Month: July 2022

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) This Man You Nailed to a Cross (Chris Simmons)
2) There is no Substitute for God (Jon W. Quinn)
——————–

-1-

This Man You Nailed to a Cross

Chris Simmons

Following Christ’s ascension to the right hand of God’s throne, Peter, having received the Holy Spirit, which Christ had promised His apostles, took his stand with the other eleven and responded to the accusation that they were drunk because they were speaking in tongues. In Acts 2:15, Peter pointed out that devout Jews such as the apostles would not be so intoxicated at the third hour of the day, which is the hour of prayer (9 a.m. as we know it). Then, under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, Peter established that they were all witnessing the fulfillment of the prophecy spoken by Joel; Peter stated, “This is that which hath been spoken through the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16-21; Joel 2:28-32). Having defended the twelve and establishing what they were all witnessing, Peter then took the offensive and began to teach and convict the multitude. He began by teaching them about Jesus of Nazareth, convicting them of what they had done to Him, and then in contrast, establishing what God had done for Him.

In Acts 2:22, Peter began by establishing that Jesus’ works proved that He was from God. “Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs.” The word attested, in the Greek, means that Jesus was demonstrated, exhibited, or accredited to be the Divine Son of God.

During His ministry, a multitude came to Jesus and asked, “What then do You do for a sign, that we may see, and believe You? What work do You perform?” (John 6:30). Just prior to that incident, in John 5, in addition to citing the witness of John the Baptist (verse 33), the Father (verse 7) and the Scriptures (verse 39), Jesus also spoke to the witness of His works when He said, “But the witness which I have is greater than that of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me” (John 5:36). At least some recognized this about Jesus, as Nicodemus in John 3:2 said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Not only did Peter point out Jesus’ works, which attested to His Divine status, but in Acts 2:22, he also pointed out that they were “performed … in your midst, just as you yourselves know.” There was no need for Peter to argue his point regarding the miracles, and wonders, and signs. Jesus had not performed His works in secret. The fact that He performed them was irrefutable. They could not be denied. The only thing His enemies could do was attempt to ascribe them to the power of the “ruler of the demons” (Matthew 12:24). Jesus proved that argument to be fallacious when He stated, “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then shall his kingdom stand?”. (verses 25-29).

Likewise irrefutable were the mighty works performed by Jesus’ apostles. The Jewish council noted this fact when, regarding the healing of the lame man that had taken place in Acts chapter 3, they said, “What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it”  (Acts 4:16).

Next, in Acts 2, Peter taught that Jesus’ deliverance to “godless men” was not because of Divine inability to rescue Him or establish Him as a physical King; rather, it was part of God’s eternal plan. “This Man (was) delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Jesus’ crucifixion was not an accident. It was part of God’s “predetermined plan and foreknowledge.”

  • The word “predetermined” means “what is defined, marked out, or bounded; as, to mark out or define the boundary of a field” (Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database by Bible Soft).
  • The word “plan” carries with it the idea of one’s purpose, decree, or will.

Thus, it was God’s will or purpose, “before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:3-12) to mark out or define that man’s salvation would come through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross and the blood He shed. Jesus “laid down His life” (John 10:14-18). Christ’s life was not taken from Him against His will; He offered it according to God’s will.

However, although it was God’s will for Christ to bear the sins of the world, Peter made sure the multitude understood that they were guilty of sin because of what they had done. He stated, in verse 23, regarding this Jesus of Nazareth, “You nailed (Him) to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” Peter made it clear that all who participated, as well as those who simply shouted their encouragement and support — “crucify Him”(Mark 15:13-14) were guilty of murdering God’s Son.

To the Jews, condemning a person to die by nailing him to a cross (crucifixion) was condemning him to die as the worst of criminals. “To the Jewish people, crucifixion represented the most disgusting form of death: ‘He who is hanged is accursed of God’ (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13). Yet, the Jewish Sanhedrin sought and obtained Roman authorization to have Jesus crucified (Mark 15:13-15)” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary).

The fact that the one who claimed to be the “King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:11) was put to death in such a horrible, demeaning way presented to many Jews a most imposing stumbling block to claiming Him as the “Lord and Christ” and accepting Him as the true Messiah. Paul summed up the crucifixion in this way, “We preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).

In Acts 2:24, Peter emphatically established that the efforts of those godless men who nailed Jesus to the cross to thwart God’s predetermined plan failed because God raised Him up. We see the contrast between men’s feeble will (they put Christ to death) and God’s immutable, sovereign, and predetermined will (God raised Him up). Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation for our hope and salvation, and the culminating declaration of His Divinity and victory.

We read in 1 Corinthians 15:14-19, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we witnessed against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.”

Also, in Romans 1:1-5, we read, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In Acts 2:36, Peter concluded his sermon regarding this Jesus whom they had nailed to a cross, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified.” Those Jews then asked, What shall we do?  We, too, must give attention to the question, “What shall we do with the crucified Christ?”

— Via Articles from the Knollwood church of Christ, March 2009
——————–

2 Corinthians 5:14-15

“For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

— NASB

——————–

-2-

There is no Substitute for God

Jon W. Quinn

As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? (Psalm 42:1-2).

I read the following statement some time ago. I thought about it. “God may well be taken as a substitute for everything; but nothing can be taken as a substitute for God.”

That’s true. It took me a bit to see the truth in it, but finally the light came on.

With God there is always hope for the faithful. There is always prospect and assurance and peace. There is confidence that, at last, all will be well… more than well… perfect. We can suffer the loss of anything, even life itself, and still have this assurance. As long as we have God, then ultimately all will become as it ought to be because God is more powerful than death. That is why nothing can be a substitute for God. Nothing else does that.

But, on the other hand, without God we are destined to lose everything worthwhile and there is no hope of even a glimmer of good. This is why we ought not spend our lives chasing after futile things and neglect God. Nothing can take the place of God. Not really. We can put other things in God’s place, but they will fail to do what God does. Nothing can take His place in our lives.

The Lord told His people, “You must not turn aside, for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver, because they are futile” (1 Samuel 12:21).

Jesus once asked His apostles if they were giving up and going away. The answer came back, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Jesus identifies Himself as “The Bread of Life” because He sustains us through our deepest needs. Just as candy can spoil our appetite and cause us to pass up needed nourishment, the love of things of the world can rob us of our hunger for righteousness and leave us growing ever sicker and ultimately dying a spiritual death. Things of this creation can never do for us what God can do. There is no substitute. People need to stop looking for one.

— Via the Facebook site for the Bradley church of Christ, June 22, 2022
——————–

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, the Son of God (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

Sunday: 9 a.m. Bible Classes and 10 a.m. Worship Service.  We also have a Song Service at 5 p.m. for every first Sunday of the month.

Wednesday: 7 p.m. for Bible Classes

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com

https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm (This is a link to the 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) Love — The More Excellent Way (Heath Rogers)
2) Leave the Solution to God (Frank Himmel)
——————–

-1-

Love — The More Excellent Way

Heath Rogers

First Corinthians thirteen is a favorite chapter of the Bible to many people. Perhaps its appeal lies in the fact that, in just a few verses, the Holy Spirit is able to do what no poet, professor, or philosopher has been able to do throughout all of human history — give man an accurate and complete understanding of what it means to love.

Verses 4-7 provide a list of fifteen characteristics of love. As one progresses through this list, he gains a better understanding of love and can come to understand why it is the greatest gift that man can possess. Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from the New King James version.

Love suffers long: This characteristic emphasizes patience with others. It is translated from the Greek word makrothumeo. This is actually a compound word: makros meaning “long,” and thumos which means “temper.” Thus, the person who is longsuffering is literally the individual who has a long-burning fuse. It describes the man who has the power to retaliate when he is wronged, but has the presence of mind and strength of character to hold his anger in check.

and is kind: The term in the original language literally means to show oneself “useful”; the carrying out of useful deeds to help others. Love is considerate and always provides what is of value or worth to others.

Kindness is the perfect compliment to longsuffering. While longsuffering is willing to take anything from anyone, kindness is willing to give anything to meet the needs of others.

love does not envy: The New American Standard renders this characteristic as “not jealous.” This phrase is translated from a Greek word meaning “to be heated or to boil.” This term can have a positive meaning, “to desire earnestly,” and a negative meaning, “to envy another.” Here, it is used in the negative sense. Love does not cause one to “boil” over the success or advantages of another.

love does not parade itself, is not puffed up: Various versions have translated this phrase differently. For instance, the King James reads “charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,” while the New American Standard reads “love does not brag and is not arrogant” (NASV).

The first of these expressions represents the speech or action that is produced by pride, while the second represents the attitude of pride itself. The root word for the first expression in the Greek means “wind bag,” while the root for the second means “bellows.” Bragging is fed by an arrogant attitude. Love has neither quality. Love is humble, seeking to perform its work without desire for recognition or reward.

does not behave rudely: This phrase is also rendered differently by various translations: “doth not behave itself unseemly” (KJV), “does not act unbecomingly” (NASV). William Barclay translates the phrase as “Love does not behave gracelessly.”

The phrase is translated from the Greek word aschemoneo, which literally means to go against the scheme. It refers to the act of going against what is accepted as the norm, to “stick out” or to be inappropriate. An arrogant man, in an effort to promote himself, will forget to treat others with respect and consideration. However, love is mannerly in that it never conducts itself in a way that is contrary to accepted standards of decency.

does not seek its own: This characteristic describes the person who is more concerned with his duties than his rights. Love does not make “self” the center of the universe. Jesus manifested this characteristic of love to the world in that He “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

is not provoked: This characteristic is translated from the Greek work paroxuno which means to spur on, to stimulate, or to stir to anger. This describes the person who has control over his temper. Love does not go around with a chip on its shoulder looking for reasons to become upset or irritated at personal offences.

thinks no evil: The New American Standard renders this phrase as “does not take into account a wrong suffered.” This is translated from the Greek word logizomai. This was a bookkeeping term that was used for the act of entering a debt on a ledger so that it would not be forgotten. Love does not keep a running account of offenses against itself with a view towards revenge. With a less technical understanding, love does not dwell upon personal offenses or evil deeds that it has been called upon to endure. Love does not harbor bitterness and resentment. It knows how to forget.

does not rejoice in iniquity: Many people rejoice in sin, either their own sin or the sins of others (Rom. 1:32). Love is active goodwill towards others; sin brings harm and loss to others. As such, the two are opposed to each other. Love is free from the malice that takes pleasure in sin and finds satisfaction in discussing the sins of others.

but rejoices in the truth: Love has the courage to face the truth and to rejoice when the cause of truth, justice, and righteousness is upheld. Love takes pleasure in the truth being taught, defended, and lived (2 John 4; 3 John 3-4).

bears all things: In one sense, love has the strength to bear whatever afflictions or persecutions may personally come upon an individual. However, the meaning of this term in the original language indicates that this quality is shown outwardly as opposed to inwardly. The Greek word means “to protect or preserve by covering.” Love will do everything it can to cover the sin and shame of the person who is the object of its affection. “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for ‘love will cover a multitude of sins'” (1 Peter 4:8). Love does not ignore sin. It will warn, rebuke, and chasten as needed, but its first impulse will be to protect the object of love.

believes all things: Love is not gullible or naive, but neither is it cynical. Love’s first impulse is to give others the benefit of the doubt, believing in them and expecting the best from them.

hopes all things: When things do look bad, love hopes for the best. Instead of putting the worst interpretation on another’s actions or motives, love compels us to put the best interpretation upon them.

endures all things: Even when it has been proven wrong, love does not give up. It stands up and continues onward against all odds.

The New International Version renders verse seven as “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” These four statements form a progression. Love bears or protects the one who it believes in. When the evidence suggests otherwise, love will continue to hope for the best. Even if love is brought to the point of personal injury, it will continue to endure.

Love never fails: This phrase is found at the beginning of verse eight, which begins another section in chapter thirteen. However, I personally like to join it to the fifteen characteristic found in verses 4-7. Love is the greatest gift because it is permanent. It will never fail.

This great chapter can be studied for a lifetime and yet it will never cease to challenge those who desire to be like their Master. May we turn our attention to it more often and take the time to consider the standard that it sets for our lives. “Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:37-39).

— Via Articles from the Knollwood church of Christ, March 2012
——————–

-2-

Leave the Solution to God

Frank Himmel

Paul observed that we do not know how to pray as we should (Romans 8:26). That being true, we can learn a valuable lesson from the apostles.

When Peter healed a lame man at the temple, it provided occasion for the second recorded gospel sermon (Acts 3). That sermon ended when the temple guards arrived to arrest Peter and John. A night in jail was followed by a day in court. But filled with the Holy Spirit, the accused became the prosecutors. Peter charged the court with having crucified Jesus, and in so doing rejecting the very cornerstone of God’s building. He added that Jesus is the only means of salvation.

The judges were taken aback. They marveled at Peter and John’s boldness. They doubtless were tempted to respond severely, but the presence in court of the man who had been healed and public interest in the case left them few options. The court decided on a “cease and desist” order: the apostles were not to speak at all in the name of Jesus. After further threatening, they were released.

Peter and John went to their brethren. Together they prayed about the situation (Acts 4:24-30). The prayer first addressed God the creator, who has all power. It then recognized His foreknowledge and rule. When this same court, along with Herod and Pilate, had done their worst—when they crucified Jesus—they had done nothing more than what God’s hand and purpose predestined to occur.

Now it was time for the apostles’ request. “And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence” (v. 29). Rather than telling God what to do about the problem, they simply prayed that He would take note of it. They left it to Him as to how best to deal with it. And they asked for strength.

One of the benefits of praying to an all-wise God is knowing that He will do what is best. We don’t need to tell Him how to solve our problems. Just bring them before Him and pray for strength. Then leave His throne, confident that He will do what is best.

— Via Pathlights, January 2, 2022
——————–

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, the Son of God (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

Sunday: 9 a.m. Bible Classesand 10 a.m. Worship Service.  We also have a Song Service at 5 p.m. for every first Sunday of the month.

Wednesday: 7 p.m. for Bible Classes

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com

https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm (This is a link to the 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) Abounding Through Many Thanksgivings to God (R.J. Evans)
2) The Weightier Matters (Ethan R. Longhenry)
——————–

-1-

Abounding Through Many Thanksgivings to God

R.J. Evans

We are so fortunate to live in a country that realizes the need to set aside a special day of “Thanksgiving.” Our nation celebrates this holiday on the fourth Thursday in November — this coming Thursday. However, as Christians, every day should be a day of “thanksgiving” because we have innumerable blessings that come from God each day of our lives.

The Apostle Paul gave much encouragement to the Corinthians concerning the matter of their giving to the needy saints in Jerusalem. He used the churches of Macedonia as an example of some who gave with joy, liberality, willingness, and beyond their ability — despite the fact they were in deep poverty (II Corinthians 8:1-7). After instructing them to give purposefully and cheerfully (II Corinthians 9:7), he went on to assure them that “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God” (II Corinthians 9:12). Take note of the last phrase of this text where he said, “abounding through many thanksgivings to God.”

In order to truly receive God’s bountiful blessings, we must be thankful to God. The matter of giving thanks unto God should come first and foremost in everything we receive. The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ for you” (I Thessalonians 5:18).

Paul instructed the Philippians to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). The more we are thankful, the greater the abundance of the blessings that will be received.

The parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son demonstrates an attitude of ingratitude. He desired to get all that was his, get as far away from his family as he could, and then go out and enjoy himself in “prodigal living.” However, it became his road to disaster. Finally, while in the pigpen, when he came to himself, he became thankful and appreciative for what he had back home, and determined with all his heart to go back with the intention of simply becoming one of his father’s hired servants. We know the joyous ending of this return to his loving father (Luke 15:11-24). This story is a good illustration of how prosperity and wastefulness can produce ingratitude — a failure to be thankful and recognize God as the source of all blessings. See the warnings against this kind of failure in Deuteronomy 6:10-12 and I Timothy 6:6-10, 17-19.

Thankfulness was an attribute of Jesus while here on earth. When He prayed to His Father, He would thank Him for a number of blessings. Before He fed the multitudes, He gave thanks for the food. “Then He commanded the multitudes to sit down on the grass. And He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitudes” (Matthew 14:19); “And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude” (15:36).

When he raised Lazarus from the dead, He thanked His Father for hearing His prayer: “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me” (John 11:41-42).

Before He gave His disciples the bread and the cup in the memorial of His death (the Lord’s Supper), He gave thanks for the bread and for the cup (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19-20; I Corinthians 11:24-25).

Being thankful is not an option in the life of a Christian if he wants to be spiritually strong — it is a must! David expressed it this way: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks in Your name; The upright shall dwell in Your presence” (Psalms 40:13).

The Apostle Paul said: “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:19-20).

The giving of thanks is the will of God in our lives. We will enjoy even greater blessings by being thankful for those we have already received. It must be so heartbreaking to God when we are ungrateful for the things that He has provided for us. This is very evident when Jesus healed the ten lepers, but only one of them came back to give thanks for what He had done for him. Jesus responded by asking — “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:11-19). We can just sense the sadness on His part when He asked these questions.

Let us genuinely practice being thankful; it will truly enrich our lives. “I will praise the name of God with a song, and magnify Him with thanksgiving” (Psalms 69:30).

– Via Articles from the La Vista church of Christ, November 25, 2020
——————–

-2-

The Weightier Matters

Ethan R. Longhenry

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye tithe mint and anise and cummin, and have left undone the weightier matters of the law, justice, and mercy, and faith: but these ye ought to have done, and not to have left the other undone”(Matthew 23:23).

Human beings tend to maintain a narrow focus on various matters. It is easy for some people to allow a select criteria set to guide them; they decide to view everything through a certain set of lenses.

The Pharisees and scribes were not much different. The New Testament reveals that they focused —  down to the last detail — on preserving the law of Moses and the traditions that developed around that law. Their hyper-vigilance about the law led them to overemphasize the more minor actions while neglecting those that were more significant. Because they focused on, and perfectly accomplished, the minor actions, they felt a sense of pride that led to a false sense of security and satisfaction. They behaved as though being vigilant about not working on the Sabbath, washing their hands before eating, and tithing down to the level of spices would be sufficient to merit God’s commendation.

Jesus condemned their myopia. Even if they are more quantifiable and objective, performing these minor acts of obedience is not sufficient to obtain God’s commendation. Believers must not neglect the law’s weightier matters — justice, mercy, and faith.

The scribes and Pharisees were certainly guilty of such neglect. The Pharisees in particular considered themselves morally superior to their fellow men. This is evidenced by the Pharisee’s prayer in Luke 18:11-12 and the attitudes of the Pharisees in John 9. They deemed themselves to be righteous and everyone else to be sinners, despite the fact that they had also sinned and certainly were not maintaining a Godly sense of faith, justice, or mercy. Their condemnation was just.

Nevertheless, this passage also exposes a major fault line within the thoughts of many religious people. They are adamant about performing the weightier matters of the law, concluding that since we are under grace, we need to get the big things right and allow the little things to slide. Others protest the very idea that some matters are weightier than others and stress the need to do all things as God has charged us.

The truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle. Jesus taught that some matters are weightier than others. This means that some attitudes/actions have more significance than others. This is evident in the examples given; justice, faith, and mercy are of greater significance than tithing spices. Tithing spices benefited God and His Temple; but practicing justice, mercy, and faith benefits God, His Temple, and all men. Furthermore, faith, justice, and mercy deal with every aspect of a person — his mind, his attitude, and his actions. One cannot easily have faith or show justice and mercy while internally despising God or his brethren. Tithing should flow from a heart full of faith, but a person could tithe without having proper attitudes.

Some matters are more significant than others, but that does not mean that we can let the less significant matters slide and still be pleasing to God. Notice that Jesus did not condemn the scribes or Pharisees for tithing the spices; in fact, He said, “..but these ye ought to have done.” The problem was not that the scribes and Pharisees were tithing spices; the problem was that they were tithing spices and neglecting faith, justice, and mercy. It would be a gross perversion of this text to insinuate that if they had performed the weightier matters of the law but had not tithed the spices, Jesus would have justified them. There is no basis for such a claim.

This is not an either-or proposition. The scribes and Pharisees should have accomplished both the weightier matters of the law and the spice tithing. If we serve God as we ought to serve Him, the less weighty matters flow from the weightier. Because we are dedicated to love, humility, faith, and service — the weightier matters of the new covenant (cf. Romans 1:16-17; Romans 6:16-21; Romans 13:8-11; Ephesians 2:1-10; Philippians 2:1-11; Hebrews 11:1, 6; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 Peter 5:6-7) — we will make sure we accomplish God’s will in simple, quantifiable, and objective matters, as well as in more substantive and difficult ones. We will assemble to encourage one another (1 Corinthians 14:23; Hebrews 10:25), give as we have prospered, both to the church and to those in need (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15; Galatians 2:10; 6:10), and do other such things. We will also love our neighbors as ourselves and seek their welfare (Romans 13:8-10; Philippians 2:1-4), and offer ourselves to God as living and holy sacrifices (Romans 12:1).

Jesus’ message to the scribes and Pharisees represents a necessary warning against spiritual myopia — focusing on accomplishing certain elements of God’s purposes and neglecting others. We cannot be justified by taking care of less significant, detailed matters while neglecting those that are weightier. Likewise, we cannot be justified in thinking that if we accomplish the weightier matters of God’s will, we can ignore those that are less significant. If God commanded it, there’s value in doing it. Let us seek to accomplish the whole will of God, and not neglect any aspect of it.

— Via Articles from the Knollwood church of Christ, May 2010
——————–

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 i
n the deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God (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

Sunday: 9 a.m. Bible Classes and 10 a.m. Worship Service.  We also have a Song Service at 5 p.m. for every first Sunday of the month.

Wednesday: 7 p.m. for Bible Classes

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com

https://thomastedwards.com/go/all.htm (This is a link to the older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990.)


© 2022

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑