“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) No Sign of Health (Bob Crawley)
2) Job’s Redeemer (Taylor Pickup)
No Sign of Health
A medical student was on his first day of work in the hospital in which he had occasion to make examination of the patients. It was his assignment to examine certain patients and write up a report on any significant symptoms which could aid in diagnosis. He hurried down the hall and into the room of what he thought was the correct patient. Nervously (for this was his first patient examination) he made his observations and wrote the following report:
“The patient did not complain of any pain or discomfort of any kind. There was no unnatural breathing and no irregularity of pulse. When pressed in various vital spots, the patient did not complain of soreness or tenderness. There was no indication that the patient had any fever.”
The student was optimistic. There were no signs of any of the symptoms which would indicate that his patient had any of the diseases which the student expected. He concluded that the patient must be in excellent health. When he made his report to his supervisor, the supervisor was astonished. After some further investigation the supervisor told him, “While all that you have said about the patient is correct as far as it goes, your conclusion is grossly in error. You correctly observed that your subject lacked a number of conditions which you would have found pathological, but you failed to note that the subject you examined was dead. You went to the wrong room. All the facts you reported were true of a lifeless corpse in the morgue.
Sound, or Dead?
The above reported incident is entirely imaginary. If any such medical student ever existed, we have not heard of it. We cannot believe that any student ever so lacked in intelligence that he could examine a person and not detect the difference between one in excellent health and one that was dead. Yet in many spiritual matters, too many of us use the “reasoning” of this imaginary medical student. In judging the soundness and healthy condition of a church, we all too often evaluate it upon the basis of what it is not doing. In making an evaluation of a man, we too often consider him spiritually healthy if he shows none of the alarming symptoms for which we are accustomed to look. In fact he may be spiritually dead.
In the tenth chapter of Mark, we read of Jesus’ encounter with a man who felt himself to be in pretty good spiritual health. When Jesus cited a number of the commandments of the law, he could reply, “Master, all these have I observed from my youth.” This man, then, did not commit adultery, did not kill, did not steal, did not bear false witness, did not defraud, and did not dishonor his father and mother. On the other hand, what did he DO? Apparently he did nothing by which he could lay up treasures in heaven.
In the Revelation, chapters two and three, there are letters written from the Lord to seven churches in Asia. It is astonishing how many times these churches are praised for not doing certain things, but were also censured for not doing things which it was their duty to do. The church at Ephesus (chap. 2) could not bear them “which are evil” (vs. 2) nor did they consent to the deeds of the Nicolaitans (vs. 6), but they were subject to the Lord’s warning for not remaining true to their “first love.” The church at Pergamos had not given up the name of Christ nor denied his faith (2:13), but neither had they purged themselves of those who held the doctrine of Balaam or those who had the “doctrine of the Nicolaitans.”
In some quarters, today, the question of a man’s soundness is settled to everyone’s satisfaction on the ground that he does not teach or urge any outstanding false doctrines.
As a preacher he is considered acceptable provided he has not been known to promote any of the trends which have become divisive issues in the church. It may be that he has not, been awake enough or alive enough to teach the truth on the matters, either. Such a preacher may not be sound; he may only be dead.
Churches, too often, are given the reputation for being in sound spiritual health on the basis of the symptoms which they do not have. It is not enough to say that they have not digressed to the point of adding instrumental music to the worship. A further question needs to be raised, do they wholeheartedly engage in worship in “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your (their) heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19). It is not enough to know that a church does not participate in such digressions as the missionary society arrangement or the benevolent society arrangement, or even that it does not subject itself to another church in a “sponsoring church” arrangement. In contrast to these unscriptural devices of men, is this church actually doing the work which God wants his churches to do? If not, its lack of “fever, pain, vomiting, convulsions, etc.” may not be a sign of good health. That church may be dead.
— Via Truth Magazine, XV: 20, pp. 6-7, March 25, 1971
The book of Job contains an enormous amount of wisdom and comfort. It deals with very personal and sensitive subjects that make a strong impact on the reader. Much of the book focuses on the innermost feelings of man. In particular, chapter 19 gives us an amazing look into the heart of a man of faith.
By the time we reach chapter 19, Job had already lost his oxen, donkeys, sheep, camels, servants, and worst of all, his children. His wife gave him no comfort, and his skin was covered with painful sores. Also, the high standing and respect that he once had in society had completely vanished, leaving him a pitiful outcast in the eyes of his countrymen. On top of that, his own friends had become a painful burden to him because they were insisting that his situation was the result of some flagrant sin.
Some of Job’s deepest pain came from the fact that he just didn’t understand why. He didn’t know why all of this had happened to him. He didn’t know why God was treating him that way. Job had asked God, “Why have you made me your mark? Why have I become a burden to you?” (7:20). And Job had said to his friends, “Who will say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’” (9:12). Job didn’t understand God’s actions and was frustrated because he couldn’t even fathom asking God to explain.
But in chapter 19 we read that, in spite of all of this, Job’s heart was committed to the Lord. In utter despair he cried out, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (19:25-27).
As miserable and utterly confused as Job was, he still proclaimed his belief that one day he would see God and be rescued by Him. This ran contrary to everything Job could see at the time, but that didn’t change his conviction that the Lord was alive and would bring redemption. What an incredible example of commitment to God.
Like Job, people of faith have felt pain and despair. Death, disease, and heartache are all around. Like Job, people of faith don’t always understand God’s actions. They wonder why specific painful events have happened to them. Like Job, people of faith struggle for answers, yet they can’t even fathom asking God for an explanation.
Like Job, we must be able to see past our present circumstances and be committed to our Redeemer. Often when we look around, it appears like peace and glory and joy are nowhere to be found, and God’s providential decisions only bring about more heart-wrenching questions. But God intentionally preserved the story of Job for us. Like so many other stories in the Bible, Job teaches us to be a people who are faithfully obedient no matter what the circumstances. And one day our Redeemer will bring our redemption. Paul told the Christians in Rome, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18).
If there is anyone who understood suffering, especially undeserved suffering, it is the Lord Himself. Death and pain were experienced by Jesus, something that should connect us to Him. Our God personally knows what pain is, and He will redeem us from it.
No matter how much death we are surrounded by, no matter how much suffering we endure, no matter how much heartache comes our way, may we still have the faith to say, “I know that my Redeemer lives,” and “I shall see God.”
— Via articles of the University church of Christ (Tampa, FL), June 26, 2016
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)