“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.)