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

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