Month: August 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) Love Your Neighbor (Frank Himmel)
2) “Ready For Every Good Deed” (Heath Rogers)
3) Just As Christ Loved The Church (Al Diestelkamp)
4) News & Notes
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Love Your Neighbor

Frank Himmel

What does it mean to love your neighbor? Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) points to helping the needy, yet that is only the beginning. romans 13:9 says that all the commandments relating to how we treat others are summed up in the saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Galatians 5:14 concurs.

Drawing just one entry from most of the New Testament letters, here is a sampling of what loving our neighbor requires.

► “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men” (Romans 12:17-18).

► “Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. . . .just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:24,33)

► “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).

► “Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted” (Galatians 6:1).

► “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

► “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

► “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (Colossians 4:6).

► “. . . Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

► “But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good” (2 Thessalonians 3:13).

► “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and for all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

► “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 2:24-25).

► “Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men” (Titus 3:1-2).

► “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).

► “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. . . .But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9).

► “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12).

► “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:17-18).

► “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).

Doubtless you are thinking of other verses not included in this brief survey.

Luke 6:31 sums it all up well: “Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.”

— Via PathLights, August 23, 2020
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“Ready For Every Good Deed”

Heath Rogers

The apostle Paul told Titus to “remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed” (Titus 3:1). There are several reasons why you and I need to be ready for every good deed.

1. There is a shortage both of good works and of people who do them. There are plenty of people doing bad things. This world has been characterized by sin and evil since the fall of man in the Garden of Eden. There is always a need for good people who will do good deeds. If we do not perform the good works God has prepared for us to do (Eph. 2:10), who will?

2. If we aren’t ready, we won’t see the opportunities to do good works. How many times have opportunities passed us by because we weren’t prepared? Some people excuse their lack of involvement by saying, “I don’t know how,” or, “I never have the opportunity.” The opportunities exist, we just have to find them. Paul asked the Colossians to pray “for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned” (Col. 4:3).

3. Readiness is a state of mind. Christians are to live in a watchful, alert state. Jesus said, “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will” (Matt. 24:42-44). We are to be on the alert always, not only for the Lord’s return, but also for opportunities to do good.

Are you and I ready for every good deed? 

— Via Knollwood church of Christ, April 2019
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Just As Christ Loved The Church

Al Diestelkamp

For men who are married, I doubt that there is any greater challenge than the one posed by the apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it” (5:25). Loving our wives is easy, but loving them “just as Christ loved the church” sets a very high standard. Therefore, it is important that we see just how Christ loved the church so that we might act accordingly toward our wives.

Christ Loved the Church Sacrificially

He “gave Himself for it.” To succeed at loving our wives “as Christ does the church,” we must have an attitude of sacrificial service toward them. It’s not likely that we will have to die for our wives, but we must be willing to serve their needs. As husbands, we need to understand that our wives’ needs differ from our own. True love “does not seek its own” (1 Cor. 13:5). It is our responsibility to meet the needs of our wives. A great “fringe benefit” of doing this well is that our wives will respond in kind by making sure that our needs are met. While not all wives have identical needs, a survey of Christians attending a ladies’ Bible class showed that their number one need is for their husbands to provide spiritual leadership. Other expressed needs (in order of their importance) were family commitment, communication, affection, and financial security.

Christ Loved the Church Exclusively

The apostle says that Christ’s gift of Himself was “that He might sanctify and cleanse it” (v. 26). Though Jesus loves the whole world, He has “set apart” His church from the world. He has only one bride. The marriage relationship requires sanctification—a setting apart from other relationships. In marriage, the husband is “set apart” to belong to the wife, and the wife is “set apart’ to belong to the husband—he for her; her for him. Any interference with this God-given arrangement is sin.

Christ Loved the Church Caringly

“So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (vs. 28-29). The word nourish means “to feed,” and the word cherish means “to soften by heat” [Vine].  I think we know what we do for someone or something we cherish—“protect and care for lovingly; hold something dear” [American Dictionary].

Christ Loved the Church Enduringly

As the church is joined to Christ, so “a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh” (v. 31). This is a reference to the intimate sexual relationship between a husband and wife. However, Jesus used this same quote to teach the inseparability of marriage (Matt. 19:5-6). As Christ and His bride are “one body” which nothing can separate (Rom. 8:35-39), so the husband and wife are “one flesh” which man must not separate.

From the beginning, God said, “it is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). As men, we should have a great appreciation for our wives. We should view them as highly-prized (and nicely packaged) gifts from our Creator. He knows just what we need to help us go to Heaven.

— Via Think On These Things, April-May-June 2019
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News & Notes


Folks to be praying for:

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of John Henry Cole (of Vernon, Alabama, and the biological father of Tina Allen).

Alan and Darlene Tanner have both tested positive for covid-19.

Michael Rittenhouse
, who had covid-19, is now doing 100% better!  He will be going back to work Monday.  “Little Michael,” who tested negative, will be going back to school Monday; and his mother Rebecca (who has recovered from covid-19) will also be going back to work Monday.

Taylor Wright and his pregnant wife Sarah have also both recovered from covid-19, and their unborn baby is doing fine as well.

Susanne Rittenhouse, who tested positive for covid-19 on Monday, is at home getting better.

Shirley Crews is still on life support at the hospital.  They have put her in an induced coma and also began doing fusions for her covid-19.

Martha Lively mentioned that she had a couple bad days last week with her sciatica — but for the most part, she is doing better.  Her chiropractor, whom she will see again this Tuesday, has been helping.

Judy Daugherty’s broken shoulder turned out to be worst than what was first thought.  So surgery was performed on it Thursday, which went well.  She will be moved to a rehab facility today, where she will be for 6 weeks.

Cameron Haney is going through illness and some difficult times.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother will not be seeing his doctor until the first week in November to determine what the next step for him will be.  In the meanwhile, they continue to keep his blood pressure low.

Doyle Rittenhouse had 4 ablations of nerve endings on the other side of his spine Thursday, for a total of 8 in two weeks.  The Toradol shot (anti-inflammatory) gave him some relief, but sciatic pain began bothering him Friday evening, due to a spur on the spine he has had for some time.  He will be seeing a doctor this Wednesday to find out what his next treatment will be.   

Rick Cuthbertson has now resumed his cancer treatments in pill form, after having to temporarily discontinue them (due to adverse reactions).  He is now taking 2 pills a day and will continue to do so for 21 days. 

Marie Pennock started not feeling well yesterday.

Ronnie & Melotine Davis are both improving in their health, but not totally better yet.

Deborah Medlock will be seeing her doctor in a couple weeks, after the results of her biopsy-reassessment will be in, to better determine the next step for precautionary treatments. She will also be seeing her surgeon this Tuesday to have her surgical strips removed.

James Medlock is now a permanent resident at the nursing home where he receives continual therapy.

Penny Medlock is doing well in the group home.

Others to also be praying for: Larry & Janice Hood, Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), A.J. & Pat Joyner, Elaine Abbott, Pat Brigman,  Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, Rex & Frankie Hadley, and Ginger Ann Montero.
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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; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; 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

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


evangelist/editor: 
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

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 Is My Lord and My God (Kyle Pope)
2) Why So Few Study the Bible (Bill Crews)
3) News & Notes
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Jesus is My Lord and My God

Kyle Pope

There is perhaps no other biblical book that places more emphasis on the picture of Jesus as God in the flesh than the gospel of John. In its opening words John affirms boldly what he calls “the Word” that was “in the beginning”—“with God” and “was God” (John 1:1). We are not left to wonder for long the identity of that which is called “the Word.” Only a few verses into the text John explains through the Holy Spirit, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, NKJV). The rest of the gospel tells the story of this personified “Word” of God—Jesus Christ.

 Before we leave the opening chapter we have already learned a number of things about Jesus as the “Word of God.” First, He is the Creator: “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3). The Bible begins with the declaration, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). If Jesus (as the “Word of God”) is said to have made “all things,” the clear assertion is that Jesus is God. Next, Jesus is described as existing within “the bosom” of God the Father. John explains, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18). Some translations have taken this figuratively in just the sense “at the Father’s side” (NIV, ESV, HCSB), but that may miss the point. In Scripture to speak of something in the bosom of another person is a way of describing something as belonging to the person or sharing a unique intimacy with him or her (cf. Gen. 16:5; Exod. 4:6; Deut. 13:6; 28:56; Ruth 4:16; 2 Sam. 12:3; Job 31:33; Psa. 35:13; Prov. 6:27; Luke 6:38). While it can refer to those maintaining separate identity (cf. Luke 16:22; John 13:23), in the context this is likely an affirmation of Jesus’ unity with God the Father. Jesus would say later, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me” (John 14:10). While Jesus may be described as “standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55-56), the Bible also clearly describes the Deity of Christ.

This is clear in other statements Jesus makes throughout the gospel. He affirmed to Nicodemus while on the earth that although He “came down from heaven,” He was also “in heaven” (John 3:13). On a separate occasion when speaking to the Jews in Jerusalem He declared, “I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent Me” (John 8:16; cf. 16:32). Only God may be said to “fill heaven and earth” (Jer. 23:24). 

When Jesus was criticized for healing on the Sabbath He declared, “My Father has been working until now and I have been working” (John 5:17). The clear inference of this statement was that Jesus had been working from the beginning, just as God the Father had. John explains that the Jews understood that by saying God was His Father they considered Him to be “making Himself equal to God” (John 5:18). How interesting that John felt no compulsion to explain that Jesus was not equal to God! Why? Because John understood their conclusion to be correct!

In the same context Jesus affirmed His power to call forth the resurrection on the last day (John 5:21, 25-26) and proclaim judgment (John 5:22). Later, Jesus would declare that His words would judge all people on the “last day” (John 12:48). In fact in this gospel, Jesus was said to “know what was in man” (John 2:25). Only God knows the thoughts of man (Acts 15:8), and the Bible teaches that only God is the “judge of all the earth” (Gen. 18:25). If Jesus is the Judge, Jesus is God!

Jesus claimed to be “from above” (John 8:23) and on another occasion “from the Father” as One who had “seen the Father”—yet in the same verse He declared that no one else had “seen the Father” (John 6:46). In this He claimed a status for Himself different from all other human beings.

Perhaps one of the most striking declarations Jesus made came in a discussion with the Jews about Abraham. As Jesus affirmed that they did not display the character and attitude of Abraham, they questioned His claim to know Abraham’s attributes. Jesus declared, “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). With this statement, Jesus used the very words by which God had told Moses to identify Him to the children of Israel—“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”’” (Exod. 3:14). By identifying Himself as “I AM” Jesus deliberately demonstrated His Deity. This was clear to the Jewish leaders. They picked up stones to stone Him (John 8:59).

Jesus declared His power to resurrect Himself after His death (John 10:17-18), and yet the Bible teaches it is “God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9) and even concerning Jesus that “God raised Him from the dead” (Acts 13:30). Clearly, Jesus and New Testament writers are affirming Christ’s Deity.

Jesus said it quite simply in His declaration, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). The Bible doesn’t teach three Gods, but Jesus is a part (or person) of the One God of the Bible. While He possesses distinct will (cf. Matt. 26:39), as do all persons of the godhead (cf. John 16:13), He is One God with the Father, and Holy Spirit. When Jesus said this, once again they tried to stone Him, “because You, being a Man make Yourself God” (John 10:33). Isn’t it interesting that once again, nether John (nor Jesus) feel compelled to explain—No, Jesus isn’t God! What Jesus did was refer them to the scriptural use of the word for God in application to human judges (John 10:34-35; cf. Psa. 82:6). Why wouldn’t Jesus rebuke them for accusing Him of something that He was not claiming? Because He was affirming His Deity! In asserting that He was “one” with the Father He was declaring Himself to be God manifested in the flesh.

During the final Passover meal Jesus ate with His disciples, He taught them that reception of Him is equal to reception of God the Father (John 13:20) and hatred of Him is equal to hatred of God the Father (John 15:24). During the same lesson, when Philip asked Him “Lord, show us the Father” (John 14:8), Jesus declared plainly, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Think of it—how arrogant this would have been, how blasphemous this would have been if Jesus was not God in the flesh! Can you imagine Moses, Elijah, Peter, or Paul saying such words—“If you have seen Me you have seen the Father”? Jesus’ Deity is the only explanation by which these words are not an act of sin. Because Jesus is God could it be true that one who had seen Him could be said to have seen God the Father—not in the fullness of His glory (cf. 1 John 4:12), but in the Divine image of Jesus as God in the flesh.

Jesus asserted Himself as the only way to a relationship with God the Father (John 14:6). Jesus claimed that knowledge of Him is equivalent to knowledge of God the Father (John 14:7). Jesus claimed that in loving Jesus and keeping His commands both He and God the Father would make their “home with” such a person (John 14:23). While Jesus did declare, “My Father is greater than I” (John 14:28), this probably referred to Jesus’ fleshly state, or was said as a demonstration of Jesus’ submission toward God the Father (cf. John 8:29).

In the last pages of John’s gospel, the Holy Spirit continues to assert plainly the Deity of Christ. In the extended prayer Jesus offers just before going into Gethsemane He claims to have shared glory with God the Father “before the world was” (John 17:5). In His prayer for the unity of His disciples He repeatedly appeals to His own oneness with the Father as the pattern He desires His disciples to follow (John 17:11, 21-22). In this, once again Jesus proclaims, “You, Father, are in Me, and I in You” (John 17:21). After the horror of His trial and crucifixion, Jesus demonstrated His Deity in His resurrection (John 20:1-8) and in His ability to appear in the midst of the disciples inside a locked house (John 20:19). When Thomas, one of the disciples who did not see this appearance, saw Him and believed in His resurrection, he proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). If Jesus was not God in the flesh, this would have been the perfect occasion for Him to clarify a false perception. That’s what Paul and Barnabas did—they said, “We also are men with the same nature as you” (Acts 14:14-15). Jesus didn’t say that, even though one of His disciples called Him “my God.” In the verses that follow this, Jesus praised Thomas’ belief (John 20:29); and John affirmed that his gospel was written to motivate this same kind of belief (John 20:30-31). What is this belief that was praised and the gospel was intended to motivate? The firm belief that can move one to speak of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as “My Lord” and “My God.”

— Via Faithful Sayings, Volume 22, Issue 33 (August 16, 2020)
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Why So Few Study the Bible

Bill Crews

The Bible says, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime [in the Old Testament] were written for our learning” (Romans 15:4).

And, “From a babe thou hast known the sacred writings [the Old Testament] which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

And, “Whoso readeth [here it refers to something written in the book of Daniel — BC] let him understand” (Matthew 24:15).

And, “And He called to Him the multitude, and said unto them, Hear and understand” (Matthew 15:10).

And, “And he that was sown upon the good ground, this is he that heareth the word [Luke 8:15 says that the good ground represents one who has an “honest and good heart” — BC], and understandeth it; who verilybeareth  fruit, and bringeth forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:23).

Philip asked the Ethiopian, “Understandeth thou what thou readest?” (Acts 8:30 — he was reading in the book of Isaiah; the passage shows that God wants us to understand what is written in His word — BC).

And, “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

And, “Howthat by revelation was made known unto me the mystery, as I wrote before in few words, whereby, whenye read, ye can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ” (Ephesians 3 :3-4 ).

And, finally, “Wherefore be ye not foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17).

What Men Say in Contrast

The Bible contains all of the will of God for men (read John 16:13 — the apostles by the Holy Spirit were guided into all the truth; 2 Peter 1:3 — the apostles were given all things pertaining to life and godliness;  2 Timothy 3:16-17 — the Scriptures are able to make the man of God complete and to furnish him completely unto every good work). But some men say the Bible contains only part of God’s will for men. They thus destroy confidence in the Bible.

The Bible claims to be verbally inspired, inspired in its very expression or wording (2 Timothy 3:16-17 — see the same reference above; 2 Peter 1:20-21 — no  prophecy of Scripture came by the will of man, but the prophets spoke as they were moved by the Holy  Spirit; 1 Corinthians 2:10-13 — the hidden wisdom of  God was made known unto men like Paul by the Holy  Spirit, and those men spoke those things, not in words taught by man’s wisdom, but in words taught by the Holy Spirit; Matthew 10:19-20 and Mark 13:11 —  Jesus promised the apostles that when they were  arrested and brought to trial, the Holy Spirit would give them the words to speak). But some men say that the Bible is inspired only in thought or substance.  They thus erode faith in the inerrancy of the Bible.

The Bible was given to be understood (see the passages quoted in the beginning of this article), but some men say it was not given to be understood. They thus discourage men from even reading it.

The Bible shows that men as they are can understand the Scriptures as they are to the salvation of their souls ( according to the book of Acts, a book that records the conversions of various individuals, this is exactly what happened over and over in response to the preaching of the apostles and others), but some men say that only with the help of qualified and  authorized clergymen (the position of the Roman Catholic Church), or the help of the Book of Mormon  (the position of the “Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints”), or the help of the writings of Ellen G. White (the position of the Seventh-Day  Adventist Church), or the help of the staff of anonymous writers at Watchtower headquarters (the position of the so-called “Jehovah’s Witnesses”), can anyone understand the Bible. They thus discourage men so they will not even try to read and understand for themselves.

God obviously wants men to understand His word and is perfectly capable of giving it to men in language that can be understood, but so many denominations have been saying for so long (a) that it isn’t necessary for men to understand the things written in the Bible,  and (b) that different people can never understand the things written in the Bible alike. The unfortunate result is that few people are ever encouraged to engage in a personal, individual study of the Bible.

Some Questions

1. Was God able to make known His will to man? Was He able to make His will known in words or language that men could understand? Did He do this?

2. Did God give His word (the Bible) to man, thinking that man would be able to understand it — but not realizing till later that man would be unable to understand it?

3. Did God give His word (the Bible) to man and deliberately couch it in such language or with such words that He knew man would be unable to  understand it?

4. Does God want man to understand His word (the Bible)? Can man understand that word (the Bible)?

5. Should you set aside time to read and study and even meditate upon the Bible? Will you?

Why not become a daily student of the Bible, the revelation of God and God’s will to man,the only book Divine in origin.

— Via Roanridge Reader Volume 32 Issue 47 Page 2, November 19, 2017
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Let us continue to remember in prayer the family and friends of Pamela Arnold and Patricia Gill Lariscy who both recently passed away.

Alan and Darlene Tanner have both tested positive for covid-19.

Michael Rittenhouse,
who has covid-19 and also pneumonia in his lower right lung, was running a fever of 102.9 yesterday and is to go to the ER if he develops any pain in his stomach.  He will be seeing his doctor Monday for a reassessment.   Michael’s son Michael will have to be tested again for covid-19, and Rebecca who had tested positive for it last week is now experiencing symptoms. Shirley Crews (Rebecca’s mother), who also tested positive for covid-19, had to be readmitted to the hospital where she is now on life support.  Also with covid-19: Sarah Rittenhouse Wright and Susanne Rittenhouse.

Doyle Rittenhouse ended up having 4 nerve ablations Monday on one side of his spine.  The pain continued until Friday.  This Wednesday, he will have 4 more nerve ablations on the other side.  

Martha Lively has found some relief from pain through chiropractic treatment.  Though the pain is still there in the early morning and evening, at least it is not all the time as it had been.  So, for a while, she will continue on a weekly basis with these treatments.

Cameron Haney is going through illness and some difficult times.

James Medlock is now over his congestive heart failure, but hasn’t been able to receive therapy, due to being quarantined in the nursing home.  He has not had covid-19, but there are others there who do have it.  An appeal has been made to see if James can stay another 21 days.

Penny Medlock is now in a group home in Augusta, Georgia. 

Deborah Medlock received a good report last week. The lymph nodes that were removed tested negative for cancer. Everything else that was removed also tested negative, except for that small nodule (1 cm), which was also removed. It had not grown nor moved since previously examined. She will be seeing her doctor this Thursday and will soon begin radiation treatments as a precautionary measure.

Rick Cuthbertson had to temporarily discontinue his cancer treatments, due to some adverse reactions he began having.  He is to remain off the medication for a week and then resume with only 2 pills a day for 21 days straight.

Others to also be praying for: Larry & Janice Hood, Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), A.J. & Pat Joyner, Elaine Abbott, Pat Brigman,  Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother,Rex & Frankie Hadley,Mark Owen Mixon, and Ginger Ann Montero.
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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; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

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 Ruler of This World” (Kyle Pope)
2) Some Things to Remember . . . (Bill Crews)
3) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

“The Ruler of This World” 

Kyle Pope

When Satan tempted Jesus by offering Him rule over the earth if He would worship him, Luke 4:6 records Satan’s bold claim “all this authority . . . has been delivered to me” (NKJV). This is echoed in John 16:11 where Jesus confirms his claim identifying Satan as “the ruler of this world.” While these statements declare Satan’s rule over this world, little is revealed about the nature of this rule or the circumstances under which it came to him.

Some connect Satan’s rule with his fall. We actually know very little about the fall of Satan. The infamous Lucifer passage of Isaiah 14:12 has been improperly used to describe Satan’s fall, but the context makes it clear it is talking about the king of Babylon, not Satan (see 14:3). Jesus declared, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from heaven,” but He does so in the context of His disciples casting out demons (Luke 10:18). Was Jesus talking about a past fall or what happened in the work of His disciples (i.e. Satan’s power being taken away)? In Revelation 12:7-12 it describes Satan and his angels being cast out of heaven, but it does so in the context of Christ’s victory over sin by His blood. Whatever power Satan had at the temptation of Christ in Luke 4:6 would predate this. If the book of Revelation is understood in terms of cycles that describe the same tribulation-deliverance pattern in different ways, the binding of Satan in Revelation 20:1-3 describes the same fall as 12:7-12. In either case, neither of these gives us an account of Satan being granted authority over the earth.

What we know about Satan’s fall comes more from inference than from direct statement. For example, in the qualifications for elders given in 1 Timothy 3:6, Paul warns that if a novice was appointed, he could be “puffed up with pride” leading him to “fall into the same condemnation as the devil.”  At the very least this implies that in some way Satan’s pride led to his downfall and condemnation. What is clear is that Satan has “sinned from the beginning” (1 John 3:8) which likely refers to the beginning of this creation. He deceived the woman in the garden and even still he “deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9).  In the parable of the wheat and the tares it is Satan who sows tares in the world (Matt. 13:39). So, Satan in one sense is responsible for sin, even though each of us individually is responsible when we give in to sin (Jas, 1:14).

The real questions that we wrestle with regarding Satan’s rule is what authority does Satan actually possesses and in what sense was that authority “delivered over” to him by God? If we go so far as to say that any sinful influence (or authority) was established by God, it would make God the cause of sin (or temptation). That is clearly not what the Bible teaches (Jas. 1:13). On the other hand, delivering something over to Satan does not have to express assent, agreement, or approval. For example, in 1 Timothy 1:20, Paul “delivered” Hymenaeus and Alexander to Satan (i.e. he gave them over to their desire to follow Satan in their blasphemous behavior). The same is said of the man who had his father’s wife, from whom the church in Corinth had to withdraw. Paul described this as the man being delivered “to Satan” (1 Cor. 5:5). For God to allow Satan to tempt, deceive, and control the world through sin, does not make God complicit in this temptation, it is simply allowing Satan to exercise this type of influence. This may be the sense in which Satan’s power was “delivered” to Him.

Yet, what power (or authority) does Satan actually possess? In the temptation, Satan offered Jesus rule over all kingdoms. Did he really have that power and if so to what extent? It is true that often hardships of the flesh are attributed to Satan. The woman with the flow of blood was said to be “bound by Satan” (Luke 13:16). Paul’s thorn in the flesh is called a “messenger of Satan” (2 Cor. 12:7). Yet, it is unclear how directly these things should be understood. It may be that Satan is allowed to exercise some negative influence over nature. On the other hand, it may be that the fact that Satan’s influence over man in the garden, which led to a world of sickness, death, hardship, and decay, means that all natural hardship could be said to trace back to Satan as its cause. Most of the “power” that Satan seems to possess concerns man’s spiritual state. We know that when one follows the desires of Satan, he becomes a child of Satan rather than a child of God (John 8:44). In 1 Timothy 5:15 Paul speaks of those turning to sin as having “turned aside after Satan.”  This is a personal choice and not compulsion, but having followed Satan rather than God puts one in obedience to Satan rather than under the rule of God. It yields to Satan’s rule. Hebrews 2:14 says that Satan had the “power of death,” and Jesus conquered this in His death. Obedience to the gospel allows one deliverance from the “power (or authority—exousia) of Satan” (Acts 26:18). If this is understood, we can see that Satan’s authority is much like the sense in which we in Christ are part of His kingdom—it is dependent upon the assent of the governed. When I submit myself to the reign of Christ, I am under His rule. When I submit myself to the reign of Satan, I am under his rule.

One final point should be observed from Satan’s very name. Satan means “adversary.” In Revelation 12:10 Satan is called “the accuser of our brethren” who accuses them before God “day and night.” This comes in the context of the description of his fall. This may give us more information about what God has allowed Satan to do. To some extent Satan was granted the right to “accuse” human beings before God. In Job 1:6-7 Satan appears in this role of the “accuser” with some right to roam “to and fro” over the earth. In addition to Satan’s rule over man through sin and death, it may be that this role of “accuser” is a power which God has granted Satan. Yet, Christ’s death robs him of that power because it offers the atonement for sin whereby the repentant Christian can no longer properly be accused of sin.

— Via Faithful Sayings, Volume 22, Issue 26 (June 28, 2020)
——————–

-2-

Some Things to Remember . . .

  • How brief and uncertain life is.
  • How sure and final death is.
  • How long eternity is.
  • And sin:
    • how strong its appeal;
    • how persistent its temptation;
    • how deceptive its appearance;
    • how misleading its promise;
    • how fleeting its pleasure;
    • how tragic its consequences;
    • how horrible its punishment.
  • How great God’s love is.
  • How wonderful Christ’s sacrifice is.
  • How powerful the gospel is.
  • How important the church is.
  • How precious one soul is.
  • How pressing salvation is.
  • How beautiful heaven is.
  • How terrible hell is.

– Via Bill Crews in The Beacon,  July 19, 2020
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of Pamela Arnold (of Waycross, Georgia, and sister of Jim Arnold) who passed away last Wednesday, August 12.  Let us be keeping all her loved ones in prayer.

Our sympathies also go out to all the loved ones of Patricia Gill Lariscy who passed away Friday, August 14.  Let us also be remembering all her family and friends in prayer.

Michael Rittenhouse
has recently tested positive for covid-19, along with Sarah Rittenhouse Wright, Susanne Rittenhouse, and Shirley Crews.  Susanne had to be hospitalized Saturday morning and also has COPD.  She is now on oxygen.

Doyle Rittenhouse
had two nerves deadened Friday as a test to see if the ablations of nerve endings will solve his problem.  The test was successful.  So Doyle will be having 3 nerve ablations on one side of his spine this Tuesday, and 3 more the following week on the other side. 

Six surgeons have determined that the additional heart surgery for Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother will not be until another three months.  His blood pressure has improved somewhat, being now at 85/59; but he is unsteady on his feet.

Elaine Abbott will be transferred in the next couple days to Memorial Satilla Rehab.  Her bloodwork “has been favorable.”

Martha Lively has been having a lot of sciatic nerve pain for the last 3 weeks, which is worse in the early morning.  It is a constant pain and flares up at times.  She will be seeing a chiropractor this Tuesday.

Judy Daugherty has also been in much pain, following the breaking of her shoulder.  It has resulted in the need for her to sleep in a recliner, though not very well.  She will be seeing her doctor this Wednesday.

One-year-old Mark Owen Mixon continues to improve from his recent salmonella and dehydration.

Rex Hadley also continues to do better in healing from covid-19.

James Medlock is now over his congestive heart failure, but is still in the nursing home undergoing therapy.

Penny Medlock has been discharged from Saint Simons By-The-Sea and will be transferred Monday to a group home in Augusta, Georgia.

Deborah Medlock will be having a follow-up this Tuesday.  She continues to have pain from her recent surgery, but only moments when it is worse. She has not been taking any pain medicine, nor much Tylenol.

Rick Cuthbertson began 3 pills a day Friday of his new cancer treatment. He will have a follow-up this Thursday or Friday, which will also determine whether he is ready to increase the dose to 4 pills a day.  About a week after he has done so, he will then be scanned to see how this new treatment is progressing.

On Thursday, I (Tom Edwards) heard the results from my cardiologist of the nuclear stress test taken on Tuesday.  He now has a concern about one of my heart bypasses that might not be up to par.  (In 20 days, it will be 13 years that I have had that bypass, along with two others.) He has advised a heart catheterization to better determine the condition; and if a stent is needed, it can be inserted then.

Others to also be praying for: Larry & Janice Hood, Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), A.J. & Pat Joyner, Pat Brigman,  Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Judy Daugherty, and Ginger Ann Montero.
——————–

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; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

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) Priests of God (Kyle Pope)
2) When a Poor Man is Rich (Heath Rogers)
3) The Cross (Wayne Goff)
4) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Priests of God

Kyle Pope

A priest is one who is set apart unto God for a special service to Him and His people. Priests carry out particular acts of worship and offer up sacrifices to honor and petition God. As long as men have worshipped God there have been those who have performed this service.

Under the Patriarchs

The earliest mention of men who served God in this capacity comes in the first book of the Bible. Genesis 14:18-20 tells of a man by the name of Melchizedek. Verse 18 states, “. . . he was the priest of God Most High” (NKJV). Abraham, the great man of faith, was not himself described as a priest, but he gave Melchizedek one tenth of all his spoils after the defeat of Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:4). Exodus 2:15-21 tells of a man named Reuel (or Jethro) who would later become Moses’s father-in-law. Verse 16 refers to him as the “Priest of Midian.” Even after Moses began to lead Israel, his advice to him removed a great burden from his shoulders (Exod. 18:1-27). During this period of time, the heads of families, even though not described as “priests” were permitted to offer their own sacrifices to God. Scripture, however, has not revealed to us how priests were chosen at this time or what was involved in their service before God. We simply know that there were those who were considered priests who served God.

Under Mosaic Law

When the Law of Moses was given, God set apart a special class of men to serve as priests. This priesthood involved a High Priest (Exod. 28:1) and those of the tribe of Levi who were descendants of Aaron (Num. 3:3). Not every Israelite could act as a priest. Tracing one’s ancestry to Aaron and Levi was required. These men attended to the tabernacle (and later to the temple). They offered sacrifices for the people which the people were not permitted to offer for themselves. Even a king was not allowed to assume the responsibility of a priest (2 Chron. 26:16-21). This was a special role they alone could fill. The lifestyle of the priests was held to a special standard of conduct. They could marry only virgins — no divorced women (Lev. 21). They could drink no wine or strong drink when they carried out their service (Lev. 10). This allowed them to have a clear mind in order to perform their service and offer a pure example before the people.

Under Christ

With the passing away of the Mosaic Law (2 Cor. 3:7-13), the Levitical and Aaronic priesthood passed away. We no longer have a way to know if someone is descended from Levi and Aaron. This has led some to affirm that now there is no priesthood in the age of Christ. That is not true. It is correct that there are no men who serve as “clergy” through whom a separate class of “laity” approach God. It is also true that under Christ there are no individuals who perform the functions of worship for others. Now worship is collective in nature and every individual Christian is expected to offer up “spiritual sacrifices” in worship to God (1 Pet. 2:4-5). However, the age of Christ, like Mosaic Law actually has both a High Priest and a priesthood.

Jesus Is the High Priest. Hebrews 4:14-15 teaches that Jesus Christ Himself serves in the role of High Priest on behalf of Christians. The nature of His work is that of intercession. Scripture says, “. . . He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

All Christians are Priests. The priesthood under Christ is now made up of all true believers (men, women, old, young, black, white, Jew, or Gentile). 1 Peter 2:4-5 teaches that believers are a “. . . holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Christians carry out this priestly service in the spiritual sacrifices we each offer up to God when we worship Him (1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 13:15), and in daily obedience to Him, which is offered as a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1).

If we are Christians, the question each of us must ask ourselves is if we are living our lives as priests of God Most High? Christians should offer up spiritual sacrifices to God every day in the way we live our lives and in our worship to Him both individually and when we assemble as a church. Just as the people of the Old Testament were commanded to only offer the best they had to God, we too must make certain our sacrifices are the best we have! As priests of God we are called to a special standard of conduct. The world should see the life of Christ in us.

Let’s recognize that we have been set apart to God as Christians and live up to this honor. Peter challenges us to recognize, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

— Via Faithful Sayings, Volume 22, Issue 30, July 26, 2020
——————–

-2-

When a Poor Man is Rich

Heath Rogers

The Proverb’s writer observed, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches” (Prov. 13:7). How can a poor man be rich?

 1. When he learns to rejoice in God’s word. “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches” (Ps. 119:14). One who has found the way of God has discovered the greatest treasure known to mankind.

 2. When he obtains wisdom. “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion… Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver” (Prov. 8:12, 18-19). Wisdom will yield greater dividends in life than silver and gold.

 3. When he has a good reputation. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1). No amount of money can open the same doors and opportunities that a good reputation can open; and no amount of money can reclaim a ruined reputation.

 4. When he lays up treasure in Heaven. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). The material treasures of this world are subject to theft, depreciation, and decay. They will eventually be destroyed with fire (2 Pet. 3:10-12). The spiritual treasures we obtain in our efforts to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (developing our character, strengthening our brethren, saving lost souls, etc.) will last forever.

 5. When he is rich in good works. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Those who are rich are commanded not to trust in their wealth, but to commit themselves to being rich in good works. One does not have to possess material wealth to be rich in good works towards others.

 6. When he is rich in faith. “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5). Material wealth may get one noticed by the world, but those who are rich in faith stand out to God. They will be heirs of His kingdom; a kingdom that money cannot buy.

— Via bulletin of the Knollwood church of Christ, August 2020
——————–

-3-

The Cross

Wayne Goff

William Barclay, in his commentary on The Gospel of John, observes the following about what it means to give your life, as Jesus gave His life:

“It is told that in the First World War there was a young French soldier who was seriously wounded. His arm was so badly smashed that it had to be amputated. He was a magnificent specimen of young manhood, and the surgeon was grieved that he must go through life maimed. So he waited beside his bedside to tell him the bad news when he recovered consciousness. When the lad’s eyes opened, the surgeon said to him: ‘I am sorry to tell you that you have lost your arm.’ ‘Sir,’ said the lad, ‘I did not lose it; I gave it — for France.’

“Jesus was not helplessly caught up in a mesh of circumstances from which he could not break free. Apart from any divine power he might have called in, it is quite clear that to the end he could have turned back and saved his life. He did not lose his life; he gave it. The Cross was not thrust upon him; he willingly accepted it — for us.”

If we would stop and think about the difference between “losing” something and “giving” it, our attitudes in service to God might be greatly improved. God gave His only begotten Son, John 3:16. Jesus freely gave His life for us, Matthew 20:28. The apostles gave their lives in martyrdom as a testimony of the truthfulness of their message, Galatians 2:20. What have you and I given to God?

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma,” Ephesians 5:2.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” Ephesians 5:25.

— Via The Roanridge Reader, Volume 35, Issue 32, Page 1, August 2, 2020
——————–

-4-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Though still in ICU, Larry Hood’s surgery went well — and, actually, even “better than expected.”  He will have to have radiation treatments, but now with a “much better outlook.”

Judy Daugherty (Jim Lively’s sister) fell Thursday and broke her shoulder.  She will not have to have surgery; but is using a sling and has pain. Her doctor told her that this type of breakage will usually heal on its own 75% of the time without surgery.

Rex and Frankie Hadley are both doing somewhat better.

Mark Owen Mixon (Anita Young’s 1-year old great nephew) had been very sick in the hospital with salmonella.  He is now back home, but had lost several pounds while dehydrated and “has a little ways to go to be 100%” better.  

James Medlock was transferred from the hospital to the nursing home for his congestive heart failure.

Penny Medlock is still in St. Simons-By-The-Sea.  A recent test showed that she does not have covid-19. So she might be going to the group home this week.

Deborah Medlock is doing “pretty good,” following her recent surgery.

Ronnie Davis is now over his walking pneumonia, but still has the lingering cough.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother is still waiting to hear when his next surgery will be, and they are continuing to keep his blood pressure low.

Doyle Rittenhouse had 12 shots last week — 6 to numb the area, and 6 to deaden the nerves.  Unfortunately, it reduced the pain for only a few hours; and then left Doyle feeling worse than before. He will be having blood work on Monday and might be seeing his doctor this Wednesday about having a nerve ablation to eliminate his back pain.  In the meanwhile, he is not to be moving around too much.

Rick Cuthbertson has been doing well with his new cancer treatment — of taking the 2 pills a day that are designed to target the needed area — though he has been having a weird feeling in his back.  He will also be doing just 2 a day this week, before moving on to 3 a day. 

Others to also be praying for: Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), A.J. & Pat Joyner, Pat Brigman,  Elaine Abbott, Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, Janice Hood, and Ginger Ann Montero.
——————–

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; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

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) An Examination of Old Testament “Proof Texts” [on “hereditary total depravity”] (Melvin Curry)
2) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

An Examination of Old Testament “Proof Texts” [on “hereditary total depravity”]

Melvin Curry

Hereditary total depravity is generally associated with Augustinian and Calvinistic doctrine. John Calvin, following in the footsteps of Augustine, taught that all men sinned in Adam; and, consequently, every human being, except Jesus Christ, possesses from birth a totally corrupt sinful nature. Calvinists are saddled with a grave inconsistency in their position on original sin. They believe, on the one hand, that the guilt and depravity of the human race are ordained of God, while they argue, on the other hand, that God must not be accused of making men corrupt. To put the matter another way, how can human beings who are hell-bound sinners because they inherit a corrupt Adamic nature be held responsible as willful transgressors for deeds they are automatically programmed from birth to perform?

Does the Bible teach hereditary total depravity? The burden of this article will be to consider some alleged Old Testament “proofs” that Calvinists use in support of the doctrine by examining several classical texts (Gen. 6:5; Psa. 51:5; 58:3-4; Isa. 1:5-6; Jer. 17:8-9). The evidence adduced from these passages, however, is not as overwhelmingly convincing as Calvinists insist. If the doctrine of hereditary total depravity is not presupposed when such passages are studied, they are subject to alternate explanations which fall short of the Calvinistic position.

If I may be permitted to switch to the New Testament evidence for a moment, this tendency to assume more than the evidence warrants is nowhere more apparent than in the interpretation of Romans 5:12. William F. Bruner says, “This is the locus classicus of the whole doctrine of the imputation of Adam’s sin to the race” (Children of the Devil, 22). And George Eldon Ladd affirms, “It is quite clear that Paul believed in ‘original sin’ in the sense that Adam’s sin constituted all men sinners” (Theology of the New Testament 403-404). But listen to Ladd’s comments on Romans 5:12, “Grammatically, this can mean that men died because they have personally sinned, or it can mean that in Adam, all men sinned.” Ladd appeals to the surrounding context in order to support his interpretation of Romans 5:12; but, according to his own admission, his interpretation is far from conclusive. Moreover, what is true of the interpretation of Romans 5:12 is also true of the Old Testament texts. All of them together do not sustain the Calvinistic doctrine of hereditary total depravity.

Genesis 6:5 – “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

There is no question that this passage teaches the depravity of man. The word “depravity” itself means “very crooked.” It is derived from two Latin terms: de, an intensive particle, and pravus, “crooked.” But Charles G. Finney observes that the depravity of man is not to be taken “in the sense of original or constitutional crookedness, but in the sense of having become crooked. The term does not imply original mal conformation, but lapsed, fallen, departed from right or straight. It always implies deterioration, or fall from a former state or moral or physical perfection” (Systematic Theology 164). Sin is defined in the Bible as “transgression of the law” of God (I John 3:4). Adam and Eve lived in a state of perfection in the Garden of Eden; but, when they transgressed God’s law, they were driven out from God’s presence as well as from the tree of life. This constituted a fall and resulted in their depravity; indeed, this was the original sin. But sin does not necessarily imply a sinful nature. If it does, how does one account for the sin of Adam and Eve? Their sin may be explained on the basis of free will and temptation without implying that they had a sinful nature. And the same thing is true with respect to that of their posterity.

Adam and Eve did not sin because they had a natural appetite for sin; Eve craved to eat the fruit and to possess knowledge, Adam partook with her of his own free will. Finney’s description of their sin is entirely sufficient: “It was simply the correlation that existed between the fruit and their constitution, its presence exciting their desires for food and knowledge. This led to prohibited indulgence. But all men sin in precisely the same way” (Systematic Theology 182). “The consent to make self-gratification an end,” continues Finney, “is the whole of sin” (182).

Thus Genesis 6:5 states that human sin was the result of deliberate choices within the human heart, which God clearly “saw,” and human depravity was of such magnitude that God’s judgment was completely just. But Calvinists go beyond the evidence when they argue hereditary total depravity from this context; indeed, the doctrine of inherited sin is not taught here.

Psalm 51:5 – “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

“The Bible in this and other places,” writes John Calvin, “clearly asserts that we were born in sin, and that it exists within us as a disease fixed in our nature” (Commentary on Psalms 2:290). But he adds: “David does not charge it upon his parents, nor trace his crime to them, but sits himself before the Divine tribunal, confesses that he was formed in sin, and that he was a transgressor ere he saw the light of the world” (290). Calvin concludes that David’s depravity is total as well as hereditary: “his nature was entirely depraved” (290), “destitute of all spiritual good” (290), and “sin cleaved by nature to every part of him without exception” (291). This is true because David, like all men, sinned in Adam. When Adam “fell, we all forfeited along with him our original integrity” (291). Martin Luther goes even further: “Thus the true and proper meaning is this: ‘I am a sinner, not because I have committed adultery, nor because I have had Uriah murdered. But I have committed adultery and murder because I was born, indeed conceived and formed in the womb as a sinner.’ So we are not sinners because we commit this or that sin, but we commit them because we are sinners first” (Works 12:348).

But the clear intent of David in Psalm 51 is to assume the blame for his own sin: “Have mercy upon me” (v. 1); “blot out my transgressions” (v. 1); “wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (v. 2); “I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me” (v. 3); “against thee, thee only, have I sinned” (v. 4). John T. Willis says: “It does not make sense to understand the king to mean that his mother sinned (by adultery or fornication) when she conceived David, or that she was a sinful woman when he was conceived. It is clearly David’s sin that is meant here. The best explanation is that the poet is using an Ancient Near Eastern idiom meaning that he, like all human beings, was prone or inclined to sin from his youth up because he was constantly surrounded by sin and temptation” (Insights from the Psalms 2:60). The fact that David was “surrounded by sin and temptation” from his birth made David painfully aware that he was not the only sinner. Nor was he the first sinner; that dishonor is reserved for Adam. Even if the passage teaches that David’s mother was, in some sense, a sinner at the time of his conception, there is nothing here that suggests that she possessed a corrupt nature, or that her corrupt nature was transmitted to her infant son. Such a doctrine must be assumed to be true on other grounds and forced into play in the interpretation of this text.

Psalm 58:3 – “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. “

If Psalm 58:3 is pressed literally, the simple but absurd conclusion is that new-born babies are liars. In the first place, however, David is speaking particularly about a special class of “wicked” men as distinct from the whole human race or from saints. And, secondly, these wicked men are described in highly figurative poetic language. The admission of Albert Barnes, a staunch Calvinist, is to the point: “Strictly speaking, therefore, it cannot be shown that the psalmist in this declaration had reference to the whole human race, or that he meant to make a universal declaration in regard to man as being early estranged or alienated from God; and the passage, therefore, cannot directly, and with exact propriety, be adduced to prove the doctrine that ‘original sin’ appertains to all the race, – whatever may be true on that point” (Psalms 2:138). Furthermore, he comments, “It is only, therefore, after it is proved that men are depraved or ‘wicked’ that this passage can be cited in favor of the doctrine of original sin” (138). A more honest appraisal of the passage could not be made. Even if one grants that the passage teaches that children lie as soon as they speak at all, “this would not prove,” writes Finney, “that their nature was in itself sinful, but might well consist with the theory that their physical depravity, together with their circumstances of temptation, led them into selfishness, from the very moment of their moral existence” (Systematic Theology 179).

Isaiah 1:5-6 – “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it…”

Although some expositors have adduced this passage in support of the doctrine of original sin, such an interpretation is wholly out of harmony with the context. Isaiah is speaking about the punishment which God has heaped upon the nation of Judah because it has rebelled against him: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity” (v. 4). Nothing at all is intimated about how sin is transmitted by heredity. The “wounds and bruises” (v. 6) have been received because of willful transgressions. Even John Calvin recognized that the corruption of the nation was the result of “hardened impenitence” (Commentary on Isaiah 1:47).

Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

This passage provides an opportunity to sum up my remarks. I affirm that men are depraved, in the sense that I defined this term above, and that the effect of sin leaves the human heart “deceitful above all things.” Thus I have no quarrel with Calvinists over the fact that depravity is total or pervasive in an individual, i.e., that “the whole of man’s being has been affected by sin” (Steele and Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism 25). I deny, however, that man is totally depraved in the sense that he cannot exercise his free will in conversion and must be granted faith as a supernatural gift. My disagreement with them is over their position that man’s corruption is inborn, inherited at birth from Adam; and, therefore, that man “can do nothing pertaining to his salvation” (Five Points of Calvinism 25). Not one of the passages discussed in this article affirms anything about man’s inborn, corrupt nature or his spiritual inability. The doctrine of hereditary total depravity is not taught in these Old Testament texts.

— Via Guardian of Truth XXXI: 1, pp. 29-30, January 1, 1987
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-2-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Pat Brigman
(Tina Allen’s aunt) is going through a difficult time with chemo and radiation treatments for stage 4 lung cancer. 

Larry Hood (Pat Joyner’s brother-in-law) will be having very intensive surgery this week that will involve 4 surgeons working all day on him.  His wife Janice takes medication for her Trigeminal neuralgia, but stress can make it worse.

Deborah Medlock’s
surgery for a small malignant growth (1 cm), which was detected by a mammogram in June, will be tomorrow (August 3). 

Elaine Abbott is still undergoing treatments of chemotherapy once a week and hemodialysis three times a week and has been physically weak.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother is healing well from his heart surgery (almost 3 weeks ago), but he also will be having another surgery for an aortic dissection in the lower portion of his aorta. His doctor will be contacting the surgeons this week to work out the when and the where for sometime this month.  In the meanwhile, they have been keeping his blood pressure at just 80/55.  

It was determined, by testing, that Leona “Lea” Medlock (Deborah’s daughter-in-law) had been ill with covid-19.  But she is now feeling better, yet still keeping herself quarantined at home and is now into her third week.

Rick Cuthbertson began his new cancer treatment Thursday and also had it on Friday.  It had made him tired for only about 20 or so minutes afterwards.

Ronnie Davis has been having walking pneumonia and a difficult time with a lingering cough.

Penny Medlock will soon have been a week in St. Simons-By-The Sea.   

Doyle Rittenhouse continues to feel much better following his third set of shots for his back pain, though not all of it has been eliminated. He will be seeing his doctor again this week.

Jim Lively had another fall Thursday, but it led to no injuries.  His head hit a swivel standing mirror, so the impact was not as severe as hitting something stationary. 

Rex Hadley is not over covid-19 yet, but has improved somewhat.  He still, however, is very weak, coughing, and with other symptoms.  A couple days ago, he did start eating more, and Friday was his first day without a fever.  His wife Frankie is going through another UTI that makes her extra weak, which she is on medication for.

James Medlock’s dementia has improved.  He is doing “way better than before.” 

Shirley Davis continues to heal from her recent procedure of a pace maker implant and is feeling much better, though she is weak.  She is having a physical therapist come to her home for treatments.  When I asked her what she would like me to tell the brethren at Tebeau Street, she said, “To keep praying for me, and I love them all.”

Others to also be praying for: Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), A.J. & Pat Joyner,Tim Kirkland, Ray Daugherty, and Ginger Ann Montero.
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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; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; 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

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 

evangelist/editor: 
Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

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