Author: Tom Edwards (Page 1 of 28)

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) Priests of God (Kyle Pope)
2) When A Poor Man is Rich (Heath Rogers)
3) The Cross (Wayne Goff)
4) News & Notes
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Priests of God

Kyle Pope

A priest is one who is set apart unto God for a special service to Him and His people. Priests carry out particular acts of worship and offer up sacrifices to honor and petition God. As long as men have worshipped God there have been those who have performed this service.

Under the Patriarchs

The earliest mention of men who served God in this capacity comes in the first book of the Bible. Genesis 14:18-20 tells of a man by the name of Melchizedek. Verse 18 states, “. . . he was the priest of God Most High” (NKJV). Abraham, the great man of faith, was not himself described as a priest, but he gave Melchizedek one tenth of all his spoils after the defeat of Chedorlaomer (Gen. 14:20; Heb. 7:4). Exodus 2:15-21 tells of a man named Reuel (or Jethro) who would later become Moses’s father-in-law. Verse 16 refers to him as the “Priest of Midian.” Even after Moses began to lead Israel, his advice to him removed a great burden from his shoulders (Exod. 18:1-27). During this period of time, the heads of families, even though not described as “priests” were permitted to offer their own sacrifices to God. Scripture, however, has not revealed to us how priests were chosen at this time or what was involved in their service before God. We simply know that there were those who were considered priests who served God.

Under Mosaic Law

When the Law of Moses was given, God set apart a special class of men to serve as priests. This priesthood involved a High Priest (Exod. 28:1) and those of the tribe of Levi who were descendants of Aaron (Num. 3:3). Not every Israelite could act as a priest. Tracing one’s ancestry to Aaron and Levi was required. These men attended to the tabernacle (and later to the temple). They offered sacrifices for the people which the people were not permitted to offer for themselves. Even a king was not allowed to assume the responsibility of a priest (2 Chron. 26:16-21). This was a special role they alone could fill. The lifestyle of the priests was held to a special standard of conduct. They could marry only virgins — no divorced women (Lev. 21). They could drink no wine or strong drink when they carried out their service (Lev. 10). This allowed them to have a clear mind in order to perform their service and offer a pure example before the people.

Under Christ

With the passing away of the Mosaic Law (2 Cor. 3:7-13), the Levitical and Aaronic priesthood passed away. We no longer have a way to know if someone is descended from Levi and Aaron. This has led some to affirm that now there is no priesthood in the age of Christ. That is not true. It is correct that there are no men who serve as “clergy” through whom a separate class of “laity” approach God. It is also true that under Christ there are no individuals who perform the functions of worship for others. Now worship is collective in nature and every individual Christian is expected to offer up “spiritual sacrifices” in worship to God (1 Pet. 2:4-5). However, the age of Christ, like Mosaic Law actually has both a High Priest and a priesthood.

Jesus Is the High Priest. Hebrews 4:14-15 teaches that Jesus Christ Himself serves in the role of High Priest on behalf of Christians. The nature of His work is that of intercession. Scripture says, “. . . He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25).

All Christians are Priests. The priesthood under Christ is now made up of all true believers (men, women, old, young, black, white, Jew, or Gentile). 1 Peter 2:4-5 teaches that believers are a “. . . holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Christians carry out this priestly service in the spiritual sacrifices we each offer up to God when we worship Him (1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 13:15), and in daily obedience to Him, which is offered as a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1).

If we are Christians, the question each of us must ask ourselves is if we are living our lives as priests of God Most High? Christians should offer up spiritual sacrifices to God every day in the way we live our lives and in our worship to Him both individually and when we assemble as a church. Just as the people of the Old Testament were commanded to only offer the best they had to God, we too must make certain our sacrifices are the best we have! As priests of God we are called to a special standard of conduct. The world should see the life of Christ in us.

Let’s recognize that we have been set apart to God as Christians and live up to this honor. Peter challenges us to recognize, “you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

— Via Faithful Sayings, Volume 22, Issue 30, July 26, 2020
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When a Poor Man is Rich

Heath Rogers

The Proverb’s writer observed, “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches” (Prov. 13:7). How can a poor man be rich?

 1. When he learns to rejoice in God’s word. “I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches” (Ps. 119:14). One who has found the way of God has discovered the greatest treasure known to mankind.

 2. When he obtains wisdom. “I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and find out knowledge and discretion… Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches and righteousness. My fruit is better than gold, yes, than fine gold, and my revenue than choice silver” (Prov. 8:12, 18-19). Wisdom will yield greater dividends in life than silver and gold.

 3. When he has a good reputation. “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather than silver and gold” (Prov. 22:1). No amount of money can open the same doors and opportunities that a good reputation can open; and no amount of money can reclaim a ruined reputation.

 4. When he lays up treasure in Heaven. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19-20). The material treasures of this world are subject to theft, depreciation, and decay. They will eventually be destroyed with fire (2 Pet. 3:10-12). The spiritual treasures we obtain in our efforts to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (developing our character, strengthening our brethren, saving lost souls, etc.) will last forever.

 5. When he is rich in good works. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19). Those who are rich are commanded not to trust in their wealth, but to commit themselves to being rich in good works. One does not have to possess material wealth to be rich in good works towards others.

 6. When he is rich in faith. “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5). Material wealth may get one noticed by the world, but those who are rich in faith stand out to God. They will be heirs of His kingdom; a kingdom that money cannot buy.

— Via bulletin of the Knollwood church of Christ, August 2020
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The Cross

Wayne Goff

William Barclay, in his commentary on The Gospel of John, observes the following about what it means to give your life, as Jesus gave His life:

“It is told that in the First World War there was a young French soldier who was seriously wounded. His arm was so badly smashed that it had to be amputated. He was a magnificent specimen of young manhood, and the surgeon was grieved that he must go through life maimed. So he waited beside his bedside to tell him the bad news when he recovered consciousness. When the lad’s eyes opened, the surgeon said to him: ‘I am sorry to tell you that you have lost your arm.’ ‘Sir,’ said the lad, ‘I did not lose it; I gave it — for France.’

“Jesus was not helplessly caught up in a mesh of circumstances from which he could not break free. Apart from any divine power he might have called in, it is quite clear that to the end he could have turned back and saved his life. He did not lose his life; he gave it. The Cross was not thrust upon him; he willingly accepted it — for us.”

If we would stop and think about the difference between “losing” something and “giving” it, our attitudes in service to God might be greatly improved. God gave His only begotten Son, John 3:16. Jesus freely gave His life for us, Matthew 20:28. The apostles gave their lives in martyrdom as a testimony of the truthfulness of their message, Galatians 2:20. What have you and I given to God?

“And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma,” Ephesians 5:2.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,” Ephesians 5:25.

— Via The Roanridge Reader, Volume 35, Issue 32, Page 1, August 2, 2020
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Though still in ICU, Larry Hood’s surgery went well — and, actually, even “better than expected.”  He will have to have radiation treatments, but now with a “much better outlook.”

Judy Daugherty (Jim Lively’s sister) fell Thursday and broke her shoulder.  She will not have to have surgery; but is using a sling and has pain. Her doctor told her that this type of breakage will usually heal on its own 75% of the time without surgery.

Rex and Frankie Hadley are both doing somewhat better.

Mark Owen Mixon (Anita Young’s 1-year old great nephew) had been very sick in the hospital with salmonella.  He is now back home, but had lost several pounds while dehydrated and “has a little ways to go to be 100%” better.  

James Medlock was transferred from the hospital to the nursing home for his congestive heart failure.

Penny Medlock is still in St. Simons-By-The-Sea.  A recent test showed that she does not have covid-19. So she might be going to the group home this week.

Deborah Medlock is doing “pretty good,” following her recent surgery.

Ronnie Davis is now over his walking pneumonia, but still has the lingering cough.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother is still waiting to hear when his next surgery will be, and they are continuing to keep his blood pressure low.

Doyle Rittenhouse had 12 shots last week — 6 to numb the area, and 6 to deaden the nerves.  Unfortunately, it reduced the pain for only a few hours; and then left Doyle feeling worse than before. He will be having blood work on Monday and might be seeing his doctor this Wednesday about having a nerve ablation to eliminate his back pain.  In the meanwhile, he is not to be moving around too much.

Rick Cuthbertson has been doing well with his new cancer treatment — of taking the 2 pills a day that are designed to target the needed area — though he has been having a weird feeling in his back.  He will also be doing just 2 a day this week, before moving on to 3 a day. 

Others to also be praying for: Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), A.J. & Pat Joyner, Pat Brigman,  Elaine Abbott, Shirley Davis, Tim Kirkland, Janice Hood, and Ginger Ann Montero.
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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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (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) An Examination of Old Testament “Proof Texts” [on hereditary total depravity] (Melvin Curry)
2) News & Notes
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An Examination of Old Testament “Proof Texts” [on hereditary total depravity]

Melvin Curry

Hereditary total depravity is generally associated with Augustinian and Calvinistic doctrine. John Calvin, following in the footsteps of Augustine, taught that all men sinned in Adam; and, consequently, every human being, except Jesus Christ, possesses from birth a totally corrupt sinful nature. Calvinists are saddled with a grave inconsistency in their position on original sin. They believe, on the one hand, that the guilt and depravity of the human race are ordained of God, while they argue, on the other hand, that God must not be accused of making men corrupt. To put the matter another way, how can human beings who are hell-bound sinners because they inherit a corrupt Adamic nature be held responsible as willful transgressors for deeds they are automatically programmed from birth to perform?

Does the Bible teach hereditary total depravity? The burden of this article will be to consider some alleged Old Testament “proofs” that Calvinists use in support of the doctrine by examining several classical texts (Gen. 6:5; Psa. 51:5; 58:3-4; Isa. 1:5-6; Jer. 17:8-9). The evidence adduced from these passages, however, is not as overwhelmingly convincing as Calvinists insist. If the doctrine of hereditary total depravity is not presupposed when such passages are studied, they are subject to alternate explanations which fall short of the Calvinistic position.

If I may be permitted to switch to the New Testament evidence for a moment, this tendency to assume more than the evidence warrants is nowhere more apparent than in the interpretation of Romans 5:12. William F. Bruner says, “This is the locus classicus of the whole doctrine of the imputation of Adam’s sin to the race” (Children of the Devil, 22). And George Eldon Ladd affirms, “It is quite clear that Paul believed in ‘original sin’ in the sense that Adam’s sin constituted all men sinners” (Theology of the New Testament 403-404). But listen to Ladd’s comments on Romans 5:12, “Grammatically, this can mean that men died because they have personally sinned, or it can mean that in Adam, all men sinned.” Ladd appeals to the surrounding context in order to support his interpretation of Romans 5:12; but, according to his own admission, his interpretation is far from conclusive. Moreover, what is true of the interpretation of Romans 5:12 is also true of the Old Testament texts. All of them together do not sustain the Calvinistic doctrine of hereditary total depravity.

Genesis 6:5 – “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.”

There is no question that this passage teaches the depravity of man. The word “depravity” itself means “very crooked.” It is derived from two Latin terms: de, an intensive particle, and pravus, “crooked.” But Charles G. Finney observes that the depravity of man is not to be taken “in the sense of original or constitutional crookedness, but in the sense of having become crooked. The term does not imply original mal conformation, but lapsed, fallen, departed from right or straight. It always implies deterioration, or fall from a former state or moral or physical perfection” (Systematic Theology 164). Sin is defined in the Bible as “transgression of the law” of God (I John 3:4). Adam and Eve lived in a state of perfection in the Garden of Eden; but, when they transgressed God’s law, they were driven out from God’s presence as well as from the tree of life. This constituted a fall and resulted in their depravity; indeed, this was the original sin. But sin does not necessarily imply a sinful nature. If it does, how does one account for the sin of Adam and Eve? Their sin may be explained on the basis of free will and temptation without implying that they had a sinful nature. And the same thing is true with respect to that of their posterity.

Adam and Eve did not sin because they had a natural appetite for sin; Eve craved to eat the fruit and to possess knowledge, Adam partook with her of his own free will. Finney’s description of their sin is entirely sufficient: “It was simply the correlation that existed between the fruit and their constitution, its presence exciting their desires for food and knowledge. This led to prohibited indulgence. But all men sin in precisely the same way” (Systematic Theology 182). “The consent to make self-gratification an end,” continues Finney, “is the whole of sin” (182).

Thus Genesis 6:5 states that human sin was the result of deliberate choices within the human heart, which God clearly “saw,” and human depravity was of such magnitude that God’s judgment was completely just. But Calvinists go beyond the evidence when they argue hereditary total depravity from this context; indeed, the doctrine of inherited sin is not taught here.

Psalm 51:5 – “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

“The Bible in this and other places,” writes John Calvin, “clearly asserts that we were born in sin, and that it exists within us as a disease fixed in our nature” (Commentary on Psalms 2:290). But he adds: “David does not charge it upon his parents, nor trace his crime to them, but sits himself before the Divine tribunal, confesses that he was formed in sin, and that he was a transgressor ere he saw the light of the world” (290). Calvin concludes that David’s depravity is total as well as hereditary: “his nature was entirely depraved” (290), “destitute of all spiritual good” (290), and “sin cleaved by nature to every part of him without exception” (291). This is true because David, like all men, sinned in Adam. When Adam “fell, we all forfeited along with him our original integrity” (291). Martin Luther goes even further: “Thus the true and proper meaning is this: ‘I am a sinner, not because I have committed adultery, nor because I have had Uriah murdered. But I have committed adultery and murder because I was born, indeed conceived and formed in the womb as a sinner.’ So we are not sinners because we commit this or that sin, but we commit them because we are sinners first” (Works 12:348).

But the clear intent of David in Psalm 51 is to assume the blame for his own sin: “Have mercy upon me” (v. 1); “blot out my transgressions” (v. 1); “wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin” (v. 2); “I acknowledge my transgressions; and my sin is ever before me” (v. 3); “against thee, thee only, have I sinned” (v. 4). John T. Willis says: “It does not make sense to understand the king to mean that his mother sinned (by adultery or fornication) when she conceived David, or that she was a sinful woman when he was conceived. It is clearly David’s sin that is meant here. The best explanation is that the poet is using an Ancient Near Eastern idiom meaning that he, like all human beings, was prone or inclined to sin from his youth up because he was constantly surrounded by sin and temptation” (Insights from the Psalms 2:60). The fact that David was “surrounded by sin and temptation” from his birth made David painfully aware that he was not the only sinner. Nor was he the first sinner; that dishonor is reserved for Adam. Even if the passage teaches that David’s mother was, in some sense, a sinner at the time of his conception, there is nothing here that suggests that she possessed a corrupt nature, or that her corrupt nature was transmitted to her infant son. Such a doctrine must be assumed to be true on other grounds and forced into play in the interpretation of this text.

Psalm 58:3 – “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies. “

If Psalm 58:3 is pressed literally, the simple but absurd conclusion is that new-born babies are liars. In the first place, however, David is speaking particularly about a special class of “wicked” men as distinct from the whole human race or from saints. And, secondly, these wicked men are described in highly figurative poetic language. The admission of Albert Barnes, a staunch Calvinist, is to the point: “Strictly speaking, therefore, it cannot be shown that the psalmist in this declaration had reference to the whole human race, or that he meant to make a universal declaration in regard to man as being early estranged or alienated from God; and the passage, therefore, cannot directly, and with exact propriety, be adduced to prove the doctrine that ‘original sin’ appertains to all the race, – whatever may be true on that point” (Psalms 2:138). Furthermore, he comments, “It is only, therefore, after it is proved that men are depraved or ‘wicked’ that this passage can be cited in favor of the doctrine of original sin” (138). A more honest appraisal of the passage could not be made. Even if one grants that the passage teaches that children lie as soon as they speak at all, “this would not prove,” writes Finney, “that their nature was in itself sinful, but might well consist with the theory that their physical depravity, together with their circumstances of temptation, led them into selfishness, from the very moment of their moral existence” (Systematic Theology 179).

Isaiah 1:5-6 – “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it…”

Although some expositors have adduced this passage in support of the doctrine of original sin, such an interpretation is wholly out of harmony with the context. Isaiah is speaking about the punishment which God has heaped upon the nation of Judah because it has rebelled against him: “Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity” (v. 4). Nothing at all is intimated about how sin is transmitted by heredity. The “wounds and bruises” (v. 6) have been received because of willful transgressions. Even John Calvin recognized that the corruption of the nation was the result of “hardened impenitence” (Commentary on Isaiah 1:47).

Jeremiah 17:9 – “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”

This passage provides an opportunity to sum up my remarks. I affirm that men are depraved, in the sense that I defined this term above, and that the effect of sin leaves the human heart “deceitful above all things.” Thus I have no quarrel with Calvinists over the fact that depravity is total or pervasive in an individual, i.e., that “the whole of man’s being has been affected by sin” (Steele and Thomas, The Five Points of Calvinism 25). I deny, however, that man is totally depraved in the sense that he cannot exercise his free will in conversion and must be granted faith as a supernatural gift. My disagreement with them is over their position that man’s corruption is inborn, inherited at birth from Adam; and, therefore, that man “can do nothing pertaining to his salvation” (Five Points of Calvinism 25). Not one of the passages discussed in this article affirms anything about man’s inborn, corrupt nature or his spiritual inability. The doctrine of hereditary total depravity is not taught in these Old Testament texts.

— Via Guardian of Truth XXXI: 1, pp. 29-30, January 1, 1987
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Pat Brigman
(Tina Allen’s aunt) is going through a difficult time with chemo and radiation treatments for stage 4 lung cancer. 

Larry Hood (Pat Joyner’s brother-in-law) will be having very intensive surgery this week that will involve 4 surgeons working all day on him.  His wife Janice takes medication for her Trigeminal neuralgia, but stress can make it worse.

Deborah Medlock’s
surgery for a small malignant growth (1 cm), which was detected by a mammogram in June, will be tomorrow (August 3). 

Elaine Abbott is still undergoing treatments of chemotherapy once a week and hemodialysis three times a week and has been physically weak.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother is healing well from his heart surgery (almost 3 weeks ago), but he also will be having another surgery for an aortic dissection in the lower portion of his aorta. His doctor will be contacting the surgeons this week to work out the when and the where for sometime this month.  In the meanwhile, they have been keeping his blood pressure at just 80/55.  

It was determined, by testing, that Leona “Lea” Medlock (Deborah’s daughter-in-law) had been ill with covid-19.  But she is now feeling better, yet still keeping herself quarantined at home and is now into her third week.

Rick Cuthbertson began his new cancer treatment Thursday and also had it on Friday.  It had made him tired for only about 20 or so minutes afterwards.

Ronnie Davis has been having walking pneumonia and a difficult time with a lingering cough.

Penny Medlock will soon have been a week in St. Simons-By-The Sea.   

Doyle Rittenhouse continues to feel much better following his third set of shots for his back pain, though not all of it has been eliminated. He will be seeing his doctor again this week.

Jim Lively had another fall Thursday, but it led to no injuries.  His head hit a swivel standing mirror, so the impact was not as severe as hitting something stationary. 

Rex Hadley is not over covid-19 yet, but has improved somewhat.  He still, however, is very weak, coughing, and with other symptoms.  A couple days ago, he did start eating more, and Friday was his first day without a fever.  His wife Frankie is going through another UTI that makes her extra weak, which she is on medication for.

James Medlock’s dementia has improved.  He is doing “way better than before.” 

Shirley Davis continues to heal from her recent procedure of a pace maker implant and is feeling much better, though she is weak.  She is having a physical therapist come to her home for treatments.  When I asked her what she would like me to tell the brethren at Tebeau Street, she said, “To keep praying for me, and I love them all.”

Others to also be praying for: Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), A.J. & Pat Joyner,Tim Kirkland, Ray Daugherty, and Ginger Ann Montero.
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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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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 (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) The Lord’s Supper (Kyle Pope)
2) News & Notes
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The Lord’s Supper

Kyle Pope

As the children of Israel were coming out of their bondage in the land of Egypt, the Lord instituted a memorial that the Israelites were to keep as a reminder of the great deliverance God granted them from the final plague that struck the Egyptians. While the Lord struck dead the first born of everyone in Egypt, those who observed the Lord’s instructions among the Jews were spared this horror. From that time forward the Jews were to keep the Passover meal each year in memory of when death had “passed over” their people (see Exodus 12). It is not coincidence that on the night that Jesus observed the Passover with His disciples, He instituted a similar memorial of His death for the children of God under the New Covenant.

The Institution of the Lord’s Supper

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke all record the Lord’s institution of this memorial (Matt. 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:17-20). In addition to this the apostle Paul in First Corinthians, in response to the Corinthian’s abuse of the memorial, recounts the Lord’s institution of the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-25). Let us observe what was involved in this institution.

1. “Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed” (Luke 22:7, NKJV). As Jesus met with His disciples on the night before His death, it was to observe the Passover meal. In accordance with the Law of Moses, His disciples had prepared a place for them to eat the meal (Luke 22:8-12). This involved removing all leaven from the house where the memorial was to be observed. The Passover began a period of seven days in which no leaven could be in their houses at all (Exod. 12:6, 15-18).

2. “And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me’” (Luke 22:19). While eating the Passover, Jesus took of the unleavened bread and gave thanks to God for it. He then broke the bread and gave it to each of the disciples. Both Matthew and Mark record His instruction, “Take, eat” (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22). Then Jesus told His disciples, “This is My body.” With this, Jesus set forth the significance of what was being done. The bread was a figure of Jesus’ body that was “given” (Luke 22:19) and “broken” (1 Cor. 11:24) for His disciples. This was not to be done to satisfy hunger, but was to be done “in remembrance” of Jesus.

3. “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins’” (Matt. 26:27,28). This cup, Jesus Himself called the “fruit of the vine” (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25 and Luke 22:18). It was to be a figure of the blood that Jesus would shed of the forgiveness of man’s sins. As with the bread, Paul tells us that Jesus told his disciples, “this do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me” (1 Cor. 11:25).

Observance of the Lord’s Supper

The Bible offers us at least three examples of the observance of the Lord’s Supper among churches in the New Testament: 1) The church in Jerusalem; 2) The church in Troas, and 3) The church in Corinth.

1. The church in Jerusalem. After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts chapter two, the Bible describes the establishment of the church in Jerusalem. After Peter and the others taught the people, the Bible tells us that 3,000 souls heeded their message and were baptized (Acts 2:41). We are then told about the conduct of the church. Included in the list of their activities, we are told that the Christians there continued steadfastly “in the breaking of bread” (Acts 2:42).

2. The church in Troas. As Paul traveled teaching he came to the ancient city of Troas in modern day Turkey (Acts 20:6). While there Scripture tells us, “Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight” (Acts 20:7).

3. The church in Corinth. In First Corinthians Paul refers to the Corinthians’ observance of the Lord’s Supper in two passages. The first comes in the midst of a discussion about Christians separating themselves from idolatry. In this passage Paul emphasizes that just as partaking of the bread and fruit of the vine unites Christians with the Lord and one another, if Christians eat things sacrificed to idols they unite themselves with idolatry (1 Cor. 10:15-22). The second reference addresses an abuse of the memorial that the Corinthians had committed. Instead of treating the Supper as the memorial observance the Lord intended, they had turned it into a common meal. Paul rebuked them, restates the details of the institution of the memorial, teaches them to eat at home for hunger, and commands them to observe the memorial with the right attitude (1 Cor. 11:17-34).

Names of the Lord’s Supper

• The Lord’s Supper. Paul uses the phrase most frequently used in this study in First Corinthians 11:20 referring to the memorial as “the Lord’s Supper.”

• Communion. In the tenth chapter of First Corinthians Paul refers to the cup as “the communion of the blood of Christ” (10:16a) and the bread as “the communion of the body of Christ” (10:16b). The word translated “communion” is the Greek word koinōnia (κοινωνία) most frequently translated “fellowship” in the English New Testament. It is defined as “joint participation” (Thayer). In the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God” (Mark 14:25). The Christian who properly partakes of the Lord’s Supper is spiritually participating with Christ in the observance.

In the same passage where Paul speaks of the memorial as the communion of the body and blood of Christ, three other terms are used to refer to the elements of the Lord’s Supper.

• The Cup of Blessing. The communion of the blood of Christ is identified as “the cup of blessing” (1 Cor. 10:16a). 

• The Cup of the Lord. Five verses later the same element is referred to as “the cup of the Lord” (1 Cor. 10:21).

• Breaking of Bread. When Paul speaks of the communion of the body of Christ he identifies it as “the bread which we break” (1 Cor. 10:16b).

Although early church writers used the term, the Lord’s Supper was never referred to in Scripture as the Eucharist. This name was derived from the Greek verb translated “given thanks” in two accounts of Jesus’ establishment of the memorial (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). It is not a biblical name for the memorial.

False Teaching on the Lord’s Supper

1. “The Lord’s Supper is a Sacrament.” A sacrament is thought to be a religious act by which Divine grace is dispersed. While it is true that all things that God gives to man can rightly be considered gifts of grace (see Rom. 12:6), the Bible does not teach that partaking of the Lord’s Supper infuses a person with additional grace. Christians should observe the Lord’s Supper in obedience to Christ and for the edification it offers to us.

2. “It Becomes the Literal Body and Blood of Christ.” The Roman Catholic Church and some Protestant churches teach that the bread and fruit of the vine blessed by a priest are changed into the literal body and blood of Jesus. This stems from a misapplication of Jesus’ words in John chapter six. While Jesus taught in that text “…Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you” (John 6:53), He explained to His disciples at the end of the chapter that He was referring to spiritually feeding upon Jesus’ life and teaching. He clarifies near the end of the chapter “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).

3. “It Can Be Observed Upon Any Day.” It is clear from Scripture that the observance of the Lord’s Supper was to be a congregational activity. In Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians we see that it was to be done when Christians “come together as a church” (1 Cor. 11:18) when they “come together in one place” (1 Cor. 11:20). They were to eat at home to satisfy hunger (1 Cor. 11:34), and when they ate of the memorial they were to “wait for one another” (I Cor. 11:33). The only text that indicates a time when the memorial was observed specifies brethren coming together on Sunday—the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). While the phrase “breaking bread” can refer to either the memorial or a common meal, even when the church in Jerusalem met daily in the temple, their meals for hunger were satisfied “from house to house” (Acts 2:46).

4. “It Doesn’t Need to Be Observed Every Sunday.” It is clear that Christians met regularly on Sunday (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:1-2). The only clear indication of the time upon which the Lord’s Supper was observed is Sunday (Acts 20:7). Given that no particular Sunday is specified and every week has a “first day of the week,” the only action that would truly comply with the New Testament pattern would be weekly observance.

5. “A Priest Alone Can Take the Cup.” The Bible teaches that all Christians are priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices to God (1 Peter 2:5). When Jesus instituted the memorial He gave both elements to His disciples and instructed them to partake. Matthew even reveals a specific statement Jesus made concerning the cup telling them “drink from it, all of you” (Matthew 26:27). Another person can’t drink the cup for someone else any more than another person can sing, confess Christ, or be baptized for someone else.

6. “There Must Be Only One Cup.” It is true that Paul spoke of the fruit of the vine as “the cup [singular] of the Lord” (1 Cor. 10:21) and “the cup [singular] of blessing” (1 Cor. 10:16), but this refers to unity of substance rather than the unity of container holding the substance. Technically Luke records that Jesus’ first instructions concerned dividing the contents of the cup among the disciples who were present. Luke writes: “Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves’” (Luke 22:17). It is after the supper that He then attached memorial significance to the cup and had them drink from the contents of the cup He had previously divided among them (Luke 22:20).

7. “The Container Represents the New Covenant.” Some have falsely argued that the container is a figure of the New Covenant based on Jesus’ statement, “this cup is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20; 1 Cor. 11:25). It is clear from the texts that He is referring to the contents of the cup and not the container. We note that it is called the new covenant “in my blood.” A container does not represent blood. It is the fruit of the vine within the container that does.

— Via Faithful Sayings, Volume 21, Issue 48 (December 1, 2019)
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Pat Brigman
(Tina Allen’s aunt) has stage 4 lung cancer. She is going through chemotherapy and radiation treatments at the same time and is feeling very ill.

Larry Hood (Pat Joyner’s brother-in-law) has Crohn’s disease, cancer near his eye, 4 spinal fractures, and is in much pain.

Janice Hood (Larry’s wife) has Trigeminal neuralgia and other health issues.

Elaine Abbot is still undergoing treatments of chemotherapy once a week and hemodialysis three times a week.  She is physically weak and will find the wheelchair helpful that her daughter-in-law Anita has taken to her.

Rex Hadley still has the pain in his legs from ballooned disks.  Concerning the covid-19 that he has had for the last couple weeks, Anita Young wrote yesterday that her dad “had a rough week, but has hopefully made a turn for the better.”  He is still running a low-grade fever, is very weak, and had some chills Friday afternoon.  But he is doing better than he was a few days ago.

Rick Cuthbertson has not yet begun his new cancer treatment, which will be in pill form — but he is looking forward to it with a good, positive attitude.  For the first week, he will be taking 1 pill a day; 2 a day for the second week; 3 a day for the third, and 4 a day for the fourth (which will also be the final week).  Following the treatments, he will then be scanned for the results. 

James Medlock’s dementia has become worse lately, so he is now back in the hospital and will be having his medication adjusted.

A.J. Joyner is starting to have peripheral neuropathy, along with stomach problems.  His wife Pat has numerous health issues, including COPD and scarring of the lungs called Atelectasis.

Penny Medlock, who was having trouble breathing due to covid-19, is still in ICU; but a recent test came back negative for it.  She was later tested again, and the results will probably be in today (if they were not yesterday).  If it is again negative, she will then be transferred to a behavioral health facility, such as St. Simons-By-The-Sea or one like it (maybe tomorrow).  There she will spend a couple weeks or more (depending on how she does).  If she is cleared there, she will then be transferred to a group home in Augusta, which she is looking forward to.  She has been in a good mood.

Deborah Medlock’s surgery is tentatively planned for July 31.  But if it will be sooner, she might find out tomorrow. 

Leona “Lea” Medlock (Deborah’s daughter-in-law) has been ill for a few days. She thinks she might have covid-19, but has not yet been tested.

We are glad that things went well for Shirley Davis in her recent pace maker implant.  She is feeling much better. However, she is still having kidney problems that will require seeing a doctor.  Plus the pain in her shoulder and knee still bothers her, and she has UTL.  I also want to mention her daughter Stephanie Jordan for prayer, who has been suffering with rheumatoid arthritis for about 20 years.

Joyce Rittenhouse wrote yesterday, concerning the pain her husband has been having, that “Doyle had his third set of two shots in the back.  They are working so far, but his blood sugars are running a little high.”  But “That is under control with extra insulin.”  Joyce also reports that her brother, who is healing from his recent heart surgery, “hasn’t had any headaches this week.”  He “is still real weak, but is getting better every day and will see his heart surgeon next Wednesday.”

Ginger Ann Montero, who had only a little of her pain eliminated in her last visit to her doctor, is now awaiting her next appointment —  of which her husband Bud writes, “Second time should do the trick.”

Elizabeth Harden (Anita Young’s daughter) is expecting a baby boy January 4!

Others to also be praying for: Jamie Cates (healing from a double lung transplant), Tim Kirkland, Ray Daugherty, Jim Lively, and Ronnie Davis (allergy trouble).

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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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (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) From Confusion to Peace (Kyle Pope)
2) Did The Church Come Together For A Common Meal in Acts 20? (Greg Gwin)
2) News & Notes
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From Confusion to Peace

Kyle Pope

You don’t have to look very far in the world around you to see that most people live their lives ruled by a sense of chaos. They might not recognize that this is the case, but if they stopped and honestly looked at their lives from the outside they would have to admit that they are controlled by the ebb and flow of emotions, finances, illness, disaster, or even the desire for pleasure, recognition, glory, or satisfaction. None of us are free from the hardships of life, but the Christian has something to which he or she can cling that the world does not have: a sense of direction.

You see the Bible tells us that as a result of sin entering the world, chaos, corruption, and decay rule the natural world. The preacher in the book of Ecclesiastes declared that “time and chance” plague all things under the sun (Eccl. 9:11). Paul told the Romans that the creation is in “bondage to corruption” (Rom. 8:21). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminds us that in this world “moth and rust destroy” things which we might hold dear (Matt. 6:19). For Christians, however, there can be a tangible sense of direction that comes from choosing to look beyond the physical world and aim towards a home in heaven with God. In this home, the Bible tells us “neither moth nor rust destroy, and . . . thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20, NKJV).

The Christian can also have a sense of direction when it comes to how life ought to be lived. The Christian believes that the Bible is not merely an old book full of interesting stories. The Christian holds that it is actually the revelation of the Spirit of God given to mankind for his guidance and direction. When the Christian submits himself to it’s rule, he allows himself to be led by the very mind of God. This is what it means to be “led by the Spirit” (cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:18). This can be a comforting thing. When a difficulty arises in life and we must choose one way or the other, the Christian’s choice is often made ahead of time by the principles of Scripture. He or she doesn’t have to worry and fret about what to do—God’s word points the way to the best possible choice.

Some might call this a “crutch” and say they would prefer their own freedom of choice. Everyone loves freedom, but who knows better how I should live my life than the very One who made me? David said:

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways”
(Ps. 139:1-3).

In addition to this, the Bible reveals that no one is ever truly free. All of us are either “slaves of sin” or we are “slaves of God” (Rom. 6:15-23). Submission to the will of God liberates us from the chaos and destruction that sin holds over our lives.

The Bible tells us that when people choose not to “retain God in their knowledge” they actually come to think about things in ways that are contrary to their very nature. Romans 1:28 speaks of such people as being given over to a “debased mind.” In such a state they are described as being “futile in their thoughts” (Rom. 1:21). To the Ephesians, Paul spoke of such people as “having their understanding darkened” and having hearts that are hardened (Eph. 4:18). In such a condition people come to view evil as good and good as evil. When this happens, the result is chaos and confusion.

You see when we come to believe that there is no absolute truth, no moral black and white, no unquestionable values, then nothing is right, everything is grey and there is no truth! The world we see around us is a perfect example of this. We claim to be so advanced as we throw out traditional values of the past. For the cause of freedom, we reject family roles, marriage bonds, personal responsibilities, modesty, and moderation, then wonder why our lives are in chaos. You see God’s instructions are not simply to satisfy His own wishes, they are “for our good always, that He might preserve us” (Deut. 6:24).

Near the close of his first epistle to the church in Corinth the apostle Paul through the direction of the Holy Spirit gives instructions about conduct in the assembly. In the midst of this discussion he makes a powerful statement. He writes, “ . . . For God is not the author of confusion but of peace” (1 Cor. 14:33). What a beautiful thought! In the midst of a universe of chaos, in Christ there can be peace. James will tell us through the Holy Spirit, “where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there. But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits . . . ” (Jas. 3:16-17).

Where do you find your life? Are you in submission to the will of God? Do you find in God peace and a wisdom that lifts you out of the chaos and confusion of this world, or do you try to live with one foot in the madness and the other in the truth? Paul challenged the brethren in Colosse to “let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Col. 3:15). Only in Christ can you find that “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7). The choice is yours, but God calls you out of confusion into true and lasting peace.

— Via Focus Online, July 16, 2020
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Did The Church Come Together For A Common Meal in Acts 20?

Greg Gwin

A question has been asked about ‘eating’ in Acts 20:6-11:

“And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed.”

We have emphasized two instances of “breaking bread” in the text. This expression is an idiom that can have reference to either a common meal (as in Acts 2:46) or the Lord’s Supper (as in Acts 2:42, 1 Cor. 10:16; 1 Cor. 11:23-26).

We believe the first reference in Acts 20 is in regards to the Lord’s Supper. We reach this conclusion because:

– The context implies that Paul waited in the city of Troas for seven days in order to be present at this assembly. Why wait if this were a common meal that could have been eaten on any day of the week?

– The disciples had specifically come together for the purpose of this ‘breaking of bread.’ But Paul had previously condemned the concept of a church coming together for the eating of common meals (1 Cor. 11:20-22,34). Paul would not have violated his own teaching in this matter, and therefore this must have been referring to the Lord’s Supper.

But, what about the second occurrence of “breaking bread” in Acts 20 (verse 11)? Here we conclude that the meaning is of a common meal, because:

– The assembly had already been broken up because of the death and miraculous revival of Eutychus.

– The timing of this ‘eating’ was at sometime after midnight (vs. 7) and thus, by either Roman or Hebrew timekeeping, would have been on Monday, not Sunday.

– The meeting of the church, now dismissed, had likely occurred in a private home where common food stuffs would have been available for those who normally lived there and their guests.

– Paul did this without violating the previously mentioned prohibition on the church ‘coming together’ to eat common meals (1Cor. 11:20-22,34).

– And, Paul is the only one mentioned who consumed the food (vs. 11). This was in anticipation of his leaving the city within a matter of hours to continue his journey. It would be impossible to prove that any other person ate a single morsel of food, and therefore impossible to use this text to demonstrate that the whole church was involved in eating a common meal as an official or sponsored activity of the collective body.

— Via The Beacon, June 28, 2020
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Penny Medlock, who had been hospitalized in Valdosta for 7 days, was taken from there to the ICU in Waycross late Saturday night, due to having tested positive for covid-19 and having trouble breathing.

Anita Young has requested prayer for her elderly parents: Rex Hadley’s test results came back positive last Monday for covid-19.  He has been sick for several days, but is showing a little improvement today.  Also pray for his wife Frankie, who has been in poor health for a long time, that she does not also come down with it.

Pat Joyner would like prayer for her brother-in-law Larry Hood.  She writes, “He has Crohn’s disease, cancer near his eye, 4 spinal fractures, in massive pain.  Doctors will make a decision on the 21st as what to do for some of his health challenges. He was a preacher for 30 years. Then he taught school.  He is now 85 years old. “Prayers of a righteous man meaneth much.”  Pat also mentions her 83-year old sister Janice (Larry’s wife) who has Trigeminal neuralgia and other health issues. (Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic facial pain that can act up from just chewing, speaking, brushing one’s teeth, putting on makeup, or even any other mild stimulation to the face.  And in Janice’s case, it also includes just putting her hand near her face without evening touching it that will cause pain.)

A.J. Joyner is starting to have peripheral neuropathy. He also has stomach problems.  His wife Pat has numerous health issues, including COPD and scarring of the lungs called Atelectasis.  They are both elderly and having to be very isolated for precautionary measures. 

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother continues to heal from the major heart surgery he recently had.  He has now gone two days without a headache, but is still a little unsteady on his feet.  He will be having a blood test tomorrow to see if it is still too thick.

Deborah Medlock had her pre-op Tuesday, but was not told when the actual surgery will be.  Initially, it was planned for the 31st; but that now needs to be changed to another day, which she will find out Tuesday.

Ginger Ann Montero finally was able to receive a shot for the pain she has been having in her arm, but it has given her only little relief.

Doyle Rittenhouse saw his doctor Monday.   Joyce writes that Doyle “will be getting two shots in his back Wednesday.  Right now he is having trouble with gout in both feet and his sugars are running a little high.”

Rick Cuthbertson is now receiving a new kind of cancer treatment.

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer:  Jamie Cates, Tim Kirkland, Elaine Abbott, Ray Daugherty,  Jim Lively, and Shirley Davis
  ——————–

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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith,
 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (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) Does It Really Matter to God? (Jefferson David Tant)
2) News & Notes
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Does It Really Matter to God?

Jefferson David Tant

In discussing religious differences, varied attitudes are expressed when it is pointed out that some particular practice or doctrine of a church conflicts with what the Bible says. One of the more common responses when a contradiction is seen is “Well, I don’t think it matters with God.” This writer believes that this attitude is dangerous, and wholly unacceptable to God. Please consider what God’s Word reveals about such matters.

The very first sin involved Adam and Eve eating some forbidden fruit. From the human viewpoint, what could possibly be so serious about eating a little piece of fruit? Was Eve convinced by Satan that it really didn’t matter to God? Whatever her thoughts were, the result was disastrous. God really did care.

In time, the world became so wicked that God decided to remove evil from the earth. Noah found favor in God’s sight, so God instructed Noah to build a large boat, giving him specific instructions concerning its construction. He gave Noah the dimensions of the ark, and also told him to make it out of gopher wood. “Make thee an ark of gopher wood: rooms shalt thou make in the ark, and shalt pitch it within and without with pitch” (Gen. 6:14). Suppose that Noah had decided to add some oak trim in his living quarters because Mrs. Noah wanted a little variety. Would that have mattered to God? After all, what difference could a little wood possibly make? Or what if he decided to make the ark 10 meters longer. Would that have been acceptable?

In offering worship to God, does it matter to him what we do? I have heard various comments when discussing acceptable worship. Some say, “I really like it…” about some practice. Then the question is whether our worship is meant to please us or to please God? If God is the object of our worship, can we know how to please him apart from revelation? Do we set the standard, or do we allow God to do so? When we insist on doing what pleases us, thinking that it will surely please God, we must remember the words of the prophet Isaiah. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).

Others say, “I don’t think it matters to God.” Long ago, there were two priests who evidently thought this. Nadab and Abihu were offering incense to the Lord, and had to obtain fire to burn it. There was a problem, shown in Leviticus 10:1-3: “And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took each of them his censer, and put fire therein, and laid incense thereon, and offered strange fire before Jehovah, which he had not commanded them. And there came fire from before Jehovah, and devoured them; and they died before Jehovah. Then Moses said unto Aaron, This is what Jehovah spake, saying, I will be sanctified in them that come nigh me, and before all the people I will be glorified. And Aaron held his peace.” Evidently Nadab and Abihu thought “Fire is fire, and one fire burns as well as another. It doesn’t matter to God where we get the fire.” But it did matter. God had told them to take the fire from another place, very likely from the bronze altar. It made a difference to God. Notice also that it does not say that God told them not to take fire from another place. The text simply says that they took fire “which he had not commanded them.” When people justify a practice because “God didn’t say not to do it,” they mistake silence for consent. By the same reasoning, one could feel free to steal my car, justifying the deed by claiming, “But you didn’t tell me not to do it.” Nadab and Abihu certainly learned the hard way that it does make a difference! Remember, what Nadab and Abihu must have thought was not the same thing that God thought.

As Moses led the people Israel out of Egypt and through their wilderness wandering, more than once he was impatient with their lack of faith. They grumbled often, forgetting how God had provided for them time and again: When they complained of thirst, God told Moses to strike a rock that was in their presence, and water would come forth. Moses did so, and the people were blessed with an abundance of water (Ex. 17:6). Sometime later, the people again complained that they were about to die, and they blamed Moses for taking them away from Egypt. God then gave instruction to Moses concerning obtaining water. “And Jehovah spoke unto Moses, saying, Take the rod and assemble the congregation, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, that it give forth its water; and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock; so thou shalt give the congregation and their cattle drink.” Notice what God told Moses. Previously he had instructed Moses to strike the rock with his rod. This time he tells Moses to speak to the rock. So what did Moses do? “And Moses took the rod from before Jehovah, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice: and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle.” Some might think, “So what’s the big deal? Moses got water, didn’t he? It really didn’t matter to God whether Moses struck the rock, or spoke to it.” But as we read on in the text, we learn that it did matter to God. “And Jehovah said unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed not in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them” (Numbers 20:7-12).  Moses came to understand that when God said something, his words were to be respected.

Many years later, David was returning the ark of the covenant to its rightful place after it had been captured by the Philistines. “And they set the ark of God upon a new cart, and brought it out of the house of Abinadab that was in the hill: and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, drove the new cart. And they brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was in the hill, with the ark of God: and Ahio went before the ark… And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put forth his hand to the ark of God, and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled.  And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error; and there he died by the ark of God” (II Sam. 6:3-6). Why did Uzzah die? Certainly his heart was right, for his only desire was to save the ark from damage if it fell to the ground. Who could fault that?

In truth, there were two problems. First, God had given instructions about moving the ark. The ark had rings on its sides, and poles were to be put through the rings so the Kohathites could carry the ark in that manner. They had no authority, i.e., no permission to carry the ark on a cart. In the second place, it was forbidden for anyone to touch the ark (Numbers 4:5-15). Who would have ever thought it would make any difference as to whether the ark was carried on a cart or by the priests? After all, the object was to bring it back to where it belonged. And surely Uzzah had a good heart when he put his hand to the ark to steady it. But his presumptuousness brought death. As one commentary phrased it, “Here we see the danger it is to follow good intentions, or to do anything in God’s service without his express word” (Geneva Bible Notes).

There was a Gentile prophet named Balaam, who had been asked by the Moabite king, Balak, to come and curse Israel. Balak offered a reward of great riches. But Balaam knew better, and his response to Balak is something we should all learn. “And Balaam answered and said unto the servants of Balak, If Balak would give me his house full of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the word of Jehovah my God, to do less or more” (Num. 22:18). Balaam certainly stated a principle that we should all remember. We are not at liberty to go beyond what God has said, no matter how good our intentions may be.

In II Kings is the story of a Syrian army general named Naaman. He had leprosy, and was told by his Jewish servant girl that he could be cured in Israel. Naaman ended up at the door of the prophet Elisha, who sent word to him to go dip in the Jordan River seven times and he would be healed. At first Naaman thought this was entirely stupid, and went away in a rage. But a servant prevailed upon him. Naaman changed his mind and did as the prophet instructed. When he came up the seventh time, his skin was like that of a little child. There are three things that Naaman could have changed in this matter. He could have gone to another river; he could have dipped either more or fewer than the seven times, or he could have just poured a cup of water on his head rather than dip in the river. Do you think he would have been cured of his leprosy if he had just dipped five times? Or if he had taken a cup and poured water on his head? Surely not.

In considering these illustrations from the Bible, we can clearly see that when God says something, he means what he says, and men were not free to do anything differently, thinking that “it really didn’t matter to God, anyway.” There are many such examples that we could cite from God’s word.

These things being true, why is it that so many today are willing to disregard clear teaching from the Bible by saying, “I don’t think it matters to God”? Is there some explanation for this? When I talk to people about the subject of baptism, it is interesting to see the responses when it is pointed out that the Bible clearly teaches that baptism is an immersion in water (Rom. 6:3-5; Col. 2:12; Acts 8:38, etc.), and that in the original Greek language, the word baptizo is literally translated as “immerse, dip or plunge.” These things are pointed out, and so often the response is, “I don’t think the form of baptism matters to God.” Then I tell them of a church in Oklahoma that baptizes by sprinkling rose petals on the candidate. Well, they wouldn’t go that far. But if it doesn’t matter to God if we change the form of baptism, then why should it matter if we change the element? Question: How do we decide what matters to God? Does he give certain people a special revelation telling them to disregard one of his commands, while telling others to obey that same command in the way it is stated? If it doesn’t matter to God how we are baptized, why should it make any difference whether we are baptized or not? Granted, Jesus did say, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), but why should that make any difference?

We discuss the Lord’s Supper and how the Bible indicates that the practice of the early church was to partake every first day of the week. Church historians agree that this was the practice. Few churches follow this practice today. Some offer the communion once a month, once every three months, once a year, or even not at all. “But it doesn’t make any difference how often we take it, so long as we do it to honor God.” I tell them of some churches that do not observe the Lord’s Supper at all, such as the Salvation Army and the Christian Science Church. Does that make any difference to the Lord, who said “Do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor. 11:24)? If we are free to change the frequency of observance, then are we free to eliminate it altogether? Or what about using Coke and potato chips for the Lord’s Supper? When I tell people about a Methodist Church that did that, they are often shocked. But if we are free to change what we want to change, then why can’t others change what they think doesn’t matter to the Lord?

If we are free to change what we think doesn’t matter to the Lord, then where is the stopping place? In truth, there is no place to stop, except to stop at what the Lord has said. God makes it clear that we are to respect what he has said, without additions, subtractions or alterations. This was true in the Old Testament. “The secret things belong unto Jehovah our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut. 29:29). “Every word of God is tried: He is a shield unto them that take refuge in him. Add thou not unto His words, Lest he reprove thee. And thou be found a liar” (Prov. 30:5-6).

God’s nature has not changed under the New Testament. His thoughts are still higher than ours, and all we can know about what pleases God is what he has revealed to us. We are instructed to “learn not to go beyond the things which are written” (I Cor. 4:6), and are warned about adding to or taking away. “I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto them, God shall add unto him the plagues which are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book” (Rev. 22:18 19). While those words were written specifically about the book of Revelation, there is no doubt that the principle applies to all that God has revealed to us.

Dear reader, why take a chance on eternity? Peter urges us “give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure” (I Peter 1:10). Why would anyone want to take a chance with the attitude that “it really doesn’t matter to God”? Nadab and Abihu, Moses and Uzzah will all testify that it does matter to God. Eternity is too long to ignore the lesson. And there are others who will also be there to give testimony. Christ spoke of them in Matthew 7:21-23: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. ” Who are these people? They are religious people who believe in Christ and who evidently think they are serving him. But Christ says they are workers of “iniquity.” They were not murderers and thieves, as we might think the word iniquity might describe. The word literally means “without law,” thus referring to the fact that what they were doing was without authority from Christ. They presumed to do things for which they had no authority. That’s what Moses did. That’s what Nadab and Abihu did. That’s what people do today who practice things in religion for which there is no authority, thinking that it doesn’t matter to God, Don’t be one of them!

There are clear examples of this matter of doing what is not authorized, what is not spelled out in Scripture. In the Old Testament, when the exiles were returning from Babylonian captivity, they were seeking to put things in order with respect to their worship in the temple. Now the Law of Moses was explicit as to those who could serve as priests. They had to be of the tribe of Levi. This is recorded in Numbers 3:6; 18:2; Deut. 10:8, etc. Nowhere are we told that those from another tribe could not be priests. We are just told from what tribe the priests were to come. Now when they were setting the priests in their service, there were certain ones who “sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but it was not found: therefore were they deemed polluted and put from the priesthood. And the governor said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and Thummim” (Neh. 7:64-65). The point is, they could not serve unless they could prove that they were authorized to do so. And then there is the matter of Christ. Under the Old Testament system, even he could not serve as a priest, for he was from the tribe of Judah. This was recognized in Hebrews 7:12-14. In making a point about the priesthood, the author stated “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. For he of whom these things are said belongeth to another tribe, from which no man hath given attendance at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord hath sprung out of Judah; as to which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priests.” Not even Jesus Christ had the authority to do something that was not authorized in the Scriptures! Jesus respected the silence of the Scriptures. The Law had to be changed in order for Christ to be able to be our High Priest. That is connected with the New Testament replacing the Old Testament. If Christ had such respect for the Law, then surely we cannot think that we are free to do whatever we please. It does make a difference to God.

— via Roswell church of Christ website (Roswell, Georgia)
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-2-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

The heart surgery for Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother went well.  He was released Saturday and is now staying with the Rittenhouses as he recovers.  He has been having a continual headache, though, which might last another 7 to 10 days until the loss of spinal fluid (from a spinal tap leakage) is naturally restored. In 3 weeks, he will be having a follow-up.

Deborah Medlock will have a pre-op with her surgeon this Tuesday and find out then when the actual surgery will be. It might even be Wednesday or Thursday of this week.

Penny Medlock is now hospitalized in Valdosta, but will soon be moved to Augusta.

Though the two epidurals Doyle Rittenhouse received July 2 reduced much of the pain he had been having in his hip and back, it came back last Thursday — but not as bad as prior to the shots.  He will be seeing his doctor tomorrow.

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: the family and friends of Billy Musgrove, Jamie Cates, Tim Kirkland, Elaine Abbott, Ginger Ann Montero, Ray Daugherty, Rick Cuthbertson,  Jim Lively, A.J. & Pat Joyner, James Medlock, Shirley Davis, Rex & Frankie Hadley, and Lanell Montero Dapello  
——————–

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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (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) Confirmation (Jefferson David Tant)
2) News & Notes
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-1-

Confirmation

Jefferson David Tant

“Confirmation” is an important factor in life. We want, and need, things to be confirmed, validated or guaranteed. We want things “signed, sealed and delivered,” as a popular song suggests. Statements in court are to be confirmed with an oath “to tell the truth…” Certain documents may be required to be signed in the presence of a Notary Public, etc.

Confirmation is no less important in the spiritual realm. In the NASB translation, the word “covenant” is used 295 times; “promise,” 104 times; “oath,” 66 times, “vow,” 33 times, and “swear,” three times.

God has also been careful to give us assurance of who he is and what he has promised, so that we can have full confidence in our faith. Paul wrote concerning deacons: “For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 3:13).

The point is this: We don’t have to rely on “blind faith,” emotions or guesses. Our faith is based on solid evidence.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

“Now faith is the title-deed of things hoped for; the putting to the proof of things not seen” (Montgomery’s NT).

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (NKJV).

A building is not fit for occupancy without a firm foundation — that which “stands under.” Thus our faith is a solid foundation, a “sub stance” — that which “stands under” the things for which we hope.

An interesting phrase is seen in one of the prophecies in Daniel 9:27: “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.” While this prophecy deals with the eventual destruction of Jerusalem and the cessation of the Jewish system, it is worthy to consider the idea of God making a “firm covenant.”  He has done this many times, but now give attention to how God has confirmed the covenant he made with us concerning our salvation.

Christ obviously is a critical part of the fulfillment of that covenant, and one could not ask for a stronger proof or confirmation of the identity of Jesus Christ beyond what has been furnished. Consider how Christ has confirmed the covenant.

By Angels

“But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord'” (Luke 2:10-11).

“The angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying'” (Matt. 28:5-6).

In addition to angels announcing to shepherds the birth of Christ, and to the women who came to the empty tomb, angels also appeared to Mary (Luke 1:26) and Joseph (Matthew 1:20) telling of the birth of Jesus; to Zacharias (Luke 1:11-12) telling of the birth of John, the forerunner of Jesus; and to the soldiers guarding the tomb when Jesus was raised from the dead (Matthew 28:1-4).

By John the Baptist

“The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” (John 1:29).

John had no hesitation in proclaiming the identity of Jesus, who also happened to be John’s cousin.

By the Wise Men

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him'” (Matthew 2:1-2).

What was it that brought these men hundreds of miles to see a baby? How were they led by a particular star? Could it be they were aware of some of the hundreds of prophecies that had been made about the One to come?

By the Saints then Living

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased’ — and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain” (II Peter 1:16-18).

There were literally thousands of people who witnessed the miracles and heard the teaching of Christ. They gave living testimony of these events.

By Moses and Elijah

“Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'” (Matthew 17:1-5).

While no statement was recorded by Moses and Elijah, it was clear from the voice that spoke out of heaven that these great prophets of old were being superseded by one greater than they. They obviously knew who he was. Peter referred to this in the previous point.

By Certain Pharisees and Jewish Rulers

“Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews; this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘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'” (John 3:1-2). “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42).

Whether they followed him, as Nicodemus may have done, or followed him not, out of fear, they did recognize him for who he was—the Son of God, as he claimed.

By the Demons that Confessed Him

“Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, ‘You are the Son of God!’ But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ” (Luke 4:41).

When your avowed enemies give testimony on your behalf, you know you are standing on solid ground.

By His Teaching

“Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers” (Luke 2:46-47).

“When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).

“The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, ‘Why did you not bring Him?’ The officers answered, ‘Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks'” (John 7:45-46).

The learned scholars were amazed at the knowledge this 12-year-old boy had (Luke 2). The multitudes that heard Christ teach were impressed, and the soldiers who came to arrest him were intimidated at the authority by which he spoke.

By His Signs and Wonders

“And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’ But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?’ Immediately Jesus, aware in His spirit that they were reasoning that way within themselves, said to them, ‘Why are you reasoning about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”; or to say, “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ — He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home.’ And he got up and immediately picked up the pallet and went out in the sight of everyone, so that they were all amazed and were glorifying God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this'” (Mark 2:5-12).

“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

The enemies of Christ could not deny the reality of the miracles. Indeed, the Jewish rulers had to admit that Christ’s disciples performed miracles. “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).

By His Holy Life

“Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me?” (John 8:46).

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (I Peter 2:21-22).

“Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any. For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent” (Mark 14:55-56).

When Christ was on trial, only by false testimony could his enemies obtain a conviction. He challenged them to cite one wrong deed he had performed, and they could not do so.

By His Enemies

“Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!'” (Matthew 27:54).

One of the calloused soldiers came to recognize the identity of the one he had nailed to the cross.

By a Thief Who Was Being Crucified with Jesus

“‘Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!’ And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise'” (Luke 23:42-43).

Even in his extreme pain, this thief was able to recognize who Christ was by observing his behavior.

By His Own Admission

“So the Jews said to Him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.’ Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him, but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple” (John 8:57-59).

Jesus’ use of the words “I Am” is significant, as this expression is indicative of eternal existence. It is the same phrase Jehovah used in Exodus 3:14, as he is instructing Moses to speak to his people. When Moses asks what he should tell them about who sent him, he is told, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

By His Resurrection and Ascension

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as 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” (Romans 1:1-4).

The resurrection of Christ is one of the most provable events of ancient history. No critic has ever been able to refute the overwhelming evidence. Paul cites the fact that over 500 witnesses had seen the resurrected Christ (I Corinthians 15:6), and that most of them were alive at the time of his writing, so their testimony could be checked.

By Prophecy and Its Fulfillment

“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled'” (Luke 24:44).

The fact that over 300 prophecies about Christ were each fulfilled to the smallest detail is irrefutable evidence. Some of these prophecies were recorded at least 1,500 years before he was even born. There is absolutely no way this evidence can be discounted or overturned.

By Changed Lives

“Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

Discouraged, defeated and fearful disciples suddenly changed into fearless defenders of what they had seen with their own eyes. Men do not give their lives for what they personally know is a lie.

Dear reader, if you have not already confessed your faith in Christ, and given yourself in obedience to God’s will, I pray that the evidence presented will move you to do this with haste. Surely there are none so blind as those who refuse to see.

— Via La Vista church of Christ (La Vista, Nebraska)
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-2-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Billy Musgrove who passed away July 1 at only 61 years of age.  He had been a native of Coffee County (GA) all his life.

Jamie Cates is recovering from a double-lung transplant, which will require his remaining near the hospital for the next six months.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother will be having his heart surgery July 7, which will involve two surgeons, and will also have a second surgery on July 8 with two surgeons. A 6″ Gore-Tex graft will be inserted into his heart’s main artery, and other procedures will also be performed.  Following the surgeries, he will remain in the hospital for 4 to 5 days.

Deborah Medlock’s 3-needle biopsy revealed that the 1-cm growth detected from a recent mammogram is malignant.  She will be seeing her surgeon July 7 to discuss her upcoming surgery.

Tim Kirkland had a heart attack June 21, but is doing better now.

The two epidurals that Doyle Rittenhouse received on July 2 has eliminated much of the pain that he had been having.  He is still on a muscle relaxer and pain medicine, but now taking less of each.  On July 13, he will be seeing his doctor again.  His next two epidurals (the final set) will not be given until he needs them. 

Ginger Ann Montero will be seeing a pain doctor tomorrow (Monday) for what appeared from an MRI to be a pinched nerve.

Lanell Montero Dapello is now healing from a broken ankle.

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Elaine Abbott, Ray Daugherty, Rick Cuthbertson,  Jim Lively, A.J. & Pat Joyner, James Medlock, Shirley Davis, Rex & Frankie Hadley, and Kerry Williams.
——————–

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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

The Gospel Observer

Contents:

1) The Architect’s Blueprint (Jefferson David Tant)
2 News & Notes
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-1-

The Architect’s Blueprint

Jefferson David Tant

Let’s say that you want to build a house, so you hire an architect to draw up plans according to your wishes. A builder is then contracted to construct the home as per the architect’s blueprints.

But something happens along the way, as the builder decides he has his own preferences, and so follows the blueprints only when he wants to, and inserts his own ideas when it suits him. Obviously, this will not sit well with you, as he is not following your directions. If you returned from a long journey and found a house completely different than what the blueprints stipulated, you would certainly reject it.  

Now, let’s make an application to the church, which is God’s house. No, not the building, but the people, for God “does not dwell in temples made with hands” (Acts 17:24). The apostle Paul declared that “we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (I Corinthians 3:9).  

Then the question is, does God have a plan, a blueprint or pattern for his church? The writer of Hebrews makes a comparison between the Old and New Covenants in Hebrews 8:5: “Now if He were on earth, He would not be a priest at all, since there are those who offer the gifts according to the Law; who serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things, just as Moses was warned by God when he was about to erect the tabernacle; for, ‘See,’ He says, ‘That you make all things according to the pattern which was shown you on the mountain.’” In Exodus 25 and following, God gave very detailed instructions as to the construction of the tabernacle, and he expected Moses to adhere to it.  

The point the writer of Hebrews is making is that the New Covenant or Testament is superior to the Old, and thus Christ is High Priest over a superior covenant. Now, if the church (God’s present place of dwelling) is superior to the tabernacle in the Old Testament (representing God’s presence with Israel), then why should we regard as any less important the plans for the church than the plans for the tabernacle?  

Go back to Paul’s statement in I Corinthians 3:9-11: “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it. For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” We certainly recognize that a structure must follow the lines of the foundation. If the builder does not follow the lines of the foundation, obviously the structure will fall. One of the heroes in the Hall of Fame of Faith is Abraham. “By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise, for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10).  

Obviously the writer of Hebrews understood the correlation between the architect, builder, and the foundations upon which the structure stands. In a spiritual sense, he referred to heaven in these terms. And Paul used the same language with respect to the church. Did not Jesus make a promise: “I will build my church”? (Matthew 16:18).

Where do we go to find the architect’s blueprint for the church? Obviously, we must consult the New Testament, wherein we find instructions God has given us for his church. The plan is clear, and those who wish to follow the plans should have no trouble in understanding them. When we compare the plans God has given with what men have built, we find a great difference.  

The Leaders in the Church

The Bible

Among the leaders are men who are called elders-presbyters/bishops-overseers/pastors-shepherds. These terms are all applied to the same men, and refer to different aspects of their function. (See Acts 20:17, 28, where all three terms are applied to the same men.)

We note that Paul appointed “elders” (plural) in the churches (Acts 14:23), and we never find a case of a single elder/pastor over a church. Furthermore, the term “pastor” in the Bible does not refer to the one who is the “preacher.” That is a different function.  

The qualifications for these men are given in I Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-9. Note that these are to be married men who have believing children, and who lead godly lives. In addition, they must have a good knowledge of God’s Word.

The churches of men

Not many churches of men pay any attention to the Biblical qualifications. More and more churches are ordaining women as pastors, and there seems to be no stipulation that pastors must be married, or be old enough to have believing children. Furthermore, the common practice is for a church to have one pastor, rather than the plurality that we find in God’s blueprint. Besides, in God’s plan, the pastor and the preacher are two separate functions. God certainly had a reason for not including a “one-man-rule” plan in his blueprint.

Conclusion

Will God accept a church that has not followed his plan in this area? Certainly not. Why do we think man’s wisdom is greater than God’s wisdom? Remember, Paul admonished us to “be careful how we build.”  

The Worship of the Church

The Bible

The examples we find in the New Testament are very clear and easy to understand. The Christians came together to:

1) Be instructed in the Word of God (Acts 5:42; 20:7, etc).

2) Partake of the Lord’s Supper each first day of the week (Acts 20:7; I Corinthians 11:23-29). (Early church writers and historians agree that the church met every Sunday to observe this memorial.)

3) To sing hymns of praise and encouragement. Their singing was vocal, without instruments of music, and congregational, as all sang together (Ephesians 5:16; Colossians 3:16). (Once again historical writers are in total agreement that it was hundreds of years before any instrumental accompaniment was introduced.)

4) To make a contribution from their resources to carry on the responsibilities of the church on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:2).

5) To make petitions to God for their needs and to express thanksgiving (I Timothy 2:1-2; Acts 12:12, etc.).

The churches of men

In four of the five aforementioned items, we find churches not respecting the pattern God has given.

1) In addition to teaching God’s word (and in some churches very little of that is taught), we find churches offering classes in how to care for your horse, furniture repair work-shops, sewing classes, auto care clinics and you name it, and you will probably find some church practicing it.

2) With respect to the Lord’s Supper, there are many variations. As opposed to the early church’s practice of partaking every first day, we find denominations taking it every day, once a month, once a quarter, once a year, and some do not take it at all. And not only do some deviate from the Bible pattern of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine, I know of some who have used potato chips and Coke, and who knows what else.

3) Orchestras, bands and all sorts of musical instruments and dancing are added. Many have told me that this is great entertainment. I have been to denominations where the music is so loud that it is deafening (it gave me a headache), and it has been accompanied with suggestive dancing. In churches I have visited, audience participation is limited because the choir does much of the singing, or the music is so loud that it drowns out what the audience attempts to do.

4) Churches of men have been very inventive when it comes to raising money. Door to door soliciting, bake sales, rummage sales, selling merchandise, taking collections week-nights or every time the church meets, charging for various classes, selling investment portfolios, etc.

5) The only departure that might be observed in prayers would be in the fact that in some churches women may lead in prayer in the assembly or class when men are present, even though the Bible forbids women from taking a leading part in such gatherings. “Let a woman learn in quietness with all subjection. But I permit not a woman to teach, nor to have dominion over a man, but to be in quietness” (I Timothy 2:11-12; cf. I Corinthians 14:34). This also precludes a woman from being a pastor or preacher.

Conclusion

Why do men think their way of worshiping God is better than the way God has given? Are men to worship to please themselves, or should they accept what God wants? I had a woman tell me she could never give up what her church was doing, because she liked it so much. Peter writes that we, “as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (I Peter 2:5).

How “acceptable” would it be for me to buy a chainsaw for my wife’s birthday because it pleased me? I guess that would be as acceptable as her buying me some earrings because they were really pretty, and they pleased her.

The Organization of the Church

The Bible

In reading through the New Testament, we find the pattern of local, independent churches that are autonomous, with no hierarchy or organizational structure other than the local church. They were bound together only inasmuch as the individual Christians are family members — brothers and sisters in the family of God, which is the church or body of Christ. Each local congregation was led by those who were called elders/shepherds/pastors.

Peter instructed the elders to “Tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight, not of constraint, but willingly, according to the will of God; nor yet for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind” [my emphasis] (I Peter 5:2).

The churches of men

Most every denomination has some organizational structure or government, whether it be synods, a pope, conventions, area bishops, a president, or any number of different arrangements. But history has shown that often the leadership is far more liberal than the members in the pews, and this presents problems. Evidently in God’s wisdom, he wanted each local congregation to be independent and self-sustaining.

To illustrate the point, suppose I have a single-pane large window in my den, and my children are playing ball in the yard. Then an errant ball comes crashing through my window, and the whole thing is destroyed. But suppose that same opening was composed of 12 smaller individual panes. That errant ball then destroys only one pane, not the whole structure.

Making an application to the denominational governmental structures, if there is some error in the leadership, it affects the whole denomination, and I have seen this happen time and again. But if every local church is independent and self-governing, then whenever some local church goes off track, it does not affect other churches. Surely God’s wisdom can be seen in the pattern he set for us.

The Names that Are Worn

The Bible

There are various names by which God’s people are identified in the Bible. Notice a few of them. The church, God’s people, is called the “kingdom of God,” in Romans 14:17 and other places. Christ is king, and we are citizens of the kingdom. Another name given is “church of God” (I Corinthians 1:2). “Church” is from “ekklesia,” and basically means “called out,” thus those who are “called out of the world that belong to God.” The church is also referred to as the “bride” (Revelation 21:9). In this, the church is married to Christ, and thus takes his name, as it is also called the “church of Christ” (Romans 16:16). Another term is the “household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). In this family picture, we know God is our father, Christ is our older brother, and we are God’s children. God saw fit to use these, and other terms, to describe his church, his people. They all refer to the same spiritual body, but emphasize different characteristics of it.

The churches of men

Men have been very inventive in coming up with their own names. Examples: The Church of Daniel’s Band, The Church of Gloom, Two Seed in the Spirit Baptist Church, The Nudist Christian Church of the Blessed Virgin Jesus, Holy Ghost Repair Service.

While the foregoing names might bring a chuckle, in one sense they are no different than traditional denominational names — Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, and on into infinity, considering there are some 32,000 different denominations in the United States. These names are all the inventions of the imaginations of men. Why are the designations given by the Divine Architect not suitable?

Suppose I wanted to erect a memorial to one of my grandfathers, Lorenzo Antonio Gotto. I draw up the plans and give them to a builder. He then completes the monument, and  takes me out to see the completed monument. The inscription says, “In memory of Margaret Thatcher.” Would I accept it? Will God accept the names men have invented to give to that which is built as a memorial to his Son? Why can we not be satisfied with God’s blueprint?

God’s Plan of Salvation

The Bible

God’s Word gives very clear directions as to how one obtains forgiveness of sins and becomes a part of God’s family—the church.

1) Obviously, hearing the gospel is the beginning, as is seen in Romans 10:14, for this is the beginning of…

2) Faith, without which, one cannot come to God (Hebrews 11:6). This faith is not only a belief in God, but a belief in God’s grace, knowing that we do not deserve, nor can we earn salvation merely through good works. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

3) Repentance, for we cannot continue to live in and for the world if we want to live in a relationship with Christ (Luke 13:3).

4) The confession of our faith is a part of this process, as we are to “confess with our mouth Jesus as Lord” (Romans 10:9).

5) Baptism for the remission of sins. This baptism is an immersion in water, as all authorities in the New Testament language of Greek agree that the word “baptidzo” means to “dip, plunge, immerse.” Its purpose is at least three-fold.

a) It is associated with the removal of sins, for God promises his grace to take away our sins when we comply with his teaching. “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Then we find Ananias giving instruction to Saul of Tarsus in Acts 22:16: “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name.”

b) Baptism is associated with our entrance into Christ, into his body. “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

c) Baptism makes us partakers of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:3-6). The picture Paul gives is that of putting to death our sinful life by burying it, and then we are raised from that watery grave to a new life.

Note that in the passages cited baptism precedes, goes before salvation and the washing away of sins. Furthermore, since Galatians 3:27 states that we are baptized into Christ, how is it that some teach we are saved before baptism? Are we then saved outside of a relationship with Christ? Who can believe it? Some claim that we are saved before baptism, but the Scriptures show otherwise.

6) A sixth element in our salvation is a life of faithful service. It’s not like buying a ticket to get on the train. Once you’re on, you don’t have to do anything else but sit down and enjoy the ride. Our Lord urged us to “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

The churches of men

Basically, many denominations have just one step in their plan of salvation. A direct quote from two prominent denominational creed books says, “Wherefore, that we are justified by faith only is a most wholesome doctrine, and very full of comfort.” Many other denominations say the same thing, only phrased differently.

What is wrong with such a statement? For one thing, it excludes repentance. “Oh, but the Bible says we must repent of our sins,” is the reply. Then it is not faith only! “Only” is an exclusive and excluding word. If I am buying a plane ticket to Timbuktu, and I tell the agent that I am the only one flying, I am not expected to show up with my wife and children. Anyone can understand that.

To be honest, it must be admitted that the words “faith” and “only” do appear together in the Bible. That is in James 2:24: “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith only.” It is not that our works save us, but James clearly states that it is an obedient faith that accompanies salvation. Peter confirms this in I Peter 3:21: “Corresponding to that, baptism now saves you–not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal to God for a good conscience–through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” In the preceding verse, Peter mentions Noah’s salvation by water, and compared that to the matter of baptism.

With respect to baptism, there are other ideas of men that confuse and contradict. Some denominations sprinkle water on the subject, while others pour water. One church has been said to sprinkle rose petals. Then other denominations have eliminated baptism altogether. Some have baptisms once a year, while others may schedule a baptism every few months, whereas in the Bible baptism takes place as soon as a person is told what to do.

Some baptize babies, and some even will baptize those who are dead, while some baptize living persons for dead people. The question is, who gave these churches the right to change the blueprints? If Christ is our Savior, then doesn’t he have the right to set the terms?

What Happens When We Change the Blueprints?

Our Lord had to deal with many in his day who “changed the blueprints.” Time and time again he rebuked the religious leaders among the Jews. Note carefully what he said in Matthew 7:21-23. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’  And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

What was the problem? These were people who called Jesus “Lord,” and who were religious people doing many good things. A key word in the passage is the last one cited — “lawlessness.” Strong’s Greek Dictionary defines this as “illegality, i.e. violation of law…” The word in Greek is “anomia.”“Nomia” is “law,” and the alpha preceding it negates the meaning. We do the same with “un.” We speak of something that is “lawful,” but when we put the “un” in front of it, we make the meaning negative.

And so it was with those to whom Christ referred. While they may have been doing things that were good in their own way of thinking, they were actually practicing things that were “unlawful, without law.” Simply put, they were doing things that were “without authority.” (Well, actually there was some authority—their authority!)

Much could be said about the matter of authority, but we will be brief. Paul instructed the church at Colossae in these words: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord” (Colossians 3:17). “In the name of the Lord” signifies the need for authority. Thus in “word,” our teaching, or “deed,” our practice, we need to find a “thus sayeth the Lord.”  If we cannot do so, then we are acting on our own authority, and we find ourselves in the same situation as those in Matthew 7:21-23.

Consider also our Lord’s words concerning the religious leaders of his day: “But in vain do they worship me, Teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men” (Matthew 15:9). When I read the creed books, the church manuals, the catechisms, etc., of the various denominations, I am not reading the Word of God, I am reading the doctrines of men! This presents a real problem, since truth does not contradict itself. These books not only contradict the Bible many times, but they also contradict one another. And what is the ultimate result? “But he answered and said, Every plant which my heavenly Father planted not, shall be rooted up” (Matthew 15:13). God says that those religious groups that follow the precepts of men shall be rooted up. God will not accept them. I didn’t say it. God did!

I remember having a discussion with a friend on baptism, as to whether it should be by immersion or by sprinkling (as his church practiced). He did not deny the evidence I presented which clearly showed immersion was the Biblical practice. But he dismissed the whole matter by declaring, “I don’t think it makes any difference.” Well, it may have made no difference to him, but the question is, “Does it make any difference to God?” We have the story of Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10:1-3, as they came to offer sacrifices to God. “Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them.  And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘It is what the LORD spoke, saying, “By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, And before all the people I will be honored.”‘ So Aaron, therefore, kept silent.”

Consider the fact that they believed in God, and were worshiping God. But in doing so they were roasted alive. Why? Because they did not follow the blueprint,the pattern that God had given. They offered “strange fire,” which the LORD “had not commanded them.” They had no authority for what they had done. I am quite sure they must have thought, as my friend thought, “I don’t think it makes any difference.” When Nadab and Abihu did what they wanted rather than what God wanted, the text says they neither honored God nor treated him as holy. Is is any different today?

Question: Must one believe the Catholic Catechism, the “blueprint” for the Catholic Church, in order to go to heaven? Must one believe the Methodist Discipline to go to heaven? Must one believe the Baptist Manual to go to heaven? Must one believe the Book of Mormon to go to heaven? Must one believe the Bible, God’s “blueprint,” in order to go to heaven? You know the answer! God gave the perfect blueprint, so why do we need other books of laws and regulations? If God’s book was good enough for Christians in the first century, why isn’t it good enough for us today?

In closing, consider a clear example of changing the blueprint. Following is a quote from Hiscox Standard Manual for Baptist Churches, page 22: “Church Membership” – “It is most likely that in the Apostolic age when there was but ‘one Lord, one faith, and one baptism,’ and no differing denominations existed, the baptism of a convert by that very act constituted him a member of the church…In that sense, ‘baptism was the door into the church.’ Now, it is different; and while the churches are desirous of receiving members, they are wary and cautious that they do not receive unworthy persons. The churches therefore have candidates come before them, make their statement, give their ‘experience,’ and then their reception is decided by a vote of the members. And while they cannot become members without baptism, yet it is the vote of the body which admits them to its fellowship on receiving baptism.”

Did you notice the words, “Now, it is different”? If that’s not a clear case of changing the blueprint, then I don’t know what would be.

God will not recognize those who refuse to follow the blueprints, who have no regard for the pattern given in God’s Word, no matter how much good they think they are doing. What do you think would have happened to Moses if he had decided to alter God’s design for the tabernacle?

Search the Scriptures! Follow the blueprints! We must know for ourselves what the architect’s plans are, and not just depend on what others tell us. The apostle Paul commended the people of Berea for doing just that. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Our salvation is too important for us to just depend on what some preacher/pastor/priest tells us. We must know for ourselves.

You remember the passage in Hebrews 11 about Abraham “looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). Suppose that when Abraham arrived in that heavenly city he began to look around and decided that he didn’t like the way things were laid out. So he set out to change the architecture. How well do you think that would have gone over? Obviously, we know that would not happen. But it happens over and over when men tamper with God’s pattern for the church.

Some years ago, our family took in a troubled teen who had to be away from her family. My wife showed Emily her room, and then my wife went to do other things. In a few minutes there came the sound of thuds, bangs and scrapes from Emily’s room. When my wife went to see what was going on, Emily was moving every stick of furniture in the room. “Well, gag, I didn’t like it the way it was.” We wonder if that’s the attitude men have when they change everything in the Lord’s church to suit themselves. My wife didn’t appreciate Emily’s lack of respect for what we had provided. And we can be sure that God does not appreciate the lack of respect men show for what he has provided.

My question to those who practice or believe things I cannot find in the Word of God is simply this, “Where is the scripture? Please give me book, chapter and verse.” Without that, I cannot accept it. And neither should you.

— Via the La Vista church of Christ, Omaha, Nebraska
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Jamie Cates is recovering from a double-lung transplant, which will require his remaining near the hospital for the next six months.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother will be having his heart surgery July 7, which will involve two surgeons, and will also have a second surgery on July 8 with two surgeons. A 6″ Gore-Tex graft will be inserted into his heart’s main artery, and other procedures will also be performed.

James Medlock came home from the hospital Friday.  They eliminated the fluid in his left lung, which was caused by the pneumonia.  But they said that he would be having other fluid problems, due to his heart value not functioning properly.  That was actually the reason why he went into the hospital on April 7 (spent 6 days there) and then was transferred to the nursing home for 21 days.  It was fluid build-up because of that bad heart valve.  For that reason, James has to be weighed every morning; and if his weight has gone up 5 pounds or more from the previous time, he then needs to be taken to the hospital.  Since James has difficulty in standing on a regular scale, the Medlocks have contacted the hospital about getting the type of scale that will work with the hospital bed they have for James in their home.  It will show the person’s weight while he is still in bed.  The result of the testing they did on James for covid-19, while in the hospital, showed to be negative. 

Things went smoothly for Deborah Medlock Friday with her 3-needle biopsy. To keep her from feeling any pain, they put her to sleep for what was probably about a 20-to-30-minute procedure.  She should hear the results this Tuesday at her follow-up.

Following the two epidurals that Doyle Rittenhouse recently received, he will also be given two more on July 2.  Then, about a week afterwards, if these have still not solved his problem, he will receive two more.  So far, his condition has only become worse.  The epidurals have not been eliminating his back pain.  If that continues to be the case through all three sessions, the next step will then be the spacer-surgery for his spine.

Ginger Ann Montero’s MRI last week showed a possible pinched nerve that she will be seeing a pain doctor for this week.

Joyce Rittenhouse is glad to have eliminated a painful kidney stone, about 2:30 a.m. Thursday, that had been lodged in her bladder.  She is now back on antibiotics.

Lanell Montero Dapello is now healing from a broken ankle.

I’m glad to say that we now have a new sister in the Lord! Tina Allen was baptized Wednesday evening into Christ (Gal. 3:27), where there is no condemnation (Rom. 8:1), to have all of her sins blotted out by the precious blood of Jesus (1 Pet. 1:18-19; Eph. 1:7).  She had repented of all her transgressions (Luke 13:5), acknowledged her faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38), was immersed in water as a sinner and came up as a saint through faith in the working of God (Col. 2:12; 1 Cor. 14:33) and now has that new life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:3-4; 2 Cor. 5:17) with all her sins washed away (Acts 22:16) and brought into that saved relationship with our loving and merciful heavenly Father (Mark 16:16; 1 Pet. 3:21; 1 John 3:1-3) that is enjoyed in the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:13), which is also referred to as the church (Col. 1:18) and the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12).   And all the angels in heaven are also rejoicing! (Luke 15:10).  Let us pray for Tina’s spiritual development, that she will continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18, NASB).

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Elaine Abbott, Ray Daugherty, Rick Cuthbertson,  Jim Lively, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, Rex & Frankie Hadley, and Kerry Williams.
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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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (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) Maintaining Godliness During Difficult Times (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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-1-

Maintaining Godliness During Difficult Times

Tom Edwards

Due to a false accusation made against him by Potiphar’s wife (Gen. 39:7-20), Joseph, as an innocent man, spent two years in prison for a crime he had not committed (Gen. 41:1, 8,14-15).  His confinement in that dungeon would have been longer had he not interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh’s chief cupbearer and his chief baker — fellow prisoners (Gen. 40:2-3, 8-13). 

Joseph told the cupbearer that his dream meant that Pharaoh would release him from prison in three days and restore him to his former position as the king’s chief cupbearer.  Joseph then asked just one thing of him: “Only keep me in mind when it goes well with you, and please do me a kindness by mentioning me to Pharaoh and get me out of this place. For I was in fact kidnapped from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing that they should have put me into the dungeon” (vv. 14-15). 

The interpretation of the dream came to pass, just as Joseph said it would.  The cupbearer was set free and resumed his former service to the king — but, unfortunately, he “did not remember Joseph, but forgot him” (v. 23).  

At the end of two full years of Joseph’s imprisonment, Pharaoh had two dreams which troubled him — dreams which none of his wise men nor magicians could interpret (Gen. 41:1-8).  So it was finally then when the chief cupbearer remembered Joseph and spoke to Pharaoh about him (Gen. 41:9-14). 

While in prison, Joseph remained true and faithful to God —  even when “They afflicted his feet with fetters” and “He himself was laid in irons” (Psa. 105:18).  So God was with Joseph, blessed him, and “extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer” who, in turn, “committed to Joseph’s charge all the prisoners who were in the jail; so that whatever was done there, he was responsible for it.  The chief jailer did not supervise anything under Joseph’s charge because the LORD was with him, and whatever he did, the LORD made to prosper” (Gen. 39:21-23).  

What a wonderful lesson we see in this of one who kept his faith in God and devotion toward Him even after suffering unjustly for something he did not do.  It would probably appear to many that Joseph, in his dungeon-circumstance (Gen. 41:14), had reason to complain, to be embittered, to be hateful, to be filled with rage, to lash out, to rebel and lose faith — but he did not.  And because of his continual, loyal commitment to God, the Lord blessed Joseph.

We who are Christians need to also be that same way.  For to those saints who were undergoing not just some difficulties but the extremes of a “fiery ordeal,” Peter exhorted to “keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation.  If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name” (1 Pet. 1:12-16).

It was also Peter, in this same epistle, who encouraged the brethren to “Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Pet. 2:12).

We need to, therefore, always strive to set forth the right example.  And Peter also has more to say about that behavior we are to maintain and why:

“For,
He that would love life,
And see good days,
Let him refrain his tongue from evil,
And his lips that they speak no guile:
And let him turn away from evil, and do good;
Let him seek peace, and pursue it.
For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
And his ears unto their supplication:
But the face of the Lord is upon [against, NASB] them that do evil” (1 Pet. 3:10-12, ASV).

As Christians we are to be different from the world because of our special relationship with God, as Peter shows in 1 Peter 2:9-10: “But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF God; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”

In Psalm 105, one of the historical psalms, we read more about Joseph in verses 16-25.  There it states that it was God who had “sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave” (v. 17).  

In reading the account of Joseph’s betrayal by his own jealous and enraged brothers (Gen. 37:11) who increased in their hatred toward him (Gen. 37:4, 8); would have killed him had it not been for Reuben (vv. 18,20,21); and later listened to the advice of Judah, who also thought it not wise to murder their brother, but instead to sell him into slavery for twenty shekels of silver (vv. 26-28); it would certainly not appear that God had anything at all to do with such cold-hearted and evil acts.  And He did not — in the sense of actually causing it.  But in the case of Joseph, we see that God can even use the wicked and sinful dealings of others, which He is not responsible for, to bring about His will through His divine providence.  

As we think of God being able to use such evil and wickedness of men, how this very much parallels with the unjust treatment and atrocities inflicted upon God’s Son, Jesus Christ, and what that all led to.  For it was not God, but it was the envious religious leaders who stirred up the multitude into demanding the death of Jesus (Mark 15:10-13; John 19:14-15).  Were any of these, who were crying out for His blood, part of that crowd a week earlier who praised the Lord as He entered the city of Jerusalem, riding on a donkey?  That is spoken of as being “His triumphal entry.”  For then, they were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:9).  But had they so quickly and wrongfully changed their tune just one week later?

We who praise the name of the Lord now, as our Lord and Savior, must still be on guard against temptations, lest we be lured into that broad and wrongful way that the majority of this world are following to destruction — instead of remaining true on that narrow and less traveled way that leads to eternal life in heaven above (Matt. 7:13-14).   For our allegiance can be easily switched from God to the evil things of this world, if we are not careful.  “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).

Jesus knew of the pain and suffering He would have to undergo to make an atonement for the sins of the world.  He knew He would be lied about, mocked, physically and severely mistreated, and eventually nailed to a cross where he would writhe in anguish and intense pain.  However, none of that evil inflicted on Him was caused by God — but it was used by God.  For Jesus knew that He had to die for the sins of the world; and, therefore, remained silent before His accusers, as seen in Isaiah’s prophesy of the Christ:

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth” (Isa. 53:7).

Jesus did not try to defend Himself in word or action to avoid the cross — nor did He want His apostles to prevent or rescue Him from that agony to come, nor the twelve legions of angels to do so (Matt. 16:21-23; Matt. 26:52-54; John 18:10-11, 36).  So while going through the mock trials and the terrible scourging, He was intent on going to the cross in order to make a way of salvation possible for every lost soul by His atoning death  — even for the very ones who hated and persecuted Him (Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2). Jesus could see that every evil treatment inflicted upon Him was now leading up to that. So He willingly submitted (John 10:14-15, 17-18) and did the most needful thing for this world that no one else would ever have been able to do.  For “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  Jesus’ atonement was for every sinner that has ever lived or ever shall live. 

And from that worst evil that the world could ever show in wickedly and unjustifiably putting to death God’s Perfect Son Jesus, God also providentially used that to show to the world His far surpassing love in the greatest way possible:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son…” (John 3:16).  “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [atonement] for our sins” (1 John 4:10).  “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7-8).

Joseph realized, too, that even the evil that befell him was being used by God in His divine providence.  For when revealing himself to his brothers many years after their betrayal of him, he assured them by saying: “Now do not be grieved or angry with yourselves, because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life” (Gen. 45:5). “Now, therefore, it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh and lord of all his household and ruler over all the land of Egypt” (v. 8).  Joseph also later said to them, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:20-21).

The story of Joseph very much reminds us of how Jesus was treated.  For it was much evil that led to His crucifixion.  As noted earlier, it was envy (Mark 15:10); an intense desire for His death (Mark 15:12-14); and a perversion of justice in crying out for the release of the murderer and insurrectionist, Barabbas, while demanding that Jesus, the innocent One, be crucified (Mark 15:6-15).  Peter states that the Lord was “nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put to death.”  Yet that same verse also shows that Jesus was “delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Again, God did not directly cause it; but He could still use these terrible doings in bringing about His will through divine providence.  For God sent His Son into our world “when the fullness of the time came” (Gal. 4:4), which means “the destined or appointed time”; and “at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:5).  These events took place when God wanted them to.

What terrible things were inflicted upon Joseph — the betrayal of his jealous brothers, their increasing hatred toward him, their murderous hearts toward him, their selling him into slavery for twenty shekels of silver, and his confinement for two years in a dungeon because of a false and malicious charge made against him.  But let us remember and never forget how Joseph dealt with those situations.  He did not become embittered, irrational, throwing fits, hateful, lashing out verbally and physically; but, instead, he maintained his faith in God and devotion to Him.

And we can certainly say the same of Jesus who suffered to an even more intense degree.  Yet, what was one of the last things He prayed while on that cross in extreme agony and being reviled and mocked by some of the onlookers?  He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

What about injustice, ill-treatment, and adversity in our time? How do we react when these things happen to us?  Is it how we should react?  Is it the way God wants us to react?  Are we manifesting a Christ-like spirit?  Or are we showing that we are no longer listening to God (if we ever had before)?   We, who are Christians, need to always maintain a godly composure — even when undergoing difficult trials — to be like Joseph, to be more like Jesus, to always strive to be pleasing to our Father in heaven.

We should also remember that “this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly.  For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience?  But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this find favor with God” (1 Pet. 2:19-20).

And “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).

There are certainly many other Bible examples that could be cited, such as the apostles who after they had been beaten and imprisoned for preaching the gospel, continued to do the same preaching after being released and were “rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).  Or those believers who, when persecuted, were able to “accept joyfully” the seizure of their property because they knew that they had “a better possession and a lasting one” in eternal glory with God in heaven — and of which no man could take from them (Heb. 10:34).

Having our priorities right by putting God first (Matt. 6:33) and focusing on the spiritual above the physical (Col. 3:1-3), and the eternal above the temporary (Col. 4:16-18), will help us in striving to maintain godliness — even when undergoing difficult times.  So may we ever look to the Lord by looking to His word and faithfully submitting to Him by applying His word in our lives — and continue to do so — come what may!  For His word is the word of eternal salvation!

— All Scripture from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise indicated.

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-2-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Pat Joyner has requested prayer for her daughter’s brother-in-law, Jamie Cates, who recently had a double lung transplant and is still in the hospital — and, even after being released, will have to remain near it for the next six months. Pat says that “He is progressing ok, but is still not out of the woods yet.”

A.J. Joyner and his wife Pat are not allowed to go out at this time. He is still having trouble with a sinus infection, arthritis, and a bad knee. And Pat has autoimmune diseases, COPD, scarring of her lungs, and other health issues.

Cheryl Corbitt is feeling better, though she still becomes a little fatigued when trying to do too much.  We are glad and thankful that her test result yesterday for covid-19 came back negative.  Her family is also doing well. The test results for those who had covid-19 at the nursing home, whom Cheryl had asked us to pray for, also came back negative.

Deborah Medlock’s  three-needle biopsy was rescheduled for June 26, due to a surgery that has come up for someone else.  Her follow-up will then be on the 30th, when she will then hear the results.  Even if the growth is benign, Deborah will probably go ahead with chemo or radiation treatments if recommended by her doctor. 

Doyle Rittenhouse had two epidurals last week, but they did not alleviate his pain. Actually, it has been getting worse, which has him not sleeping well.  He will be having a telephone conference with his doctor tomorrow and will probably be having the spacer-surgery for his spine in the next couple weeks.  The stitches were removed from where they cut out the abnormal growth, but the biopsy of that area has not yet come back. 
 
Ginger Ann Montero has been experiencing pain, which seems to be caused by a pinched nerve. She will be seeing her doctor tomorrow. 

Rex Hadley has two ballooned discs that are causing pain to his leg. He had been given an epidural, but it did not give him much relief. 

Frankie Hadley’s health has not improved, and she remains very fragile.

Joyce Rittenhouse is feeling better every day; but her legs are weak and shaky when standing, due to having been bedridden for several days, and which will take about a month to regain her strength.  She says “Hey” to all the members, misses us, and wishes she could be at the services — but her immune system has also been decreased, so her doctor has advised her not to go out.    She is also on a new type of medication that will help her not to form the many stones that she had been having over the last several months, and also a new insulin that won’t lead to some of the other problems she was having with the previous one.  So she is glad for these things.

Joyce’s brother is still waiting for the 6″ Gore-Tex graft to be made, and which will then be installed into his heart’s main artery.  Other procedures will also be performed.  So it will be two surgeries, on two consecutive days, that will each be performed by two surgeons.  In the meanwhile, they are keeping his blood pressure low. 

Ronnie Davis has been having some problems with allergies.

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Elaine Abbott, Ray Daugherty, Rick Cuthbertson,  Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, and Kerry Williams.
——————–

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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (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) Language: From the Tower of Babel to the Day of Pentecost (Randy Blackaby)
2) Endure to the End! (Wayne Goff)
3) Beyond Our Greatest Dream (Tom Edwards)
4) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Language: From the Tower of Babel to the Day of Pentecost

Randy Blackaby

The Bible records that following the Great Flood the descendants of Noah attempted to build a city and a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven” (Gen. 11:1-9). God saw this effort and that it could be achieved. So he confounded the language of the people, forcing them to stop the construction and scatter over the earth.

What is the message and lesson of this historic text? Is it simply to explain how multiple languages developed? Was God genuinely concerned that men would build a tower that would invade the divine habitation?

Let’s look more closely. These men in Shinar (ancient Babylon — Dan. 1:1-2) wanted to build a city and a tower. There seems nothing inherently wrong in that alone. The Bible says they wanted to construct it so its top might reach unto heaven or, as other translations say, “into the heavens.”

God thought that without intervention “nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.” It hardly seems likely that God feared men could build a brick tower all the way to heaven itself.

We must look more closely to see what the real sin at Babel involved. God had told Noah, after the Flood, to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1).

The people at Babel wanted to build a city and a tower, to make a name for themselves, and to prevent being scattered over the earth. Whereas God had given command to replenish the whole earth, these people were attempting to thwart God’s plan and develop a name for themselves at the same time. God had destroyed sinners in the Flood but not sin. The common elements of sin were present at Babel — human pride and rebellion.

So, God caused a division among the people by confounding their language so they couldn’t communicate. He did so because they had a unity of purpose in rebellion and this was propelling them toward the exact same conditions that existed immediately prior to the Flood.

By this means, Noah’s descendants were scattered over the face of the earth, just as God had initially commanded.

The site of the rebellion became known as Babel, which means “confusion.” Notice that Babel is the root of the name Babylon, which became synonymous with opposition to God from the time of the prophet Daniel to John’s writing of the Revelation.

Parallels Today

God has told the saved today to be fruitful, multiply and spread the gospel into the whole world (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). When human pride drives us to build monuments to ourselves instead of to God, we repeat the sin of Babel.

When instead of being spiritually fruitful we try to build our own material security, we repeat the infidelity of Babel.

When we refuse to hear God’s word, he sends us strong delusion — or a confusion like he sent to Babel.

When men get full of human pride, confusion always results. We live today in a world of religious “babble.” Only the spelling has changed.

What can reunite men and end the religious confusion? Simply listening to God and obeying his commands.

God once caused rebellious men to lose their ability to communicate. But after Jesus died on the cross, God did something equally phenomenal. He gave the apostles the power to speak in the languages of all the people assembled on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:5-12). The language barrier was dropped for a brief time so that God’s message of salvation could be heard with utter clarity. The miracles of “speaking in tongues” evidenced God’s presence and power just as the confusion of tongues had done centuries before.

Babel forever represents the confusion and division of humankind; but Zion, the city of God, the church, draws men and women of every language, color, culture, and nationality into a kingdom where there is neither Greek nor Jew, bond or free, but where all are one in Christ Jesus.

— Via Truth Magazine Vol. XLIV: 23  p5  December 7, 2000
——————–

-2-

Endure to the End!

Wayne Goff

One of the necessary qualities of anyone who will be eternally saved is endurance. It is also a quality woefully lacking in many people today. Perhaps in our modern, fast-paced society we do not instill in the hearts of our children the concept of endurance, of sticking it out, of finishing the task at hand. When our children began something at school, especially extra-curricular activities, we only asked them to finish what they started. If they didn’t like something, they still had to finish it out.

In Matthew 10:22, Jesus sends out the Twelve with miraculous power to the Israelites only (“Limited Commission”). He gives them very detailed instructions as to how they were to go into a community, preach and be received. He even tells them that eventually they will be delivered up to governors and kings for His sake. They were not to worry about what they said because the Holy Spirit would tell them what they should say on that occasion. He concludes His remarks to them by saying, “And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.”

On another occasion, Jesus is giving instructions to the apostles again about the coming destruction of Jerusalem which would take place in 70 A.D. He tells all of His disciples to watch for the signs of that coming destruction and to run away from Jerusalem when those signs appeared. The evilness of Israel was described with these words: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved”(Matthew 24:12-13). Jesus expects His followers to be faithful to Him even when the entire country, or society, they live in turns to wickedness!

The apostle Paul commends those who conscientiously serve Jesus “by patient continuance in doing good” (Romans 2:7). And again in Hebrews 3:6 we read, “…whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.”  Will you do it?

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 35, Issue 83, Page 1, February 23, 2020
——————–

-3-

Beyond Our Greatest Dream

Tom Edwards

Right before waking up this morning, I heard in a dream my Aunt Margaret singing so beautifully that it brought tears to my eyes (at least in the dream).  Every note and modulation sounded perfect.  I don’t remember any of the words, but they all made sense while listening; and the melody was something I don’t think I had ever heard before.  It wasn’t rock, pop, or country.  It sounded more like opera.  And though I’m usually not that much into opera, what she sang moved me in a way similar to hearing a great female singer performing Puccini’s “O Mio Babbino Caro.”

Isn’t it amazing what the mind can imagine and do!  And some of what it does is performed automatically — without a conscious effort on our part!  We each have been wonderfully made!

But no matter how greatly we can dream or imagine a most beautiful thing, yet that still falls short of the blissful reality and experience that awaits the child of God in heaven!  For as Paul writes in Ephesians 3:20, God is one “who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” 

This is why I view the forgiveness of sins as being the greatest blessing one can ever have while on earth. For it brings one into a loving relationship with God that will ultimately be fulfilled — and so much more so — in that perfect and timeless realm called heaven, which human words can not even come close to describing!  Oh, how wonderful heaven will be!

— posted on my facebook site May18, 2020

——————–

-4-

News & Notes

Cheryl Corbitt continues to heal.  Her fever has been gone for more than a week, and they called her back into work yesterday.  She will also have to work today, but will then have the next two days off.  She will need that.  She mentioned yesterday that after working again, the fatigue that she thought was gone had come back, due to not being 100% recovered.  But there is also another worker helping out to lighten the load.  Let us also continue to remember in prayer all those at the nursing home whom Cheryl would like us praying for and those in the hospital.

The abnormality that showed up in Deborah Medlock’s mammogram is a nodule 3 cm (1.18 inches).  She will be seeing her surgeon about this Tuesday to see what her next step will be and will either have a needle biopsy then or at another appointed time. 

Rex Hadley has two ballooned discs that are causing pain to his leg. He had been given an epidural, but it did not give him much relief.  He will be having another one on the 17th.

Frankie Hadley’s health has not improved, and she remains very fragile.

Ginger Ann Montero has been experiencing pain, which seems to be caused by a pinched nerve. She has an appointment for this tomorrow and Wednesday.

Joyce Rittenhouse finished her antibiotics Thursday and is feeling 100% better, but still weak.  She is also on a new type of medication that will help her not to form the many stones that she had been having over the last several months.

Doyle Rittenhouse will be having two epidurals Wednesday.  His stitches were removed Tuesday, but the biopsy of that area has not yet come back.

Joyce’s brother saw his doctor Wednesday and heard the results of the CT scan.  They are keeping his blood pressure low as he is awaiting two heart surgeries that will be one day after the other, four or five weeks from now, and with two surgeons doing both.   A 6″ Gore-Tex graft will be made and installed for the heart’s main artery.  And other procedures will also be performed.

Michael Rittenhouse’s test came back good: no scars in the lung, no pneumonia.  He was given a clean bill of health.  The issue he was waiting to hear from his doctor turned out to be nothing to worry about.  It is just four liver cists, each only about 5mm, that are not presenting any problem. 

James Medlock has been making some improvement, being more alert. 

Bud Montero had a follow-up with his doctor Thursday and is doing well and feeling fine, which he thanks the Lord for.  In September, he will then have his PSA checked.

Ronnie Davis has been having some allergy problems.

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Elaine Abbott, Ray Daugherty, Rick Cuthbertson,  Jim Lively, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, and Kerry Williams.
——————–


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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith
, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/

http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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) The Weightier Matters (Doy Moyer)
2) Pillar and Ground of the Truth (David Riggs)
3) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

The Weightier Matters

Doy Moyer

When we think of “doctrinal” issues, we tend to think of matters like marriage and divorce, the work of the church, baptism, etc. We work hard to try to get these right, and there are often sharp disagreements over the nature of these “doctrinal” matters.

“Doctrine” means teaching, and anything we teach is, definitionally, doctrinal. We often elevate the word “doctrinal” to some special status to mean the really important teachings, whereas “non-doctrinal” means those areas that we can disagree about. Then, we arbitrarily assign the various teachings in Scripture to one or the other status. Never mind that we can’t find this kind of use of “doctrinal” or “non-doctrinal” in Scripture.

Yet there is something else we may be missing. Do we realize that issues like loving neighbor as self, treating each other as we want to be treated, forgiving others, seeking peace, doing justice, and showing mercy are also doctrinal matters? In fact, so great are these teachings in Scripture that our own salvation depends on our actions relative to these issues. If I don’t love my neighbor, I am in violation of the most significant teaching that relates to how I think about other people. It is second only to loving God (Matt 22:36-40). If I don’t treat others as I want to be treated, I am guilty of injustice, failing in the most basic task of seeing others as made in God’s image (Jas 3:9). If I don’t show mercy, I won’t be shown mercy (Jas 2:13). If I don’t forgive, I won’t be forgiven (Mark 11:25). If I am not seeking peace, I am not standing for Christ and His kingdom (cf. Rom 14:17).

Can it get any more important than that? We need to know that being wrong about these doctrinal matters most certainly puts our souls at eternal risk. We often stress the works of the flesh that will keep us from inheriting the kingdom of God (Gal 5:19-21), yet failing to love, forgive, and show mercy will have the same effect. If we are not bearing the fruit of the Spirit (i.e., love, joy, peace, etc.), then the Spirit of God is not in us. We are lost.

I’m not saying that other doctrinal matters aren’t important — if Scripture teaches it, who are we to downplay it? Yet let’s not forget that love and mercy are at the heart of what it means to be servants of Christ and others. These are, indeed, the weightier matters, and the last thing we want is to find ourselves to be the hypocrites of Matthew 23:23: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!”

Christians, we need to shine right now. The world is in desperate need of the light of Christ. Love one another. Love your neighbors. Treat others as you want to be treated. Be merciful. Be forgiving. Do justice. Seek peace. Pray hard. May God forbid that we neglect these doctrines through mistreating others.

— Via Doy Moyer’s Facebook site, June 6, 2020

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Pillar and Ground of Truth

David Riggs

Catholics sometimes quote I Timothy 3:15 which states, “…The church of the living God, the pillar and mainstay of the truth” to prove that the church is invested with authority to legislate in divine matters (See Father Smith Instructs Jackson, p. 35; The Question Box, p. 96).

The phrase “pillar and ground of the truth” does not mean that the church is the originator of truth or that it can make or change the laws of God. It simply means that it is the upholder, defender and proclaimer of the truth. The apostles often praised churches for proclaiming the truth, “for from you the word of the Lord has been spread abroad” (I Thess. 1:8). They commended them for defending the truth, “partakers with me . . . in the defense and confirmation of the gospel” (Phil. 1:7). However, there is not a single verse in all of the Holy Scriptures which indicates that the church has the authority to originate truth or to decree laws for God.

The apostles and prophets (and they alone) were commissioned by the Lord, not to originate truth but to reveal the truth. “For ever, 0 Lord, thy word is firmly fixed in the heavens” (Psalm 119:89 Catholic Edition RSV). Their task was once and for all completed for they gave us the written New Testament of Christ.

The responsibility of the church today is simply to follow, defend and proclaim the truth which they revealed. The Catechism for Adults, page 54 says, “The Catholic Church alone has the authority to rule and to teach.” However, the authority is not in the body, but in the Head (Eph 1:22,23; Col. 1:18). The ruling is not in the kingdom, but in the King (Heb. 7:1 2; Rev. 1:5 6). The authority is not in the church, but in Christ (Matt. 28: 18; 1 Pet. 3:22). The church is not the Savior, but simply the body of the saved (Acts 2:47; Eph. 5:22-24).

— Via The Beacon, April 26, 2020 

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-3-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Cheryl Corbitt
was tested last Wednesday for the coronavirus and found out Friday that the test result was positive.  She is experiencing the symptoms of being fatigued, running a low-grade fever, and having lost the sense of smell and taste.  She is also without much appetite, but tries to eat a little each day. She also requests prayer for all those at the nursing home.

Joyce Rittenhouse returned home from the hospital Thursday, but still experiencing weakness, nausea and vertigo, which she is on medication for.  On a good note, she is no longer septic, has no blockages, had no stroke, and her white blood cell count of 14,000 when she was admitted to the hospital was down to 7,000 when she left.  She will have a follow-up this Tuesday.

Joyce’s brother will be having a follow-up from his CT-scan June 12 and then have his heart surgery the following week.

Doyle Rittenhouse will be having a follow-up this Tuesday to determine if the area where a recent abnormal growth was removed will require an additional procedure or not.  On June 17, he will also receive an epidural for his constant back pain.

Michael Rittenhouse will be seeing his doctor June 9 to find out more about his present health.  He is not feeling up to par, but has returned to work.

Bud Montero will be having a follow-up on June 11 for the procedure he had a few weeks ago.

Congratulations to Jonathan and Anita Abbott! Their daughter Emily Cox gave birth to a healthy baby last Tuesday!  The delivery went very well for the mother and baby Sadie.

Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: the family and friends of Andy Berendt, Elaine Abbott, Ray Daugherty, Rick Cuthbertson, James Medlock, Rex & Frankie Hadley, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, John Bladen, the Medlock family, and Kerry Williams.
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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 (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, 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
http://thomastedwards.com/go (older version of the Gospel Observer website, but with bulletins going back to March 4, 1990)

http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/

http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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