The Gospel Observer (November 22, 2015)

Contents:

1) Are We Thankful? (Lewis Willis)
2) Tell Me the Old, Old Story (But Give it to Me in Digestible Bites!) (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes
——————–
young girl with flowers
-1-

Are We Thankful?
by Lewis Willis

Let me share a thought with you which someone here shared with me. (I wish I could remember who, so I could give him the credit.) Stop and think of all the things you have in this life: salvation, the church, family, health, house, food, clothing, etc. Now, imagine that tomorrow you lost every single one of those things. What an unspeakable loss that would be! But, to your surprise, the next day you suddenly got back all that you had lost. Would you be exceedingly thankful that you had all of those things again? Surely you would. But, is it necessary to lose and regain them, before we are thankful for them? Should we not be thankful already just because we are so richly blessed?

Next Thursday is the day set aside in our great country as a national day of Thanksgiving. For Christians, it should be very easy to find reasons for being thankful. We have so much of this world’s goods to enjoy, and we have such a fortune of spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3). How could we be anything but thankful? We certainly cannot limit our thanksgiving to one day a year! It is impossible to adequately express to God our thanks for the immeasurable blessings he has given to us. We often say to our families and friends who give us gifts, “Saying ‘thank You’ is just not enough!” Such is certainly true regarding God’s gifts to us.

I often wonder if our prayers to God do not consist too much in asking him to give us the things we want. Now, being able to ask things of God is one of the blessings he grants to his children (Matt. 7:7; 1 Jn. 3:22). It is absolutely right and proper that Christians request his blessings for their lives. But, a “Give me this; give me that” prayer practice can become very selfish. We must balance our prayers with praise, supplications, intercessions and giving of thanks (Matt. 6:9; 1 Tim. 2:1).

Also, it is not unusual to hear people, even Christians, who blame God for all of their troubles.  Their attitude seems to be, “I prayed and look what he did to me, or, look what he let happen to me.”  We must be careful that we not charge God foolishly. The Patriarch Job, who suffered through so many problems, “sinned not, nor charged God foolishly” (Job 1:22). What does God do for us?  What kind of gifts does he give? James said, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (1:17). “Good” and “perfect” gifts come from God. Let us never charge that he has given to us that which brings us pain and heartache. Blame the Devil for that! Until he was allowed into the lives of Adam and Eve, none of these bad things happened. Since then, the world is filled with his wickedness, and its attendant grief.

Fortunately, today our nation is at peace, though we do have troops stationed in dangerous places around the world. Economic hard times have beset us for several years and many wonder what the future holds. American industry continues to decline and many are losing their jobs and security.  An entire nation feels their hurt, and is helping. At the same time, more Americans are working than at any time in history. Our standard of living is better than most of the people in the world. In fact, it is almost equal to that found anywhere. It is certainly appropriate that we be thankful for our prosperity.

During the past year, many families have been touched with serious health problems. Some still struggle with these illnesses. Some families have had to deal with death, while others have known the joy of babies arriving. Given the disasters which have afflicted parts of our nation, and other countries, we can be thankful that things have gone as well for us as they have.

Remember, our prayers should not be used only “In the event of an emergency.” Do you find yourself negligent in praying, except when you have some problem, which you are unable to solve? Are you too busy, or too preoccupied with other things, to find a quiet time for prayer? The Lord taught us that we should always pray (Lk. 18:1). Paul taught us to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). Let us never hesitate to pray in times of trouble, but let us not forget to also pray in times of peace and plenty!

The Bible teaches us the importance of prayers of thanksgiving to God for the bounty he has bestowed upon us:

Psa. 50:14: “Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High.”

Psa. 105:1: “O give thanks unto the Lord; call upon his name: make known his deeds among the people.”

Psa. 106:1: “Praise ye the Lord. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth forever.”

Col. 3:15: “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

1 Thess. 5:18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Heb. 13:15: “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

Eph. 5:20: “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Col. 3:17: “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”

1 Cor. 15:57: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

2 Cor. 9:15: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

When we look at the Word of God, our duty is rather evident, isn’t it? In this case, we know we have received many blessings for which we should be thankful. It is hoped that God’s people will be thankful, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day!

— Via Guardian of Truth XXXVIII, No. 22, p. 1, November 17, 1994
——————–

1 Chronicles 16:23-27

“Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of His salvation from day to day.  Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and He is to be held in awe above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before Him; strength and joy are in His place.”
——————–
1885_Bible_3
-2-

Tell Me the Old, Old Story
(But Give It to Me in Digestible Bites!)

by Greg Gwin

Knowing the best approach to use and the right things to say when teaching someone the gospel is a difficult challenge. Our judgments about how to proceed will be flawed from time to time, but good and honest hearts will be ready to accept God’s truth despite our failings.

One of the critical things in this process is determining a student’s basic level of knowledge.  We must be able to determine where to start with each individual learner.  Philip did this in an expert way when he encountered the Ethiopian eunuch.  A simple question, an observation of the text the eunuch was reading, a statement by the man himself, and Philip was ready.  He “began at the same scripture and preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35).  We will do well to follow Philip’s example.  Make no assumptions about what your prospect knows.  Find out where your student is in terms of fundamental knowledge and commence your teaching at the appropriate starting place.  Failure to do so will lead to confusion and frustration for both the student and the teacher.

Another essential component of effective teaching is to keep the instruction in manageable ‘bites.’  Too often we see well-intentioned Christians launch off into long discourses that incorporate way too much information.  It all makes sense to them, of course — and they sincerely want to share their understanding with the one they are teaching — but it is simply too much.  The student will not be able to take it all in.  They won’t be able ‘to see the forest for the trees,’ and they may very well throw up their hands in despair.  So, our best approach is to take it slowly.  Methodically walk the student through the necessary foundational truths.  While it may be possible to do this “in the same hour of the night” (Acts 16:33), it often will take several carefully planned sessions.  Knowing how much and how fast to ‘feed’ the student is a much needed talent in teachers.

The apostle Paul urged: “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:6).  Salt, of course, is a good thing, but too much ruins the food.   The same is true of our efforts to inform others.  We need to be doing this essential work, but let us pray for wisdom (James 1:5) so that we serve up the truth in an effective way that does not overwhelm the one we are trying to teach.  Think!

— via The Beacon, November 17, 2015
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Danielle Howard, who recently received a kidney transplant, was admitted back to the hospital November 25, due to a blood clot in her jugular, which will take 3 to 4 days to dissolve. Her father also wrote that her condition is “Serious, but not panicky.”  Sometimes pain can be providential and lead to blessings.  Danielle’s mother had posted on facebook the following: “Her left arm has been swollen from surgery for a dialysis port since before transplant, but has gotten much worse since. Drs. ordered an ultrasound on the arm and in the process, they did one on the right side for comparison. They found a blood clot in her right jugular vein. So, she has been re-admitted for a few days to deal with the clot. God’s providence just amazes me! The Drs. do not view her swollen arm as anything really serious yet, because it persisted, they found a more serious, potentially life-threatening problem and are treating it. He keeps giving and giving. Remember Danielle and her wonderful gifts she has been given in your prayers of thanksgiving today. Thank you all for your prayers and well wishes. Our Father is listening!”

On November 6, Shirley Davis had fallen while at the hospital.  She was going there for her first antibiotic treatment to be received through an IV.  It was due to an infection in her toe, and these treatments are to continue every day for six weeks, about an hour each time.  In falling, the right side of her face hit the wall, putting a gash near her eye and badly bruising her face.  Her right arm was also bruised, and though the soreness from these injuries have subsided; the pain in her left hip, which she also landed on, continues about the same as initially; and pain pills do not give her much relief.  She is now housebound, but continues to receive her IV there and will continue to do so every day until December 14.
——————–

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)

Advertisements

The Gospel Observer (November 15, 2015)

Contents:

1) Are We “Committed” in Our Marriage? (R.J. Evans)
2) “As Long as It Doesn’t Harm Anyone” (Doy Moyer)
——————–
couple
-1-

Are We “Committed” in Our Marriage?
by R.J. Evans

Commitment is the cement which keeps the bricks of marriage in place.  Sadly, many couples in our selfish, self-indulgent culture do not make a genuine commitment when they marry.  I believe the Scripture gives four basic, clear principles that define the necessary commitment for marriage.  Too many among us approach marriage  concerned only with  self —  “what’s in it for me?” Commitment demands something other than that.

1. Commitment between marriage partners begins with a deep trust in one another (1 Cor. 13:7). This means that we do everything possible to maintain trust.  Nothing is done to violate the promise, the vow, or in any way destroy the priority of the two remaining “one flesh” (Gen. 2:24).  Trying to make one’s spouse jealous is foolish, juvenile, and can be a precursor to serious marital problems.

2. A solid marriage demands deep devotion to one another (Eph. 5:22-25).  This takes the commitment from a promise to a passion.  It means that we cannot live the promise without total effort to meet the needs of our mate. It means that we would never abuse, use, or take advantage of our spouse.  We protect and provide for one another — supplying each other’s needs.  When our spouse is sick, we care for them with deep devotion and loving concern. In such a marriage, we each fulfill our God-given roles (1 Cor. 7:1-9; Eph. 5:22-29; Col. 3:18-19; Titus 2:1-6; 1 Pet. 3:1-7).

Also, a devoted husband or wife will not indifferently sit by and allow someone else to use, manipulate, mistreat, or take advantage of their spouse. This is especially true of a husband toward his wife since he is primarily her provider and protector (Eph. 5:25, 28-29; 1 Tim. 5:8). This principle is illustrated in Paul’s attitude toward the Corinthians.  He told them: “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy.  For I have betrothed you to one husband that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 2:2).  But then notice his deep concern for them in the next verse: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (V. 3).  Likewise, he earlier gave them proper instruction, “lest Satan should take advantage of us”  (2 Cor. 2:11).

3. A happy home is where the husband and wife are dependent on one another (Gen. 2:18).  Here there is developed a strong sense of mutual need and dependence.  The husband and wife see the other as strength to their own weakness — a God-given complement (Gen. 2:18, 23).  No one will be allowed to come between the husband-wife relationship — not parents, grandparents, children, in-laws, or friends.  Also, jobs, hobbies, outdoor activities, sports, etc. should never be allowed to drive a wedge between a husband and wife.

4. An unshakable determination to succeed is the standard equipment in the home that is outfitted for a lifetime of happiness. Just as the Apostle Paul pressed toward the goal of heaven (Phil. 3:14), the faithful couple presses on toward making their marriage a success.  Nothing happens without complete effort.  If we will make it work…it will work.  More than that, it will be to God’s glory and our joy.

With these truths as our constant companions, the strong winds of adversity and trials will never blow our marriage apart. “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matt. 19:6).

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, August 30, 2015
——————–
Doy Moyer
-2-

“As Long as It Doesn’t Harm Anyone”
by Doy Moyer

One of the most prominent moral justifications heard today is that as long as the practice doesn’t harm anyone, then it is right and should be allowed. The primary argument this is being used for today is gay marriage, to no one’s surprise. However, it carries broader applications, and those applications aren’t just about politics.

“The practice is not harming anyone, so you need to let them do what they want.”

Doesn’t that just make sense? How can we not agree with that?

First, the argument from “no harm” makes assumptions not only about what “harm” is or is not, but also about who should or should not perceive something as harmful.

We might notice that when people talk about what doesn’t “harm” anyone, they don’t really define what they mean. They assume that everyone’s on the same page, and proceed to argue from their assumptions. Interestingly, some of the same people will argue against all religion on the basis that they believe religion “harms” people, showing that “harm” is often a matter of perspective.

What does it mean to “harm”?

“Harm” means to injure or do damage to something. Something good can harm something bad, and something bad can harm something good. Truth will injure the false, and what’s false can damage the cause of truth. The issue shouldn’t be so much, “does it cause harm?” but rather, “is it right or wrong?” What we should always be concerned about is doing what is right, and “no harm” isn’t to be equated with “right.”  “Harm” is too fluid of a concept to be anchored to “right” or “good.” If what’s good harms what’s bad, then that’s as it should be.

Is there such a thing as universal harmlessness? Is there really a practice that is totally and completely harmless to everyone and everything in all circumstances? When people say that a practice “doesn’t harm anyone,” are they making some universal statement of truth? Or are they focusing on a particular circumstance? Are there bigger issues that we ought to think about?

What of something considered harmful to one group or person, but not another? Do we ignore part of the equation in order to push an agenda? Who gets to decide that? Who is the authority on what harms people?

There are different kinds of harm, including physical, emotional, and moral harm. These seem most obvious, but let’s also consider the idea that something can be subtly harmful overall because it chips away at and destroys the structural foundation of a society. When it comes to matters like living together apart from marriage, having children apart from marriage, easy divorce, or gay marriage, we are looking at practices that challenge the infrastructure of the family, which in turn harms the structural foundation of our society.

By redefining marriage or family, against both God’s revealed will and all conventional wisdom of many thousands of years, we are naive if we think that there is no harm to the structural foundation.

Of course, the worst of all harms is spiritual in nature. Sin is always the real harm, so if something is sinful, as defined by God, then it is absolutely harmful to the ones who practice the sin as well as the surrounding society. We all ought to desire avoiding that.

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Prov. 14:34).

If we take something that is sinful, then argue that it is acceptable because it doesn’t cause anyone “harm,” then we have misunderstood the true nature both of what is harmful and the consequences of sin. We are no different from those who called good evil or evil good (Isa. 5:20).

Rather than asking whether something is harmful, we need to ask whether some- thing is right.  “Right” isn’t defined by our own selfish perspectives, but by a Creator who ultimately knows what is most beneficial or harmful to all of us.

Finally, the gospel addresses the situation in that it calls on us to repent of sin while offering forgiveness and reversing the eternal effects of what sin does to us (Acts 3:19). When we deny the harm that sin causes, then we deny the power of the gospel to overturn our sinful condition. This will result in irrevocable and permanent harm to us, and none of us can afford that. This is why we need to diligently teach the truth that will set us free from sin (John 8:31-32). This isn’t about taking a political position; it’s about reaching a lost world that needs to come home to God.

— Via Search for Truth, November 15, 2015, Volume VII, Number 16
——————–

“…’I am the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'” (Jn. 11:25,26).
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

It was good news to hear of Danielle Howard’s kidney transplant Friday.  All went well; and the kidney is already functioning, though it is not “fully awake” yet.  After spending several days in the hospital, Danielle is now in a nearby apartment to be able to easily return to the hospital every day for about a month.

Judy Daugherty is now in a nursing home for rehabilitation.

There will be a Gospel Meeting at the Golden Isles church of Christ November 20-22 (Friday — Sunday).  Keith Crews will be the guest speaker. Friday and Saturday services will be at 7 PM, and Sunday’s will be 2 and 3 PM.  The church meets at 445 Touchstone Parkway, Brunswick, GA.  The sermons will be on the following topics:

Friday: How to Become a Christian
Saturday: Pattern of the Lord’s church

Sunday 2 PM: A Woman’s Contribution to the Local Church
Sunday 3 PM: A Man’s Contribution to the Local Church
——————–

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 (November 8, 2015)

Contents:

1) Does Everything Happen for a Reason? (R.J. Evans)
2) Faith — Do You Have It? (Ronny E. Hinds)
3) News & Notes
——————–
dice
-1-

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?
by R.J. Evans

Based upon how often we hear the expression “everything happens for a reason,”  you would think the answer to our title would be a definite “yes.”  Some time back, while watching a professional football player on TV being interviewed, and in commenting on his team’s loss, he remarked: “I know everything happens for a reason.”   And I can think of many other examples and situations in which this statement is used even by members of the Lord’s church.

If we were able to go back to the 1500’s and ask John Calvin the above question, his answer would certainly be in the affirmative. In fact, this kind of thinking that is so common among us today is Calvinism through and through, permeating almost every religious denomination. Calvin’s doctrine of Predestination, not only teaches that only certain ones have been chosen by God to be saved from eternity, but also teaches that every little insignificant incident in a person’s life has all been predetermined by God. Some go so far as applying this to finding a parking space in a public parking lot.

Do I believe that certain things happen in a way in which God has designed? Absolutely! He foreordained from eternity that salvation would be obtained through Christ, in his body, which is His church. In fact, Paul spoke of this to the Ephesians: “…having predestined us…as sons by Jesus Christ…in whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:5, 11; see also Acts 2:23; Eph. 3:10-11; 1 Pet. 1:20). We serve a sovereign God.

But that does not rule out the fact that some things happen which have no impact on God’s ultimate goals. Thus, while God has decided in some areas what needed to happen, contrary to Calvinistic doctrine, He also allows things to happen as they may. To prove this point that many things happen at random or by chance, we turn to the words of the inspired wise man: “I returned and saw under the sun that — The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all” (Eccl. 9:11). Again, some events randomly occur by simple “time and chance.”  (See also: 1 Sam. 6:9; 2 Sam. 1:6; Lk. 10:31)

Of course, another factor would be the providence of God in answering our prayers. He can take bad things that happen in our lives and help them turn out for good. For instance, it was necessary for Paul to appeal to Caesar in order to save his own life. However, while a prisoner in Rome he was able to say, “But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12; Rom. 8:28; see also Joseph’s statement in Gen. 50:20).

I am so thankful that, contrary to what John Calvin taught, we have the ability to choose our own eternal destiny. And of our own free will, we can become a member of God’s family by obeying the gospel of Christ. In becoming a child of God, we then have the avenue of prayer where, He, through His providence, can intervene and work in our lives. But that is a far cry from the common usage of the expression: “Everything happens for a reason.”   If that were true of every little, small incident in our lives, then we could blame God and not take responsibility for any of our own actions.

So before you say, “everything happens for a reason,”  give it some serious thought and ask yourself if you are using that expression in a scriptural manner. In one sense, there is a reason for everything that happens. For example, a person is in a car wreck. Is there a reason for it? Yes, perhaps the driver was driving on the wrong side of the road, drunk while driving, or a tire blew out, etc. Some huge oak trees fell down in my yard. Was there a reason for this happening? Yes, strong hurricane winds blew them over. But on the other hand, “everything happens for a reason” with the idea that every detail in one’s life has been predetermined by God is the doctrine of Calvinism. The Scripture does not teach such. In fact, the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is not found in the Bible.

— Via bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana
——————–
2cor5_7d
-2-

Faith — Do You Have It?
by Ronny E. Hinds

Faith is a common word. The dictionary says it means “confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, an idea, or a thing.” While faith may be a common word it involves ideas of uncommon importance and worth. Confidence, truth and trustworthiness are ideas we should all desire.

Faith is not something you choose to have or not have. Faith is a necessary part of everyone’s life. We cannot function without it. Every bite of food I put in my mouth and swallow demands faith — faith that it will not poison me and faith that it will do for my physical well-being what it is supposed to do. Religion is not the only area of life that requires faith. Evolutionists like to make fun of religion and faith, because they think evolution does not require faith. Such reveals their prejudice, foolish thinking and self-deception!

Certain Bible verses come to mind when I think of a defining statement about faith. One is Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Another is Acts 27:25, “Therefore take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me.” But the verses that I have come to appreciate most in defining faith is Romans 4:19-21. Read them carefully. They are speaking about Abraham’s faith in connection with Isaac’s birth. “And not being weak in faith, he did not consider his own body, already dead (since he was about a hundred years old), and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform.”

A real, God-pleasing faith requires being “fully convinced” (NKJ). Other Bible Versions translate this: “fully persuaded” (KJV, NIV); “fully assured” (ASV, NAS). This kind of faith requires from us toward God a total commitment, nothing withheld, attitude and behavior. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Romans 12:1-2 instructs us, “I beseech you…that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God… And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Note mind and body are involved. It is total, absolute dedication to God. No exceptions! No excuses!

Romans 4:19 says Abraham was not “weak in faith.” I can easily deceive myself thinking, “Yes, I have faith,” but never realize that it is an insufficient, weak faith. Such is not God’s fault, but mine. God “has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him…” (2 Peter 1:3). Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” And, of course, Romans 10:17: “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

A strong, growing, God-pleasing faith will make itself known in its willingness to do what God has said. Notice I said DO. Consider what is said in James 2:14,17-18. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? …[F]aith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. … I will show you my faith by my works.” Without the actual DOING of GOD’S INSTRUCTIONS, our faith will be unacceptable. A person who has faith but is unwilling to give up their opinions and ideas to what God says, obeying what God says, does not really believe. James 2:20 describes such faith as a dead faith and that person as foolish. “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” James continues by asking us to consider two other questions. “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (2:21-22). We must be like Abraham. “By faith Abraham obeyed…” (Heb. 11:8).

What about your faith? Do you really have faith?

— Via Focusing On Truth, September 2015
——————–

Proverbs 3:5-8

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.  Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.  It will be healing to your body And refreshment to your bones.”
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Let those of us who can pray in Jesus’ name be remembering the following in our prayers:

Judy Daugherty, whom we reported with congestive heart failure, is still in the hospital and now having a lack-of-sodium problem, due to Lasix, a diuretic to eliminate fluid.

According to her cardiologist, Misty Thornton’s blood pressure needs to come up somewhat so that she can begin some needed medication to strengthen her heart and discontinue the wearing of a defibrillator vest.  She has made some improvement, so can now see a local doctor, rather than making about a 2-hour trip to Jacksonville.  Her bariatric doctor has also given her the go-ahead  for weight-loss surgery, and will be determining the kind that would be best for her condition.

Ronnie Davis has been having some painful trouble with his back.
——————–

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 (November 1, 2015)

Contents:

1) Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit (Charles G. Caldwell, Jr.)
2) Obedience is Necessary (Donnie V. Rader)
3) News & Notes
——————–
Matthew_12_31
-1-

Blasphemy Against the Holy Spirit
by Charles G. Caldwell, Jr.

In Matthew 12:31,32, Jesus said, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

Down through the years, this passage has been the occasion of great concern to devout, God-fearing people. This concern is the result of a gross misunderstanding of what our Lord was actually saying. It is the sequel to a perversion of His teaching and is productive of the usual effect of such perversion in depriving men of the peace, contentment, and happiness of soul and mind, and the joy that God intends for us to have in Christ. It would, in the very nature of the case, be impossible for one to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4) if there was the slightest possibility of his having sometime inadvertently committed a sin that could not be forgiven.

All Sins Forgivable

John said in I John 1:7, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another [He with us, and we with Him, CGC], and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” I do not consider this passage to be in conflict with Matthew 12:31,32. Nor do I consider Matthew 12:31,32 to set forth an exception to John’s promise. In order to the forgiveness of sins — all sins — there are certain conditions, divinely ordained, that must be met. If a sin — any sin — is not forgiven it is because the conditions have not been met. One may fail to meet the conditions either because of his unwillingness to do so or because he is unable to do so. Both of these reasons might be involved and it is my contention that such is the case with all those about whom our Lord spoke in Matthew 12. It is possible for one to reach such a state of depravity that he has no willingness to accept the truth and be governed by it, no matter how strong the evidence, and sink so low in the mire of degradation that he is unwilling and even unable because of his degenerate attitude to submit to that which is right.

Anyone, therefore, who is interested in truth and righteousness or who is concerned about his soul’s well being has not committed the “unpardonable sin.”

The Case in Context

An understanding of the passage under consideration is dependent — as is almost always the case — upon the context in which it is found. Jesus has just healed a man possessed of a demon which caused the multitudes to marvel and be amazed. But there were others of the Pharisees and Scribes who heard of it and being unable to deny that a miracle had indeed been performed sought to explain it away by attributing the power by which it was accomplished to “Beelzebub.” The claim was made by them that Christ was not exercising divine power but rather Satanic or diabolical power. Christ then proceeded to disprove their contention with a number of arguments which are irresistible:

Argument Number 1: First, He showed that which is evident on the surface, that Satan would not work against his own interest because in doing so, he would destroy himself and be brought to an “end.”

Argument Number 2: His next argument to disprove their contention was based upon their purported claim that their disciples, “sons,” cast out demons. If it was true that they did cast out demons (which Christ did not admit) and that demons were cast out only by “Beelzebub,” then it would follow that their “sons” exercised diabolical power. This He argued to show the absurdity of their contention from their own premise.

Argument Number 3: He next submitted that since He could not possibly be casting out demons by the power of the Devil, it must of necessity be by the power of God and that such exercise signaled the arrival of the kingdom of God.

Argument Number 4: His final argument in this regard was to the effect that He had entered Satan’s house (the body of the demoniac) and had spoiled Satan’s goods (the evil spirit in the man) and, therefore, instead of being in league with the devil, He had contested him and defeated him. The conclusion based on these arguments is that these Scribes and Pharisees were wrong in their charge that Christ was working miracles by the power of Satan rather than by the power of God. Their charge was not against the power of God, the Holy Spirit, but rather against Christ — that He was in league with the Devil and not with the Holy Spirit. This, Christ disproved and sought to correct their misconception.

Misunderstanding the Charge

Contrary to popular opinion and acceptation, Christ did not say that these Jews had committed the sin of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, but He did say in substance that they had blasphemed against Him and He emphatically says that such will (or can) be forgiven. The circumstances surrounding the incident, however, do suggest to the mind of Christ a need for a warning to these people of the danger of the course they are following. They had said that He was casting out demons by the power of “Beelzebub” (the Devil). If they persisted in this contention and in the light of all the evidence became convinced that the power exercised was of God but nevertheless was still evil because it worked through Christ, whom they hated and refused to accept, then they would become guilty of the sin against which Christ warned. In this they would be charging the Holy Spirit with being a devil or being equivalent to the Devil. Certainly, they were not now saying that the Holy Spirit was a devil or that He was as bad as the Devil. They were not denying that the Spirit is holy or affirming that the Spirit is evil. They were simply denying that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with Christ’s miracles.

If they were affirming that the Spirit of God was not holy but rather was as evil as the Devil, this would, of course, have been blasphemy against the Spirit and there would have been no point in Christ’s having attempted to correct them by presenting the arguments that He did. They would have been beyond argument and beyond the hope of correction. They were getting on dangerous ground, however. They were approaching the point of no return. They were getting near to a condition of heart and mind which would damn their souls and Christ was simply warning them to stop before they had gone too far; not to allow their hatred and their contemptuous attitude toward Him to cause them to defame the Spirit of God. To take that step and affirm that the Holy Spirit is not holy but is evil and only evil continually, that He is a devil and on a par with Satan is to sink beyond all hope. Such a frame of mind on the part of anyone would be beyond all correction. Thus, the conditions of correction and forgiveness given by the Spirit have no place in the man’s heart.

The Good Tree

Jesus said, “Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt” (vs. 33). If the product of the working of the Spirit is good, the Spirit, Himself, is good and holy, “for the tree is known by his fruit.”

— Via Truth Magazine, XXI, 49, pp. 781-782, December 15, 1977
——————–

Psalm 1:1-3

“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.  And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
——————–

-2-

Obedience is Necessary
by Donnie V. Rader

Just a casual reading of the Scriptures will reveal that God expects obedience to his will. Consider a few simple texts.

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say” (Luke 6:46)?

“Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:8- 9).

Those who heard the gospel in the first century were told to “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19) even though the sin they committed was done “in ignorance” (v. 17).

We must conclude that there will be honest and sincere people who will be lost. If such is the case, it behooves us to carefully study God’s word and live accordingly.

— via The Beacon, October 27, 2015
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Judy Daugherty has not been feeling well the last several weeks.  So she was admitted to the hospital a few days ago and diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

Misty Thornton was recently fitted with a defibrillator life vest, which she finds “pretty amazing,” and has now had to leave her job to go on short-term disability until her condition improves.

Frankie Hadley recently had a mini stroke.

Ronnie and Melotine Davis had both been a little under the weather recently.

The Gospel Meeting at the North Valdosta church of Christ begins today and continues through Friday (November 1-6) with Nate Haygood as the guest speaker.  The church meets at 4313 North Valdosta Road, Valdosta, Georgia, and will begin weeknightly at 7:30.
——————–

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)