Month: April 2021

The Gospel Observer

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) The Boundaries of Prayer (Carl Witty)
2) A Future for the Man of Peace (Greg Chandler)
3) Realizing Sin & the Need for Reconciliation (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
4) News & Notes
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The Boundaries of Prayer

Carl Witty

In speaking of the God they scarcely knew and whom, in Paul’s words: “They ignorantly worshipped” (Acts 17:23), Paul describes to the Athenians a God in whom: “we live, and move, and have our being.” Surely such a God can do anything, be anywhere, know whatever He chooses to know, and has unlimited power! He can grant our every need, because “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). God is consistently good, and is faithful in all that He has promised. He can answer our prayers.

James also notes that “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). The fulfilled prayers of Hannah (1 Samuel 1) were for a son who would be dedicated to the Lord. Elijah’s prayers for the absence of rain and years later for the presence of rain, are examples of fulfilled prayer (James 5:17-18). Daniel had such confidence in God’s power to answer his prayers that he repeatedly risked his life on the belief that God would hear and answer his prayers (Daniel chapters 1, 2, 4, & 6). Moses (Numbers 14) asked God to change the course of Israel’s history, and God granted his unselfish request.

Is it not strange that many do not choose to pray? If invited before an earthly King, Queen, President, or other Chief Executive of some great nation, most people would accept the invitation immediately and count it as a high point in their lives. We have been invited as Christians to “pray without ceasing” — an open invitation to enter God’s presence as often as we choose. What a blessing to be able to pray! Prayer serves as a wonderful outlet for our most intense emotions. James recommends prayer when afflictions come (5:13) — “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray.” Nehemiah was in deep sadness over his brethren’s condition, and prayed to the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:3-4). Hezekiah prayed when facing a great military power (2 Kings 18-19) and when facing the prospects of his own death (chapter 20).

Ezra prayed intensely when leading God’s people in repentance and dealing with the consequences of sin (Ezra 9, 10). In the New Testament, Paul’s heart’s desire for Israel’s salvation is reflected in his prayers to God (Romans 10:1). The record reveals also his earnest prayers for brethren in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Thessalonica, Philippi, and Colosse. His prayers for Timothy and Philemon reflect his love and concern for them. The English poet Tennyson declared that “more things are wrought by prayer, than this world dreams of.”

There are, however, certain boundaries of prayer. It has truly been said that “nothing lies beyond the reach of prayer, except that which lies beyond the will of God.” It goes without saying that God will not violate His will in order to grant prayer’s requests. The Bible sets forth certain limitations to prayer, including the following:

We may fail to ask. When God promises certain blessings through prayer, we fail to receive these blessings when we fail to pray! James 4:2 — “…Yet you do not have because you do not ask.” The Hebrew writer encourages his readers to “…come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16).  Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, commanded that we “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7-8). Jesus then asks His hearers to recall that since earthly fathers desire to respond to their children’s requests, surely our heavenly Father will give good things to His children when they ask. When our prayers ascend, God’s power and blessings descend. James said that we should ask God for wisdom (1:5), and Paul taught the Philippians that the solution to anxiety was to “…let your requests be made known to God…” (4:6).

We limit the power of prayer by our doubts. When we fail to believe, we limit God’s blessings that could come to us. Jesus taught (Matthew 21:22) — “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.” Our prayer for wisdom from God (James 1:5-6) is to be prayed “…with no doubting…” He notes that the “…prayer of faith will save the sick…” (5:15). We certainly will not convince God of a need, when we do not really believe that God will hear us. The Hebrew writer notes that the worshipper who approaches God “…must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6).

The conduct of our lives sets boundaries on the blessings we could be receiving through prayer. Consider a few of the many passages that set forth this principle: 

  • “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).
  • “The LORD is far from the wicked, but He hears the prayer of the righteous” (Proverbs 15:29).
  • “For the eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the LORD is against those who do evil” (1 Peter 3:12).

David realized this eternal principle when he wrote, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). The right kind of life and the effective use of prayer will allow Christ to truly live in us.

— Via Bible Articles from the Gooch Lane church of Christ, October 11, 2020
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A Future for the Man of Peace

Greg Chandler

Psalm 37 is a beautiful poem of encouragement for God’s faithful. Throughout the poem, David provides gems of wisdom to keep one’s life fine-tuned to godliness. However, the psalm’s main theme exhorts the faithful never to fall prey to envying the wicked.

On the surface, this might seem a message few would need; yet a deeper look reveals great danger. The wicked can seem strong with sword and bow (vs. 14). They can seem satisfied with abundance (vs. 16). They can seem intimidating as they look for an opportunity to persecute the righteous (vs. 32). Though unstated in the psalm, the faithful can look weak in their refusal to retaliate, unambitious in an unwillingness to pursue gain, and timid as objects of persecution. How can one possibly maintain faith under such circumstances?

David provides an interesting outlook for the faithful. Though it might not always appear to be the case, he promises that “there is a future for the man of peace” (37b). The reason for this is that God is in charge. In the beautiful conclusion of the psalm, David states, “The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; He is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them because they take refuge in Him” (39-40). Trust in God provides contentment in the present as the faithful confidently look toward the future!

This year we have been challenged to “let the peace of God rule heart and mind”; however, challenges have abounded to derail this worthy spiritual goal. Each has likely struggled in some way with anxiety toward present events that put spiritual peace to the test. Still, these times have allowed a season of testing which, if used wisely, has produced spiritual growth.

Along with David, may each child of God take comfort in a future for those who seek peace. Through the King of Peace, a path has been provided to a realm where the problems and temptations that plague the present will cease. Until then, “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness” (vs. 3). With such an attitude, there will be no regrets on the other side of the grave, only peace at the throne of God.

— Via Bible Articles from the Gooch Lane church of Christ,  December 6, 2020
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Realizing Sin & the Need for Reconciliation

Tom Edwards

For the video sermon with the above title, just click on the following link:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Reconciliation.mp4

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News & Notes

Folks to be Praying For:

Doyle Rittenhouse will have a procedure (an ablation) on the back of his neck this Tuesday to deaden some nerves that have been causing pain.

We were glad to hear that the heart catheterization showed no blockages for Ginger Ann Montero.  And though her heart is weak, yet it can be treated with medication.

Bennie Medlock has been having some terrible back pain, but he will not be able to see his bone specialists until May 18 (unless there is a cancellation that would make it sooner).

Danielle Bartlett will be having tests run May 6 to determine the reason for her heart palpitations and swollen legs she has had.

We are happy to say that the shots Ronnie Davis received for his back pain have brought some relief.

Also for prayer: Ritt Rittenhouse (stroke-like symptoms), Janet Rittenhouse (broken sternum, sprained ankles, severe bruises), Rick Cuthbertson (cancer), and Nell Teague (cancer).

Our shut-ins: A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jim Lively, and Shirley Davis. 

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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; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For 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) A Good Name (Ecclesiastes 7:1) (Mike Johnson)
2) Mary Magdalene (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
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A Good Name (Ecclesiastes 7:1)

Mike Johnson

Ecclesiastes 7:1 says, “A good name is better than precious ointment . . .”  Parents may choose what they consider a good name for their newborn baby.  In this text, he is not speaking of a good name in that sense but a good reputation, which the writer compares to costly ointment or “fine perfume” (NIV). In biblical times, expensive ointments were considered extremely refreshing in the sultry East, and people used them lavishly at costly banquets.  (Regarding the value, consider the time Mary anointed Jesus’ feet in John 12:3-6.)  The text says a good reputation is better than “precious ointment.” An even more emphatic statement occurs in Proverbs 22:1, which says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold.”

The Bible speaks of various people having good reputations or names.  Consider some now:

1. Jewish Elders – Hebrews 11, the great chapter of faith, speaks of the elders (ancestors) having obtained “a good testimony” due to their faith (2, 39).

2. Cornelius – Messengers describe Cornelius to Peter even before he became a Christian.  They said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews . . .” (Acts 10:22).

3. Ananias – This is the person who taught Paul after the events on the road to Damascus. Paul describes him as a devout man and one who had a “good testimony” among the Jews (Acts 22:12).

4. Demetrius – This early Christian is described by John as having “. . . A good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. . .” (3 Jn. 12).

5. Ruth – In the Old Testament, Ruth receives praise for being devoted to her widowed mother-in-law, Naomi (Ruth 1). When her husband also died, she continued to care for Naomi.  Ruth even left her native area of Moab to go to Naomi’s home in Bethlehem to continue her care.   While gleaning in a field there, a man named Boaz, the owner of the field, noticed her and inquired about her identity.  When he learned her name, he granted Ruth many favors in the work she was doing.  When Ruth asked why he did this, he responded, “It has been fully reported to me, all that you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband, and how you have left your father and your mother and the land of your birth, and have come to a people whom you did not know before.”  Ruth’s good reputation had preceded her.

6. Timothy – On Paul’s second missionary journey, he came to Derbe and Lystra, where he came in contact with a young man named Timothy. Acts 16:2 says, “He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.”  As a young man, Timothy had a good reputation and became Paul’s most constant companion in doing the work of the Lord.

7. Widows – In 1 Timothy 5, Paul discusses widows who would qualify for assistance from the church. Qualifications are listed in verses 9-10; and among these qualifications, she needed to be “well reported for good works.”  A good reputation was essential.

8. Elders – In listing the qualifications of an elder, Paul revealed, “Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (I Tim. 3:7). Thus, an elder would need to have a good reputation even among non-believers.

When the Bible speaks of having a good reputation, it doesn’t mean just to have a good reputation, but it means to have one that a person deserves.  From a biblical standpoint, what is the value of an underserved good reputation?  A person may have a good reputation but a bad character.  A good reputation is based on what people know about us — it is how people perceive us — a good character is who we actually are.

There are several ways to acquire an undeserved good reputation.  It can come 1)  by associating with the right people; 2) some may “inherit” a good reputation from their parents; 3) others might gain it by an outward show of piety like the Pharisees (Mt. 6:1-8).  One example of an underserved good reputation is the church at Sardis, which many viewed as being spiritually “alive,” but Christ said it was “dead” (Rev. 3:2).

On the other hand, people with a good character might have a bad reputation due to gossip, evil suspicions, and a misguided value system.  Consider Paul as an example.  As he preached God’s Word, many people rejected his teaching, and he faced persecution (2 Cor. 6:4-10). Imagine his reputation among these people. In the Old Testament, consider what Potiphar’s wife’s accusation must have done to Joseph’s reputation in Egypt (Gen. 39). Further, Jesus was not regarded highly by the people who opposed Him, and He was rejected (Jn. 1:11).

There are times when a bad reputation can be good, e.g., if it comes about because of our stand for truth and righteousness.  Jesus said, in Luke 6:22-23, “Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, For in like manner their fathers did to the prophets.”

We should all want to maintain a good reputation, if possible.  In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught the need for His followers to be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world”  and then urges, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”  There is also value in being well thought of even among non-Christians — among those with whom we may disagree — as this puts us in a better position to influence them in the right direction. In 1 Peter 2:11-12, Peter pleas, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”

A good reputation is critical; it is more valuable than precious ointment or riches, as noted at the beginning of this article.  We start by faithfully serving God, which will result in us having the right character.  Doing this should result in a good reputation, especially among Christians.  Regardless, what is of paramount importance is what God thinks about us.  We long to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant . . . Enter into the joy of your Lord” (Mt. 25:21).

— Via Seeking Things Above, February 2021
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Mary Magdalene

Tom Edwards

Clicking on the following link while on the Internet will take you to this video sermon on Mary Magdalene:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Mary_Magdalene.mp4


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“In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.”

— Psalm 5:3, NASB

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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Ronnie Davis
continues to have constant pain in his back, but he is going to have to wait until April 22 for those shots that will help alleviate that.

Ginger Ann Montero did not have the heart catheterization Friday, as scheduled; but they will be keeping her in the hospital a couple days for observation. 

Michael Rittenhouse had emergency surgery Tuesday, due to complications from a torn hernia.  He was told he will continue to experience much pain while healing and will be off work for the next 6 to 8 weeks.

Doyle Rittenhouse received his second set of shots in his neck Tuesday.  On April 27, they will be killing some nerves in the back of his neck.

Doyle’s nephew, Ritt Rittenhouse, was in the hospital for stroke-like symptoms — but left before being completely tested, after hearing that his wife’s vehicle had been struck by someone who had run a stop sign. It resulted in a broken sternum for Janet Rittenhouse, along with sprained ankles and many severe bruises — even on her kidney and liver. She was released from the hospital that night, but returned a couple days later with a high fever and pneumonia, caused by covid-19.

We are glad to say that Bennie & Deborah Medlock are now feeling better. Not all are affected the same way by the covid-19 vaccine. Bennie mentioned that he had felt as bad from it as when he actually had the covid-19 a while back. But this recent episode from the vaccine lasted only 3 or 4 days.

Also for prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, Nell Teague, Malachi Dowling, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Gege Gornto, Rex Hadley, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, Jaydin Davis, Danielle Bartlett, Chris Williams, 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; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For 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) The Transforming Power of the Word of God (Michael Molloy)
2)  Unlikely Converts (Andy Sochor)
3) Don’t Let a Failure Keep You Down! (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
4) News & Notes
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The Transforming Power of the Word of God

Michael Molloy

There are many reasons why studying the word of God should be a daily exercise for all of us. Proverbs teaches us practical lessons about how to navigate this life. Ecclesiastes documents Solomon’s search for happiness and contentment in this world and concludes with the knowledge that all of our lives should be focused on keeping the Lord’s commandments in reverential fear. Another great reason to study the Bible is the transformative power of God’s word. We come to God broken, sinful, and needing His grace and mercy; His word teaches us how to leave our previous life behind and begin the transformation into the image of Christ (Romans 8.29).

Throughout the Bible, there are many people whose interactions with God follow this pattern: God calls them, they respond to Him, and they are transformed by their interaction with Him or His word. Gideon is a great example of this. When we first meet Gideon, he is threshing wheat in a wine press so that the wheat will not be stolen: “Now the angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon was beating out wheat in the winepress to hide it from the Midianites” (Judges 6.11). The Lord knew that with His help, Gideon could become Israel’s next great liberator and greeted him as such when He said, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor” (Judges 6.12). Once Gideon understood that the Lord was calling him to become Israel’s next deliverer, he expressed the same doubt that many of us feel when we consider the things that God calls us to do.

Overthrow the Midianites? “Please, Lord, how can I save Israel? Behold, my clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house” (Judges 6.15). Tear down the altar of Baal? Well, okay, but only when no one is watching: “But because he was too afraid of his family and the men of the town to do it by day, he did it by night” (Judges 6.27b).

Gideon was frightened to do the things that the Lord was asking of Him, but he prayed to the Lord. He first asked for the fleece to be dry and the ground to be wet, and then for the fleece to be wet and the ground dry. The Lord answered his prayers (Judges 6.36-40), and Gideon was emboldened to do the work that the Lord had called him to do. As his story continues, we see Gideon growing in faith and confidence in the Lord until he ultimately fulfills God’s plans for him.

The Lord has called us to do great things as well. He has tasked us with reflecting Him and His light in this dark world. We are to be neighbors to all of those who we find in our path. We are to show love for one another, even when it is difficult. We are to teach the lost the gospel of Jesus Christ. We may be scared to do some or all of these things at different times. But God’s word has not lost its transformative power. If we follow Gideon’s example, praying to the Lord and relying on His word, we will be transformed just as Gideon was, and we will accomplish the will of the Lord, just as Gideon did.

— Via Bulletin Articles of the Bartlett church of Christ, Bartlett, TN, May 14, 2017
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Unlikely Converts

Andy Sochor

Text: James 2:1-4

Sometimes when we think of evangelism and converting the lost, we may have a picture in our minds of the type of person who would be receptive. If we’re not careful, we could subconsciously reject/overlook some who may have otherwise been interested (the single mother, the person with tattoos, the immigrant who speaks broken English, the poor man who can’t afford nice clothes to wear to “church,” etc.). Sometimes the ones who are converted are not the ones we would expect. In this lesson, we’ll notice some examples in the New Testament.

The Context of James 2:1-4

* Warning against showing personal favoritism (v. 1) – example given of two men who arrive in the assembly; the rich man was given preferential treatment (v. 2-3) despite what was generally true of them (v. 6-7); the poor man was disregarded (v. 3) despite God’s choosing/welcoming the poor (v. 5; cf. Matthew 11:5).

* They were not to make such distinctions (v. 4) – guilty of the sin of partiality (v. 9).

* This specific example was about the rich and poor – but the principle would apply to other distinctions as well; we are not to judge by appearances (John 7:24).

NT Examples of Unlikely Converts

* The sorcerer from Samaria (Acts 8:9-13) – he was a deceiver and claimed to be someone great; we should not think that one’s arrogance will forever disqualify him (the gospel may humble him).

* The Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-39) – he was isolated from Christians, going to and from Jerusalem without learning about Jesus and the church; we should not let a lack of proximity deter us from reaching others (those in other states/countries).

* The Roman centurion (Acts 10:1-8, 34-48) – he was a good man, but a Gentile without basic knowledge of the Old Testament; we should not think that one without a Biblical background is unreachable.

* The Philippian jailer (Acts 16:22-34) – he put Paul and Silas in prison, possibly even one who mistreated them; we should not think that one who persecuted us would never be receptive, but it may take a crisis for them to be open to the gospel.

* The leader of the synagogue (Acts 18:8) – many Jews opposed the gospel as they had opposed Jesus; we should not think that a “leader” of some other religious group could never be open to the truth.

* Those in Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22) – could have been family and/or servants, but this was during the reign of Nero (severely persecuted Christians); we should not assume that one is uninterested in the gospel because of who they are associated with.

* The chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:12-16) – Paul described himself as the epitome of an unlikely convert; if Paul can be saved, anyone can be saved.

Remember the Parable of the Sower

* The seed was sown on every kind of soil (Luke 8:5-8).

* Not every soil was receptive and produced sustained growth.

* The soils represented people’s hearts (Luke 8:11-15) – not their background, appearance, etc.

* We cannot know people’s hearts (1 Corinthians 2:11) – we can only sow the seed.

* We should not judge anyone as being unworthy of hearing the gospel (Mark 16:15; Titus 2:11).

* We should plant and water and allow God to give the increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Conclusion

* We have a responsibility, individually and collectively, to try to reach others with the gospel.

* We need to be careful not to sabotage our own efforts by prejudging others – Jesus reached sinners, prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans, and more; the early church reached Gentiles, Roman soldiers, slaves, government leaders, and more.

* The gospel is God’s power for salvation (Romans 1:16) – let’s plant and water so that God will give the increase.

— Via Plain Bible Teaching, December 21, 2020
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Don’t Let a Failure Keep You Down!

Tom Edwards

The following video sermon considers what the Bible says about Mark, a servant of the Lord:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Mark.mp4
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Ronnie Davis
has an appointment this week, due to the trouble he has been having with his back.

Ginger Ann Montero
is having to be rescheduled for her heart catheterization, which will probably be made this week. 

Bennie & Deborah Medlock
are both not feeling well, following their recent covid-19 vaccines.

Rick Cuthbertson has five more weeks to go on his meds until having another scan to see of the results.

Also for prayer: Nell Teague, Malachi Dowling, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Gege Gornto, Rex Hadley, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jaydin Davis, Danielle Bartlett, Chris Williams, 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; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For 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).
——————–

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) “Why Should It Be Thought A Thing Incredible That God Should Raise The Dead?” (Dick Blackford)
2) Our Heavenly Citizenship (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

“Why Should It Be Thought A Thing Incredible That God Should Raise The Dead?”

Dick Blackford

It shouldn’t. He’s God! If I raised the dead it would be incredible, but it isn’t when God does it. Surely the one who gave life in the first place would have no trouble restoring it when it is lost.

Christianity loses its authority, its unique position among the religions of the world, its credibility and its hope for the world if Jesus was not raised from the dead. It was on this very foundation that the apostles based their case (Acts 2:23, 36; 3:14-16; 5:30-31). This is the miracle of the Bible. If it cannot be sustained there is no use talking about the others and we may as well throw our Bibles away and close the doors of our church buildings. For “we are of all men most miserable,” if Christ be not raised (1 Cor. 15:16-20).

The startling fact with which those disciples were confronted that Sunday morning is the same one, which after 2000 years, presents itself to you and me — an empty tomb. What shall I do with Jesus (Matt. 27:22)? By getting to the heart of the matter of salvation, we hope your heart will be pricked upon the contention of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

Many say Jesus was a good man, one of the world’s greatest teachers, but not the son of God. They can’t have it both ways and they need to make up their minds. If he was a good man, could he lie about being the son of God and remain a good man? If he was not the son of God, then he was the greatest impostor and liar the world has ever known. The terms “good man” and “great Teacher” could not describe one who has played a hoax on the whole world for 2000 years. To accept this we would have to believe that single-handedly Jesus perpetrated a universal, mass deception upon all mankind. We are asked to believe that a carpenter’s son was so persuasive that he convinced his own mother to take part in the lie to the point that she would watch her oldest boy be tortured, suffer, and die as a criminal for something they both knew was false. She was the only one who could save him. She was the only one who could have known for sure whether he was miraculously conceived during her virginity. Some had already said Jesus was “beside himself” (Mark 3:21). Mary could have told the authorities her son was touched in the head, has visions of grandeur, and thinks he is the son of God. Let me take him by the hand and I will lead him home and get him out of your hair.

Could Jesus have persuaded twelve men, all from different educational backgrounds and social casts to quit their jobs immediately and to go out with great zeal and preach and convert men to a doctrine they never really believed? Plus, he had the Old Testament prophecies behind everything from his birth to his death. And what of his miracles which were not done in a corner (Acts 26:26)? Even his enemies admitted the miracles (Acts 4:16). If he had failed in just one of them, they would have plastered it in the headlines of the Jerusalem Morning News.

How Some Explain The Empty Tomb

How do we account for the disappearance of the body of Jesus other than by a resurrection? Several theories have been advanced but the only serious attempt is the argument that the body was stolen. But by whom? His enemies or his friends? There have been modernists on both sides. But first let us consider the argument they did not make.

The change in attitude and action of that little band of disciples is one of the most convincing evidential facts surrounding the resurrection. Those who feared and fled are now rejoicing that they can suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41).

“The Tomb Is Not Empty.” They could have stopped Christianity it its tracks by refuting the empty tomb and proving the body was still there. The fact that no denial of the empty tomb was ever offered is mute but convincing evidence that John told the truth. Even the authorities said the body was missing (Matt. 28:11-15). John was not wrong about the empty tomb (John 20:1-8).

Stolen By The Disciples. The Jews came up with the best explanation to be found. They couldn’t have done better if they had had 2000 years to think up the best explanation. I have never been worried that anybody 2000 years after the event would be able to come with a better one, short of a resurrection, than those who were bodily present. They had the most to lose and the greatest motivation to come up with the best explanation possible. Theirs is superior to all other explanations that have been offered since. It was not a time for denial but for explaining. They had an empty tomb to account for. But even this explanation will not stand. Imagine having one of those soldiers who had guarded the tomb on the witness stand to be “cross” examined.

Lawyer: “What happened?” Guard: “They stole the body.” Lawyer: “Who stole it?” Guard: “His friends, the disciples.” Lawyer: “When did they steal it?” Guard: “During the night.” Lawyer: “And what were you doing when this happened?” Guard: “I was asleep” (Matt. 28:11-15). An eyewitness with his eyes closed? Going to sleep on duty was one of the worst crimes a soldier could commit. To think the governor would have approved this excuse is absurd. Soldiers cold-blooded enough to gamble over a dying victim’s cloak are not the kind to be hoodwinked by cowardly Galileans who had recently fled for their lives or to jeopardize their own lives by going to sleep on duty. And to ask us to believe all of them went to sleep at the same time is ridiculous.

Even if all of them went to sleep at the same time, it is unbelievable that the disciples could have accomplished this feat so casually. How would they roll away an “exceeding great” stone so big that the three women knew they could not move it (Mark 16:1-4)? Remember also that the tomb was hewn out in a rock” (Matt. 27:60). That means there was no back door and no trap door. The entrance and exit were one and the same. And why would they take off the linen cloths and napkin? This would require additional time and would make the body more difficult to remove. Instead of being a mess, such orderliness of the tomb is not consistent with grave robbers and body snatchers. It is not in keeping with burglars, to be so neat and tidy. Did you ever hear of anyone breaking into someone’s home and cleaning it up?

Furthermore, the disciples were not looking for a resurrection. Their state of despair showed they thought their hopes had ended. Mary went with spices with which to anoint a dead body. The theory that the disciples stole the body falls flat under a fair examination.

Stolen By His Enemies. When one is trying to solve a crime one of the first things to be done is to establish a motive. There could have been no motive unless it was to show they still had it in their possession when the disciples began claiming a resurrection. Since they did not refute the resurrection by showing they still possessed the body, then there is no motive. The enemies stealing it would be inconsistent with what we already know. Pilate secured the sealing of the tomb and stationed soldiers there to keep the disciples from stealing it (Matt. 27:62-67). Would these same enemies defeat themselves by stealing the body, thus making it look like a resurrection had occurred? They would have had everything to lose. They wanted to keep the body in the tomb. If they did steal it, why wasn’t it produced to defeat the disciples’ claims of a resurrection? Had it been possible, they would have. The fact that they did not have it in their possession is evidenced in that “a great company of the priests believed” (Acts 6:7). Likewise, this theory falls.

The “Swoon” Theory. This theory says there was no resurrection because Jesus never died. He merely fainted. Given time to rest, along with the cool tomb and spices, he revived. Remember, the soldiers made a first hand examination and “thrust a spear into his side” (John 19:34). They should have known better than anyone living today whether Jesus was dead. Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus prepared him for burial. They made a “hands on” examination and saw no signs of life. They, too, would have known better than anyone living today. Remember, Jesus was persecuted prior to the crucifixion. He was beaten. A crown of thorns stuck in his brow. He had to carry his own cross. He was then nailed to it and hung on it for six hours. There would have been a considerable loss of blood. Then his side was pierced with a spear. Having the linen garments “bound,” “wound,” and “wrapped” (note those words) around him along with 100 pounds of spices (John 19:39) would have made it virtually impossible to escape. When Lazarus was raised he had been bound hand and foot with grave clothes and his face was bound with a napkin. Jesus commanded, “Loose him and let him go.” Lazarus was unable to free himself. Being bound in these grave clothes plus the sealing of the tomb could certainly have produced an air supply problem. Soldiers are outside guarding the tomb. The “exceeding great” stone covers the entrance. In spites of all this, Jesus escapes! Such a theory insults a child’s intelligence.

Wrong Tomb. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary “sat over against the sepulcher” after the burial (Matt. 27:61). The women “beheld” the tomb (Luke 23:55). Thus, it never occurred to them to say “Oops, wrong tomb” — because of the grave clothes. If it was an unused tomb, why would there be grave clothes rolled up? If it was a used tomb there would be evidence of another burial. All the authorities would need to do was show these confused women that the body was still in their possession. They knew this wasn’t the best explanation and could be easily disproved — a very weak theory.

Hallucination Theory. This asks us to believe that hundreds (if not thousands, 1 Cor. 15:6) of disciples hallucinated at different times and places over a period of 40 days! It still fails to explain the empty tomb. The enemies could have produced the body to show that the disciples’ minds were playing tricks on them. It is hard to see how anyone could make this argument and keep a straight face.

The Cause Theory. I knew a minister in the Disciples of Christ who took this position. It looks at the resurrection figuratively. It was the “cause” of Christianity that was revived. It still fails to explain all the events that occurred. The only motive for one taking this position is that he has a bias which says everything must be explained on a natural (not supernatural) basis. The apostles and many former enemies of Christianity — those who were there — never interpreted it figuratively (1 Cor. 15:1-6). Why would so many be converted to Christianity and accept the consequences that went with it if there was not a literal resurrection?

Other Theories. The vision hypothesis, the optical illusion, etc., are all answered by the empty tomb. One must explain what became of the body, how it happened in the face of the pains taken by both the Jews and Romans to prevent the appearance of a resurrection, along with the fear, cowardice, and despair of the disciples.

The Change in the Disciples

Is it reasonable to believe that men thrust into the very darkness of despair and cowardice could have, within a few weeks, risen to such heights of joy and courage as the disciples subsequently displayed? Their emotions were stretched from one extreme to the other. Peter had denied, cursed, and sworn that he didn’t know Jesus. Yet in just a few days he stands before thousands of those whom he had feared and accuses them of murder and boldly affirms the intention of Christians (Acts 4:19-21; 5:29).

The change in attitude and action of that little band of disciples is one of the most convincing evidential facts surrounding the resurrection. Those who feared and fled are now rejoicing that they can suffer for Christ (Acts 5:41). You can put a man’s head on the chopping block and he might be brave enough to die for something he really believes. But no man is brave enough to die for something he knows is a lie, especially when he stands to benefit in every way by denying it. These disciples were beaten, stoned and left for dead, run out of town, and were outcasts from formerly held respected positions. There was no gain in this life. One cannot find an ulterior motive on their part.

Is it mathematically possible that Jesus could have orchestrated this whole event and made things turn out so that they fulfilled all the prophecies about the Messiah and yet be an impostor? How did he get the Romans, the Jews, his disciples (including Judas), his family, and his own mother to act together exactly as they did? How did he fake the miracles (healing the sick, restoring limbs, raising the dead, calming the storm, cleansing the lepers, feeding thousands, turning water to wine, etc.)? With the Roman soldier we must proclaim, “Truly, this was the son of God” (Matt. 27:54).

Conclusion

Through the centuries the empty tomb has been the Gibraltar of the Christian’s faith and the Waterloo of skeptics. That’s why I have never worried that anyone 2000 years removed from the events would be able to come up with a better explanation. So why have many tried to explain it away? Because of wishful thinking. Once one accepts the resurrection it obligates him to live and behave in a certain way or reap consequences. It is much easier to deny it ever happened and to live a life of indulgence which so vividly characterizes our society today.

It is not incredible at all that God can raise the dead (Acts 26:8). So, what will you do with Jesus? Will you make the change which occurs at baptism and begin your “newness  of life”? Remember, preaching the cross includes preaching the genuineness of baptism. Baptism is the bridge that ties us to the cross (Acts 2:23-41; Rom. 6:1-18; Col. 2:11-13; 1 Pet. 3:21).

— Via Truth Magazine, September 4, 2012 (https://www.truthmagazine.com/why-should-it-be-thought-a-thing-incredible-that-god-should-raise-the-dead)
——————–

-2-

Our Heavenly Citizenship

Tom Edwards

For this video sermon with the above title, just click on the following link:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Our_Heavenly_Citizenship.mp4

——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Shirley Davis’
procedure at the hospital went well.  She returned home the following day. 

Ginger Ann Montero
will be having a heart catheterization this Thursday to better determine her problem.

Danielle Bartlett
is soliciting prayers.  She recently saw her cardiologist, due to heart palpitations and some swelling in her legs. He doesn’t think it is serious, but will be running a series of tests.

Tina Allen is now feeling better from the sickness she had last week.

Rick Cuthbertson has six more weeks to go on his meds for cancer until having another scan to see of the results.

Also for prayer: Nell Teague, Malachi Dowling, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Gege Gornto, Rex Hadley, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Jaydin Davis, Deborah Medlock, Chris Williams, 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; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For 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).
——————–

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)

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