“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Why Do People Turn Back? (Irvin Himmel)
2) Giving Thanks to God (Robert F. Turner)
3) What Needs Changing? (Lloyd Atherton)
4) News & Notes
Why Do People Turn Back?
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.
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.
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).
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
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
What Needs Changing?
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
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.
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).
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
https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm/ (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)