Month: November 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) Why Do People Turn Back? (Irvin Himmel)
2) Giving Thanks to God (Robert F. Turner)
3) What Needs Changing? (Lloyd Atherton)
4) News & Notes
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Why Do People Turn Back?

Irvin Himmel

Paul asked the Galatians, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (Galatians 4:9, NASB.) It is absurd for men who have breathed freedom through the gospel to fall back to a system which enslaves the soul, whether Judaism, heathenism, denominationalism, or worldliness.

Why do people who have known the Lord in the forgiveness of sins allow themselves to slip back into their old way of life? Some turn back not long after they are baptized; others serve God for years before drifting away from the truth. What are the reasons?

Truth Is Narrow

In John 6, Jesus spoke of himself as the bread of life. He said, “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” This means that men must partake of Christ to have eternal life. But many of his disciples reacted by saying, “This is a hard saying; who can hear it?” Consequently, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66). Today, many turn away from Jesus because their friends call them “narrow-minded” and they do not want to be so classified. Divine truth is narrow since it is both fixed and demanding. Truth will always be narrow.

No Depth Of Conviction

In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of seed falling upon stony places, springing up, but dying for lack of root. This illustrates the person who hears the word and with joy receives it, “Yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Matthew 13:20-21). If there is not a real depth of conviction when one is baptized, he is likely to wither and die in a short time. He cannot endure the scorching sun of tribulation that puts him to the test.

Love Of The World

After people have devoted themselves to their own selfish interests for years, it is hard to make a clean break and give full dedication to the Lord. It is easy to slip back into old worldly ways. Paul wrote concerning a former co-worker, “Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world” (II Timothy 4:10). Whether the word “world” as used here applies to physical life or material possessions makes little difference. Demas turned back because of his attachment to the present realm of things. He did not love the Lord with all his heart, strength, and mind.

Laziness

At the risk of being somewhat blunt, I must say that some turn away from the Lord because they are too lazy to serve him. They had rather sleep late on Sunday morning than get up and attend services. They prefer an easy chair in front of the TV on Sunday evening because that takes less effort than going to the meeting place. They are too lazy to visit the sick, to comfort the bereaved, or to help someone in distress. The following language is appropriate for all such: “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16). Just as some live in poverty because they are too lazy to work, many will miss heaven due to their indolence.

Deceptions

In the parable of the sower, some seed fell among thorns. The thorns choked out the plant that was produced. Jesus said, “He that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22). Riches are not the only means by which men are deceived. Some are deceived by false doctrines. Some are misled by the pleasures of this life. Some are beguiled by their own doubts. Others are deluded into thinking that somehow God will excuse them even if they disobey the Bible. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting” (Galatians 6:7,8).

Unwillingness To Sacrifice

A lot of people who become Christians turn back to the world because they are not willing to pay the price that is required in serving Jesus. That which is demanded of us is not unreasonable. Remember that our Lord loved us and gave his life for us. He explained the cost of discipleship in these words: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24).

Independence

Some are baptized and try to go it alone. They find the battle of life too big a task against the forces of evil. They turn back. We cannot serve God acceptably without a feeling of dependence. First, we need His help. Paul wrote, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Second, we need the help of each other. “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together. . .” (Hebrews 10:25). Some are too independent to succeed in righteous living. They think they can personally whip the devil and all his servants! They resent others who try to lend a helping hand. They want to be left alone. In the end they are defeated and alone — without God and without the fellowship of the saints — lost, hopelessly and eternally doomed.

These are seven of the cardinal reasons why people turn back after having served the Lord for a period of time. What a tragedy that men who have walked in the light turn back to darkness. How sad that anyone would quit serving Christ. What a pity that one deserts the kingdom of God.

“But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (II Peter 2:22).

— Via Navarre Messenger, September 9, 2018
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Giving Thanks to God

Robert F. Turner

In Romans 1, Paul describes sin in its most basic sense as a rejection of God.  Man’s just responsibility is shown in that he could “know God” as “eternal power and deity” from evidences in the world about him. But man’s vanity, his ego, prevents his acceptance of God; and this is demonstrated by two things: 1) his refusal to glorify God — to praise, or look up to God; and 2) man’s ingratitude. “They glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful” (v. 21).

Being thankful, so much like genuine worship or praise, demands a humble and contrite heart. It indicates our feeling of need for God, of dependence upon Him. It makes us ever aware that “in Him we live, and move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

Sermons on thanksgiving tend to stress the expression of gratitude that is due, following the reception of blessings. This is, of course, in order, as Jesus taught when he had healed the ten lepers (Luke 17:12-19). “Were not the ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” We are daily blessed, and should daily express our thanks.

But gratitude goes much further than a courteous “Thank You!” or even the most sincere and complete expression of thanksgiving. It is an attitude, basic to the life of a Christian. Paul wrote to the Colossians, “As therefore ye received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and builded up in Him, and established in your faith, even as ye were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7). Various manuscripts relate this “thanksgiving” to their “faith” (KJV: “abounding therein with thanksgiving”) while Lenski says, “it is closely united with the confirmation that is constantly received.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18 reads, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” A deep-seated, constant feeling of gratitude toward God, seems to sum up the awareness, dependence, and confidence which characterizes a true follower of God in Christ — and without which we cannot please Him. It is indicative of faith, and hope, and love. It produces “the sacrifice of praise” (Heb. 13:15); both in word and in a life devoted to Him (Col. 3:17).

— via Plain Talk [vol. 13, #5, p. 1], July 1976
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What Needs Changing?

Lloyd Atherton

When you look into the mirror and your face appears dirty, it is your face, not the mirror that needs attention. The Bible is the mirror of the soul. It reveals our imperfections and shows us how to make corrections. However, some try to rework the Bible instead of reshaping their lives. Don’t make that mistake. When you look into the “perfect law of liberty,” continue in it. Don’t be a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the word (James 1:25). Don’t try to change the word; let the word change your life.

– Via The Beacon, November 1, 2020
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Elaine Abbott (Jonathan’s mother) who passed away Wednesday, following an extended illness.

Rachel Gerbing (the granddaughter of Doyle & Joyce Rittenhouse) has recently been diagnosed with covid-19. 

Doyle Rittenhouse will be having back surgery December 1.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother will be seeing his doctor December 2 concerning another heart surgery.

Others to also be praying for: Pat Bridgman, Tammy Abbott, Joanne Ray, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Vivian Foster, James Medlock, Rick Cuthbertson, Larry & Janice Hood, Judy Daugherty, Deborah Medlock, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Allen & Darlene Tanner, Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
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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.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
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; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27). And from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by 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/all.htm/ (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) “Fields . . . White Already to Harvest” (Micky Galloway)
2) Correcting Misconceptions of Humility (Sewell Hall)
3) News & Notes
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“Fields…White Already to Harvest”

Micky Galloway

When we lived in Arkansas, the many opportunities we had to see huge fields of cotton gave new meaning to this expression. Try to imagine 400 acres of cotton, a literal sea of white, ready to be harvested. The Lord said, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35).The apostle Paul expressed the same thought when he spoke of an “open door” and a “door of utterance” (1 Corinthians 15:9; 2 Corinthians 1:12; Colossians 4:3). John wrote of the “open door” which no man can shut (Revelation 3:8).

Opportunity “knocks”; it does not beat down the door. As we drive into the Antelope Valley and stop at Vista Point to view the valley, we are reminded of opportunity. Living in this valley are approximately 300,000 souls who need to hear the gospel. This writing concerns our many opportunities to teach God’s Word and our preparation and determination to take advantage of these opportunities. Christianity is not a dead belief; it is a vibrant way of life that deeply affects the standards by which we conduct our lives. A part of that conduct deals with our consciousness that those about us are lost.

Let us pray for an “open door.” The apostle Paul asked the Colossians to pray for him, “that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3). It is right to pray for opportunities. Perhaps, our inability to realize that we live in a “lost and dying world,” and our apathy to praying about it, are the very reasons conditions are not more favorable for the growth of the church. James said, “the fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). Fervently praying for opportunity means ridding oneself of fear about the responsibilities associated with open doors. To accomplish this goal, we must prepare.

We need to get past “me-ism” (concern only with ourselves). Too many of us focus so entirely upon ourselves–“me first”–that we fail to see opportunities, and therefore, to act when they abound. Paul said some would become “lovers of self” (2 Timothy 3:2). Yet, the same apostle taught that we are to “bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each one of us please his neighbor for that which is good, unto edifying” (Romans 15:1-2). Even among brethren, there is opportunity to teach. Paul said, “Let no man seek his own, but (each) his neighbor’s (good)” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Paul also said, “Not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others” (Philippians 2:4). Wouldn’t that go a long way toward helping us to teach others. We have a wide-open “door” of opportunity to restore those who are wayward (Galatians 6:1; James 5:19-20).

Let us believe in the gospel, God’s power to save. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Romans 1:16). In a world that held the gospel in contempt, Paul, under threat of persecution, preached it boldly. Paul had seen the gospel at work, first among the Jews, and then among the Greeks. “The words of eternal life” are “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12). The gospel is ever relevant, and it can transform our neighbors, if they receive it and realize that it is the revelation of God. Every conversion example in the book of Acts bears evidence of this truth. Indeed, we have in our possession God’s power to change lives, but our failure to proclaim it results in continued ungodly living that sends people to hell!!! Jesus commanded, “Enter ye in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby” (Matthew 7:13-14).

On the broad way that leads to destruction will be someone’s mother, father, grandparent, friend, neighbor, or coworker. In that great Day of Judgment, will they say, “You met me day by day, and knew I was astray, yet never mentioned Him to me.”

Let us be aware of the unconverted. Masses of souls are hungering and thirsting for the truth. Many question their religious convictions. They know they are at sea, without chart or compass. WE have great opportunity. Indeed, the fields are white unto harvest, and the laborers are so few. In Acts 8, those who were scattered as a result of the persecution, “went about preaching the word.” Until we understand that the success of personal work depends on each one personally working, opportunities will continue to fall by the wayside.

Reaping a harvest of lost souls can not occur by accident. Let us prepare ourselves for the greatest work on earth. Someone has said that the four hinges upon which the gates of opportunity swing are: initiative, insight, industry, and integrity. Surely, we have integrity, but what about the other three. Let us not forget that procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.

Every gospel preacher who is doing the work the Lord called Him to do is looking for ways to impress the truth of this article upon those in the congregation where he labors. The world is replete with people who are lost and dying in darkness and sin. Every community in which the Lord’s church has “open doors” also has great “opportunity doors.”

Millions of people live their lives without spiritual direction. Millions of others have been deceived by the smooth words of men who teach error. Both groups (those without direction and those with the wrong direction) are on a road that leads to the same destination — Hell! “In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Thessalonians 1:8,9). Do we even think about the terrible ending awaiting the unprepared? Many of them are people we know, and love, and talk with daily.

Dear reader, please read your Bible carefully. I think you’ll conclude that God not only expects us to save ourselves, but also to strive to bring others with us! Who are you bringing? (KMG)

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“Then He said to His disciples, the harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:36-37).

Can God Count on You?

— Via Knollwood church of Christ, July 2003
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Correcting Misconceptions of Humility

Sewell Hall

Once it is established that Jesus was the ultimate example of humility, several misconceptions are laid to rest.

Humility Is Not Weakness

Even the enemies of Jesus testified to His power. It was demonstrated over Satan, over nature, and over every force that opposed Him. Yet in the exercise of His power He was humble, acknowledging that the works He did were the works of His Father (John 5:19). Humble individuals who recognize their own weakness and allow the power of God to work in them are the only ones who are truly strong. The Lord said to Paul, “My strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9), causing Paul to respond, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

Humility Does Not Preclude Leadership

Jesus was “meek and lowly” (humble), but this did not prevent His exercising leadership. He is the great Shepherd of the flock, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Some individuals, citing humility as their reason, refuse to accept the responsibilities of leadership, especially as elders. The fact is that elders must be humble. They are to be sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:2), and this is defined in Romans 12:3 as not thinking more highly of oneself than one should.  1 Timothy 3:6 says that an elder should not be a novice, “lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the same condemnation as the devil.” Rather than hindering leadership, humility defines the style of leadership that pleases God. Christ-like shepherds are not lords over those entrusted to them but examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3).

Humility Does Not Forbid Rebuking Sin

Jesus was just as humble when He was driving out the money-changers from the temple in Matthew 21 and rebuking the Pharisees in chapter 23 as when He was blessing little children in chapter 19. In each case He was expressing in His words and actions the will of God, not His own. Humility will, however, affect our manner of dealing with sinners and those in error. “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition” (2 Timothy 2:24-25). “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in the spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted” (Galatians 6:1). Rebuking that is done from a spirit of self-righteousness and pride will never be effective in accomplishing God’s purpose.

Humility Is Not Inconsistent With Personal Initiative    

The church needs the input of every spiritually-minded Christian in planning and executing its work.  A song we sing says, “Take my intellect and use every power as Thou shalt choose.” Yet some who have useful ideas fail to offer them, feeling that to do so would be inconsistent with humility.  Of course, if one demands that his way be accepted and becomes angry if his suggestion is not taken, he does lack humility. Humility demands that “each esteem others better than himself” (Philippians 2:3), but it does not forbid our offering our wisdom on a subject for whatever it may be worth in the opinion of our brethren.

Humility does not require that we think of ourselves disdainfully, speak of ourselves disparagingly or grovel in the presence of others.    

This is what many people think of as humility. However, this is the opposite of humility. Such a person is thinking too much of himself, however negative his thinking may be.  When one is constantly thinking: “How inferior I am, how worthless I am, how useless I am, how poorly I do compared to others” he is thinking of himself all the time. Pride is his problem; he is too proud to be comfortable among those whom he considers superior to himself. Humility is not the cause of such negative thinking; it is actually the solution — not thinking of self at all.  A Christian can rejoice in the superiority of his brethren. Furthermore, he can hold up his head in the presence of all men, not because he himself is so worthy, but because he is a child of the God of heaven, redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. Jesus did not grovel before any man, yet He was not lacking in humility when He said to a Roman governor, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11).

Conclusion

True humility replaces self-seeking with seeking first the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33), self-will with doing the will of God (Matthew 7:21), self-reliance with reliance upon God (2 Corinthians 3:5), self-confidence with confidence in God (2 Timothy 1:12), and self-exaltation with exaltation by God (1 Corinthians 4:3-6). These were the qualities that made Jesus humble and the qualities He seeks in us. May we bring ourselves to say truly, even as we sing: Lord, thy love at last has conquered: None of self, and all of Thee.

— Via Search for Truth, October 11, 2020
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Rex Abbott
(Jonathan’s father) is feeling better and might now be over the Covid-19.  He will be tested tomorrow to find out. 

Elaine Abbott (Jonathan’s mother) still has the covid-19, along with pneumonia that has elevated her white blood count. Her dementia has also worsen, but that might be from all she is now going through.

Anthony and Tammy Abbott (Jonathan’s brother and sister-in-law) had been diagnosed with covid-19.  But Anthony is now doing better, though still with some congestion; and his wife Tammy is now in her 12th day of it and making some improvement.

Rick Cuthbertson is now on a different drug for his cancer treatments.  So far, there is no constant pain; and he is feeling pretty good. 

Jim Lively had two more falls last week by which he sluffed some more skin off his arms. 

Rex & Frankie Hadley are doing about the same.  Rex had x-rays on his lower back Friday which revealed a good bit of degeneration in the discs.
  
Anita Young is doing better with her foot.  They gave her a shot for it, and she has now been without the ankle brace for more than a week.

Others to also be praying for: Pat Bridgman, Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother, Joanne Ray, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Vivian Foster, Doyle Rittenhouse, James Medlock, Larry & Janice Hood, Judy Daugherty, Deborah Medlock, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Allen & Darlene Tanner, Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
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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.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
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).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27). And from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian. For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by 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/all.htm/ (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) Reflecting the Nature of God (Jim Deason)
2) Digging Deep (Frank Himmel)
3) On Geese and Friends (A.W. Goff)
4) News & Notes
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Reflecting the Nature of God

Jim Deason

God’s purpose for man is stated simply and concisely: “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16). This holiness—a behavior—is defined by God, personified in Jesus Christ, revealed by the Holy Spirit, and recorded on the pages of the Bible. Every instruction given in the pages of the New Testament is designed to lead us to partake of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), to help us “become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29).

It troubles me to hear some of late proclaim that Christianity is not about keeping rules. I beg to differ. Christianity is all about keeping His rules (John 14:15; Heb. 5:9), for it is in obedience to the precepts of the New Testament that we are made more and more into His image. Allow me to illustrate.

Like a city set upon a hill which cannot be hidden, those who are led by the Spirit of God are going to show it by producing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) in their lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This is by no means an exhaustive list of characteristics reflecting the nature of God, but it is a very good place to begin.

Love

Twice in 1 John 4 (vv. 8,15) the Bible tells us that “God is love.” Why? Because love is from God (v. 7). His nature defines love. He is love’s perfect illustration. What Jesus did on Calvary proves it: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8, NASB). Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13), and He did. This is unparalleled love and anyone who is led by the Spirit of God and who wants to reflect the nature of God must, therefore, be a person of love. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).

Joy

I’ve never understood why someone claiming to be a Christian would walk about with such a sour disposition that he looked like he was weaned on pickle juice. God intends that we be a people of joy. Paul said, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing” (Rom. 15:13). Later, he instructed the Philippians to “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:8). Why such joy? Because joy is a part of God’s nature. Picture this: “as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so your God will rejoice over you” (Isa. 62:5). The moment my wife said “I do” was exhilarating, one of the happiest moments of my life. In the same way, God finds great joy in those who serve Him and wants you to experience the same joy.

Peace

Peace is a state of tranquility, the absence of mental stress or anxiety. At least five times in Scripture God is referred to as the “God of peace” (Rom. 15:33; 16:20; Phil. 4:9; 1 Thess. 5:23; Heb. 13:20). Jesus is our source of peace (Eph. 2:14,17) and called the “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6). Is it any wonder, then, why we are told that “the one who desires life, to love and see good days. . . must seek peace and pursue it” (1 Pet. 3:10-11). I understand there are times when we must go to war, spiritually speaking (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-17). But the person who is disposed to choose war over peace does not yet possess the spirit of Christ.

Patience

Studying the Old Testament teaches us a lot about the nature and character of God, particularly His patience. Thirteen times the Lord is said to be “slow to anger” (cf. Num. 14:18) and that phrase is usually surrounded by other traits of God such as lovingkindness, forgiveness, mercy, and graciousness. One should never take lightly “the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience” (Rom 2:4). Quite literally, it is our salvation (2 Pet. 3:15). So, if you want God to be patient with you, reflect His nature and be patient with others (1 Thess. 5:14; 2 Tim. 2:24-25).

Kindness

Kindness is the quality of being helpful, having a benevolent nature. God asks us nothing more than what He is Himself: “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy” (Titus 3:4-5). We are not surprised therefore, since God wants us to be like Him, that we are told to “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

Goodness

Goodness is a lot like kindness. Our English word good carries with it the idea of being virtuous or right. The Greek word seems to emphasize a special interest in the welfare of others. Paul commanded, “you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth)” (Eph. 5:8–9). God wants you to be good because He is good. I understand the sentiment of the psalmist when he wrote, “I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living” (Psa. 27:13).

Faithfulness

You know the type. They are people that you trust. You can reveal your inner secrets to them because you know they will keep your confidence and you believe in the wisdom of their counsel. They never fail you. They’ve proven time and again that they will keep their word and fulfill their obligations. They are faithful. Such also is the nature of God. Jeremiah proclaimed to God, “Great is your faithfulness” (Lam. 3:23). God promised, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5; cf. Deut. 31:6,8), and He hasn’t. To God, the psalmist proclaimed, “Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations” (Psa. 119:90). So, when you are faithful to your commitments, dependable and trustworthy in the hand of God, you’re demonstrating a characteristic of God—and that is no small thing!

Gentleness

Sometimes translated meekness (KJV, ASV), this word describes a man who is not overly impressed by a sense of his own self-importance. He is strong, but that strength is not always on display. He is humble, courteous, and considerate. He is gentle, mild, and even-tempered. Moses was like this (Num. 12:3). So also was Jesus. He entreated, “Come to Me. . . Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:28-29). If you want to be like Christ, and if you are not already, you’ve got to learn to be a gentle, humble person.

Self-Control

Self-Control is the ability to restrain one’s emotions, words, and actions by one’s will. Aristotle said that it was “the ability to restrain desire by reason.” It is the very opposite of acting without thinking. The self-controlled individual will think through something and let sound reason keep him from saying or doing something he might not otherwise say or do. When Aaron made the golden calf, God was angry and wanted to destroy Israel and start all over with Moses (Exod. 32). Moses interceded for the people and “the Lord changed His mind” (Exod. 32:14). Some folks don’t do that—restrain their anger. If something doesn’t go their way there is fire in their eyes, venom on their lips, and revenge in their actions. For that reason, we are told, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man” (Prov. 22:24) because “an angry man stirs up strife, and a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression” (Prov. 29:22). The matter of temper is not the only area where self-control is needed but it serves to illustrate the point. Anyone who wants to be Christlike simply must possess the ability to control his heart and actions.

Conclusion

In the New Testament God reveals to us a standard of behavior, a code of conduct, by which He wants us to live. He expects you and me to “be holy. . . in all your behavior” (1 Pet. 1:15). But He also reveals Himself and His nature which tells us a lot about why He wants us to follow His instructions. In obeying Him, we become like Him! Christians, then, are to take on His nature and grow to be more and more like God Himself. Remember what He said: “Be holy, for I am holy” (1 Pet. 1:16).

— Via Faithful Sayings, Volume 22, Issue 39 (September 27, 2020)
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-2-

Digging Deep

Frank Himmel

At the end of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stressed the importance of acting on His teaching, not merely listening to it. He used two builders to make the point. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall” (Matthew 7:24-27).

In Luke’s account, Jesus said the wise builder “is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock” (Luke 6:48). Consider the importance of digging deep.

Digging deep rules out following Jesus in a superficial way. Some are content to believe in Jesus in a broad sense while making no real commitment to living as He directs. Discipleship is not a surface-level acceptance of the Lord; it is yielding all in order to follow Him wherever He directs (Luke 14:25-33). It is a “deep” commitment.

Digging deep suggests the depth of our faith. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus likened some hearers’ hearts to shallow soil. The word readily produces a plant, but because there is no depth of soil (Mark 4:5) it withers amidst affliction or persecution (v. 17). Since faith comes by hearing God’s word (Romans 10:17), deeper faith can come only by digging more deeply into the word. “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity . . .” (Hebrews 6:1).

Digging deep also points to thorough repentance. In Jesus’ illustration, the builder digs deep in order to remove everything that is unsuitable. He clears away the dirt and debris to get to the solid rock. From there he can begin to build. We may need to do a lot of clearing in our hearts and lives, too. Erroneous beliefs, bad attitudes, and sinful habits lie between us and discipleship. They must all be removed, shovelful by shovelful. We must examine every corner of our hearts and lives in light of the gospel and make whatever changes it calls for.

Discipleship is work. Don’t take shortcuts. Dig deep.

— Via Pathlights, June 23, 2019
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-3-

On Geese And Friends

A.W. Goff

When you see geese flying in a “V” formation, you might be interested in knowing what facts scientists have discovered about why they fly that way.

FACT: As each bird flaps its wings, it creates an uplift for the bird immediately following. By flying in a “V” formation, the whole flock adds at least 71% greater flying range than if each bird flew on its own.
TRUTH: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going quicker and easier because they are traveling on the trust of one another. Read Ephesians 4:16

FACT: Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone and quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front.
TRUTH: There is strength, power and safety in numbers when traveling in the same direction with those with whom we share a common goal. Read 1 Corinthians 1:10

FACT: When the lead goose gets tired, he rotates back in the wing and another goose flies point.
TRUTH: It pays to take turns doing hard jobs. Read 2 Corinthians 8:13-15

FACT: The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep their speed.
TRUTH: We all need to be remembered with active support and praise. Read Colossians 2:1-2

FACT: When a goose gets sick or is wounded and falls out, two geese fall out of formation and follow him down to help and protect him. They stay with him until the crisis resolves, and then they launch out on their own or with another formation to catch up with their group.
TRUTH: We must stand by each other in times of need! Read Acts 12:1-5

We are fortunate that there are more geese in life than turkeys. Let us remember to uphold each other in friendship and to give each other a big “honk” more often.
_____

Editor’s Note: It should not be surprising that the same God of Nature is also the God of Revelation. Many things in nature reflect truths and lessons in the spiritual realm. God gave geese their natural intuition both for their benefit and for ours. The Scriptures listed above with every natural trait of geese is just an example of the many biblical references that teach the same truth. Use these references as a “springboard” and see if  you can find other similar passages and share them with one another. AWG

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 34, Issue 32, Page 3, August 11, 2019
——————–

-4-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Rex & Elaine Abbott
(Jonathan’s parents) were both diagnosed Tuesday with covid-19.

Pat Bridgman who has been undergoing chemo treatment for lung cancer was recently diagnosed with covid-19.  She has been admitted to the hospital, already having a low white blood count.

Olivia McCarthy started feeling better several days ago and is now over her covid-19 and quarantine.  It had continued to remain mild while she had it, with a main symptom of just being tired.

Anita Young’s back is now doing better.

Others to also be praying for: Rick Cuthbertson, Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother, Joanne Ray, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Vivian Foster, Doyle Rittenhouse, James Medlock, Larry & Janice Hood, Judy Daugherty, Deborah Medlock, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, Harris Lefort, Allen & Darlene Tanner, Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.——————–

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.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
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).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27). And from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian. For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…
6) Continue in the faith by 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

https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm/ (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) Our God Does Not Change (Jon Quinn)
2) The Prepared Heart (Gary Henry)
3) Temptations & Illusions (Bill Crews)
4) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Our God Does Not Change

Jon Quinn

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Eccl. 3:1). We live in a world of constant change. Time changes everything we see and touch. Things that were “in” yesterday are “out” today. I remember when I was a boy seeing all my father’s old ties hanging in the closet. They were wide and colorful, full of intricate designs. He never wore them so I asked why. He said no one wears ties like that any more but he expected that if he waited long enough that they would come back in style. I doubted that anyone would ever wear anything like those ties again, at least not unless forced to do so at gun point! But sure enough, by the time I was in high school I was able to borrow his old, outlandish ties and let everyone assume that I had paid big bucks for them at the store.

The state of the world is different than it was ten years ago; far different than forty years ago. What will it be like ten years from now? As we read the Bible we see that it has always been so. We see changes in society; apostasy and return; dynasties thought eternal crumble and new ones take their places. Individuals age and grow closer to God, or sometimes grow away from God. We are accustomed to seeing things change.

It seems as if everything changes but such is not the case! Our link to Abraham, Moses and Paul is that we serve exactly the same God as they did. We may live in a different time, under a different government, but we build our relationship with the very same God, and for that reason the lessons they learned will find application in our lives today. God does not change. Let us consider this idea.

God’s Existence Does Not Change

“Of old Thou didst found the earth; And the heavens are the work of thy hands. Even they all perish, but Thou dost endure, And all of them will wear out like a garment. . . but Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end” (Psa. 102:25-27).

God had no beginning nor does he have an ending. Children sometimes ask the question, “Who made God?” The answer is that God did not need to be made because there was never a time in which he did not already exist. He will never cease to be, nor will he ever cease to be what he already is.  He is deserving of our trust because “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27).

God’s Character Does Not Change

“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).

In the course of human life, events may alter the character of a man. There are things that happen to us that can change us forever. For example, a trusting soul may become cynical when he has been betrayed. But nothing like this happens to the Creator. He will never become less fair, honest, truthful, or good than perfection will allow. The character of God today is exactly as it was in Bible times, and as it will be long after this world ceases to be. Even the name “Jehovah ” or “I AM” bears out the eternal changelessness of God. The New Testament describes God as “the Father of lights, with Whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (Jas. 1:17).

God’s Purpose Does Not Change

“And the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind” (1 Sam. 15:29). God does not alter his purpose. He does not go half-way into a job, then realize that he has made a mistake and repent. All his plans are based upon perfect wisdom and knowledge so he never has to! Nothing can take God by surprise. If he were painting a room he would not paint himself into a corner.

The Psalmist declared, “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the thoughts of His heart to all generations” (Psa. 33:11). Some may wonder about a few passages which seem to indicate that God does repent (Gen. 6:6; 1 Sam. 15:11; Jon. 3:10; etc.). However, it must be understood that none of these suggest a change in his eternal purpose, nor do they suggest that God was taken by surprise. They are cases of God’s reversal of his prior treatment of an individual or group because the people had changed. If a people grew increasingly wicked, then God’s treatment of them changed from what it was before. If a people repented and sought forgiveness, then God would bless instead of punish.

God’s Son Does Not Change

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, yes and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Jesus loves us as much today as he did on the road to Calvary. There is a story of someone asking him, “How much do you love me?” Jesus answered, “This much” and he stretched his arms out wide, and died. Certainly the gift Jesus has given us shows us that his love is eternal. His death proves that his love is undying. Jesus is “the Living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore” (Rev. 1:18). Jesus is “able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). He is our absolutely trustworthy friend. What a friend we have in Jesus!

Conclusion

What is the difference between our relationship with God and those in Bible times? We worship the same God, not a new one. His character remains the same, we can know what he is like now by observing what he was like then. His purposes remain unchanged. The Messiah we accept is the same Son of God who they looked for, welcomed, and accepted.

We may live in a different age. We may rejoice that we live under a new covenant. We may have a complete written revelation and therefore a more accurate picture of God’s eternal purpose, character and nature. But God remains the same. By all means, place your eternal spirit in his hands.

— Via Navarre Messenger, January 6, 2019
——————–

-2-

The Prepared Heart

Gary Henry

“For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the LORD, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).

Our “nature” is given to us by God, but our “character” is created by our choices.  What we do with the raw materials of our created nature brings into being a character that is either good or bad.  Of course, the fact that character is a matter of choice does not mean the choices are always carefully made.  Indeed, many people simply live by default, going with the flow and ending up with a character that has been chosen haphazardly.  But haphazard choices are still choices.  Whether we’ve been careful or not, we’ll still have to account to God for our decisions.

Ezra is said to have “prepared his heart.”  Apparently he had given some thought to the sort of man he wanted to be.  Surely he was aware of what the major alternatives are that lie before a human being, and his choice to pursue godliness seems to have been a deliberate decision.  It’s not unlikely that Ezra had given some consideration to the matter of consequences.  There is no more “consequential” choice than the choice of one’s character, and Ezra had no doubt considered that some kinds of character would take him places he didn’t want to go.

It is worth noting the particular character Ezra prepared himself to have.  This wise man determined that he would (1) seek God’s will, (2) do whatever he learned, and (3) teach to others the things that he had both learned and lived.  We could look a long time and not find a better three-point program for character development.  Seeking, doing, and teaching… the will of God.  These things point to the very heart of what human existence is all about.

If we’ve not already done so, it’s urgent that we prepare our hearts.  It’s time to think seriously about what matters most to us.  What kind of people do we intend to be, anyway?  “When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind” (Seneca).  But preparing our hearts requires more than charting our course.  We must also count the cost and resolve that we’ll pay the price to have a character that’s worth having.  The devil is eager to test how well prepared our hearts really are.

“You cannot dream yourself into a character; you must hammer and forge yourself one” (James Anthony Froude).

— Via Kirkwood church of Christ, July 18, 2017
——————–

-3-

Temptations & Illusions

Bill Crews

Read the third chapter of Genesis. It tells of the sins of Adam and Eve (in doing what God had expressly forbidden) and of the consequences of those sins. When confronted by God and asked, “What is this thou hast done,” she responded, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (vs. 13). She told the truth. Paul wrote that “the serpent beguiled Eve in his craftiness” (2 Cor. 11:3; cf. 1 Tim. 2:14). But she was neither justified nor excused. Do you think that the pleasures of her sin were worth the price of the consequences she had to pay for them? How many times thereafter she must have wished that she could relive that moment when she said “yes” to that temptation.

Sin, in prospect, promises so much, but delivers so little. Sin, in retrospect, is never as appealing as sin in prospect. It focuses on the pleasures of the moment and veils the eyes to the consequences that time and eternity will surely bring. The writer of Hebrews spoke of the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:11-13), and nothing in life is more deceitful than sin. The master of deceit is behind it all (Jn. 8:44), and he is called “the deceiver of the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). He has even fashioned “himself into an angel of light;” he has many ministers, some of whom even fashion “themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13-15).

In a large shopping mall there was a wide area containing several businesses in small, individual booths. Side by side were two with these names: “Sweet Temptations” and “Grand Illusions.” (One sold sweet things to eat, and the other jewelry.) I thought: “What marvelous names for the devil’s enticing wares and deceptive promises.” He portrays his temptations as sweet, but how bitter they will always eventually prove to be. And his promises of benefits, gains, and rewards are only grand illusions.

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 25, Issue 24, Page 1, June 13, 2010
——————–


-4-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Olivia McCarthy
has been quarantined at home with covid-19. Though she has been experiencing the symptoms for about a week, they continue to remain mild. Let us be keeping her and her family in prayer.

We are thankful and glad that Myrna Jordan is now doing better from her recent illness.

Others to also be praying for: the family and friends of James William “Billy” Savage who passed away October 20, Elaine Abbott, Rick Cuthbertson, Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother, Joanne Ray, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Anita Young, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Vivian Foster, Doyle Rittenhouse, James Medlock, Larry & Janice Hood, Judy Daugherty, Deborah Medlock, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, Harris Lefort, Allen & Darlene Tanner, Shirley Davis, Pat Brigman, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

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.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).
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).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:27). And from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian. For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to …
6) Continue in the faith by 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
https://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

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