Voltaire’s Understanding of God
by Tom Edwards
Francois-Marie Arouet is a name that you might not recognize; but if I mentioned his pen name of “Voltaire,” you most likely have heard of this French philosopher and historian, who is said to have “produced works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works” — actually having written “more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets” (Wikipedia). He often attacked organized religion; yet he, as a deist, accepted the idea of a Supreme Being; but this, to him, was not based on faith; but, rather, on simple observation and reason. He states, “It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason” (A Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire, section 1 on Faith).
Perhaps this reminds you of what Paul declares in Romans 1:20, that God’s “invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are with excuse.” And why the one who would say there is no God is, therefore, defined in the Bible as being a “fool” (Psa. 14:1; 53:1). Yes, the evidence of God’s reality is seen in all creation.
Of course, if the creation is the only means whereby an awareness of God is obtained, then it lacks in the ability to save the soul. For salvation is based on more than merely the realization that there is a God, a Supreme Being. It also requires looking into the gospel, which is “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16), and believing in Jesus as the Son of God, as Deity, and as the only Savior of the world (Jn. 8:24; Acts 4:12). The gospel, of course, also shows of the need to repent (Luke 13:5), to acknowledge faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and to be baptized if we want to be forgiven and become a Christian (Mk. 16:16; Jn. 3:3-5; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; Col. 2:12; 1 Pet. 3:21). Through the gospel, one not only has faith instilled, but also the plan of salvation revealed, along with the additional needed truth of how we are to live unto God as His faithful people who are pressing on to that ultimate goal of eternal life in heaven. And, as the Hebrew writer informs, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised” (Heb. 10:36). So just accepting everything factually, without proceeding down that highway to heaven, will never enable one to reach the desired destination and have a relationship with God along the way.
Similarly, accepting Satan and the demons, as referred to in the Bible, factually does not make one a follower of Satan nor put one in league with him and the demons. But does our faith in God go no more beyond that type of awareness — or is it a faith that has led us to hear and follow the word of the Lord, thus changing our lives for the better, and striving to continually do so?
Voltaire acknowledged the reality of a Supreme Being — and that is a good start. But let us each look to the Bible to acquire that thorough understanding that God Himself wants us to have of Him and be willing to submit to that which His word nstructs — and do so — so that our faith will truly be a saving faith (cf. James 2:17-26; Matt. 7:21). For Jesus Christ “…became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9).
The Silent Killer
by Mike Johnson
High blood pressure is sometimes referred to by doctors as “the silent killer.” It is referred to in this way because people often do not even know they have high blood pressure until it has already done its damage. This is not an article about high blood though, but instead, about another silent killer condemned in the Scriptures — “bitterness.” Bitterness might be called the real silent killer. Like high blood pressure, bitterness may go unnoticed by others, and sometimes the person who has bitterness may not fully realize it. Thus, it is important for us to “put on the cuff” from time to time and check our “bitterness level.”
We speak of something being literally bitter when it has a sharp or unpleasant taste. Mentally, however, bitterness is an ongoing pain, hurt, and mental anguish which is felt by people due to past events or circumstances. Bitterness has been called “resentment which has been held on to.” It is resentment which has become rancid and rotten. It has also been said that “bitterness is loss frozen in resentment.” Bitterness grows out of our refusal to let go when someone or something is taken from us. People get hurt because of difficult circumstances, events, or other people; they hold on to that hurt, and it turns into bitterness.
Naomi, from the Old Testament, serves as an example of a person who became bitter due to various setbacks in life. In the book of Ruth, we learn that Naomi, along with her husband and two sons, went to Moab to live because of a famine in Judah. Her sons married two women — Orpah and Ruth. In the course of time, her husband died, and then her two sons died. Naomi’s losses made her bitter. She said, “. . . Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord hath brought me home again empty: why then call ye me Naomi, seeing the Lord hath testified against me, and the Almighty hath afflicted me” (1:13. 20-21). The name Naomi signifies “pleasant” or “amiable”; the name Mara, which she wanted to be called, signifies “bitter.” Note above the number of times that she blamed God for her misfortunes. Naomi allowed her losses to cause her to become bitter. Often, people allow difficult circumstances to cause them to become bitter today against others and, sometimes, even against God.
Hannah is another Old Testament example of bitterness. She was married to Elkanah who had another wife besides her. Hannah was unable to bear a child and was very sad as a result. Also, Elkanah’s other wife was able to bear children, which seemed to cause resentment between the two women. Although Elkanah treated Hannah very well and loved her dearly, she was deeply grieved. Her husband could not console her. According to I Samuel 1:10, she was in “bitterness of soul.” This is another example of the circumstances of life causing bitterness. To Hannah’s credit, however, she turned to the Lord during this very difficult time. She asked God for a child, which she would give to the Lord, and God granted her request.
Hebrews 12:15 is one of several New Testament passages which warns against bitterness. It says, “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” A “root of bitterness,” like the root of a tree, can be below the surface and not detectable by others. Eventually, it will show itself, producing the fruits of bitterness such as evil speaking, anger, and hatred. Bitterness, as the text says, can defile others, as well. It can hurt relationships and can even cause disunity within a congregation.
Colossians 3:19 speaks of the danger of bitterness within a marriage as it says, “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” Instead of having bitterness toward his wife, the husband is told to love her. When bitterness exists, proper love is lacking. Problems often occur between a husband and a wife and when problems are not settled, ill-feelings can fester into resentment and bitterness. Some disagreements need to be discussed and resolved. Trivial disagreements should simply be forgotten. Many couples need to learn how to “forget about it” or to “get over it.” If not, bitterness can develop which can destroy any relationship, especially a marriage.
Bitterness is a sin, and it must be put away. Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” Sometimes a person will say, “With what has happened to me, I have a right to be bitter.” The Biblical answer is, “No you don’t.” Some people, for example, say that they can’t stop gambling, committing fornication, or drinking. It may be difficult, but people can stop these sins. In the same way, although it might not be easy, people can get rid of bitterness. God does not require the impossible.
How do we put away bitterness? Ephesians 4:32 makes it clear that bitterness is to be replaced with kindness and compassion. We need to have enough kindness and compassion in our hearts so that there is no room for bitterness. Verse 32 also points out that we are to forgive one another “even as God for Christ’s sake” has forgiven us. Sometimes it is very difficult to forgive, but we must. Even if a person will not repent, the Bible teaches that we are to love our enemies (Mt. 5:43-44), and that we are to overcome evil with good (Rom. 12:17-21). Finally, we must repent and pray (Acts 8:22) in order to be forgiven.
Many of life’s dealings can cause bitterness: the deaths of loved ones, sickness, difficult circumstances, people hurting or mistreating us in some way. We must realize that life is full of hurts; it always will be. We must never allow ourselves to be the “victims” of other people’s offenses. Bitterness has been called “the nest that the devil digs into our soul.” It must, for our own good and for the good of others, be put away.
— Via Biblelist, March 31, 2015
News & News
Here are some folks for us Christians to be remembering in prayer:
Marie Pennock is still having back pain and continuing to see a chiropractor. She also recently had an MRI to determine more of the problem, which we are now waiting to hear the results on. Though they did discover a compression fracture in a vertebra, the pain is thought to be primarily due to the spine being out of alignment. In June she will also be seeing a neurologist and a cardiologist, due to her recent stay of a couple days in the hospital because of arrhythmia.
Judy Daugherty continues to improve from her recent fall, but her sister Jean Beach has experienced a decline in her health.
Jewell Wilson was transferred back into the hospital Friday, due to several illnesses: staff infection in her blood, pneumonia, intestinal blockage, tachycardia, UTI, a rash infection, and most of which can be a higher risk due to her age.
Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Myrna Jordan, Mary Vandevander and Melotine Davis, Danielle Howard, Deborah and Penny Medlock, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Ronnie Crews, Sunny Nichols, Dexter Roberts, Betty Miles, Steve Vista, Buddy Gornto, Dolly Downs Moody, Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jesse Bailey, Sue Wooten, and Colleen Henson.
The Ladies’ Bible Class meets every Tuesday at 7 PM in the church building. All ladies are invited.
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 Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21)
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)