Category: Uncategorized (Page 2 of 32)

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) Understanding Apocalyptic Literature (Mark Mayberry)
2) Is Ezekiel 28:14 Referring to Satan? (Kyle Pope)
3) Bible “Math” (Part 4: More “Division”) (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
4) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Understanding Apocalyptic Literature

Mark Mayberry

The Book of Revelation is one of the most neglected and one of the most abused books in Holy Scripture. Many consider it baffling, and lay it aside, unread and unappreciated. Others, spellbound by its symbolic nature, twist and pervert its message to fit their preconceptions. Neither approach is acceptable. Christians believe that all inspired Scripture is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2 Tim. 3:16-17). To comprehend the Patmos message, we must recognize its distinctive characteristics.

The Book of Revelation is written in an apocalyptic style. Like poetry, fictional novels, or historic narratives, apocalyptic literature has its own distinct forms. Several examples are found in the Old Testament: Ezekiel (chapters 37-41), Daniel (chapters 7-12), and Zechariah (chapters 9-12). The New Testament makes limited use of this technique. John’s Revelation is apocalyptic, along with those sections in the synoptic gospels that describe the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).

Various extra-Biblical writings also employed this style: The Secrets of Enoch, the Assumption of Moses, Baruch, Fourth Ezra, etc. Although the Book of Revelation is similar to these noncanonical books, it is distinctive in several respects. The Revelation of John is divinely inspired; these other documents are the product of human wisdom. The Apocalypse identifies its author, while many apocryphal books are pseudonymous. There are also differences in content, form, and message. Moreover, John’s message harmonizes with the rest of divine revelation, while the aforementioned apocryphal books often contradict Holy Scripture.

Apocalyptic literature reflects an hour of desperate need. Trials, suffering, sorrow, and near-despair furnish the soil in which this style flourished. Daniel and Ezekiel wrote during the Babylonian exile, providing comfort and strength to God’s people. Many non-canonical apocalyptic books were written between 200 B.C. and A.D. 100 when the Jewish nation was struggling for its very life. Early in this period, Antiochus Epiphanes attempted to obliterate the customs and religion of the Hebrews. Later threats also arose. In like manner, Revelation was written in a time of persecution. First Century Christians suffered under an autocratic, contemptuous, and corrupt political system. John sought to encourage believers to remain faithful. Looking beyond the perilous present, Revelation portrays God’s ultimate triumph over sin and Satan.

Apocalyptic literature was relevant to the historical situation of the day; its imagery reflecting the realities of a specific time. This is not to say that it has no meaning for succeeding generations, including our own. In writing to Christians at Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus, Paul dealt with particular problems and concerns. Nevertheless, New Testament epistles continue to instruct and exhort successive generations. So also with the Book of Revelation. It was written to First Century Christians who were suffering persecution. Yet, its message remains relevant today.

Through signs and symbols, the Apocalypse of John presents a message of hope, illustrating the maxim that man’s adversity is God’s opportunity. The Omnipotent-Omnipresent-Omniscient One is still in control. We may not know what the future holds, but we know Him who holds the future. No matter the obstacles or opposition, despite the fury of the evil one or the flames of persecution, God’s plan, purpose, and people will finally triumph. Victory is assured, if we remain faithful to the end.

Like all apocalyptic literature, the Book of Revelation is symbolic, setting forth its message through signs, symbols, and visions. John wrote in dangerous times when it was safer to hide one’s message in images than to speak plainly. Drawing heavily upon symbols found in the Old Testament, his writing could be clearly understood by those who were familiar with the Sacred Writings, but it was opaque and incomprehensible to outsiders. Nonetheless, the primary purpose of such symbolism was not to confound and confuse, but rather to enlighten and inform, to stabilize and strengthen, to exhort and encourage. Early Christians had no difficulty understanding the Patmos visions because they were familiar with this style of writing. We can also understand John’s message if we interpret it as those First Century disciples would have.

A unique characteristic of Revelation is its symbolic use of numbers. Apart from numeric sequences, one symbolizes singularity, two symbolizes strength, three symbolizes the godhead, four symbolizes the earth with its four corners, six symbolizes brokenness, i.e., that which falls short of perfection. Seven and ten symbolize completeness, fullness, and perfection. Twelve carries religious connotations, such as the twelve tribes of Israel, or the twelve apostles of Christ. Combinations of these numbers, such as 24, 1,000, or 144,000, expand upon these ideas.

Visual imagery dominates apocalyptic literature. In the book of Daniel, successive world empires of Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome are depicted as a great image of diverse metals; later they are characterized as savage beasts: a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a nameless and dreadful horned beast that devoured, crushed and trampled down all that had gone before. In the Book of Revelation, evil forces are portrayed as fearful and foreboding beasts, arising from the sea and the land. Satan himself appears as a great red dragon. These symbols appeal to the senses as well as to reason – creating impressions, stirring emotions, and not merely communicating propositions. As a divine unveiling, it commands, “Come and See,” as well as “Hear and Understand.”

John’s Apocalypse depicts an epic struggle between good and evil, revealing the power and majesty of Christ, setting forth the foreknowledge and sovereignty of God, foreshadowing the downfall of those forces arrayed against God’s people, and foretelling the defeat of Satan. The Book of Revelation is a message of victory and triumph. Although the present distress may seem great, the Almighty is upon His throne. No persecuting power can frustrate the righteous purpose of God.

Revelation pictures the conflict between two warring powers: God and Satan. However, it would be a mistake to consider these two as equal in might. God is infinitely stronger than Satan. The great deceiver continues his scheming plots only because God permits him to do so. In the end, Satan and his followers will be utterly destroyed by fire from heaven. His doom is portrayed as a “fait accompli” (Rev. 20:7-10). Forces of good will ultimately triumph over the forces of evil.

The central figure in this story is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is variously depicted in the book: John’s first vision is of Christ standing in the midst of His churches with eyes like fire, feet like fine brass, hair like wool, white as snow, and with a sharp two-edged sword coming out of His mouth. Later He appears as a lion, representing regal and royal power (Rev. 5:5). When pictured as a root, He represents Davidic lineage (Rev. 5:5; 22:16). As the rider on a white horse, He symbolizes victory over evil (Rev. 19:11). Most important is the symbol of Christ as the Lamb who was slain (Rev. 5:6). Redemption and salvation are made possible by His sacrifice on the cross (Rev. 1:5). Because of His humble obedience to the will of the Father, He alone is worthy to open the sealed book that discloses events to come (Rev. 5:6-10).

In its own way, each metaphor tells an important truth about Christ. He is before all things; all things were created in Him, and for Him (Col. 1:16-18). This is the abiding message of Revelation: Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of our hope, no matter how grim circumstances may appear. Christ, the Lamb and Lion, will triumph over Satan. His victory is certain. The only uncertainty is, “What will disciples do?” Will they/we cower in fear? Will they/we compromise their/our faith? Will they/we courageously stand for the truth, even in the face of death? “If anyone has an ear, let him hear!”

— Via Truth Magazine, October 2011, Volume LV – Number 10, Pages 26-27
——————–

-2-

Is Ezekiel 28:14 Referring to Satan?

Kyle Pope

Ezekiel chapter twenty-eight begins with the prophet being instructed to speak to the “prince of Tyre” (vs 2). In the middle of the chapter the prophet is told to “take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre” (vs. 12). What follows, in this lamentation is wording that has led some commentators to conclude that this is speaking of Satan. The lamentation says to the king of Tyre, “you were in Eden, the garden of God” (vs. 13), “you were the anointed cherub” (vs. 14) and “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you” (vs. 15). In my judgement there is nothing in the text that indicates that this is referring to Satan, but rather it is using references to Eden and heaven to illustrate the change in the relationship which Tyre enjoyed with the Israelites and God, as a result of the sins of the current king of Tyre.

Centuries before the time of Ezekiel, the Davidic monarchy had established a special relationship with the kingdom of Tyre and its head, Hiram. When David took the throne, Hiram sent cedars to David, from which his palace was built (2 Samuel 5:11;1 Chronicles 14:1). There was a friendship and affection which these two kings shared for one another. After David’s death, Scripture says that “Hiram had always loved David” (1 Kings 5:1). Upon learning of Solomon’s rise to the throne, Hiram declares to Solomon:

“…Because the LORD loves His people, He has made you king over them” Hiram also said: “Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, who made heaven and earth, for He has given King David a wise son, endowed with prudence and understanding, who will build a temple for the LORD and a royal house for himself!” (2 Chronicles 2:11, 12, NKJV).

Hiram is very instrumental in the construction of the temple, to which he refers. Solomon made a treaty with Hiram (1 Kings 5:12), Hiram supplied Solomon with many of the supplies necessary for the building of the temple (1 Kings 5:8-10) as well as a master craftsman named Huram (or Hiram) who was half Israelite (2 Chronicles 2:13-16) who made many of the articles in the temple. Solomon gave Hiram wheat, pressed oil (1 Kings 5:11) and twenty cities in Galilee (1 Kings 9:11). Even after the building of the temple, ships from Hiram brought gold, silver, and ivory to Solomon every three years (2 Chronicles 9:21). This bond of friendship and cooperation was remembered long after Solomon. In the time of Amos, when Tyre had not given assistance to Israel in conflict with Edom, Tyre is rebuked because it “did not remember the covenant of brotherhood” (Amos 1:9).

As time went on, Tyre further betrayed this “covenant of brotherhood.” The Lord through Joel, rebuked Tyre for carrying off gold from the Israelites and selling some of them into slavery to the Greeks (Joel 3:4-6). By the time of Ezekiel, this covenant had been even further betrayed. Ezekiel was a priest who had been carried off with some of the early captives taken with Jehoiachin, king of Judah (Ezekiel 1:1-3). While Babylon exercised control over Judah, God had instructed the people through Jeremiah not to resist Babylon, but to submit to their yoke (Jeremiah 27-29). God gave a similar instruction to the king of Tyre (Jeremiah 27:3) a man history records was named Ithobal or Ethbaal III (Josephus’ Against Apion, I.21). Unfortunately, Zedekiah, the king who reigned in place of Jehoiachin, did not follow this instruction, leading Nebuchadnezzar to besiege Jerusalem and eventually destroy the temple and kill him (2 Kings 25). During this time Ithobal, the king of Tyre, looked on the fall of Jerusalem with joy, saying of Jerusalem, “Aha! She is broken who was the gateway of the peoples; now she is turned over to me; I shall be filled; she is laid waste” (Ezekiel 26:2). In response to this arrogance, and failure to heed the Lord’s instructions regarding Babylon, the Lord begins a three chapter rebuke of Tyre in Ezekiel 26-28, declaring, “Behold, I will bring against Tyre from the north Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, with horses, with chariots, and with horsemen, and an army with many people” (Ezekiel 26:7). Josephus records that Nebuchadnezzar besieged Tyre for 13 years, after which its rule was reduced from a monarchy to simply judges (Against Apion, I.21).

Some conclude that chapter twenty-eight refers to Satan because of its similarity to Isaiah’s proverb against the king of Babylon which refers to “Lucifer” (Isaiah 14). This text, like Ezekiel, starts off talking about the king of Babylon and then speaks of “Lucifer” (a name meaning “Day Star”) lifting himself up only to be brought down (Isaiah 14:12,13). While modern man associates the name Lucifer with Satan no such association is ever made in the Bible. It is not until the Middle Ages that commentators begin to interpret Isaiah as a reference to Satan, applying the name Lucifer to him, rather than to the king of Babylon.

Ezekiel 28 is a similar text. Many of the references refer directly to the kinship between Israel and Tyre, particularly as it relates to the temple. Tyre was “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (28:12) as the supplier and craftsman that fashioned the temple. The precious stones (28:13) were those found on the priests’ breastplate (Exodus 39:10-13), an image which Ezekiel, as a priest would clearly associate with the temple. Tyre was the “anointed* cherub that covers” (28:14a) in the sense that Huram, the craftsman which king Hiram sent appears to have constructed the large extended cherubim that covered the ark in the center of the temple (2 Chronicles 2-4). She was “upon the holy mountain” (28:14b) as a neighboring ally assisting Israel in the construction of the very house of God. Yet, because so much had changed from the time of Hiram to the time of Ithobal, God declares “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you” (Ezekiel 28:17). The “covenant of brotherhood” was gone. These are sad words, to the king of Tyre —but they refer to the king of Tyre and not to Satan.
____________________
* Gesenius translates this “extended cherub.”

— Via Faithful Sayings, November 8, 2009, Issue 11.45
——————–

-3-

Bible “Math” (Part 4: More “Division”)

Tom Edwards

To hear and see this video sermon that was preached February 21, 2021, just click on the following link:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Bible_Math_4.mp4

——————–

-4-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Rick Cuthbertson
recent scan showed that part of his cancer has increased, but also that another part has decreased.  So the plan is to continue with these new treatments.  But they will first wait to see how things go after his second covid-19 vaccine that he will receive this Wednesday.

Ginger Ann Montero has been having some shortness of breath, which she will be seeing a doctor for.

Sawyer James Sweat, who was born prematurely and spent a few weeks in the hospital, is now home for the first time and doing well.

It was good to have Bennie & Deborah Medlock back with us, after their having recovered from covid-19 and completing their quarantine!

We are also glad that Jan Bartlett’s recent follow-up continues to show that all is well.

I was also given for the “News & Notes” a prayer request for our nation and our leaders.

And also for continual prayer: the family and friends of Frankie Olivia Hadley who recently passed away, the staff and residents at the Baptist Village Nursing Home,  Nell Teague, Malachi Dowling, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Donald & Michelle Sears, Jim Lively, Rex Hadley, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation.

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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Job: A Great Man of Faith (Robby Davis)
2) Right Attitudes for Faithfulness (Warren Berkley)
3) Strength in Unity (Tom Edwards)
4) Ezekiel 37 (The Vision of the Dry Bones, The Sticks of Judah and Joseph, and God’s Servant “David” to Be King) (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
5) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Job: A Great Man of Faith

Robby Davis

The Bible gives some good examples of great people of faith. One of which is the story of Job. The story of Job is the story of faith, endurance, and patience winning out against amazing odds.

Job’s life proves that godliness is no defense against adversity. Although Job lived in a way that was pleasing to God, the Lord allowed Satan to test him. The most important aspect in Job’s life was his faith in God. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Job had this faith and feared God (Job 1:1). The Bible tells us that he was “blameless” (“perfect,” KJV), “upright,” “fearing God,” and “turning away from evil.” In addition, Job had great prosperity. His sheep provided clothing and food; camels and donkeys provided transportation; and oxen provided food, milk, and the power for plowing. He even owned slaves (1:15-17; 31:13). It is interesting and very rare to see wealth and godliness in the same man. These two characteristics of Job’s life demonstrate how great a man he was.

Job was also concerned with the spiritual condition of the next generation (1:4-5). His godly character manifested itself in his concern for the spiritual welfare of his children. He offered burnt sacrifices to the Lord to atone for the sins, whether ignorantly or presumptuously committed, by his children.

All of the wonderful things that Job did adds to the irony of the things that the Lord allowed to happen to him. Despite all the good things Job did, he had calamities as well.

Job was subjected to three tests. The first was to accept, without sinning, the loss of his possessions and offspring (1:6-22). The second was to endure the destruction of his health without blaming anything on God (2:1-10). The third was to endure false accusation. This is an example of God allowing one of his servants to be persecuted to prove the individual’s fidelity. In each test, the author displays two scenes, one in heaven and one on earth. In heaven, Satan is making a false accusation against Job; on earth, Satan is making a terrible assault against Job.

Job’s first test came when God allowed Satan to destroy all of his possessions. Satan reasoned that the only reason why Job worshiped God was to receive God’s material blessings. He thought that if he took every material blessing away Job would renounce God. God allowed Satan to do this, but Job remained faithful (1:22). Four messengers reported to Job what had happened. The first messenger said that a tribe called the Sabeans had executed his servants and carried away his animals (1:13-15). The second said that the fire of God fell from the sky and had consumed the sheep and more servants (v. 16). The third said that three raiding parties of the Chaldeans carried away his camels and executed more servants (v. 17). The fourth said his family had been killed because a strong wind caused the house to collapse on them (v. 19).

Most men would respond to this situation by blaming these evils on God’s inaction. But, Job showed humility in the sight of God. He tore his robe, shaved his head, fell down, and worshiped God (v. 20). After all of the tragedies that had befallen Job, he never sinned before God.

Job’s second test came when his flesh was tormented by Satan. Satan now figured that Job’s faithfulness remained because he had not afflicted his physical body. God allowed Satan to touch his flesh, but not to kill his body (2:6). Satan struck Job with boils from the “sole of his feet to the top of his head” (2:7). No one believed that he would ever recover so Job’s wife lost all hope for Job and insisted that he curse God and die (2:9). But, Job refused to speak against the Lord and declared his wife a foolish woman.

The third test Job endured was the torment of his three “friends” (Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite) who accused Job of being a willful sinner. At first they went to Job and comforted him, but when they saw him, they could hardly recognize him.

They began to weep aloud, tore their robes, and sat with Job for seven days in complete silence (2:13). Then Job cursed the day of his birth and wished he had never been born. His three friends, although well-meaning, tormented Job instead of helping him by demanding that he confess the sins that brought these terrible curses upon him.

Job has now reached the depth of human suffering. He has been robbed of his possessions, his family, and his health. His wife wishes him dead. He is charged of heinous evil by his closest friends. His dignity is gone. His strength is poured out like water, his heart melted like wax. His feeble body sits in ashes wondering why. He has no explanation for the fate that has befallen him. God has spoken nothing.

As Job’s three friends debated Job’s proper course of action, Jehovah manifested himself. In chapter 38 the Lord speaks from a whirlwind. The Lord asked various questions that demonstrated his knowledge and great power. Job replied in chapter 42 that he recognized God as the true God. He despised himself and repented (42:6). The Lord spoke to Eliphaz in anger for him and his two friends because they spoke falsehood about God. He commanded a sacrifice be made of seven bulls and seven rams for themselves (42:7-8). Job prayed for these three friends and the Lord accepted his prayer. After this, Job’s possessions were given back to him twofold. He had 14,000 sheep, 6, 000 camels, 1000 oxen, 1000 donkeys, seven sons, and three daughters (42:12-13).

Job’s life is an example for Christians everywhere. There are many lessons that Christians can learn from the story of Job. Here are a few:

1. Serving God is a lifelong job (1:1-5). Christians need to sacrifice and pray every single day of their lives in order to go on to perfection. We can also help others by praying for them like Job did. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (Jas. 5:16).

2. The righteous are not exempt from suffering. Just because someone is poor or ill does not mean that he is a sinner. We must not confuse wealth with approval from God or illness with sin. See Matthew 9:21-22 and John 9:2-3.

3. Suffering can come “overnight” (1:13-19). No one knows what will be on the morrow. Christians need to be ready for trials. James 4:14 says, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”

4. Suffering can be devastating (2:1-8). Be humble in the sight of the Lord and in regard to your ability to endure.

5. Friends and family cannot be relied upon in the end (2:9-13). The importance of individual faith needs to be emphasized in the lives of Christians everywhere. Each individual is accountable for his own life. Well-meaning friends and family may give bad advice, but obedience to the Lord’s commandments will ultimately always be right.

— Via Guardian of Truth XLI: 7 pp. 10-11, April 3, 1997
——————–

-2-

Right Attitudes for Faithfulness

Warren Berkley

It is clear to every Bible student: you cannot be faithful to the Lord if your attitude is not in keeping with the teachings of Christ (Phil. 2:5; Col. 3:17). Attitude has to do with the content of your mind, your disposition and the control you exercise over your emotions.

The simple truth is, the New Testament is loaded with teaching, examples, prohibitions and warnings about attitude. This spiritually healthy instruction should be the basis of our  discipline over our mind. Your attitude toward God is basic. All other phases of attitude are rooted in your attitude toward God. We must hold Him in the highest esteem, revere Him, worship Him and obey Him with wholehearted love and trust (Eccl. 5:1,2; Matt. 22:37; Rom. 12:1,2; Prov. 1:7).

Once your attitude toward God begins to weaken, all other phases of attitude will likely deteriorate. Let us be aware of this and constantly monitor our attitude toward God, seeking to enrich our relationship with Him. Your attitude toward Christ is a component of your attitude toward God. If God is your father, you will love His Son (Jno. 8:42). If you love God and want to obey Him, you will have a favorable and grateful acceptance of His Son, Jesus Christ. You will regard Him as the perfect expression of deity and humanity, the spotless Son of God who died in order for you to be free from sin and enjoy eternal life. Likewise, you will read and study about His attitude with the highest esteem, seeking to imitate Him in all your behavior.

Your attitude toward others develops out of your reverence for Deity. If you believe in God and follow His Son, your behavior toward others will be based on that. You will seek to do all God has said about how to treat people. You will study and follow the compassion of Christ, as well as His boldness in seeking to save the lost. His relationship to others becomes your pattern (see 1 Pet. 2:18-25).

Your attitude toward other members of God’s family will be suitable, in keeping with all that is written about such relationships. Peter teaches God’s people to “love one another fervently with a pure heart” (1 Pet. 1:22), and John taught extensively that “we should love one another” (1 John 3:11). “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

Our attitude must endeavor to follow the pattern of unselfish humility demonstrated by our Lord (Phil. 2:1-5). Your attitude toward sin will be fitting. To remain right with God, it is necessary to maintain an abhorrence of sin (Rom. 12:9). If you court the favor of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God (Jas. 4:4). It is essential to arm yourself with “the same mind” or attitude Jesus had against sin and error (1 Pet. 4:10).

Your attitude toward life should be realistic and godly, not bitter and angry. If you murmur and complain about your life, and this becomes your habitual attitude — you cannot be what you should be! And when you get to this low state, you need to stop and recognize that the devil has seduced and maneuvered you into this state of constant anger and resentment. While you remain in this mood you cannot develop the love described in 1 Cor. 13:4-7, and you cannot grow and taste the kindness of the Lord (1 Pet. 2:1-3).

In the “beatitudes” (Matt. 5:3-12), the Lord addresses every phase or direction of attitude: Your attitude toward God (poor in spirit & hungering and thirsting after righteousness), your attitude toward yourself (meek), your attitude toward others  (merciful), your attitude toward those who oppose you (vss. 10-13), and your attitude toward sin (mourn and purity in heart). Growth and faithfulness depends upon the constant development of these qualities.

— Via The Beacon, January 5, 2020
——————–

-3-

Strength In Unity

by Tom Edwards

I grew up in the Clearwater-Florida area where we had quite a few hurricane-related storms. I can still remember one such night in my youth when my friend Bill and I went out during a particular tempest in order to investigate the damages and disarray it was causing. It was a most exhilarating night to say the least.

The sky was dark and threatening, and many tree limbs had been snapped in two by the strong gales that ripped them apart relentlessly and scattered them about with the rest of the debris that was cluttering the streets and yards. Violently, the wind howled; and many a tree was tested of its pliability. The palm trees were swaying frantically; and huge pine trees appeared as if they were trying to run from the oncoming danger, but could only move their upper portions because their “legs” had frozen from the panic.

We had circled on foot a wide area during this riveting observation; and as we began to head back, we came near a rather large condominium — the Mease Manor. From an aerial view, its backside shape would appear somewhere between a “V” and a flat line: perhaps close to the same degree of a typical boomerang.

Little did I realize, as we walked past the front side of this building, that the back of it was serving as a huge scoop that caught the mighty winds and redirected them in a strongly concentrated turbulent path that we were soon to walk into unaware.

The unexpected encounter of this intense wind made it necessary for me to grab on to a nearby pole in order to stabilize myself. The wind’s velocity felt to be at its strongest point at this area, but perhaps that was because it had become such a concentrated force.

In retrospect, one lesson I can derive from this absorbing experience is the importance and power in a concerted effort. Just like the mighty winds which were made stronger through a concentrated force, unity can serve to increase the strength of God’s people today — and that’s not just a lot of wind!

The old wise man once gave his boys a bundle of sticks in order to illustrate a valuable lesson. Having given this bundle to the first son, the father asked him to break it. This he tried with all his might, but to no avail. The bundle was passed on, and each son strenuously attempted to accomplish his father’s request, but none of them could do so. Finally, the father took the bundle, untied the cord that had bound the sticks together, and began breaking each one individually.  What was the lesson he was trying to instill within his sons? That there is STRENGTH IN UNITY. If his sons would learn to always remain united and not become divided — to be there for each other, to provide moral support when any of them grows weak — their own strength would be greatly increased.

Solomon writes: “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor, for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up….  And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecc.  4:9,10,12).

Yes, there is strength in unity; but let us be sure we are becoming united with the right cause. What more noble and needed pursuit could there be today than for the people of the world to become united in the peace and love which God’s word has to offer? To be united in the faith and to be of one mind when it comes to the Scriptures is certainly the desire and the prayer of Jesus Christ for each of us.  Unity in spiritual matters is not only possible, but also commanded (Phil. 2:2; John 17:20-23; 1 Cor. 1:10-13). May we ever strive to increase our strength by this means.

— Via The Gospel Observer, October 28, 1990
——————–

-4-

Ezekiel 37

Tom Edwards

This video sermon, which was preached February 14, 2021, deals with The Vision of the Dry Bones, The Sticks of Judah and Joseph, and God’s Servant “David” to Rule as King, as seen in Ezekiel 37. To hear and see, just click on the following link while on the Internet:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Ezekiel_37.mp4

——————–

-5-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Rick Cuthbertson
will be having a scan tomorrow to determine whether the last two series of new cancer treatments have been effectual or not.

Nell Teague’s cancer is now in her throat, which she is receiving chemo for. 

Sawyer James Sweat, who was born prematurely a few weeks ago, is still in the hospital.  Though they thought he would be able to be released Monday, a setback has extended that for another 5 days.

Carole Drain
had been under the weather with a stomach bug and redness of throat since Thursday, but is now feeling and doing better.  She was able to have her second covid-19 vaccine Wednesday.

Heather and Cami Kellum are now over their covid-19.

Malachi Dowling is making some major progress since his recent accident.

Those with covid-19: Emma Thomas, Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora), and Darlene Tanner.

And also for continual prayer: the family and friends of Frankie Olivia Hadley who recently passed away, the staff and residents at the Baptist Village Nursing Home, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Donald & Michelle Sears, Jim Lively, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Rex Hadley, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith
by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Heirs (Cecil Willis)
2) Why Do You Associate with Sinners? (Frank Himmel)
3) “Training” the Tongue (Wayne Goff)
4) Bible “Math” (Part 3: “Division”) (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
5) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Heirs of God

Cecil Willis

The privileges and blessings of the Christian are very great. But one of our greatest privileges is that of being “heirs of God” (Rom. 8:16). The value of heirship is determined by the value of the inheritance. The inheritance of faithful Christians is one that is “incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away” (1 Pet. 1:3-5).

In order for one to have a valid claim on an inheritance, he must be able to establish the grounds of his inheritance. The Christian’s claims to an inheritance are indisputable. He is a son or a daughter of God. God said, “I will receive you, and will be to you a Father, and ye shall be to me sons and daughters” (2 Cor. 6:17-18). But Paul said that if we are children of God, “then (we are) heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16). Our sonship establishes the very highest kind of claim to the inheritance.

HEIRS OF THE PROMISE. The Bible speaks of several different things of which the Christian is the heir. There was a blessing connected with the “promise” that God made to Abraham. God told Abraham, “In thee shall all the nations be blessed” (Gal. 3:8). This statement to Abraham is called “the promise” in the New Testament. Our inheritance is through the “promise,” and not through the Law of Moses (Gal. 3:18). Thus Paul said, “And if ye are Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise” (Gal. 3:29). The Hebrew writer declares that God was “minded to show more abundantly unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel” (Heb. 6:17). Thus every blessing that God referred to as coming through that descendant of Abraham (Christ – Gal. 3:16), the Christian is heir to.

HEIRS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
The Bible speaks of the righteousness that is of God. “…the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God” (Jas. 1:20). The “righteousness of God” does not here refer to God’s personal righteousness, but to God’s plan by which man can be righteous in his sight. Man can never stand righteous in God’s presence on his own merits alone. Paul says our salvation is not predicated on “our works done in righteousness, which we did ourselves,” but on his “mercy” (Titus 3:5). When man is ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeks to establish his own righteousness in God’s sight, the result is he does not subject himself “to the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3). In order to be saved one must work righteousness. “. . . in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him” (Acts 10:35). The righteousness of God can only be found in the gospel. In speaking of the gospel, Paul declared, “For therein is revealed a righteousness of God” (Rom. 1:17). Thus when one is an “heir of righteousness,” he is heir to that purity and uprightness in God’s sight which is revealed in the gospel.

HEIR OF SALVATION. To be an heir through the promise or to inherit the righteousness which is through the gospel is to be an heir of salvation. The Hebrew writer said that angels are “ministering spirits, sent forth to do service for the sake of them that shall inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). What one receives through the promise, or the righteousness revealed through the gospel, is personal salvation. Man is not intrinsically righteous. He is a sinner. Thus he must be saved from his sin, by the promise, and through the gospel.

HEIRS OF THE KINGDOM. The term “kingdom” is used in at least two senses in the New Testament. Frequently it refers to that “kingdom” into which we were translated when we were delivered out of darkness (Col. 1:13). It therefore sometimes refers to the church, over which Christ rules as King. But on other occasions the word “kingdom” refers to that eternal kingdom. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). On the judgment day, to some He will say, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). It is in reference to this eternal kingdom that James said, “Did not God choose them that are poor as to the world to be rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he promised to them that love him?” (Jas. 2:5).

We must all be careful as to how we conduct ourselves. We must seek to please him whose heir we are. Of his heirs in the Old Testament, God said when they digressed: “I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them . . .” (Num. 14:12). Let us therefore beware lest we lose our inheritance through the same kind of disobedience.

— Via Truth Magazine,  XV: 26, pp. 3-4, May 6, 1971
——————–

-2-

Why Do You Associate with Sinners?

Frank Himmel

One of the early disciples Jesus called to follow Him was Levi, also known as Matthew. Levi was a tax collector. Levi gave a reception for Jesus and a great crowd of tax collectors attended. The Pharisees and scribes grumbled and asked, “Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?” (Luke 5:30).

Some viewed Jewish tax collectors as traitors because the taxes went to Rome. Additionally, the tax system then in place was conducive to fraud; doubtless some collectors were cheats (see Luke 3:12-13). Thus the Pharisees disparagingly viewed Levi and his friends as “sinners,” a term they used of those who in their view made no effort to live by the Law. Why would Jesus associate with such people?

Jesus answered, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Luke 5:31-32). Jesus associated with sinners for the same reason a doctor associates with the diseased: to heal them. Ray Summers observed, “What the Pharisees considered to be a discredit to him, he considered to be his very purpose in life.” Consider three observations about Jesus’ answer.

First, Jesus surely did not mean to imply that the Pharisees were well and not sinners. They were just as sick as the tax collectors, sick with self-righteousness, hypocrisy, and pride, as Jesus frequently pointed out. On this occasion He simply answered their question without exploring the question of who is a sinner.

Second, Jesus’ association with these sinners did not in any way minimize sin. He did not associate with them in order to join them in sin. Nothing about His association overlooked or condoned any wrongs they might be doing. To the contrary, He said His purpose was to call them to repentance.

Third, Jesus’ answer does not dismiss the frequent Bible admonitions about choosing our company carefully. Psalm 1 begins with such a caution. Several Proverbs warn of the danger of becoming like those we associate with (e.g., 22:24-25). Paul bluntly wrote, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33). In context, he is likely pointing to the spread of doctrinal error as well as sinful conduct.

Christians need balance. We dare not be so foolhardy as to think we are too strong to be influenced away from doing right (1 Corinthians 10:12). But we must not err in the other direction either, assuming a Pharisaic self-righteousness that looks through eyes of disdain instead of mercy. We, too, are the sinners Jesus came to call to repentance.

— Via Pathlights, January 31, 2021
——————–

-3-

“Training” the Tongue

Wayne Goff

In our Wednesday night Bible study we have been looking at the proper use of the tongue. One question concerned the “training” of the tongue. “Training” means to “teach a skill or behavior,” and since the tongue itself has no mind but is only a tool of the human mind, it can be “taught” by  teaching the mind. As simple as this concept is, it needs to be repeated often. The body, including all of its parts, is an instrument for the mind. Romans 6 discusses this in detail and places responsibility for the body’s actions on the person housed in that body! Even if someone is born with genetic predispositions, that person can control the body with the mind, and is obligated to do so. But back to “training” the tongue.

The New Testament teaches us how to properly use our tongue in many places. What good would these instructions do if we could not “train” the tongue to act in a “controlled” manner? So God expects us to both train and control the tongue.

Ephesians 4:15 “That we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” The truth will find a more receptive audience if it is spoken out of love, and not out of bitterness, anger, sarcasm, or superiority.

Ephesians 4:29 — “Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Some people think that they have no ability to control their cursing. They have had a bad habit for so long that it just comes natural to them. Some curse without even knowing that they are doing it! But God expects us to respect those who hear us, and “corrupt” words disrespect all those to whom they are spoken. If we thought more of our neighbors than we do of ourselves, then we would do a better job with our words.

Colossians 4:6“Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” Personally, I enjoy salt so much that my wife has to remind me to “taste the food before you salt it!” So I can appreciate how speaking with grace makes our words more tasty, more palatable, permitting our “answer” or “response” to others to be easier to accept. Let us not drive away people from the truth by our attitude.

1 Thessalonians 2:7 “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.” Paul taught the Thessalonians in a kind, gentle way when he converted them. But he still told them the truth! We cannot be so afraid of offending others that we compromise the truth! On the other hand, we can be both kind and firm in standing for what is right.

2 Timothy 1:13 — “Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” So there is a standard of truth that is found in “the pattern of sounds words” taught by the apostles and prophets — the New Testament. Teaching error is “unsound,” and therefore spiritually sick and unhealthy.

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 36, Issue 5, Page 2, January 31, 2021
——————–

-4-

Bible “Math” (Part 3: “Division”)

Tom Edwards

To hear and see this video sermon that was preached February 7, 2021, just click on the following link while on the Internet:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Bible_Math_3.mp4

——————–

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of Frankie Olivia Hadley who passed away February 3 — just 25 days prior to her 94th birthday.  She and her husband Rex had been married for 67 years.  Having lived as a Christian for 62 years, Frankie’s life will continue to bring comfort, encouragement, and blessings in the remembrance of those who knew her.  Let us be keeping all of her family and friends in prayer.

Bennie & Deborah Medlock tested negative for covid-19 last week, which is good news; but Deborah still has 2.5 weeks more of quarantine.  Her taste buds have also continued to improve, but not completely yet.  Also, her back has been giving her some pain, which she attributes to the weather.

Nell Teague’s cancer is now in her throat, which she is receiving chemo for.  (She is Bennie’s cousin.)

Those with covid-19: Heather and Cami Kellum, Emma Thomas, Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora), and Darlene Tanner.

And also for continual prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, the staff and residents at the Baptist Village Nursing Home, Vivian Foster, Malachi Dowling, Larry & Janice Hood, Donald & Michelle Sears, Jim Lively, Rex Hadley, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Christ, Our Refuge (Curtis Pope)
2) To Capture Hearts… (Robert F. Turner)
3) Bible “Math” (Part 2: “Multiplication”) (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
4) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Christ, Our Refuge

Curtis Pope

Introduction

Psalm 2 ends with a blessing pronounced upon the one who takes refuge in the Son:

“Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” (Ps. 2:12, NASB).

For many in David’s day, the concept of refuge would have been tied up with the idea of the “cities of refuge” whose function was articulated in Numbers 35:6-34 and Deuteronomy 4:41-43.

These cities, Kedesh, Shechem, and Hebron, west of the Jordan, and Bezer, Ramoth-Gilead, and Golan, on the river’s eastern side (Josh. 20:7-9), were strategically located throughout the country, allowing readily available sanctuary to those who had taken a life unintentionally. This was necessary because of the obligation incumbent upon the next of kin to provide an “avenger of blood” (Heb. goel hadam) to exact vengeance upon any who killed a family member. In the absence of a national police force, this served as a deterrent to murder by making the perpetrator fear losing his own life. Unlike modern justice systems, which claim that “justice is blind,” ancient Israelites had no such expectations. Hebrew justice was concerned only with the family’s interest in avenging shed blood. Therefore, no matter where the killer fled or how long it took to find him, blood vengeance would be exacted.

To mitigate the circumstances if the killing was accidental, the one who took a life could flee for safety to one of the cities listed above. If he could get to a city of refuge before being intercepted and killed by the avenger of blood, he was then entitled to receive a hearing from the congregated citizens of that city. If judged by the Law of Moses and the evidence to be guilty of murder, he would be excluded from the city and subject to the wrath of the avenger of blood. However, if they determined that his offense was manslaughter, he was justified in his case and was allowed to dwell securely in the city of refuge until the death of the high priest, at which time he would be allowed to return to his home city unmolested, forever free from fear of the avenger of blood. Nonetheless, if the killer was caught outside the gates of the city before the high priest’s passing, he could be killed by the avenger of blood, regardless of the congregation’s verdict. Therefore, “refuge” in David’s day would have implied salvation, justification, and security in light of the city of refuge model.

Psalm 2 has long been considered a Messianic Psalm. Even Jewish sources, until the Middle Ages, thought it such, and even then, only changed their interpretation in light of Christian application of the passage to Jesus. Acts 4:25-26 clearly applies this psalm to Christ. Therefore, the refuge that blesses those who rest in its hope, as found in Psalm 2:12, is obviously found in Jesus, the Son of God.

The word “refuge” is a common feature in the psalms, often combining the city of refuge motif with Messianic psalms to foreshadow the salvation, justification, and security found in Christ. Let us examine these ideas as applied in the New Testament to those who take refuge in the Son.

Salvation in Christ

During the ministry of Jesus, He often calls on people to take refuge in Him. While the word “refuge” is rarely used in the New Testament (Heb. 6:18), the concept is evident throughout. In the Sermon on the Mount, for example, Jesus pronounces a blessing (in words reminiscent of Psalm 2:12) on the poor in spirit, on those that mourn, on the gentle, on those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, and upon other spiritual outcasts with the promise that their spiritual longings will be satisfied in Him (Matt. 5:3-12). In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says:

“Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
These passages in Matthew call upon those burdened with sin to find refuge in Him.

After the resurrection, the gospel that Jesus commissioned to be preached throughout the world taught that “he who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16), holding out the promise of salvation to all spiritual refugees.

On the day of Pentecost, just after Christ’s ascension, those who asked “what shall we do?” when confronted with their complicity in the murder of Jesus, were told to “repent and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” and urged to “be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:27-40).

Salvation from the wrath of God and forgiveness of sins is the constant theme of the gospel as seen in the book of Acts with Cornelius being told of Peter’s coming to Caesarea to “speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household” (Acts 11:14). The question of the Philippian jailor, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” and Paul’s answer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:30-31) also shows the desperation of the spiritual refugee and the joy when, in penitent baptism he, “believes in God, with his whole household” (Acts 16:34).

As in the few passages above, the salvation made available to the killer in the Old Testament by the city of refuge foreshadows the safety offered by our refuge in Jesus. However, instead of giving us only an imperfect refuge to seek vindication, Christ offers us sanctuary from God’s wrath and complete justification.

Justification in Christ

As the offender sought safety in the city of refuge, it also allowed him to have his case adjudicated. His hope rested in the congregation, finding him innocent of murder but guilty of manslaughter. The one who seeks refuge in Jesus is under no such illusion of innocence. He knows that he is guilty with no hope of justification except by forgiveness (Rom. 3:10, 23). Yet, as 1 John 2:1 affirms, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” However, not only does Jesus serve as our advocate before the Father, He also stands as “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2), meaning that the price for our wrongdoing was paid by His death on the cross, thus satisfying God’s wrath. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1).

Security in Christ

When the one guilty of manslaughter was cleared of all murder charges, he could reside in secure comfort in the city of refuge. Those who flee to Christ for salvation and have been justified by His blood enjoy security and blessed assurance in Him. As Paul says in Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Just as those refugees had to remain within the city walls, we who seek refuge in Christ only find security in Him. As we are baptized “into Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27) to be justified by Him, we must “abide in Him, so that when he appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming” (1 John 2:28).

There is great assurance that we can have in Christ. As 1 John 5:13 says, what was written was so that we “may know that you have eternal life.” The Hebrew writer says, “we who have taken refuge have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:18).

Conclusion

We can know much more about the salvation, justification, and security in the Son than did David, the author of Psalm 2, because of the simple fact that we live on this side of the cross. Even the ideas taught by the refuge offered the manslayer, by the cities of refuge, were just a faint foreshadowing of what we can know in Jesus. However, even David could understand that the only ones to be blessed by taking refuge in the Son were those doing “homage” to Him (Ps. 2:12). May we always find refuge in Christ as we honor and adore Him.

— Via Faithful Sayings, Volume 23, Issue 4 (January 24, 2021)
——————–

-2-

To Capture  Hearts…

Robert F. Turner

Having spent many years trying to bring men to Christ, and pondering repeated failures, I have drawn a few conclusions from experience. We may have trusted the story of the cross too little, and our teaching ability too much. We have relied heavily upon the assumption that if we could teach men what to do, they would do it. There is something to do all right, but there will be little doing (and none that is valid) until the subject is made aware of a need, believes in a remedy, and desires the result of doing. Information may be adequate, but motivation may be lacking.

Motive is “that within the individual, rather than without, which incites him to action.” Peter’s sermon on Pentecost made the hearers aware of circumstances which produced self-judgment — “we have killed the long-awaited Messiah. What shall we do?” Under these conditions the answer can be brief and to the point. There was no need for charts, diagrams, and argumentative sermons on baptism.

This is no indictment of defense and proclamation of doctrinal details. Where such differences exist, and are the determent to full obedience, they must be thrashed out. But in many cases if we would expend greater efforts to convince men of their true status before a righteously indignant God, we would not have to press so fruitlessly the details of His will. A man who realizes he is drowning does not argue about the color of the life buoy thrown to him.

We strive for men’s hearts: casting down man’s evil reasonings, his pride, and bringing into captivity his thoughts (2 Cor. 10:4-5) to the obedience of Christ. If we are more interested in winning an argument than in saving a soul, we will certainly fail in the latter, and probably in the former. We are trying to win a man, not whip him.

To change the attitude of others, so that they will be open and receptive to the gospel of Christ, we may first have to revise our attitude. We must somehow become one with the Lord Jesus, who loved and sacrificed Himself for mankind; not because we were lovely, but “while we were sinners.”

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 36, Issue 4, Page 1, January 24, 2021
——————–

-3-

Bible “Math” (Part 2: “Multiplication)

Tom Edwards

This is a video sermon I preached January 31, 2021.  To hear it, just click on the following:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Bible_Math_2.mp4

——————–

-4-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of Don Thomas who passed away yesterday, due to covid-19.

Our sympathies also go out to the family and friends of Vilos Jerry Owens who passed away last night of covid-19.

There has still not been any reduction in the brain-hematoma from Malachi Dowling’s serious ATV accident.  So they are keeping him sedated. Procedures were also performed to help with his healing.

The Baptist Village Nursing Home can use our prayers for the residents and the staff. 

Michelle Rittenhouse Sears has been experiencing a rapid heart beat and shortness of breath.  Both she and her husband Donald also have pneumonia. Though she still has covid-19, he has now tested negative for it.

Billy Cochran is now back in the hospital with covid-19 and not doing so well.

Emma Thomas
(Don’s sister-in-law) returned home Saturday to continue recuperating, after being 3 days in the hospital, due to covid-19.  Her husband Earl also had it, but is now testing negative. 

Eddy Wilson also tested negative for the covid-19 that he previously had, but is also still weak.

Deborah Medlock continues to heal from covid-19.  About 62% of her taste buds are now working and her appetite has returned.  Though Deborah has long had back trouble, it has been worse lately.  Her husband Bennie is doing even better.  They will both be tested this week.

Heather Kellum was recently diagnosed with covid-19, but is currently doing okay.  Her daughter Cami, who also has it, has been running a low-grade fever.

Also with covid-19: Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora), and Darlene Tanner.

And also for continual prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, Neil Teague, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Rex Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith
by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Great is the Mystery of Godliness (Stan Cox)
2) Bible “Math” (Part 1: “Addition” & “Subtraction”) (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Great is the Mystery of Godliness

Stan Cox

In the third chapter of Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he explained to his young friend his purpose in writing. This explanation is contained in verses 14-16 of the chapter:

“These things I write to you, though I hope to come to you shortly; but if I am delayed, I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.”

Paul noted the importance of proper conduct in the church. There is a right way, and a wrong way to behave. The instructions given to young Timothy in his work as an evangelist — as well as those given to diverse groups in the church at Ephesus — all are designed to bring about this proper conduct. This truth is demonstrated by the phrase, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness” (vs. 16). The nature of the mystery is great, and with it are grand ramifications. Paul, of course, spoke here of God’s scheme of redemption. Note his words to the Colossians, “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col 1:26-28).

In God’s revelation, we are blessed with the most important truths known. They are timely, and demand a proper response. Paul affirmed in his letter to Titus, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14).

Paul’s description of this grand mystery is worth examination. First, consider his contention that no controversy surrounds his claim that it is great. This does not mean that unreasonable men might dispute these truths. It is an affirmation that such disputes are, in fact, unreasonable! These things are true. There is no doubt. As Peter proclaimed, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Just because someone refuses to believe it does not mean it is not so!

God was Manifested in the Flesh

This is a reference to the incarnation of the Son of God. This incarnation was prophesied by Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew translated the name Immanuel, “God with us” (cf. Matthew 1:23).

This truth is universally affirmed among the New Testament writers. It is denied by many. Most today accept that Jesus lived, but many deny His deity. Interestingly, the opposite was true in John’s day. Many accepted that Jesus was God, but denied that He was really a man! “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 John 4:2-3). To deny either His deity or His humanity is to exhibit the spirit of the Antichrist!

Referring to Jesus, John affirmed, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The Hebrew writer concurs, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15).

Further, John tells us why He came in the flesh, “And you know that He was manifested to take away our sins, and in Him there is no sin” (1 John 3:5). “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

Justified in the Spirit

This phrase is difficult. The first consideration is the meaning of the word “justified.” As always, context helps to establish meaning. The Greek term can refer either to the act of justifying, or the pronouncement of justification. The latter seems to fit this passage better. Vine puts it this way: “to declare to be righteous, to pronounce righteous.”

The second consideration is whether the word “Spirit” here has reference to the Holy Spirit. As seen by the word being capitalized, this is certainly the view of most translators, including those who produced the New King James version. If this is so, and it is the view I hold, the sense of the phrase is the witness of the Holy Spirit that vindicates Jesus as righteous, and His claim to be the Messiah of God. The Holy Spirit certainly is revealed to justify, or legitimize Jesus.

For example, at the baptism of Jesus we have this witness. “When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him.” This, and the Father’s words, “This is my beloved Son” vindicate His claim to be the Messiah (cf. Matthew 3:16-17).

On another occasion, Jesus promised his disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to them after His death. He said, “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26). All the New Testament writings that claim Jesus to be God’s Son are examples of His justification in the Spirit.

One final example is found in the miracles Jesus performed. False charges were raised against Him by the Pharisees. “Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, ‘This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons'” (Matthew 12:22-24). However, as Jesus said, the demons He cast out were by the Spirit of God. “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28). In this, the Holy Spirit vindicated Jesus in His work.

Seen by Angels

The angels were aware of God’s plan for redeeming man. They no doubt longed to know the details of that plan, as Peter notes. “To them [the prophets of old] it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).

Angels certainly witnessed and participated in major events of Christ’s incarnation. They were there at the beginning, when the Child was born. “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!'” (Luke 2:13-14).

Angels tended to the Lord after his temptation in the wilderness of Judea. “Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:11). And an angel was present to proclaim His resurrection to the group of women who gathered to tend to His body on the morning of that third day. “But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:5-6).

Finally, there were two angels who affirmed at His ascension that Jesus would come a second time to judge the world. “Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven'” (Acts 1:9-11).

Preached Among the Gentiles

The preaching of Jesus to all the world is a great reason for rejoicing. Prior to Christ’s coming, the Gentiles were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12). In fact, at the time of Christ’s coming, the favor that God had bestowed upon the Jew had resulted in arrogance, and animosity between the two groups. The Jew believed himself to be so superior to the Gentile that he would not even eat with him.

However, it was God’s intent to bring salvation to all men, both Jew and Greek. And he did it by having Jewish disciples share the message of the gospel with the Gentiles. The apostle Paul was given a special dispensation to preach that gospel to the Gentile, as well as the Jew. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith'” (Romans 1:16-17).

In the preaching of the gospel, God brought peace to all men. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:13-16). In Christ, all have access to redemption.

Believed on in the World

Belief in Christ is the means of reconciliation with God. Jesus told his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16). If man were to have authored a plan for redemption, it would have been far different. But God’s love for His creation compelled Him to make salvation available to all! Peter tells us of His longsuffering, that He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Despite the devil’s efforts, and the influence that he wields in the world, belief in Jesus has flourished through the millennia since He walked on this earth. The carpenter’s son is the most influential individual who has ever lived. This is because He is the Son of God, the unique individual capable of securing the hope of eternal life.

Received up in Glory

Jesus’ coming to earth is described as an act of humility. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). It is because of the success of Jesus’ ministry on earth, because of His humiliation on the cross, that God exalted Him. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

Some may consider the word humiliation to be too strong. But, that is the word used by the evangelist Philip in quoting the Septuagint version of the prophet Isaiah. “In His humiliation His justice was taken away, and who will declare His generation? For His life is taken from the earth” (Acts 8:33).

So, contrast Jesus’ treatment at the hands of men with the exaltation bestowed upon Him by His Father following His death. Men brought oppression, torture and death on the cross. He submitted Himself to such indignities for the sake of mankind. God rewarded Him for His faithful obedience to the cause by raising Him from the dead, and receiving Him again into His glorious presence. “This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he says himself: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:32-36).

Conclusion

The glorious gospel of the exalted Christ is “without controversy.” No unbiased man, having examined the truths contained therein, would describe it in any other way. The most important event of mankind, was securing the hope of redemption, accomplished in the person of Jesus. All else pales in comparison.

Since this is so, it is most worthy of our interest and engagement. Paul affirmed that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” The Lordship of Jesus has been established by God, it only remains that every soul acknowledge it. To do so now brings salvation, “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10). To do so at the judgment day is to be eternally too late. Our appeal to all men, confess Jesus now!

— Via Navarre Messenger, March 15, 2020
——————–

– 2 –

Bible “Math”
(Part 1: “Addition” & “Subtraction”)

Tom Edwards

To hear this video sermon, just click on the following link:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Bible_Math_1.mp4
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

The Baptist Village Nursing Home
can use our prayers for the residents and the staff.  They have been hit hard with the coronavirus. 

Malachi Dowing, who is 14 years old, was in a serious ATV accident recently. He ran headlong into a light pole, breaking multiple facial bones and causing a hematoma on the left side of his brain.

Heather Kellum was recently diagnosed with covid-19, but has been okay so far. Her daughter Cami also has it and has been running a low-grade fever.

Deborah Medlock sounded much better on the phone yesterday.  She is overcoming many of her symptoms of covid-19, but still without taste buds being totally back.  Plus, she does easily tire from even a little activity.

Bennie Medlock also continues to heal from covid-19 and can taste food again.

Michelle Rittenhouse Sears has been under quarantine, due to the coronavirus.  Her husband, who also had it, is already better and has been back to work. 

Also with covid-19: Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora), and Darlene Tanner.

Congratulations to Samantha Sweat (Tina Allen’s daughter) who recently gave birth to Sawyer James Sweat!  The mother and son are both doing well.

Also for continual prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, Neil Teague, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) The Sermon on the Mount: Materialism (David Flatt)
2) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

The Sermon on the Mount: Materialism

David Flatt

*****
Synopsis: Focusing upon Jesus’ teaching concerning materialism, David encourages us to examine how the desire for wealth and possessions is a form of idolatry and recognize how such prevents us from getting to the kingdom.
*****

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt. 6:19-24).

At this point in Jesus’ sermon, He identifies an idol which has lured the hearts of people for many generations: wealth. He warns against the perils of devoting our lives to the pursuit of wealth.

Finding Contentment

Where can we find contentment in this life? At the beginning of this sermon, Jesus used a word which implies contentment: blessedness. We look for contentment, peace, and joy in many places. Some seek fulfillment through false religion and worldly philosophy. Some seek fulfillment through pleasure. Others seek fulfillment in wealth and possessions. None of this satisfies the deep craving of our hearts.

The Bible is filled with warnings against the deceitfulness of wealth and possessions to bring contentment. The wealthy King Solomon wrote, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10). This was as true in Solomon’s day as it was in the time of Jesus.

Warning against the perils of wealth and possessions was a common thread of Jesus’ teaching. For example, He told a hungry crowd, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed” (John 6:26-27).

On another occasion, Jesus was rudely interrupted while teaching. A man asked Jesus to mediate in an inheritance dispute between him and his brother. Imagine having Jesus standing in front of us. Would we ask about something as trivial as money? This man did. He asked, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” Jesus replied, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:13-15).

Sadly, many have been deceived into believing that their lives do consist of the abundance of their possessions. As Americans, we dream for the day when we will be rich. The pressures of our materialistic society are quite profound. We will often drown ourselves in debt to have the latest and greatest, the biggest and the best. Typically, we measure success in materialistic terms. What is sadder is how our culture has corrupted the gospel of the kingdom with the hopes of earthly wealth.

The Fundamental Problem with Materialism

As has been previously discussed, humans were created to be the image bearers of God. However, idolatry has always hindered men from fulfilling this vocation. Idolatry, choosing to worship that which is not God, is expressed through specific acts of sin. The practice of idolatry deteriorates our humanness and ultimately culminates in death.

Materialism is idolatry. Materialism stems from misguided desire: covetousness. Remember the first commandment? God spoke all these words, saying,

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments” (Exod. 20:1-6).

The first commandment was a prohibition against idolatry. This commandment is the foundation of the other nine. Without abiding by the first, none of the others matters. Jesus makes the connection between materialism and idolatry clear: no one can serve two masters. We cannot serve God and mammon.

When reading this section of the sermon, we will typically say, “mammon is riches” and quickly move on to our next point. This is true; however, why did the scholars of King James use the term “mammon”? The scholars essentially left the word untranslated; however, mammon was the personified form of the evil deity of riches during the Middle Ages: the devil of greed and covetousness (Geller). These translators recognized that Jesus was teaching that materialism is a form of idolatry.

In what ways does this form of idolatry deteriorate our humanity? Paul explained, “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Tim. 6:9-10).

As Paul describes, serving the idol of money depreciates our humanity by depreciating the image we have been made to bear in life: the image of the Creator (Gen. 1:27). This form of idolatry stems from an insatiable craving. People have allowed unrestrained desire to drive them to commit all sorts of mischievous sin to gain wealth. Remember, sin is the means through which idolatry is expressed. Sin causes decay which culminates in death. This certainly is what Paul indicated to Timothy regarding the result of the love of money.

Of course, Jesus was not teaching us that having money is sinful. Money is necessary for life. No one would dispute this. He identifies a specific form of idolatry which will keep us from fulfilling the purpose for which we have been created. He is warning us of an idol which will keep us out of the kingdom of God.

To what are we devoting our hearts? Where are we directing our love and desire? Is it God or mammon? With Jesus, it is all or nothing. Either we devote every part of our heart to God, and bring Him glory, or we devote nothing to Him. Our treasure reveals our heart.

Bearing God’s Image in a Materialistic Society

Unquestionably, we live in a materialistic society. The temptations of wealth are strong and relentless. What can we do to reflect the image of God into the world, while not being consumed by the idol of mammon?

Live Within or Below Our Means

Our materialistic society pressures us to buy. It is a bit ironic that we are referred to as “consumers.” We consume but are never satisfied. Often, we buy what we do not need, and what we cannot afford. Debt is a major problem within our nation. Jesus expects us to be responsible stewards of our blessings. Living beyond our means is proof positive we are failing in our stewardship: proof positive we are being swallowed up by mammon.

Share and Serve

Covetousness is the height of selfishness. Citizens of the kingdom are to share what they have and help those in need. They should serve the needs of others. Worshippers of the idol of mammon are not concerned about the welfare of others. They are obsessed with themselves. If ever we plan to tear down the idol of mammon, we will have to learn to share and serve. This is what Jesus was trying to impress upon a rich young ruler (Matt. 19:16-22).

Trust God

In the battle over who we will worship, God or mammon, trust is at the heart of the struggle. In our society, we are told to trust in our wealth. Yes, money can help in many situations of life. It can soften the shock of traumatic events. However, money cannot be relied on to find and experience the blessedness of which Jesus spoke in this sermon. Only through trust in God can we know true blessedness. Paul wrote,

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19).

This passage sounds like a commentary on Jesus’ sermon. To know true life, we must learn to trust in the true and living God.

Learn Contentment

Yes, contentment is a learned condition. Paul explained to the Philippians how he had learned contentment throughout his turbulent life:

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11-13).

Living within or below our means, sharing and serving, and developing trust in God are all part of the learning process of contentment. This state of being is the product of focusing and harnessing our hearts. The heart of materialistic individuals focuses on that which is not God and is unrestrained in how he vainly attempts to satisfy lustful cravings. Like Paul, our circumstances in life are constantly changing. There are times when we may have a lot. There are times when we may have a little. Those circumstances may be the result of hard work or time and chance. Regardless of the circumstances, we can always find contentment by being a citizen in God’s kingdom.

Conclusion

Try as we might, no one can serve two masters. We will devote ourselves fully to one at the expense of the other. The devil tries to deceive us into thinking we can serve two. Jesus demands we wake up to the reality in which we are living and make a choice. The influence of the idol of mammon in our society is strong and ever-present. We must constantly guard our hearts and minds against its pervasive influence; otherwise, we will find ourselves outside the kingdom of heaven.

Source

Geller. “Mammon—Greedy Demon in the Bible.” Mythology.net. January 04, 2017. https://mythology.net/demons/mammon/.

Author Bio: David and his family have labored with the Thayer Street congregation in Akron, Ohio since 2008. The church website is thayerstreetcoc.org. He can be reached at dflatt85@yahoo.com.

— Via Truth Magazine, January 2019, No. 1, Volume 63
——————–

– 2 –

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Deborah Medlock
had been in the hospital since Tuesday of last week until about 2:45 this afternoon.  She is feeling a little better and sounded stronger on the phone.  To help her breathe, she is now using oxygen continually. Her sense of taste has not yet returned, but she is eating.  For the next couple weeks, she will have to remain in quarantine.

Bennie Medlock’s  condition of the covid-19 has somewhat improved.  He can now taste food again, but is still in the healing process.

Also with covid-19: Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora), and Darlene Tanner.

Also for continual prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, Neil Teague, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) “O King, Live Forever” (Al Diestelkamp)
2) The Consequences of Being a Liar (R.J. Evans)
3) How Often Shall I Forgive? (Frank Himmel)
4) Becoming More Like Jesus (Part 2) (video sermon, Tom Edwards)
5) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

“O King, Live Forever”

Al Diestelkamp

Try to imagine yourself in a situation where your nation has been overthrown by a foreign power, and you have been taken captive and forced into servitude to the very evil ruler who was responsible for this unwanted circumstance. What would be your attitude toward the one in power?

This was exactly the situation in which Daniel found himself from his youth through his old age. What should impress us is how this man of faith viewed the reigns of godless emperors as the result of God giving power “to whomever He chooses” (Dan. 4:25). Therefore, when addressing whoever was king, he would begin by saying, “O king, live forever!” (Dan. 2:4; 3:9; 5:10; 6:21). His respect was not dependent on the respectability of the rulers but was the result of the respect he had for the One Who had placed them in power.

Furthermore, Daniel’s respect was not mere lip service. He served with distinction in the administrations of the godless kings Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius. Even when Daniel’s faith in God was challenged, requiring him to obey God rather than men, he did not speak evil of the king who had sentenced him to the lion’s den but said, “O king, live forever!” (6:21).

Daniel’s respect toward those in authority was in agreement with principles outlined in the law of Moses which said, “ You shall not revile God, nor curse a ruler of your people” (Ex. 22:28). Solomon also warned, “Do not curse the king, even in your thought” (Eccl. 10:20).

Of course, it is important to note that Daniel, and other men of faith, did not participate in any evil, nor did they hesitate to rebuke rulers for their sins (i.e., Dan. 3:16-18; Mk. 6:18); but they evidently did so respectfully, considering the high regard the rulers gave in return (Dan. 2:48-49; Mk. 6:26).

This got me to consider my own attitude toward the men whom God has chosen to govern our nation.  I realize that a democratic republic is quite different from other forms of government. This might make determining just who is included in “a ruler” more challenging, but it surely would include our presidents. In my lifetime, there have been fourteen men who have served as President of the United States. In my opinion, some have been more “respectable” than others. Yes, some of them were adulterers, liars, and approved of such things “worthy of death” (Rom. 1:32), but I wouldn’t trade any one of them for the likes of Nebuchadnezzar or Belshazzar.

There is no time in my memory when the divisions in our nation were more evident and the vitriolic attacks more vocal. (I wasn’t alive during the Civil War.) It is a time when Christians have the opportunity to be like Daniel by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) while putting away “all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking…with all malice” (Eph. 4:31).

Christians should do all we can to expose evil and promote righteousness in our nation. This might include working and voting to elect honorable candidates who have respect for God’s Word; but when the votes are tabulated, we need to accept the results and show honor to those elected as ones “appointed by God” (Rom. 13:1). Peter wrote, “Honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:18). Though we don’t have a king in our nation, I suspect the Lord expects us to make the application anyway.

— via Think On These Things, Volume 50, No. 3, July-August-September 2019
——————–

-2-

The Consequences of Being a Liar

R. J. Evans

The sin of lying is a serious matter that has eternal consequences. In Revelation 21:8 we are told: “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” The Apostle Paul specifically told Christians to put “away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).

I find it interesting that the Apostle John spoke of five different types of liars in the First Epistle of John. Please take note of these types of liars:

1. Those who claim to be in fellowship with God, but are walking in sin. “If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 Jn. 1:6). For a good contrast between walking in the light of truth, as opposed to walking in the darkness of sin and error, please read Ephesians 5:6-16.

2. Those who say they have not sinned and have deceived themselves. “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us” (1 Jn. 1:8, 10). God has told us that we all have sinned (Rom. 3:23). To claim that we have not sinned is a lie (“the truth is not in us”), and while doing so, we attempt to make God a liar because He has clearly established the fact that we are sinners. “Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar” (Rom. 3:4).

3. Those who claim to know God, but do not obey Him. “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:4). To love and know God is to obey His will. Later on in this epistle, John stated: “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 Jn. 5:3).

4. Those who claim they love God, but hate their brother in Christ. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?” (1 Jn. 4:20).

5. Those who deny the deity and humanity of Christ — God incarnate — that He came and lived in the flesh. “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world” (1 Jn. 2:22; 4:3).

In view of the seriousness and the eternal consequences of lying, we again emphasize — put “away lying, each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25).

— Via Navarre Messenger, March 3, 2019
——————–

-3-

How Often Shall I Forgive?

Frank Himmel

Jesus taught that when a brother sins we are to go and show him his fault in private (Matthew 18:15). Hopefully, he repents and that is the end of the matter. If he does not listen we are to take two or more witnesses who can substantiate the problem (v. 16). Only when he still refuses to listen is the issue to be dealt with more publicly (v. 17). What a wise and beneficial approach this is!

“Then Peter came and said to Him, ‘Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?’” (v. 21).

The Question

Let’s give Peter credit. He was thinking about how to apply Jesus’ teaching to every day situations. That is something we all need to do. Perhaps a previous experience prompted this question.

Where did Peter get the number seven? Luke says Jesus taught seven-fold forgiveness (17:3). Whether that is Luke’s summary of the instruction in our text or something Jesus taught on another occasion is uncertain. Was that number to be taken as a limit? Commentators often cite rabbinic teaching that forgiveness was to be given three times. If Peter was thinking of that, he generously doubled it and added one for good measure. Seven is often a symbol of completeness; perhaps that is why Peter suggested it.

Jesus’ Answer

“Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (v. 22). In other words, “Quit counting. Always be ready to forgive.”

To help us see why, Jesus went on to tell a parable about two debtors. The first one was a man who owed the king 10,000 talents, a preposterously large amount that no one would have the resources to repay. He did the only thing he could: he begged for mercy. The king felt compassion and graciously forgave him. The second debtor was a man who owed the first debtor a reasonable amount, 100 denarii (a denarius was a day’s wage). But that was more than he had, so he, too, pled for mercy. However, the first debtor, who had received such great mercy, now showed no mercy and threw the second debtor in prison. When the king learned what had happened, he mercilessly punished the first debtor, explaining that one who had received such great mercy must extend mercy to others (vv. 23-34).

By way of application, God is the king, we are the first debtor. Our wrongs against Him are far greater than any wrongs others may commit against us. Mercy is our only hope. If we want it, we must learn to give it. Otherwise, the Father will not forgive us (v. 35).

Forgiveness can be difficult, but it is made far easier by simply remembering where we would be without it.

— Via PathLights, January 3, 2021
——————–

-4-

Becoming More Like Jesus (Part 2)

Tom Edwards

To watch the video sermon, “Becoming More Like Jesus (Part 2)” — that was preached January 10, 2021 and focuses on having “A Mind to work,” A Forgiving Spirit, and Oneness — just click on the following link:

https://thomastedwards.com/wordpress/Becoming_More_Like_Jesus_Part_2.mp4
——————–

– 5 –

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Bennie & Deborah Medlock
are still recuperating from covid-19.  Bennie’s sense of taste has returned, along with a good appetite; but that has not yet happened for Deborah.  She has been put on a new medication and told by her doctor to eat more protein. 

Also with covid-19, Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora), and Darlene Tanner.

We are glad to say that Marde Sweezy is now over her covid-19, after having it for about 14 days, and was able to return to work last week.

Also for continual prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, Neil Teague, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) A New Year Begins (David Dann)
2) Resolutions Require Commitment (Greg Gwin)
3) To Help Us Pray More and Better (Bill Crews)
4) Becoming More Like Jesus (Tom Edwards, video sermon)
5) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

A New Year Begins

David Dann

King David wrote of God’s blessings saying, “You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance. They drop on the pastures of the wilderness, and the little hills rejoice on every side” (Ps. 65:11-12). The inspired psalmist reminds us that it is God who has crowned the year with goodness. As James writes, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (Jas. 1:17).

According to our calendars, a new year has just begun. As we reach the end of one year and prepare to start another there are many things to consider. It is usually profitable to take some time to reflect on the blessings we received, the successes we enjoyed, and the failures we endured in the past year. It is also perfectly natural to look forward in anticipation of what the new year may bring. Reflection on the past and anticipation of the future are common to everyone when the new year begins. However, as Christians, we ought to realize that the new year should cause us to be mindful of more than just the events of our recent past and those to which we look forward in the near future. Some important thoughts are
brought to mind by the beginning of the new year.

1. The New Year reminds us of our Creator. For many, the start of the new year is an excuse to have wild parties that are often nothing more than drunken revelries. But the start of the new year should underscore a nobler theme. The change of the calendar is one of the many ways in which we are reminded that, “the Lord, he is God; it is he who has made us, and not we ourselves” (Ps. 100:3). After all, the idea of measuring time in periods known as “years” did not originate with man. It was the God who created us that said, “‘Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so” (Gen. 1:14-15). With the arrival of each new year, we are reminded that God created the world with its cycles and seasons giving man the ability to measure time in years.

2. The New Year reminds us that Jesus Christ came into the world. The apostle Paul writes, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Tim. 1:15). Even from a purely secular perspective the impact that Jesus has had on the history of mankind cannot be denied. We have just entered the year 2004 A.D. The initials “A.D.” represent the Latin phrase Anno Domini, which means, “year of our Lord.” In other words, this is supposed to be the 2,004th year since the time that our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world. While it is likely that those who first ordered the calendar in this manner erred slightly in their calculations, the point remains the same. That is, the beginning of the new year reminds us that Jesus Christ came into the world and had an impact on mankind more profound than any person who has ever lived. His impact is such that mankind now reckons time by referring back to the point when he came in the flesh.

3. The New Year reminds us of God’s mercy. The Bible tells us that God “has appointed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom he has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). The Scriptures often refer to that day as “the last day” (John 12:48; 6:44). With the arrival of each new year we are reminded that another year has passed without the last day having come. In this respect the new year makes us mindful of God’s great mercy toward mankind. The Day of Judgment signals the end of God’s grace toward the unrighteous (2 Thess. 1:6-8). The start of the new year testifies of the mercy and patience of our God who “is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). In the beginning of the new year we see that God has given sinners at least a little more time to repent before it is too late.

4. The New Year reminds us that new opportunities lie ahead. It is obvious that most people tend to view the new year as a chance at a fresh start. This is seen in the “New Year’s Resolutions” made by so many. Most of these resolutions involve new attempts at sticking to a particular diet or exercise program. But for the Christian, the new year presents opportunities of a spiritual nature. The new year gives us new opportunities to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior” (2 Pet. 3:18), to “warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all” (1 Thess. 5:14), to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17), and to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).

Conclusion

Let us take advantage of the opportunities we have to serve God now, and let us do our best to glorify him in the new year. God has not promised us another year, or even another day, but in his great mercy he has granted us the beginning of this new year. Are you planning on putting God first this year? “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2).

— Via Truth Magazine, Vol. XLVIII, No. 1, January 1, 2004
——————–

-2-

Resolutions Require Commitment!

Greg Gwin

A reportedly true story is told about a school principal who, at the end of the year, encouraged all his teachers to write out their resolution for the New Year. He promised to post these on the faculty bulletin board so that all could benefit from them.

When the resolutions were posted, all the teachers crowded around to read the suggestions from their co-workers. Suddenly one of the teachers erupted in a fit of anger. “Mine is not here! He’s purposefully left mine off the board. He doesn’t care about me. That just shows how little I’m appreciated around here!” The principal was shocked. He had not intentionally left anyone’s resolution off the board. He rushed to his desk and found the missing note under a pile of papers. He immediately proceeded to post it. The resolution read: “I resolve not to let little things upset me anymore.”

What we see here is a clear case of resolution without commitment. All of us are guilty of this — and it happens too often. Failed diets, abandoned exercise plans, neglected projects, etc., are all the result of lack of commitment.

But, without doubt, the most serious area of concern is in our spiritual service to God. At one time or another we have all said, “I need to do better, and I intend to do so!” It may involve our attendance at the worship services and Bible studies, or it might be in personal study and prayer. Perhaps it involves personal evangelism, visiting the sick, or sharing hospitality with other Christians. Whatever it might be, the resolve is good, but we need commitment to see the task through.

As we enter into this New Year, let’s do some serious personal evaluation; make some needed resolutions; and then, FOLLOW THEM THROUGH!

 – Via The Beacon, December 27, 2020
——————–

-3-

To Help Us Pray More and Better

Bill Crews

To help us pray more than we do, and better than we do, we need:

1. A greater sense of God’s presence, Psalm 139:7-12; Acts 17:27 — we speak to those who are present.

2. A greater love for God, Matthew 22:36-37; 1 John 5:3 — we want to talk to those we love.

3. A more diligent study of the Word of God, Psalm 1:1-2 — the more we listen to God, the more we have to say to Him.

4. A greater faith in the efficacy of prayer, Matthew 7:7-8; James 5:16-17 — faith leads to prayer, and we must pray in faith, James 1:5-6; Mark 11:24.

5. A deeper sense of our own sins, weaknesses, limitations and needs, James 5:13; 1 John 1:9; James 4:2-3 — arrogant, self-sufficient, self-righteous, impenitent people are not praying people.

6. More gratitude for God’s abundant blessings, James 1:17; Acts 17:24-25 — grateful people give thanks.

7. A greater awareness of our utter dependency upon God, Acts 17:28; Job 12:30 — this will lead us to be lowly, submissive, petitioning people.

— Via Roanridge Reader, Volume 36, Issue 1, page 2, January 3, 2021
——————–

-4-

Becoming More Like Jesus

Tom Edwards

Just click on the above title for this video sermon on Becoming More Like Jesus. It focuses on three characteristics of the Lord that we need to each continue to develop and maintain in our own lives. And they are Humility, Unselfishness, and Love.
——————–

-5-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Bennie & Deborah Medlock
recently tested positive for covid-19 and are now experiencing the same symptoms.  Though Bennie had been in the hospital for a few days, he is now back home in a separate room recuperating.

Marde Sweezy had been having a difficult time breathing, due to covid-19, but that is getting better.

Also with covid-19, Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora), and Darlene Tanner.

We were glad to see Ginger Ann Montero back with us.  She had also tested positive for covid-19 a while back, but never had any of the symptoms.

Elizabeth Harden (Anita Young’s daughter) gave birth New Year’s Eve to a healthy boy weighing 8 pounds and 22 ounces!  They are both doing well.

Nell Teague,
who was treated for breast cancer several years ago, now has a malignancy in her neck, which she is receiving chemo and radiation for.

Let us also continue to remember the family and friends of James Medlock who recently passed away. 

Also for continual prayer: Rick Cuthbertson, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith
by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) Daily Bible Reading (Tom Edwards)
2) Jesus’ Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem, The Cross, and The Exaltation (Tom Edwards)
3) Fruit Unto God (Tom Edwards, video sermon)
4) News & Notes
——————–

-1-

Daily Bible Reading

A new year will soon be upon us!  Among the many New Year’s resolutions, let us make sure that one of those will especially be for continuing in daily Bible reading!

I’ve enjoyed doing that online this year — and audibly.  Normally, of course, I read silently; but for the daily Bible reading, I like reading it aloud to myself — and even started cupping my hands behind my ears several months ago, which makes the words seem to penetrate deeper into the soul. You ought to try it!  Be good to your soul by putting God’s word in it!

My favorite daily Bible reading plan is still Robert Murray M’Cheyne’s. It involves reading from 4 different books of the Bible each day.  In a year’s time, you will have gone through the Old Testament once, and the New Testament twice. 

Here’s what the plan looks like:

https://www.mcheyne.info/calendar.pdf

The plan is also freely offered through BibleGateway, if you sign up for it.  That is what I use for this.  It will always take you to the current day’s reading and will have all 4 readings on one page.  If you have missed the previous day or days, you can always catch up by going back as many days as you need to.  It also allows you to mark the reading for each day, so you can keep track of what you have already read.

This year is almost past, but I’ve already been looking forward to starting again with the daily Bible reading for 2021 that will begin in Genesis 1, Matthew 1, Ezra 1, and Acts 1 for day 1!  It is food for the soul!

— Tom
——————–

-2-  

Jesus’ Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem,
The Cross, and The Exaltation

Tom Edwards

The Triumphal Entry

I imagine it was not planned that way; but last week’s daily Bible reading, for Tuesday, included Zechariah 9.  In verse 9, it gives the following prophecy of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which reads:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your king is coming to you;
He is just and endowed with salvation,
Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

One of the New Testament books for that same day’s reading was the gospel of John, chapter 12.  Notice verses 12-16:

“On the next day the large crowd who had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him, and began to shout, ‘HOSANNA! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD, even the King of Israel.’ Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat on it, as it is written, ‘FEAR NOT, DAUGHTER OF ZION; BEHOLD, YOUR KING IS COMING, SEATED ON A DONKEY’S COLT.’  These things His disciples did not understand at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written of Him, and that they had done these things to Him.”

As we see in this passage, which shows the fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9, they “took the branches of the palm trees and went out to meet Him” (v. 13).  In Matthew’s account, “Most of the crowd spread their coats in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees and spreading them in the road” (Matt. 21:8, cf. Mark 11:8).  So this is why man has given to that day the name “Palm Sunday.”

Concerning palm branches, Noah Webster gives as one of the definitions: “Branches of the palm being worn in token of victory, hence the word signified superiority, victory, triumph. The palm was adopted as an emblem of victory, it is said, because the tree is so elastic as when pressed, to rise and recover its correct position” (Webster’s Dictionary of American English, 1828).

In thinking of palm branches as signifying triumph and victory, consider the following from the Revelation letter (the book which shows the ultimate triumph of Christians through Jesus Christ):

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; and they cry out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen'” (Rev. 7:9-12).

(Other parallel accounts of the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem are in Matthew 21:1-9, Mark 11:1-10, and Luke 19:12-16.)

The Cross

Jesus willingly went to Jerusalem on that “Palm Sunday” (John 10:17-18), knowing of the torment that was in store for Him (Matt. 20:18-19).  He was brought before unlawful and mock trials (3 Jewish and 3 Roman); was severely scourged, probably near unto death (Matt. 27:26); and was taken outside the city where they nailed Him to a cross at a place called “Calvary” (from “kranion”), and also called “The Skull,”  “Golgotha,” or “the Place of a Skull” (Luke 23:33; John 19:17).  There He writhed in agony toward the needed goal of His death; and “for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb. 12:2).  For in that death, the atonement would be made, which would make salvation possible for every sinner of all time (Rom. 5:10; Eph. 2:16; Heb. 2:9; Heb. 9:15-16; 1 Pet. 3:18).

To think that just a few days after that triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when people were honoring the Lord with great shouts of praise, that from that same city a different kind of shouting soon was heard.  For the chief priests had stirred up the crowd to oppose Christ and demand He be executed (Mark 15:11).  So they were insistingly crying out, “Crucify, crucify Him! (Luke 23:21). “Away with this man, and release for us Barabbas!” (Luke 23:18). “Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!” (John 19:15).

Jesus died on the cross for even these who ruthlessly cried out for His death, and also for those mocking Him while He greatly suffered on the cross.  For Jesus died for every sinner (Heb. 2:9; 1 John 2:2). And by His death, He made salvation possible for every transgressor who will submit to God’s plan of salvation (as seen below, following the “News & Notes” in this bulletin).

Jesus was crucified on Friday of that week, which man has called “Good Friday,” and arose from the dead on the following Sunday.  It was not a literal three days of 24 hours for each day that the Lord’s body was in the tomb, but it could be called “three days,” according to the Jewish reckoning of time.  For, to them, just part of one day would be considered a whole day.  So part of Friday to part of Sunday would be three days — and which could also be expressed as “three days and three nights,” according to that same Jewish reckoning.

The Hebrew writer gives this following exhortation: “We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat. For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate. So, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we do not have a lasting city, but we are seeking the city which is to come. Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:10-15).

The Exaltation

Following His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, what a wonderful triumphal entry Jesus made into Heaven itself, where He was then given dominion, glory, and a kingdom so that people of every nation and every language might serve Him (Dan. 7:13-14).  For He had accomplished everything He was supposed to while on earth — and, thus, made a way of salvation possible for all.  Therefore, “God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11).

Because of Jesus, what a wonderful entry anyone can have into the glories of heaven itself — by submitting to God’s plan of salvation and faithfully continuing in His word.  For so doing will not only lead us there, but also make life better for us on the journey!

(All Scriptures from the New American Standard Bible.)
——————–

-3-

Fruit Unto God

Tom Edwards

To hear this video sermon that was preached December 27, 2020, just click on the above title.

The gist of it: Just as the first fruits during the Mosaical Period were to be consecrated to the Lord as an offering to Him, even so, we who are Christians are also a type of “first fruits” in living a consecrated, holy, and dedicated life unto God.
——————–

-4-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of James Medlock (Bennie’s dad) who passed away Saturday morning at 94 years of age.  Let us be keeping all his loved ones in prayer.

Marde Sweezy has now lost her sense of taste and smell due to the covid-19.  We want to keep her in prayer, along with her mother, Ginger Ann Montero, who also has it.  Marde’s husband Charles and Ginger Ann’s husband Bud tested negative for it. 

Joyce Rittenhouse mentioned Joe Hersey, Tiffany Cothren, and Tiffany’s children (Rex and Cora) for prayer.  They all have covid-19.

John Jordan is now healing from a recent appendectomy. 

Doug Pennock has some cold symptoms, but is doing pretty well. 

Danny Bartlett reported Saturday evening that he and his wife Jan are doing well, which we were glad to hear.  Jan is now contagion free.

And for some more really good news: After more than 20 years, Doyle Rittenhouse is now pain free in his back!  Even when he gets up and moves about!  And the numbness that he had in his toes for about 15 years is also gone!  Dr. Gage was able to perform the surgery in just 24 minutes!  An incision that would usually be about 6″ was made in just 1.5″. Everything went very smoothly.

Elizabeth Harden’s due date is now just 8 days away (January 4). Her and her unborn have been doing well.

Others to also be keeping in prayer: the family and friends of Reavis Lamar Hickox, Reavis Lee Hickox, and the family and friends of Mary Elizabeth Rogers.  Also Rick Cuthbertson, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized 
in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation. 


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

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

The Gospel Observer

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

Contents:

1) When I Survey The Wondrous Cross (James R. Cope)
2) Soul Winning (video sermon by Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
——————–

-1-  

When I Survey The Wondrous Cross

James R. Cope

When I survey the wondrous Cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

These are the familiar words of Isaac Watts (1674-1748), the most eminent English hymn writer in history. They well serve as the introduction to the remarks to follow.

When I survey the history of the physical cross I see two pieces of wood so attached to each other as to support the full weight of a living human body with outstretched arms attached by iron spikes driven through the hands and feet of that body. I see an instrument of death much more cruel to its victims than sword or burning-at-the-stake because its pain continued so much longer. Historians tell us that the cross was used by the Phoenicians, Cartheginians and Egyptians, especially in times of war, prior to its usage by the Romans. Probably even before the time of Christ the dread of this instrument of death symbolized the cares and burdens of life. Matthew, Mark and Luke reveal that Jesus said he would be scourged and all four gospels indicate that scourging occurred prior to his bearing his own cross to the death site. The victims of scourging sometimes died before crucifixion. Crucifixion’s victims often lingered two or three days. Breaking of the victim’s legs hastened death but “when they came to Jesus and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs” (Jn. 19:33).

The Jewish Leaders’ Hatred

When Pilot asked, “What shall I do with Jesus?” the Jewish answer bespoke their deep hatred for Jesus. Their response, “Crucify him, crucify him! ” reveals the malice which the scribes and Pharisees, who sought to control Jewish thought, had for Jesus. When I survey the wondrous cross I see the symbol of his love for his enemies which contradicted the Jewish politicians’ hatred of him. Jesus disappointed their hopes for worldly power and prominence which they mistakenly attached to the Messiah’s reign. Just as increasingly, “the common people heard him gladly” (Mk. 12:37), so the chief priests and scribes and Pharisee leaders saw their control of the masses slipping from themselves. The Jewish leaders were not political dumb heads. They knew Roman procedure and that they were those with whom Pilate knew he had to deal directly and officially. After all, was not “the Governor” the political appointee of Caesar? Were not they the official Jewish spokesmen for the Jewish nation? I have no reason to think that the same “multitudes” that so often heard the teaching of Jesus in rural Judea and Galilee constituted the “multitudes” controlled by the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees in the early morning hours of the crucifixion day. The longer Jesus was free to teach the masses of Israel in Galilee and Judea the less credence the officials of Judaism retained with the Jewish nation overall. These politicians were experts who hated the popularity of Jesus with the “common people” who “heard him gladly.”

When, therefore, I survey the wondrous cross I can somewhat understand the appeal of the gospel story to the masses of Jews who saw and heard the basic facts and truths preached by the apostles on and after the Pentecost of Acts 2. Increasingly God’s scheme to redeem sinners from sin became clear to those who heard the gospel.

The Cross and Paul

When I survey the wondrous cross I discover the secret of the brilliant and honest young Saul of Tarsus and his commitment to the person and work of Jesus Christ. This zealous youth had been so glued to the Pharisaic concept of Judaism that he believed the Jewish disciples of Jesus should be imprisoned or killed. Gladly he gave his vote to this end. He punished them in the synagogue and strove to make them blaspheme, persecuting them even to foreign cities until he met the resurrected Jesus on his Damascus journey of madness (Acts 26:9-20). Thereafter he gave his whole life to knowing nothing “save Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). The cross of Jesus became his everything and is reflected in his words, “Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14). (I pray that this may be my commitment.)

The Cross And Worldly Wisdom

When I survey the wondrous cross I see the inability of worldly wisdom to bring sinful souls to God. Nothing identifiable with the wisdom and philosophy of men apart from God’s revelation had or can ever have anything to do with man’s salvation from sins. The very thought of a Messiah who suffered at all, much less for others, was repugnant to Jewish thought. That crucifixion would be the means of such suffering was, if possible, more ridiculous because, to most Jews, crucifixion argued the justice of the guilt charged upon the one crucified. Such an attitude then as now completely ignores such a prophecy as Isaiah 53. The idea of a crucified hero was a sign of weakness to the Gentile mind. To the Gentile such a person needed to be defended rather than worshiped. No wonder that “God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame them that are wise,” that he chose “weak things” as opposed to the “strong”; that he chose “base” and “despised” things, as appraised by human wisdom, that “no flesh should glory before God.” All this helps the believer understand why “not many wise after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble” were or are receptive to the simple story of infinite love and wisdom reflected in the gospel. All should consider carefully 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 for Paul’s point of view on God’s plan for conquest of honest hearts.

The Cross And God’s Grace

When I behold the wondrous cross I see the symbol of God’s grace extended to all sinners willing to accept salvation on gospel terms, not on the merits of their own good works, fleshly origin, material worth or religious inheritance. “Far be it from me to glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world hath been crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Gal. 6:14).

The Cross And Caesar

When I behold the wondrous cross, I see the same principle of the rule of civil government in punishing evil doers which Paul declares when he says, “But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid: for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, an avenger for wrath to him that doeth evil” (Rom. 13:4). Pilate, as a civil governor, was God’s agent to use either sword or cross to punish those whose just punishment deserved either weapon for the execution purpose. Jesus deserved not to die by means of either weapon but this does not change the principle that the cross was a means of punishing evil doers, e.g., the two robbers crucified beside Jesus. The cross for Jesus was unjust but for those deserving death the cross was optional with Pilate in punishing evil men which, for all I know, deserved death (Rom. 13:2-5). In yielding to the demands of Jesus’ critics, however, the civil power which said, “I find in him no fault” (Jn. 18:38) became a party to the very cry of those Jews who demanded the Savior’s death.

The Cross And Divine Providence

When I behold the wondrous cross of Jesus I see something about God’s over-ruling the evil purposes of men to praise him. Enemies of our Lord then and now, saw Jesus as an obstacle in their way of controlling the religious population. The elders, chief priests and scribes had long managed Jewish thought by their traditions and self-made decrees. Like a spring thunderstorm, Jesus simultaneously set afire their unauthorized religious hypocrisy and immoral lifestyle. Like a refreshing breeze there was his simple teaching in parables and word pictures of the nonmilitary nature of the kingdom of God. Then came his preachments to be the Messiah of Old Testament prophets reinforced by his sinless life and confirmation of his claims to be the Son of God. These constituted the moral and spiritual revolutionary doctrine which, in time, was to dethrone the Jewish hierarchy from its self-appointed dictatorship of self-will and self-service and replace it with the person of God’s only Son whose refreshing appeal was that of the truth which alone can release religious captives from Satan’s prison.

The Cross And The Crown

When I survey the wondrous cross upon which my Savior died, I see beyond this instrument of death a living hope for myself and all of Adam’s other children who have fallen by Satan’s deception. I say this because of what Jesus promised to do with his own life and, by my own faith, for my personal life! Yes, for me! Yes, for you – my brother, my sister! You see, my friend, Jesus came to this world of sin, sickness, sorrow, death, dying, and disappointment to “make all things new”! As the darkness of night precedes the dawn of day, so the gloom of the garden grave gives way to the glory of God. “He is not here, but is risen!” This is the song that angels sing – the song of redeeming love, the song of life eternal!

‘Tis true! ‘Tis true! “The way of the cross leads home” because the way of the cross is the way to glory, the way to God! Without the cross there is no crown; without the grave there is no glory. By his death on the wondrous cross he paid the price for my redemption. By his resurrection he validated the fact of life beyond death. That he showed himself alive is confirmed by the living witnesses who willingly gave their lives to verify their personal testimony regarding what their eyes saw and their ears heard. Because of his death I reached his blood shed in his death in my burial in baptism described in Romans 6:1-4 and from that grave of water I came forth to walk in a newness of life. Thank God for the cross of wood by which he enables sinners to become saints, to be wearers of the crown of life!

The Cross and Commitment

Finally, when I survey that wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died I see an abiding symbol of my personal responsibility as a disciple of Jesus. Many months before he was nailed to the cross of wood our Lord said, “He that doth not take his cross and follow after me, is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:38). In similar vein when Jesus had told his apostles about his impending death and resurrection at Jerusalem and was rebuked by Peter for talking about such, he called Peter “Satan” and a “stumbling block” to the fulfilling of his earthly mission. Then, turning to his disciples, he said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matt. 10:24). This is duty! This is our Lord’s challenge to be heeded now. Truly, “The way of the cross leads home”!

The greatest barrier between me and complete submission to the Christ of the cross is myself — my own self-centered desires which Satan always uses to draw me away from the control of Christ. Yes, always and everywhere! Jesus said of his Father, “I do always the things that are pleasing to him” (John 8:29) and this is the challenge of the wondrous cross in every facet of my life. There is no crown of glory apart from the cross of duty — everywhere and every moment of this life! This is complete commitment!

— Via Guardian of Truth XXXI: 20, pp. 609, 642-643, October 15, 1987
——————–

-2-

Soul Winning

(video sermon by Tom Edwards)

If you would like to hear and see this, just click on the above sermon title while on the Internet.  It was preached December 20, 2020.
———————

-3-

News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Our sympathies go out to the family and friends of Reavis Lamar Hickox who passed away Friday (December 18) at only 66 years of age, following an illness of 3 to 4 weeks; and of his father, Reavis Lee Hickox who left this earth-life December 10, having reached the age of 89.  (Their wives also had covid-19, but they have both recovered from it.)  

We also extend our condolences to the family and friends of Mary Elizabeth Rogers (Kim Rowell’s mother) who passed away December 16.

We are glad to hear that Doyle Rittenhouse’s surgery on his back went well.  Actually, “great” is the word that his wife Joyce used in describing it!  For he now has less pain in his legs and back, and can really tell the problem was solved when he gets up and walks.  He now has just some pain from the surgery itself, which is “a piece of cake” compared to what he was going through.

Joyce Rittenhouse’s brother received some good news recently during a doctor visit.  It turns out that he has healed up well enough that an additional heart surgery will not be necessary!    

Jo Ann Ray is also doing much better now, following her recent illness with covid-19.
 
Jan Bartlett is not   well and has been running a low fever, and her husband Danny has been under the weather for about a week.

Elizabeth Harden’s due date is now just 15 days away (January 4). Both her and her unborn have been doing fine.

Things went well for Deborah Medlock in hearing the test results from her cancer doctor of the recent lab work she had. 

Others to also be praying for: Rick Cuthbertson, Vivian Foster, Larry & Janice Hood, Jim Lively, James Medlock, Judy Daugherty, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Jamie Cates, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Ronnie & Melotine Davis, Shirley Davis, Chris Williams, Tim Kirkland, and Cameron Haney.
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel — for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).

2) Believe in the deity of Jesus Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).

3) Repent of sins.  For every accountable person has sinned (Romans 3:23; Romans 3:10), which causes one to be spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) and separated from God (Isaiah 59:1-2; Romans 6:23). Therefore, repentance of sin is necessary (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).  For whether the sin seems great or small, there will still be the same penalty for either (Matt. 12:36-37; 2 Cor. 5:10) — and even for a lie (Rev. 21:8).

4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).

5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  This is the final step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).  For from that baptism, one is then raised as a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17), having all sins forgiven and beginning a new life as a Christian (Rom. 6:3-4). For the one being baptized does so “through faith in the working of God” (Col. 2:12). In other words, believing that God will keep His word and forgive after one submits to these necessary steps. And now as a Christian, we then need to…

6) Continue in the faith by living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Matt. 24:13; Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
——————–

Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501

We are currently meeting for only our Sunday 10 a.m. worship service each week, due to the coronavirus situation.

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

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

« Older posts Newer posts »

© 2021

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑