Month: February 2020

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) Looking to Jesus (Doy Moyer)
2) Living To Be Like Him — Perfecting Holiness In Our Lives (Ron Drumm)
3) Holding Fast to the Head (Terry Wayne Benton)
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Heb12_3

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Looking to Jesus

Doy Moyer

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2, ESV).

The Hebrews writer was concerned about these Christians turning their backs on Jesus and returning to their former ways. These Christians were facing persecution because they were following Christ, and the threat of wavering because of that suffering lingered. They needed reminding that what they have with Christ is far greater than what they had before, even with the persecutions and suffering. This was a matter of perspective that they needed to keep in front of them. That perspective was wrapped up in Christ.

How can Christians persevere when things get tough? How can we endure when it seems that life goes beyond endurance? The answer lies in the point made in Hebrews 12: look to Jesus. Other translations say something akin to “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (NASB) or “keeping our eyes on Jesus” (CSB). The idea is not just that we look in the direction of Christ or glance at Him now and then. Rather, the idea is to “direct one’s attention without distraction” (BDAG). We are purposefully turning away from other things that keep us distracted and focusing on Jesus.

Runners know that turning their heads away from the goal leads to distractions, and distractions contribute to losing the race. The Hebrews writer is not talking so much about a sprint, but more of the long distance race which requires putting away the things that are distracting (sin which easily entangles) and running with endurance and patience. In this race, distractions can be most deadly, so they needed to focus on Jesus. Other passages tell us something similar. For example:

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).

“Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).

Fixing our eyes on Jesus, setting our minds on things above where Christ is, and pressing on toward the prize are all ways of telling us essentially the same thing. We have a goal, a purpose, a mindset, and a way by which to get there. That way is Jesus. When we look to Jesus, then, what are we seeing? Hebrews tells us that when we see Jesus, we are seeing the One who went to the cross (despising its shame) and endured through the suffering because there was something so desirable about the outcome.

When we look to Jesus, we are looking to the divine Son of God (Hebrews 1). We are also looking to the messianic Son of Man (Hebrews 2). He was manifested in the flesh in order to die for our sins, and this was anything but easy. After quoting from Psalm 8, the writer says, “At present, we do not yet see everything in subjection to him. But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:8-9). Notice the terminology: “we see Him…” When we focus on Jesus, we see Him who died for us, who went through the suffering and death for us. He endured the cross on our behalf; we can endure the trials of this world on His behalf. But we cannot do it alone. We need Jesus, which also means we need to stay focused on Him as the Captain of our salvation.

The whole of the book of Hebrews is about looking to Jesus. The author points time and again to our Lord, showing us that what we have in Christ is better than anything else to which we might devote ourselves. The Hebrews might have gone back to the Law, but instead they were encouraged to understand the “better hope” they had in Christ, “through which we draw near to God,” and the “better covenant” for which Jesus died (Hebrews 7:19, 22). When we understand what we are looking at and why we need to maintain our focus, it becomes more likely to stay tough when life gets hard.

Going through difficult times should not be a surprise for the Christian. The Scriptures tell us time and again that this will be the case. How do we get through it? We fix our eyes on Jesus as our great example. We see something far greater, and in the end we know that our labor will not have been in vain (1 Cor 15:58).

— Via Bulletin Articles of the Vestavia church of Christ (Vestavia Hills, Alabama) , January 26, 2020
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Living To Be Like Him — Perfecting Holiness In Our Lives

Ron Drumm

Toward the end of his life, the apostle Peter, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, wrote these words, “but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’” (I Peter 1:15,16).

Can we actually be holy? Why is it that we feel holiness is unattainable? How could Peter make such a plea? Look at Peter’s life – he was rebuked by Jesus after confessing Him to be the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:13-23); he denied the Lord three times after saying he would die for Him (Matt 26:33-35, 69-75); and sinned concerning his treatment of the Gentiles when the Jewish leaders came around (Galatians 2:1-10).

Maybe the problem comes from our misunderstanding of holiness. We often consider it to be perfection in our actions, and that perfection to us seems impossible. Holiness means purity, being blameless, set apart for God’s use, or sanctification (I Cor 6:11; II Thess 2:13-17). This definition does not indicate living perfectly, but rather it describes living a life dedicated to God.

Our character and attitude are in view. Paul expressed it this way, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Corinthians 7:1). It is a Spirit-guided process we endeavor to follow that brings about holiness in our lives.

Holiness is attainable. This is why Peter in all of his sins and failures could call us to be holy, as God is holy. It is a choice. I’m a vessel for God’s exclusive use, or I allow myself to be the devil’s tool. We are not created to be useless and worthless. We have been created in Christ Jesus to be God’s workmanship — people allowing themselves to be molded into holy servants of Christ (Eph 2:10).

It is our desire to glorify the God of heaven in every aspect of our lives. We are to “put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4:24). So, “pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14).

— via The Exhorter (of the Henderson Blvd. church of Christ, Tampa, Florida)
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Holding Fast to the Head

Terry Wane Benton

Paul said to “let no one defraud you of your reward” (Colossians 2:18) by luring you into their misguided religious practices, and the way to not being lured into the false belief system is by “holding fast to the Head” (Colossians 2:19). That means to keep a firm grip on Jesus. Jesus will not mislead you. He leads you through and by means of the scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17), and these “completely furnish you unto every good work.” You don’t have to explore every counterfeit and know all about it. You just need to know Jesus through the scriptures so well that the counterfeit is more easily detected. Hold tightly to what you know about Jesus, the head of the church. Grow in that knowledge source, and then no one will mislead and defraud you of your reward in heaven. Hold fast!

— Via Daily Exhortation (London, England), 2020 Day 36 (February 5, 2020)
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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 Jesus 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) Why So Many Superlatives? (Wayne Goff)
2) Where Diligence is Needed (John Edwards)
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Why So Many Superlatives?

Wayne Goff

The New Testament seemingly is full of superlatives. For example, Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.” Really? “Exceedingly abundantly”? Isn’t that a little much? Well, that all depends on your concept of God. If your concept of God is rooted in the Bible’s revelation of Him, then no, that’s not a little much! In fact, even that superlative only scratches the surface of God’s power, might and ability. Friend, what is your concept of God?

God revealed His desire to help us beyond our wildest expectations in order that we might develop the deepest trust and confidence in Him, which in turn would lead to our eternal salvation. Absolute trust and confidence in God is essential to our faith. After all, didn’t Jesus, the Good Shepherd, promise in John 10:10 that “. . . I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (“Abundantly” comes from the same Greek word in both references.) The kind of life Jesus promises to those who love Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength is a life that far exceeds anything they could have otherwise. Isn’t that what you want? If so, then trust and obey Jesus!

While on earth, Jesus calmed the winds and waves on a tempestuous Galilee, which caused those who saw it to be “greatly amazed . . . beyond measure,” (Mk. 6:51, same word). God is a God of immeasurable wisdom, power and ability, so superlatives are the best way to describe Him.

“Awesome” is a word that often describes God in the Bible. Unfortunately the word has been marginalized from being over used to describe things that are not actually awesome. When God appeared to Jacob in a dream, he awoke and exclaimed, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” (Gen. 28:17). The place was awesome because God was there! Israel was told to put their trust in God because “. . . the Lord your God, the great and awesome God, is among you” (Deuteronomy 7:21; see also Deut. 10:17; 28:58; Nehemiah 1:5; Ps. 47:2; etc.).  “Awesome” means “to fear, to revere; to cause to be afraid or full of dread.” This describes Jacob’s thoughts perfectly. One does not come into the presence of God and think anything else! “Holy and Reverend (Awesome) is His Name!” (Psalm 111:9).

The salvation procured for us through His mercy, by “the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit” has been “poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5-6). God saves us in a way that exceeds the need, but He desires to leave no doubt!

God determined to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:17-18). God leaves no room for doubt in the work that He does to us and for us. If there is any doubt, it resides solely in our inability to believe in an Awesome God!  What should be the reaction of sinful man? “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon (Isaiah 55:7). You cannot ask for more than that!

— Via The Roanridge Reader, Volume 35, Issue 5, Page 2, February 2, 2020
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Where Diligence is Needed

Johnie Edwards

The Scriptures stress the need for diligence, careful and persistent work or effort.

IN TEACHING OUR CHILDREN. Israel was instructed, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children . . .” (Dt. 6:7). How much effort do we put into teaching our children the words of the Lord, and to love the Lord with all their heart, soul and might?

IN COMMANDMENT KEEPING. Deuteronomy 6:17 says, “Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God . . . ”  Joshua exhorted, “But take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law . . .”. (Josh. 22:5). King Artaxerxes decreed, “Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done . . .” (Ezra 7:23). We need that same fervor for doing what God commands today! The Psalmist said, “Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently” (Ps. 119:4).

IN KEEPING THE HEART. Wisdom literature teaches, “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Moses appealed to the nation of Israel, “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently . . .” (Dt. 4:9). It is the persistent effort of every individual to keep his heart!

IN SEEKING THE LOST. Remember the lost piece of silver? “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?” (Lk. 15:8). No doubt, there will be more rejoicing when there is more seeking!

IN SPEAKING AND TEACHING THE THINGS OF THE LORD. It is said of Apollos, “. . . he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord . . .” (Acts 18:25). Think how many would come to know the Lord if each of us would do this today!

IN FOLLOWING GOOD WORKS. Among “widow taken into number” requirements is the condition: “. . . if she have diligently followed every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10). The Christian is “. . . created in Christ Jesus unto good works . . .” (Eph. 2:10), to be “. . . zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14).

IN SEEKING GOD. God “. . . is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). It is true that, “if thou shalt seek the Lord, thou shalt find him” (Dt. 4:29). Paul preached, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him . . .” (Acts 17:27). Some may never find the Lord for lack of diligence in seeking! Will you?

IN LOOKING. The Hebrew writer admonished, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God . . .” (Heb. 12:15). If the notion of  “once in grace, always in grace” is true, why the admonition to look diligently? We do not want to “fail of the grace of God” for “by grace ye are saved” (Eph. 2:5)!

IN ADDING TO FAITH. Peter reminded disciples, “. . . giving all diligence, add to your faith . . .” (2 Pet. 1:5-7). Virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity are seven additions that require careful work. Diligent faith-adding is a must “. . . to make your calling and election sure” (v. 10)!

IN BEING FOUND BLAMELESS. Looking for new heavens and a new earth,   “. . . be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:14). How will we be found in the day of the Lord?

How about dedicating yourself to “abounding in all diligence” in this new decade (2 Cor. 8:7)?

— Via The Terre Haute Speaker, Volume 9, Number 1, January 5, 2020
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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 Jesus 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) The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III (David McClister)
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Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III_2

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The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III

David McClister

One of the most fascinating archaeological finds relating to the Bible is the Black Obelisk of Shalmanesser III. It is a four-sided column of black limestone inscribed with words (in the cuneiform alphabet) and pictures. The Assyrian king Shalmaneser III (who reigned 858-824 B.C.) had it made to record his achievements through the first 31 years of his reign. Austen Layard unearthed it in 1846 during his now-famous discovery of Nimrud (Calah), just south of the capital city of Nineveh. Shalmaneser’s monument was probably set up in a public place where people passing by could see it and take note of the king’s accomplishments. It was, in effect, the ancient Assyrian equivalent of a billboard. The obelisk stands about six feet tall and is now kept in the British Museum. Copies can be seen in other museums, such as the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago.

What is so amazing about this ancient monument is that it both mentions and depicts a person from the Bible. In the picture accompanying this article, which is a detail from one of the panels on the obelisk, the person bowing down is none other than Jehu, king of Israel, and the person before whom Jehu is bowing is the Assyrian king Shalmaneser III. We are sure that this is indeed Jehu because of the inscription underneath the picture panel, which reads “tribute of Jehu son of Omri” (Jehu was not Omri’s physical son, but the word “son” is here used in the sense of “successor”). This is the only artifact from biblical times that contains a representation of a biblical character. While the picture is stylized and therefore probably not intended to be an accurate depiction of Jehu’s appearance, it is nonetheless striking.

A little background knowledge may help us understand the significance of this artifact. First, you may recall that Jehu was the man God chose to replace the wicked family of Ahab of the house of Omri. Elisha the prophet was commanded to anoint Jehu to be king over Israel in 1 Kings 19, and the command was carried out in 2 Kings 9 (841 B.C.). With the appointment as king came a command from God that Jehu destroy the house of Ahab. In this connection, Jehu is perhaps most remembered for killing the wicked queen Jezebel, the wife of Ahab and a Baal worshiper from Phoenicia. He also killed Joram, Ahab’s son who had taken the throne of Israel. Jehu was far from done, however. He killed Ahaziah, the king of Judah, and his relatives, and he killed the 70 sons of Ahab who lived in Samaria and put their heads in two piles at the city gate. Then, using trickery, he killed all the worshipers of Baal. This killing spree is sometimes called “the purge of Jehu.”

While we may be repulsed by all this bloodshed, it was God’s judgment upon the wicked house of Ahab, and it was just. God was pleased that Jehu carried out his orders (2 Kings 10:30). However, Jehu did not please God in everything. Jehu allowed the golden calves, set up by Jeroboam, to remain. He did much to bring Israel back to God, but he did not finish the job. Apparently Jehu did only enough to secure his position on the throne of the northern kingdom. For his failure to cleanse the kingdom of idolatry God allowed Israel’s enemy, the Syrians, to rise up against Israel. It is probably in the context of Jehu’s military problems that we should interpret Shalmaneser’s monument.

The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III records an event that is not mentioned in the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible mention Jehu going before the king of Assyria and bowing down before him. However, there is every good reason to believe that Jehu did exactly this. When Jehu was anointed he was encamped at Ramoth-gilead (2 Kings 9:1-6), indicating that control of this border town between Israel and Syria was still being contested. The Syrians had another problem, however, and that was the rising military strength of Assyria directly to their east. In the same year that Jehu came to the throne in Israel (841 B.C.) the Assyrians marched westward into Syria. According to Shalmaneser’s records the Syrians suffered heavy losses, but we also know that Shalmaneser was not able to take Damascus. In this context there are at least three scenarios that would have prompted Jehu to bow down before the Assyrian monarch: (1) Jehu saw that Syria (which was a buffer between himself and Assyria) was losing the war with Assyria and that he would not be able to withstand the coming Assyrian advance, so he submitted to their superior military might in order to avoid conflict (which also left his enemy, the Syrians, alone to face the Assyrians), or (2) Jehu may have submitted to the Assyrians in return for help against the Syrians (cf. a somewhat similar tactic by king Asa in 1 Kings 15:17-22; but this is the least likely scenario), or (3) Jehu submitted when the Assyrian army finally pushed into northern Palestine (Shalmaneser says that he took tribute not only from Jehu, but from Tyre and Sidon as well). Either way, it seems that Jehu (wisely) never entered into any anti-Assyrian alliance with Syria and that he probably submitted to Assyria to keep his throne. This is what is being depicted on the obelisk — Jehu bowing before the king of Assyria, recognizing his power, and presenting his nation’s tribute payment.

The political effect of Jehu’s action would have been that while Jehu may have saved his kingdom from destruction (for the moment), he weakened his kingdom by obligating Israel to hefty annual tribute payments to Assyria. His capitulation to Assyria also increased Syria’s animosity toward Israel and the king of Syria, Hazael, apparently after the Assyrians withdrew, vented his anger against Jehu and captured all of Israel’s transjordan territory (2 Kings 9:32f). These negative effects only compounded the political crisis Jehu already faced. When he killed off the house of Ahab (including Jezebel), he lost favorable relations with the Phoenicians (Jezebel was a Phoenician), and the Moabites had already successfully rebelled from Israelite subjugation under Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:1) about ten years earlier, which meant that Moab’s tribute payments, which once boosted Israel’s economy, had ceased. So Jehu created enemies to his north, he lost his territories to the east, and had lost control of the Moabites to the south. It would not be until the reign of Jeroboam II that Israel would recover.

There are two brief lessons to consider. The first is about the historical trustworthiness of the Bible. The Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III proves that there really was a man named Jehu who was the king of Israel, just as the Bible says there was, and that he lived in the time period which the Bible reports. The name of Hazael, the king of Syria at that time — who is also mentioned in the Bible — also appears on the Assyrian king’s monument. The Bible’s stories are true, they really happened, and the biblical record is accurate.

The second lesson is a moral one, and has to do with our influence on the world around us, how others see us. I have always thought it regrettable that here we have an actual picture of a person in the Bible — and what is he doing? He is making a fool of himself! Here was the king of Israel. With God behind him, there was nothing he could not have accomplished. God would have fought for Israel, and Israel could have risen to great power and blessing. But Jehu took advantage of none of this. In times of trouble Jehu looked for human help rather than looking to God for help. This scene, carved in rock and preserved for all the world to see, makes me think about the influence that we, as God’s people today, should have. How do others see us? Do they see us like they saw Jehu — catering to the world and bowing down (figuratively) before worldly people, surrendering ourselves to them and their lifestyle? If all that ever remained of our lives in the records of the world was that we served the world instead of God, what kind of legacy have we left?

Whenever I see this panel from Shalmaneser’s monument, I am both happy and sad. I am happy to know that the biblical record has been proven to be true and accurate, but I am sad to see that it shows one of God’s people acting in a faithless way. Let us live so that we are not remembered like Jehu was.

– Via Truth Magazine, Volume XLV: 1, p10, January 4, 2001.
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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) “Forgiving One Another” (R.J. Evans)
2) Translating the Bible into Life (Dennis Abernathy)
3) A Faith That Works (David Maxson)
4) Acts 1:1-3 (NASB)
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“Forgiving One Another”

R.J. Evans

Forgiveness of sins is a central theme that runs throughout the entire Bible.  In fact, this is why Jesus came to earth and shed His blood for the whole world (1 Jn. 2:2).  This is why we read of all the bloody animal sacrifices in the Old Testament—”for without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Heb. 9:22).  But it was “not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).  Thus, Jesus, the Son of God, the perfect sacrifice, offered His body on the cross “once for all” (Heb. 10:10).  His ultimate sacrifice provided forgiveness for all those who lived faithfully before His death, and also for all of us who now live after the cross, who have obeyed His gospel for the forgiveness of our sins (Heb. 9:14-18).  No one can ignore or neglect gospel obedience, because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).  Even after we have been baptized “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), we still sin and need forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:8-10).  Therefore, if we continue to “walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7).  And when He forgives us of our sins and lawless deeds, He assures us they are forgiven and forgotten forever—”I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12).

Just as God, through His Son, has forgiven us, we must be willing to forgive those who sin against us.  Jesus taught that if we fail to forgive others, “neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matt. 6:14-15).  Jesus went so far as to teach us that if someone sins against us “seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him” (Lk. 17:4).

Indeed, forgiving others is often difficult.  How do we handle forgiving those who come to us in repentance?  Unfortunately, some Christians, unlike God, never forget.  They will continually dwell on it and make reference to what happened by making disparaging remarks about the offender.  Much like the old illustration: “They bury the hatchet, but leave the handle sticking out of the ground so they can go get it at any time and beat us over the head with it.”  Let us observe some practical suggestions that will help us after we have forgiven someone.

1. Pray for them (Matt. 5:44).  Ask God to help you love and pray for the offender.

2. Love and do good to the offender (Rom. 12:9).  Express love sincerely and genuinely, always seeking their welfare.

3. Don’t speak poorly of the offender (Rom. 12:14).  As the old adage goes, if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all.

4. Release them from your punishment (Rom. 12:17-19).  Stop giving them the silent treatment and keeping them at arm’s length.

5. Don’t celebrate their failures (Prov. 24:17).  Refrain from gloating, saying “I told you so” or having a mindset of “That’s what you get.”

6. Treat them the way you want to be treated (Matt. 7:12).  When you do wrong and repent, you want grace and another chance.  Be willing to offer it to others when you get hurt.

7. Stop dwelling on the past (Isa. 43:18).  Hit the “delete” button of your heart—stop dwelling on old hurts.  Choose to replace them with focusing on good thoughts (Phil. 4:8, 13-14).

Yes, we are to forgive because God has forgiven us.  We close with this important and clear command: “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

— via the Bulletin of the Southside church of Christ (Gonzales, Louisiana), January 19, 2020
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Translating the Bible into Life

Dennis Abernathy

I read a story about four preachers who were discussing their favorite translations of the Bible. One preacher preferred the King James Version because of its beautiful language. The second preacher liked the American Standard Version best because it translates more literally the original Hebrew and Greek. The third preacher said that he preferred the New King James Version because of its up-to-date vocabulary. Finally, they asked the fourth preacher which translation of the Bible he liked best. He said, “I like my mother’s translation best.”

This surprised his fellow preachers, who asked if he was saying his mother translated the Bible into English. “No,” he said, “but she translated the Bible into life, and it was the most convincing translation I ever saw.”

This little story reminds me of something else I read: “We are the only Bible the careless world will read. We are the sinner’s gospel, we are the scoffer’s creed. We are the Lord’s last message given in deed and word, what if the type is crooked? What if the print is blurred?”

People who claim to be Christians may be the only translation of the Bible some people ever see. Unfortunately, too many who claim to be Christians have very poorly translated the Bible into life. My friend, what kind of translation of the Bible are those around you seeing? Think on these things.

— Via The Elon Challenger, Volume 17, Number 3, November 2019
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A Faith That Works

David Maxson

“Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it… And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt” (Exodus 12:7, 13).
The argument is made that baptism is not necessary for salvation because it is a work, and we’re not saved by works. The scriptures clearly say we are saved by faith and not by works (Eph 2:8-10; Gal 2:16; Rom 4:4-5).

So, if this is true, what are we to do with passages which say that baptism saves us (1 Pet 3:20-21; Mark 16: 16; Acts 2:38; 22:16)? Can we not take these passages at face value? Are we missing something? Is the Bible contradicting itself?

I believe the answer is simple. Baptism is not the kind of work under consideration in the passages that contrast faith and works. On the contrary, baptism is considered in scripture to be an act of faith (Gal 3:26-27; Col 2:12; Mk 16:16; Rom 1:5). So, there is no contradiction at all between scriptures that say we are saved by faith, and scriptures that say we are saved through baptism. The inspired writers did not see faith and baptism as mutually exclusive. Baptism is an expression of our faith.

Just like the children of Israel sprinkled the blood of the lamb on their doorposts by faith (Heb 11:28), so we are “buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him THROUGH FAITH IN THE POWERFUL WORKING OF GOD, who raised him from the dead” (Col 2:12).

Father God, help us to trust in you enough that we obey all of your commandments.

— via Daily Devotions, January 19, 2020
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Acts 1:1-3

“The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God” (NASB).
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

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

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