as God’s law is concerned), but he also can obtain God’s forgiveness. Loneliness as a “single” may be the price he has to pay to be acceptable to God and to gain eternal life.

Living with the consequences of sins like these serve as a daily reminder of those sins. While God and man may forgive us, forgiving ourselves may be much more difficult. David wrote, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me” (Ps. 51:3). While God forgave him (2 Sam. 12:13), his guilty conscience continued to plague him. How can we deal with the guilt associated with the consequences of such sins? God’s word provides the answer.

1. Devote Yourself Completely To God. Being “double-minded” (James. 1:8) is how most Christians become entangled in sin in the first place. We cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in the church. Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24). Those who try to live a double life will eventually find themselves in a situation where they have to make a choice between living as the world and living righteously.

Consider the words of Paul in Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Paul’s life was not his own, it was entirely dedicated to Christ. The statement, “I have been crucified with Christ,” is explained in Gal. 5:24, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” One does not have to be an apostle or preacher for these statements to apply to them. All must set aside their desires and do those things that are pleasing to God. The degree of our devotion to God is expressed by Paul, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). “Whatever you do in word or deed” is all encompassing, everything we say and do must comply with His word. God expects us to serve Him every day. We must pray (1 Thess. 5:17), study (Acts 17:11), and meditate (Phil. 4:8; Ps. 1:1-2) each day. Without taking such “drastic” action, we leave ourselves open to Satan’s attacks. Overcoming Satan’s snares takes preparation, discipline, and work.

2. Make Corrections Where You Can. Part of repentance includes restitution. We can’t rob a bank on Friday, be converted on Sunday, and decide to keep the money on Monday. Zacchaeus told Jesus, “if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Lk. 19:8). While we can’t always make restitution for our sins, we can express sorrow for our sins and show by our life that we have changed. This is what John and Paul meant by the phrase, “fruits of repentance” (Matt. 8:3; Acts 26:20). If we make changes in our spiritual lives, others can’t help but see it (1 Pet. 4:3-5; Eph. 2:1-10).

3. Recognize That God Forgives You. Even if we don’t feel forgiven, we can know that we are. Of course, such knowledge comes only after we have repented, and only by trusting in God’s promise to forgive. Unfortunately, our emotions don’t always fall in line with our intellect. The apostle John wrote, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 Jn. 3:20-21). (John is not saying that we can continue in sin and God will overlook it. Why would the apostle who emphasized obedience to the commandments [Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 2:3-4, 3:22, 5:2-3; 2 Jn. 6] deny that obedience here?) We may know that God has forgiven our sins and that we are walking by His commandments, but somehow the feelings of guilt may remain. This is part of what John meant by saying, “if our heart condemns us.” In such cases, God is greater than our hearts. If the guilt subsides so that “our heart does not condemn us,” then we are blessed with “confidence toward God.”

While David felt the guilt of his sin (Ps. 51:3), he also recognized the blessedness of God’s forgiveness. Psalm 51 expresses David’s sorrow over his adultery and murder. In contrast, Psalm 32 expresses his joy over the forgiveness of those sins: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit” (vs. 1-2). The apostle Paul never forgot the fact that he was a persecutor of the church (1 Tim. 1:13). He referred to himself as “the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9) and “the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8). Yet, even with such guilt he could say, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

4. Take Responsibility And Accept The Consequences. When God confronted Adam and Eve with their sin, Adam took the cowards way out: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). He blamed Eve and then God when he knowingly chose to sin (1 Tim. 2:14). God has never accepted excuses, and He certainly will not on the day of judgment.

Again, we turn to David as an example. His statement to Nathan was simple, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). The consequence was: “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house”  (2 Sam. 12:10). In years to follow David witnessed the rape of Tamar by Amnon, the murder of Amnon by Absalom, the overthrow of his throne by Absalom, and finally the death of Absalom. No doubt David remembered the words of this prophecy as “the sword” ravaged his family.

5. Use Guilty Feelings Positively. Today men go to great lengths to avoid feeling guilty. Doctors dispense drugs, Psychiatrists and Psychologists try to convince people that their sin is simply an “alternate lifestyle.” But avoiding guilt when we are guilty causes our conscience to become calloused (Eph. 4:17-19). In reality, a tender conscience is a blessing. Consider the good things guilt can do in our lives. First, it should motivate us to live humbly toward God and those we may have sinned against. Humility is the foundational attitude that makes our relationship with God acceptable. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8-10).

Second, guilt can keep us from further sin by reminding us of the pain we’ve caused God, others, and ourselves. Men are inclined to think of the “passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25) rather than the pain and suffering that later results. By focusing on the consequences of sin, and not its pleasures, we can avoid the trap that is awaiting us.

Third, guilt can remind us of the fate that awaits those who don’t make their lives right with God. “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:21-23). Part of the torment of hell will be remembering the missed opportunities of this life (Lk. 16:25). Let us always make the most of those opportunities while there is still hope.

— Via The Auburn Beacon, August 16, 2015, Volume 6, Issue 41
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Editor’s Note: I would think the part in the above article that says, “Doctors dispense drugs” (to eliminate their patient’s guilty feelings) and “Psychiatrists and Psychologists try to convince people that their sin is simply an ‘alternate lifestyle’” are meant as generalizations, rather than that which would be true of all.
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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) Jesus: Intolerant, Confrontational, and Exclusionary (Dan Gatlin)
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Jesus: Intolerant, Confrontational, and Exclusionary

Dan Gatlin

The typical denominational view of both Father and Son is that “God is love,” and only love. What is so easily forgotten is His severity (Romans 11:22) and wrath (II Thessalonians 1:3-10). Jesus is depicted as quiet, soft-spoken, harmless, almost a wimp (nothing could be further from the truth). The consequence of this one-sided view of Jesus is that while many believe in Him, they no longer fear Him. Yet, Jesus taught that we are to fear Him, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). This tolerant, inclusive, non-condemning Jesus will accept just about any scheme that man will devise or any form of worship so long as it is offered in sincerity. But Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23). Clearly, the ideas that many have about deity are contradicted by the scriptures.

Sadly, this political correctness has crept into the thinking of many Christians, including some who occupy pulpits and are entrusted with the leadership of congregations. For many the motivation is clear, a “cleaned up” Jesus who preaches a “cleaned up” gospel is less offensive and will attract more people. But man’s desire for God to be different than what He actually is does not make it so.

Truths That All Bible Believers Recognize

God is love. This is clearly stated in I John 4: 8, 16. His love for man caused Him to send His Son to die on the cross as a sin sacrifice (John 3:16), while man was an enemy (Romans 5:6-10). Truly, this degree of love is incomprehensible. But the forgotten side is that “the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24). These are not conflicting ideas, the two sides make a whole.

God wants all men to be saved. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4). While God offers salvation to all mankind (Titus 2:11) the majority will reject His offer, and God will destroy them (Matthew 10:28; II Thessalonians 1:9).

God is no respecter of persons. The promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) extends to all the nations of the earth. That promise is fulfilled in Christ (Galatians 3:16). Though Christ and His disciples preached primarily to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6), God’s plan after Jesus ascended was that the gospel be preached to all men (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 10 & 11; Ephesians 2:11-16). While salvation is extended to all without partiality, only those in the Lord’s church have accepted the offer (Acts 20:28). All others are lost.

The Side Of Jesus That Is Often Ignored

Jesus Was Intolerant Of Sin And Those Who Promoted It. Much of His time on earth was spent exposing and condemning the sins of the Jewish leadership. He warned His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6). Initially the disciples didn’t understand His words. But after Jesus explained, “they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12). His language in Matthew 23 is among the strongest in all the Bible. He referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites,” “serpents,” “brood of vipers.” He described them as “full of extortion and self-indulgence,” “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” He said that they, “devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.” He was intolerant of those who rejected Him after seeing His miracles, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:21-22). Jesus was intolerant of those who set aside God’s law to follow human tradition (Matt. 15:3-9). He did not tolerate “false christs” and “false prophets” (Matthew 24:24). He told the Sadducees that they were “mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Jesus’ disciples followed His example of intolerance. The early church did not tolerate the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, they were struck dead (Acts 5:1-11). When the Judaizing teachers came to Antioch, “Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them” (Acts 15:2). When these same false teachers tried to compel circumcision Paul “did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:5). Paul wrote, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). The New Testament occasionally exposed false teachers by name and the error they tried to teach (II Timothy 2:16-18).

The language of the early preachers was similar to that of Jesus in Matthew 23. Stephen called the Jews he was addressing “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears” and “betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:51-52). The apostle Paul said of Elymas, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10). He referred to the false teachers who would come into the church at Ephesus as “savage wolves” (Acts 20:29). James called some of his readers “adulterers and adulteresses,” “sinners” and “double-minded” (James 4:1-10). Truth should never be given equal weight with error, and the faithful Christian will never tolerate that which opposed to truth.

Jesus Was Confrontational Toward Those Who Knew The Truth But Rejected It. Jesus intentionally provoked the religious leaders of His day. Often the controversy was related to the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17). In Luke 14:1-6 we read, “Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, ‘Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?’ And they could not answer Him regarding these things.”

Jesus also confronted people with the fact that He was deity. After healing a man on the Sabbath we read, “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God”  (John 5:16-18). On another occasion we read, “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:58-59).

Preachers in the early church were just as confrontational. After being arrested and released the apostles went right back into the temple preaching the truth (Acts 5:29) contrary to what they had been commanded. To describe Stephen’s sermon (Acts 7) as non-confrontational is to not have a clear grip on reality. When Peter separated himself from Gentile Christians Paul wrote, “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision” (Galatians 2:11-12).

Jesus Excluded Many By His Teaching. It is not that Jesus wants to exclude anyone from salvation. As already stated His offer of forgiveness is extended to all men. But He will exclude those who reject His teachings. Yes, even those who claim to be His disciples. “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:60-66). Jesus recognized that His words were offensive. His follow up comments offended them further. He knew that many of His disciples would no longer follow Him, so why did He say what He did? To exclude those who would not accept His difficult teachings.

Jesus Advocated A Culture Of Obedience

Listen to His words: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).

— Via La Vista church of Christ
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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)

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