The Gospel Observer (September 20, 2015)

Contents:

1) Beyond Our Dimensions of Space and Time (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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pier
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Beyond Our Dimensions of Space and Time
by Tom Edwards

Recently, I was looking at a beautifully calm and sunny scene of a long wooden pier with its white railings, on a deserted beach, stretching out into a vast body of water, under a blue sky with large, white clouds widely extended, and all appearing pleasurably peaceful.

While gazing at it, it also led to my thinking of three linear dimensions — as well as a realm not yet experienced by us: 1) the length of the pier, 2) the much greater distance across that vast body of water, and 3), even more awesome, while looking at the sky, the endlessness of space, which, though pertaining to distance, seems to also symbolize and evoke thoughts of the timelessness of eternity itself.  For would it not take that long in imagining all of infinity?

But even though our immeasurable universe is so mind-boggling to even try to contemplate its totality, yet the Bible shows that it is all just temporary.  For there is a major event coming, when “…the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat…” (2 Pet. 3:10-12), for there will then be no more purpose nor need for this physical realm.

But when that happens, will there still be an empty void of space left behind?  Or is that also part of God’s creation that will cease to be?  Though this is conjecture on my part, yet it certainly is an amazingly bizarre thought to ponder.  For how could that which is an empty void become nothing?  Sounds impossible, doesn’t it?  Of course, with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26) and nothing is too difficult for Him (Jer. 32:17); and would we not think of heaven as being somewhere apart from our infinite, physical universe — such as in something similar to a parallel universe?  If that be the case, could not even the empty space in which our universe dwells cease to be, along with all its contents, like a printed page torn out of a journal or diary and consumed in flames?  But unlike that page, for not even one ash or any trace to remain?

This, of course, as to what will happen to the “empty space” is speculation; but we who believe in God know that He can do far greater than all we can even imagine!  Yes, He can do that which, to us, would be so impossible!

I do not think of heaven, where God dwells, as having a physical location somewhere in the universe that if we just had the technology, the time, and knew its whereabouts, we could travel to it by spaceship.  Rather, heaven is in a far greater realm — a spiritual one — and one with a “substance” of exceedingly superior quality compared to our physical realm.  For heaven is eternal, where things do not age, wear out, nor perish; while all of our physical realm continues to decline, to waste away, to cease to be — and with some things even more fleeting than others.

This is why the apostle Paul shows that God’s children will have their temporary tabernacles of flesh replaced with imperishable bodies suitable for heaven (cf. 2 Cor. 5:1-4).  For “Just as we have borne the image of the earthly, we will also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:49).  And the need for that can be seen in what he goes on to declare:

“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.  But when this perishable will have put on this imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.  O Death, where is your victory?  O Death, where is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord” (vv. 50-58).

Though what will become of the empty void of our universe, after all the elements in it are destroyed, perhaps we cannot know.  But I still find it very amazing to believe that God could do away with even an infinity of emptiness if He willed it so!

What wonders are in store for those who will spend an eternity in heaven!  What an amazing place heaven itself must be!  For its dwellers will be enjoying those things of God “…who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think…” (Phil. 3:20).

Let us, therefore, conclude with what Peter goes on to say.  After speaking of the heavens passing away with a roar and the elements being destroyed with intense heat, along with the earth and its works, he then gives this following exhortation to the brethren:

“Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (vv. 11-13).

This phrase, “new heavens and a new earth,” figuratively represents heaven itself, just as that same wording is used in Isaiah 65:17-25 in metaphorically referring to the new system of the Gospel Age, which was to come after 1,500 years of the Mosaical Age.  For by Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, He annulled the Old Covenant and established the New (cf. Eph. 2:11-16; Col. 2:13,14; Heb. 10:8-12).  Therefore, what a major, great, and glorious change that phrase “new heavens and a new earth” expresses — whether of that New Covenant, which was far superior to the Old, or of heaven itself compared to our earth-life in this physical realm!

Though heaven goes way beyond what we can even imagine now, how important it is for each of us to look to God’s word to acquire faith (cf. Rom. 10:17), to have that child-like trust in Jesus Christ, to truly believe in Him (Jn. 8:24), to repent of our sins (Lk. 13:5), to publicly acknowledge our faith in the Lord (Rom. 10:9,10), to be baptized as part of God’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21), and to continue in the faith (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10), as we press on for that glorious realm where Jesus now is, as the great King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16) — in  that heavenly place, far superior to any region we have ever known!
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“Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing” (Psa. 100:2).
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News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following in prayer:

Kayla Corbitt was recently admitted to ICU, due to her blood sugar count being extremely high, and had to spend a few days there.  But she has now been released and feeling better.

Baxter and Mary Cribbs’ son continues to be on antibiotics to eliminate an infection before the doctors can treat him for a kidney stone.

Rebekah Hampton has been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

Misty Thornton had been back in the hospital recently, due to heart trouble, but is now back home and continuing her treatment.

Deborah Medlock has been having some trouble with her neck and shoulder.

Daniel Howard (has trouble at times with her blood pressure and heart rate)

Also: Rex Hadley (heart trouble), Dexter Roberts (cancer in lymph nodes and several places), Steve Vesta (critically ill), Shirley Davis (arthritic pains), Mary Vandevander and  Sue Wooten (shut-ins), Judy Daugherty (undergoing physical therapy three times a week), Dolly Moody (fractured bone), Sunny Nichols (Parkinson Disease), Jean Beach (gastrointestinal problems), Michelle Rittenhouse (PVCs), Raylee Metts and Lexi Crawford (cancer), Anthony Monroe, Jr. (hearing problem), Betty Miles (stroke), Don Hill (cancer), Buddy Gornto, Colleen Henson, Donell Wells, and Kelsey Williams
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of 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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
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
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(Gospel Observer website)
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

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The Gospel Observer (September 13, 2015)

Contents:

1) Another Assault on Christian Faith: The Lost Tomb of Jesus Asserts That He Wasn’t Resurrected (Randy Blackaby)
2) News & Notes
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empty_tomb
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Another Assault on Christian Faith:
The Lost Tomb of Jesus Asserts That He Wasn’t Resurrected

by Randy Blackaby

Just as Dan Brown’s book and movie, The DaVinci Code, lost steam, Oscar-winning director James Cameron (of Titanic fame) released his new film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus. The film alleges the discovery of a tomb containing the remains of Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and their supposed son, Judah. If true, this would mean that Jesus didn’t die on the cross, wasn’t raised in three days, and didn’t ascend back to heaven about 40 days thereafter. So, again, the public is left to decide which is a hoax–the Bible and Jesus; or the film, research, and statistics behind it.

The documentary-style film is based on the 1980 discovery of a Jerusalem tomb that contained ten small caskets (ossuaries) of bones. According to the film, one bears the name Judah, son of Jesus. Another bears the name Mariamene, which the researchers and producers are concluding refers to Mary Magdalene. Others read Jesua, son of Joseph, Mary, Matthew, and Jofa.

DNA evidence purportedly shows that the bones of Jesua and Mariamene were the bones of unrelated people. Since most such tombs are family sepulchers, the door opens to the assumption that they may have been married and that Judah may have been their child. The inscriptions and ossuaries are said to be from the first-century Herodian period.

The names discovered in this tomb are very common for the period, with the name Mary believed to have been used by 25 percent or more of women in that day. But the researchers and film producers base their conclusions on statistics, arguing the odds are 600 to 1 in favor of the tomb belonging to Jesus’ family. The statistical approach is based on the odds of that many names from the Bible record being found in one tomb.

The film was released just before Easter, when many around the world were celebrating Jesus’ resurrection.

More of the Same

Efforts to undermine the resurrection’s credibility are as old as the event itself. Opponents of Christianity know the resurrection is the central fact of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:17). Virtually all the early gospel sermons recorded in the Book of Acts speak of it, and the epistles demonstrate that Jesus’ victory over death opens the door for believers to do the same. Christian baptism is patterned on the resurrection (Romans 6:3-4).

Announcements preceding and following His birth proclaimed Jesus to be a coming king (Matthew 2:1-2; Luke 1:31-33). He entered Jerusalem as a triumphal king (Matthew 21) and confessed to Pontius Pilate that He was king of the Jews (Matthew 27:11; Luke 23:3). If He died, was buried, and never rose, He would, at best, be a dead king, not the one the Bible says sits today at God’s right hand, ruling and reigning over His kingdom (Acts 7:55; Ephesians 1:20- 22; Hebrews 2:7-8).

The Bible reports that the chief priests and elders bribed the Roman guards, who weren’t able to keep the sealed tomb secure enough to prevent the resurrection, to say Jesus’ disciples stole His body (Matthew 28:11-15). However, no one has produced any real evidence that His body remains on earth.

Evidence for the Resurrection

Evidence for Jesus’ resurrection is similar to the evidence that George Washington lived and was the first president of the United States. In both cases, we have eye-witness testimony. History books tell us about George Washington. People who lived contemporary with him recorded what they saw. We weren’t there; yet we believe the witnesses.

The apostle Paul summarized similar evidence for the resurrection in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8: “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”

Did all these witnesses lie? Most of those apostles, and many of the early Christians, died rather than recant their testimony about Christ and His resurrection. Are people usually willing to suffer loss of their property, rights, liberty, and lives to defend a lie? No; they really believed what they declared, and suffered persecution rather than give up their own hope of being resurrected.

The empty tomb is another issue. No one, including Jesus’ enemies, denied the empty tomb, the rolled-away stone, or the broken seal. They sought alternate explanations, but they didn’t deny the tomb was empty. Consider the animosity toward Jesus, the knowledge of His own resurrection predictions, and the care taken to seal and guard the tomb. Don’t you think Christianity’s first-century opponents would have produced Jesus’ body when the disciples began proclaiming His resurrection–if they could?

Holes in the New Tomb Story

One of the most obvious problems with the latest Jesus-family-tomb theory is the tombs location in Jerusalem. Although Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not a great distance from Jerusalem, his home town was Nazareth, way up north in Galilee. He was called Jesus of Nazareth. If His family had a family tomb, it would likely have been around Nazareth, not Jerusalem. The Bible account has Jesus buried in the borrowed tomb of a rich Jewish ruler named Joseph of Arimathea (Matthew 27:57- 60; Luke 23:50-53; Luke 15:42-43; John 19:38-42). Clearly, it wasn’t the family tomb of the poor carpenter’s son from Nazareth.

We need to view this new theory and its evidence in juxtaposition to the evidence present at the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Anti-Christian forces in Judaism and the Roman government would have had as intense an interest in undermining the idea of the resurrection then as atheistic and secular forces do today. And if there had been evidence to contradict the resurrection, those first-century opponents would have produced it. But they couldn’t.

The events surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection weren’t secret or hidden in the first century. Paul, speaking to King Agrippa and Governor Festus, said that Jesus’ death and resurrection was “not done in a corner.” In other words, the facts were widely known, not hidden from public view.

And don’t forget that the apostle Paul was actually Saul of Tarsus, who vociferously opposed Jesus, hunted down Christians for trial and death, and tried to stamp out the new faith which was based on the resurrection. But when this enemy of Christian faith himself saw the risen Jesus, he changed and became the great gospel preacher to the Gentiles.

*****

Brother Blackaby has provided a discussion of another example of the world’s attempt to discredit and disprove the Bible’s truth and accuracy. Satan never tires of inventing schemes to destroy the faith of God’s children. In the past few years, men have relentlessly produced so-called new discoveries that question the Bible’s truthfulness. Yet, the Bible remains on solid footing as God’s inspired book that continues to change sinners’ hearts. Praise be to God! (Keith M. Greer)

— Via The Monthly Messenger (from the Knollwood church of Christ, Beavercreek, Ohio), May 2007
——————–

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News & Notes

It is good to have Doug and Marie Pennock back with us, after their having been up north for several weeks!

Let those of us who are God’s children be remembering the following in prayer:

Baxter and Mary Cribbs’ son in Kentucky is sick with a kidney stone, but he must remain on antibiotics for several more days to eliminate an infection before more can be done for the stone.

Rebekah Hampton has been diagnosed with Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome.

Misty Thornton had been back in the hospital recently, due to heart trouble, but is now back home.

Deborah Medlock has been having some trouble with her neck and shoulder.

Also: Rex Hadley (bypass blockage and possible stone), Dexter Roberts (cancer in lymph nodes and several places), Steve Vesta (critically ill), Shirley Davis (healing from a leg procedure to remove blockages), Pat Joyner (healing from breast cancer surgery), Eleanor Roberts (Alzheimers’), Henry Roberts (pain in back and feet), Brittany Royals (recovering well from surgery for broken hip), Judy Daugherty (has been making some improvement, but still undergoing therapy three times a week), Danielle Howard (has trouble at times with her blood pressure and heart rate), Mary Vandevander and  Sue Wooten (shut-ins), Dolly Moody (fractured bone), Benny Medlock (mild stroke), Sunny Nichols (Parkinson Disease), Jean Beach (gastrointestinal problems), Michelle Rittenhouse (PVCs) Raylee Metts and Lexi Crawford (cancer), Anthony Monroe, Jr. (hearing problem), Betty Miles (stroke), Don Hill (cancer), Buddy Gornto, Colleen Henson, Donell Wells, and Kelsey Williams
——————–

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of 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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
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
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(Gospel Observer website)
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (September 6, 2015)

Contents:

1) The Lord is My Helper (Billy Boyd)
2) Faith Building: The Walls of Jericho (R.J. Evans)
3) A Different Point of View! (Dan Gulley)
4) News & Notes
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Lone fisherman on boat
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The Lord is My Helper
by Billy Boyd

A little girl, when asked to repeat the 23rd Psalm, said, “The Lord is my shepherd, that’s all I want.” She may have been a little confused about the actual wording, but she expressed a truth that should be the property of every Christian.

There is no blessing so valuable as the ability to lean upon the sufficiency of God, to find in Him all that we want. The firm basis of such trust was brought to Paul’s attention when the Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 11:9).

Consider the unsearchable riches which one possesses when the Lord is his helper.

1. There is a feeling of security that transcends social and financial security. The child of God can be content in all circumstances of life. “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therein to be content” (Phil. 4:11).

2. There is a peace that passeth understanding (Phil. 4:7) and floods the Christian’s life with joy that is  unspeakable (I Pet. 1:8). This peace is greater than  all the treasures earth can yield.

3. There is a freedom from fear of all types. “So that with good courage we say, The Lord is my helper; I will not fear: What shall man do unto me?” (Heb. 13:6). Fear of bodily harm and even of death itself is dissipated when we walk with the Lord. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil; for thou art with me” (Ps. 23:4).

4. There is a crown of life that glitters through eternity. “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved his appearing” (II TIM. 4:8).

In addition to these wonderful blessings, the Lord promises us what we need physically. Surely, when the Lord is our helper, there can be no want.

— Via The Beacon, July 10, 2012
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city wall
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Faith Building:
The Walls of Jericho

by R.J. Evans

In Joshua 6:1-6, the Israelites were instructed by the Lord to march around the city of Jericho once each day for six days.  The priests were told to bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark, and on the seventh day, they were to march around the city seven times and when the priests blew the trumpets, all the people were to shout and the wall of the city would fall down flat.  The remainder of chapter 6 tells of their obedience to God’s instructions, the wall falling, and the city being destroyed.

Marching around a city thirteen times in seven days, blowing trumpets and making a great shout — who ever heard of such a thing?  The wall was of such considerable size that houses were built upon it (Josh. 2:15).  How safe the inhabitants of Jericho must have felt.  How easy it would have been for the soldiers and commanders on the walls to laugh and ridicule the marchers as they encompassed the city.  But suddenly on the seventh day, there was an incredible event — the walls fell! (v. 20).

Now how did the walls fall?  Was this some common military procedure that had been used successfully in the past?  Absolutely not! “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).  Yes, it took great faith to carry out such an unusual command. “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7).  It took faith in “things not seen” — “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17).

But there are skeptics who laugh and mock at the events recorded in Joshua 6.  They say it is absurd to believe that the walls of Jericho fell down after the Israelites marched around them.  However, let us consider the following portion of information taken from HALLEY’S BIBLE HANDBOOK, New Revised Edition, pp. 159-161:  “Dr. John Garstang, director of the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem and of the Department of Antiquities of the Palestine Government, excavated the ruins of Jericho in 1926-36.  He found pottery and scarab evidence that the city had been destroyed about 1400 B.C., coinciding with Joshua’s date, and, in a number of details, dug up evidence confirming the Biblical account in a most remarkable way. ‘the wall fell down flat’ (20).  Dr. Garstang found that the wall did actually ‘fall down flat.'”

There are many lessons learned from Jericho: (1)  We learn that God’s ways are not our ways (Isa. 55:8).  Man would have planned some scheme to allow a few to enter the city and open the gates or build mounds, use sling shots to pick the soldiers off the wall, use ladders, etc. (2)  We learn the meaning of grace. “And the Lord said to Joshua: ‘See!  I have given Jericho into you hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor'” (Josh. 6:2).  Yes, it was a gift, but it involved active obedience.  The same is true today — salvation is a gift from God (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8), yet there are certain conditions that must be met (Matt. 7:21; Jn. 6:29; Mk. 16:16; Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Eph. 2:10; Heb. 5:9).  (3)  We learn the meaning of obedient faith (Heb. 11; Jas. 2:24).  (4)  We learn that God’s way will work no matter how foolish (in man’s eyes) it may seem (1 Cor. 1:18-31).

The Apostle Paul told the Romans that “whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4).  The Israelites placed their faith and trust in God when they marched around the city of Jericho.  We place our faith and trust in God when we are baptized for the remission of our sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  When we faithfully obey the Lord we can hope for and enjoy the blessings and rewards He has promised (Matt. 6:33; Rev. 2:10).

Again, we emphasize — “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, Louisiana, for April 6, 2014
——————–
man lowered through roof
-3-

A Different Point of View!

by Dan Gulley

Mark 2:1-5 tells about the unorthodox efforts of four unnamed heroes who used faith and works to get a hurting friend to Jesus. Hearing that Jesus was in a house in Capernaum, four men sought to bring a paralytic to Jesus on a bed. Finding the house full of people and their way to Jesus blocked, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith He said to the paralytic, Son, your sins are forgiven you.'”

This incident reminds us that faith brings a different point of view in getting lost people to Jesus. Four men who believed Jesus could make a profound difference in the life of their paralyzed friend refused to give up when they found the way to Jesus crowded and impossible to pass. What to do? Faithless, negative thinking would have said nothing could be done and there were simply too many obstacles. But one of them lifted his eyes and expressed a different point of view: “We can get on top of the house, tear the roof off and lower him down to Jesus.” Faith helped them have a different point of view! As a result the paralyzed man went home with a newly healed body and a freshly cleansed soul.

Many Christians could use a different point of view. The devil has convinced some in the church that our job as Christians is to come, sit and listen. But the proper evangelistic mentality is summed up in the words of Acts 5:20 – “Go … stand … speak.” Some insist nobody they know is interested in God, but Jesus calls us to a different point of view. He says “the harvest truly is plentiful” and “lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest” (Matthew 9:37, John 4:35). Could it be many people are being kept from getting to Jesus because negative, faithless thinking is keeping us from getting to them? Faith can help us uncover the roof and see past what we alone can do to what we can do with God’s help. Has faith changed your point of view?

— Via The Beacon, September 9, 2014
——————–

-4-

News & Notes

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of Jewell Wilson (Joyce Rittenhouse’s mother) who passed away September 3, after a long struggle with illness.  She was soon to turn 97 and leaves behind many relatives and friends — even great great grandchildren.  Let those of us who are Christians be remembering in prayer all her loved ones.

Our sympathies also go out to the family and friends of Alyson Creed Jenkins (Carole Drain’s niece) who passed away on September 1 at only 46 years of age.  Though born in Jacksonville, Florida, Alyson had moved with her family to Augusta, Georgia, when just 8 years old and remained in that area.

Let us also continue in prayer for Misty Thornton who has recently been diagnosed with heart trouble.

Anthony Monroe Jr. (Deborah Medlock’s great nephew) was born with a hearing impairment that has gradually become worse.  He is again seeking possible remedies.

Others to be in prayer for:

Rex Hadley (bypass blockage and possible stone), Dexter Roberts (cancer in lymph nodes and several places), Steve Vesta (critically ill), Shirley Davis (healing from a leg procedure to remove blockages), Pat Joyner (healing from breast cancer surgery), Eleanor Roberts (Alzheimers’), Henry Roberts (pain in back and feet), Brittany Royals (recovering well from surgery for broken hip), Judy Daugherty (slowly recovering from a  fall to the head which caused a pea-size tumor), Danielle Howard (low blood pressure), Mary Vandevander and  Sue Wooten (shut-ins), Dolly Moody (fractured bone), Benny Medlock (mild stroke), Sunny Nichols (Parkinson Disease), Jean Beach (gastrointestinal problems), Michelle Rittenhouse (PVCs) Raylee Metts and Lexi Crawford (cancer), Betty Miles (stroke), Don Hill (cancer), Buddy Gornto, Colleen Henson, Donell Wells, and Kelsey Williams

As also mentioned in last week’s bulletin…

There will be a gospel meeting at the Oak Grove church of Christ in Jennings, Florida, September 6-11 with Paul Earnhart (from Louisville, Kentucky) as the guest speaker.  The church meets at 2922 NW 76th Terrace, Jennings, Florida.  Weeknight services will begin at 7:30.  For additional information, call 386-938-5047.

The Golden Isles church of Christ in Brunswick (at 445 Touchstone Parkway) will be having a congregational sing September 12 (Saturday) at 4 PM.
——————–

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).
——————–

Tebeau Street
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
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(Gospel Observer website)
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html
(audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (August 30, 2015)

Contents:

1) “For Now We See in a Mirror Dimly” (Tom Edwards)
2) Design and the Designer (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes
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“For Now We See in a Mirror Dimly”
by Tom Edwards

In writing in the time prior to the completed New Testament, Paul declares, “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).

Though some individuals might interpret this to indicate that one can never see all things clearly while here on earth, but only in heaven, yet is that what this passage is really saying?

In the days that Paul wrote this, mirrors were not like what we are familiar with today.  Rather, they were merely a polished metal that would dimly reflect an image.

Going back many centuries before Paul’s time, those mirrors mentioned in Exodus 38:8, for example, had been made of bronze.  And in this passage, women had been donating theirs to be used in making the laver, which would be for washing by the priests, between the tent of meeting and the altar (Exod. 30:18).

According to the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge, “The first mirrors known among men were the clear fountain and unruffled lake. The first artificial ones were made of polished brass, afterwards of steel, and when luxury increased, of silver; but at a very early period, they were made of a mixed metal, particularly of tin and copper, the best of which, as Pliny informs us, were formerly manufactured at Brundusium” (which is now known as Brindisi, a natural seaport in the “heel” of southeast Italy).

In Job 37:18, Elihu questions Job: “Can you, with Him, spread out the skies, strong as a molten mirror?”  Or, as some other versions render this last part, “…hard as a mirror of cast bronze” (NIV), “…strong as a cast metal mirror” (NKJV), and “…hard as polished metal” (GNB).

And so Paul implies in 1 Corinthians 13:12 that having only a partial or incomplete revelation from God is like seeing an image only dimly, instead of getting the complete, clear picture.  But when God’s divinely inspired word would be given in its entirety, then it would be as plain as seeing “face to face,” which is the contrasting phrase Paul uses to seeing “in a mirror dimly.”  In addition, Paul also likens the mirror to knowing only “in part,” and seeing “face to face” is paralleled to knowing “fully.”

So let us note, too, that this seeing “face to face” or knowing “fully” was to happen here on earth, and attained through the complete knowledge of God’s word, which is recorded in the New Testament.

This can be compared to Ephesians 4:11-13, where Paul states: “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”

Again, some folks would view this as being able to be fulfilled only in heaven where everyone will be perfectly mature and in perfect unity.  But look what Paul goes on to say in the very next verse as to the purpose for why these men were given to help the church grow: “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (v. 14).

So if that maturity and unity can be attained only in heaven, then what are those men doing there, in that beautiful place of God’s abode, who are given to trickery, craftiness, and deceitful scheming to lead folks away from the truth by every wind of false doctrine?  That most definitely won’t be going on in heaven, so it must be something taking place while here on earth; and where we, therefore, see the need to grow in the knowledge of God’s word so that we might remain on that right path and not be led astray from it.

We noted above that one of the purposes for the saints being equipped for the work of service and built up in the body of Christ is that each would become a “mature man”; and, of course, it is through the knowledge of the Scriptures that that is possible.  In Hebrews 5:12-14, the Hebrew writer reproves his readership for failing to have acquired a good knowledge of “the word of righteousness.” Here, he also indicates that having attained that knowledge would not have been an impossibility for them.  For he says, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.”  And now notice what he goes on to say, in defining what a “mature” Christian really is: “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil” (Heb. 5:14) — and that discernment comes through a knowledge of God’s word.   Yes, attaining to that maturity, that discernment, is to be true of each of us while here on earth.

In the completed New Testament, we today have the “perfect law of liberty” (Jms. 1:15), “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3), and “so that the man of God may be adequate [perfect, KJV], equipped [furnished completely, ASV] for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17).

So the “perfect” of 1 Corinthians 13:10 is the New Testament in its entirety that has been “once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3).  And with that, man is no longer limited to just a dim, dark, or partial view; but can now see as clearly as viewing someone face to face.  As Paul declares, “For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away” (1 Cor. 13:9,10).

Though some believe the “perfect” to be referring to Christ, the perfect is actually the totality of the “in part” (KJV) or the “partial” (NASB) of the same verse.  In other words, when the complete revelation would be given, the miraculous gifts (which had been revealing the word “in part” or partially at a time) would cease, as Paul also speaks of in 1 Corinthians 13:8: “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.”  Prophecy, tongues, and the word of knowledge were just three of the miraculous gifts; but the ceasing of them would also be true of the other gifts as well.

Miraculous gifts were for the church in its infancy.  They were greatly needed then.  For man was without the completed New Testament to turn to.  Therefore, six of those nine spiritual gifts, which the Holy Spirit had given as He willed (1 Cor. 12:11), provided them with the knowledge of God’s word to grow thereby, which were “the word of wisdom,” “the word of knowledge,” “prophecy,” “distinguishing of spirits,” “various kinds of tongues,” and the “interpretation of tongues” (1 Cor. 12:8-10).  And, in this same passage, we also read of the three other spiritual gifts that had been given to confirm by miraculous signs those messages from God (cf. Mark 16:20; Heb. 2:3,4), which were “faith” (a miraculous kind), “gifts of healing,” and “the effecting of miracles.”

And we need to also point out that it was not the gifts in themselves that produced spiritual maturity — as evidenced by the Corinthians who abounded in miraculous gifts (1 Cor. 1:7), but were still “infants in Christ,” “fleshly,” and characterized with “jealousy” and “strife” (1 Cor. 3:1-3).  Paul’s letter to them (1 Corinthians) makes mention of many spiritual problems the Corinthians had that he strives to correct them of.

So what people need today is simply God’s truth as found in the gospel.  For, as we saw, it contains “everything pertaining to life and godliness” by which we may be spiritually mature (2 Pet. 1:3) and built up in the faith (cf. Acts 20:32).

Paul also shows that after the miraculous gifts would have ceased, faith, hope, and love would still continue  (1 Cor. 13:13).  This, however, conflicts with the wrong belief that many have today that the miraculous gifts are to continue throughout time.  For if that be the case, then faith and hope will have to also be continuing in heaven.  “…but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?  But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom. 8:24,25).  And “…faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not see” (Heb. 11:1).  We now hope for heaven and have faith that it is; but once there, what will happen to that hope and faith?

So now with the completed revelation of the gospel, we can see as if “face to face” — rather than merely a dim reflection on a polished piece of metal. May we each, therefore, continue to look into God’s illuminating word that we may clearly see those things He wants us to know; and faithfully respond to that which He would have us to do.
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hummingbird
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Design and the Designer
by Greg Gwin

The Journal of the American Medical Association give this interesting report: “The hummingbird is the smallest bird on earth — some species weigh no more than a dime. It has the highest rate of metabolism (at rest, about 50 times faster than man’s) and thus must consume enormous amounts of nectar to avoid starvation. Not adapted for night feeding, it must stretch its food stores from dusk to dawn. To accomplish this, nature has equipped the hummingbird with a unique energy-saving design: the ability to hibernate overnight.  During the night, the hummingbird’s metabolic rate is only one-fifteenth as rapid as in the daytime, and its body temperature drops to that of the surrounding air. The bird becomes torpid, scarcely able to move. When it does stir, it moves as though congealed. By daybreak, the hummingbird’s body spontaneously resumes its normal temperature and high metabolic rate, ready once again to dart off in search of food.”

The physical world is literally full of amazing examples of design which the atheist and evolutionist cannot explain. The simple case of the hummingbird is a case in point.  Just how did this incredible little creature develop its unique characteristics which allow it to function so well in this world? Could this have happened by chance? And if it came about by gradual evolution, how did the hummingbird survive over millions of years while this awesome metabolic regulator was evolving? This one simple example is sufficient to illustrate the overwhelming difficulties of the theory of evolution.

What we’re saying here is that when we see obvious design in anything — a car, a house, or a hummingbird — that design necessarily implies that there is a designer. In the case of the hummingbird (and all the rest of physical nature) the designer is Almighty God. “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God” (Heb. 3:4).

— Via The Beacon, July 21, 2015
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News & Notes

Let those of us who are the Lord’s people continue to remember the following in prayer:

Jewell Wilson (hospice care), Rex Hadley (bypass blockage and possible stone), Danielle Howard (low blood pressure, which she recently had to spend some time in the hospital for), Dexter Roberts (cancer in lymph nodes and several places), Steve Vesta (critically ill), Shirley Davis (healing from a leg procedure to remove blockages), Pat Joyner (healing from breast cancer surgery), Eleanor Roberts (Alzheimers’), Henry Roberts (pain in back and feet), Brittany Royals (recovering well from surgery for broken hip), Judy Daugherty (slowly recovering from a  fall to the head which caused a pea-size tumor), Mary Vandevander and  Sue Wooten (shut-ins), Dolly Moody (fractured bone), Benny Medlock (mild stroke), Sunny Nichols (Parkinson Disease), Jean Beach (gastrointestinal problems), Michelle Rittenhouse (PVCs) Raylee Metts and Lexi Crawford (cancer), Betty Miles (stroke), Buddy Gornto, Don Hill (cancer), Colleen Henson, Donell Wells, and Kelsey Williams

There will be a gospel meeting at the Oak Grove church of Christ in Jennings, Florida, September 6-11 with Paul Earnhart (from Louisville, Kentucky) as the guest speaker.  The church meets at 2922 NW 76th Terrace.  Weeknight services will begin at 7:30.  For additional information, call 386-938-5047.

There will be a congregational singing at the Golden Isles church of Christ in Brunswick, Georgia, September 12 (Saturday), beginning at 4 PM.  The church meets at 441 Touchstone Parkway.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of 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).
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Tebeau Street
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
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go
(Gospel Observer website)
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com/
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