The Gospel Observer (July 24, 2016)

Contents:

1) When We Disagree (Doy Moyer)
2) “So Great Salvation” (Greg Gwin)
3) Where Do You Turn? (Shane Williams)
4) News & Notes
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When We Disagree
Doy Moyer

The Lord wants unity, but disagreements in discussions are also a fact of life. Sometimes discussions can fall apart pretty quickly, even before we really understand why. How should we react to this? How should we proceed in discussions when we are dealing with disagreements? Here are some suggestions:

1. Be generous. Assume the best first. Don’t assign evil motives to other parties. They may have intended something else.  Let the principles of love guide our discussions. Love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:7). This is simply an extension of the “golden rule”: “In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you” (Matt. 7:12).

2. Be respectful. Don’t begin a response by insulting and insinuating that the other parties are intellectually deficient. There should be no room for inflammatory comments. Just address the issue without resorting to ad hominem attacks. Kindness and respectfulness should mark all conversations. “What is desirable in a man is his kindness, and it is better to be a poor man than a liar” (Prov. 19:22; cf. Col. 4:6; Eph. 4:32).

3. Be Reasonable. It’s possible that we misunderstood something. Be willing to discuss and foster good communication through definition and clarification. “He who gives an answer before he hears, it is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13). In the same way, be logical. It is one matter to just state, “I disagree,” or to just state a contrary proposition. It is another matter to state the disagreement along with reasons. Learn how to make actual arguments (in the good sense). If we want others to consider our positions, we need to able to give the “because” for our positions. If we can’t state the “because,” then we don’t have adequate grounds for decent discussion and we are just pointlessly naysaying.

4. Be open. It’s possible that we are wrong ourselves and haven’t thought something through as much as we should. Are we willing to change if we are shown to be in error? Consider the other position and make sure that we understand it before rejecting it outright. If we are still sure that we disagree, then proceed with the other principles in mind. Be a truth-seeker, and “understanding will watch over you” (Prov. 2:11).

5. Be honorable. One of the most frustrating parts of a disagreement is when the other party misrepresents what we believe. We all make honest mistakes in our reasoning and conclusions, but if we purposefully twist or distort something in order to win an argument, we have crossed over into dishonesty. This is never honorable or right. When representing what others believe, be fair and accurate. If we find that we have not been accurate in how we represent a position, then be willing to listen and gain further understanding. Never intentionally misrepresent just to win an argument. “A trustworthy (i.e., honest) witness will not lie, but a false witness utters lies” (Prov. 14:5).

6. Be direct. We may often be frustrated in discussion because we cannot pinpoint the real problem. Being generous and kind does not mean that we have to beat around the bush when we address the issue. State clearly the objection and the reasons for the disagreement. What is the real problem? The principle of being direct, whether in rebuke or disagreement, is part of wisdom: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6). We can be friendly, tactful, and kind while at the same time being straight-forward and addressing the real issue.

7. Be committed. First, be committed to the Lord and His truth. Then be committed to the well-being of others. Be committed to souls and seek salvation for all. Winning an argument is pointless just for its own sake and can be a form of self-glory. God calls us to a higher standard. “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3-4). “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will” (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

You can probably think of more. Reason and persuasion are a part of being disciples (cf. Paul in Acts 17:17; 18:4; 19:8- 9). Scripture gives us the principles by which we may proceed in discussions that are often bottlenecked by stubbornness and unreasonable posturing. We can do better. We can seek the Lord, seek truth, and seek for the greatest benefit for others. This must be intentional, bearing in mind the wisdom of God.

— Via Mind Your Faith
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“So Great Salvation”
Greg Gwin

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him”  (Hebrews 2:3).

Christians should think long and meditate often about the wonderful salvation that God has made available to us through His Son.  Look at this text, and realize that we are the recipients of a:

“Great Salvation”: It is great because our past sins have been forgiven; we enjoy a present relationship with God as our loving Father; and we have the hope of a beautiful future in eternity.

“Spoken Salvation”: Too many people in the religious world trust their subjective feelings concerning their eternal souls.  They wouldn’t do that if it involved their material possessions or their financial security, but they do it with their souls.  It simply makes no sense.  God does not ask us to trust our salvation to such uncertainty.  Instead, he has given us His spoken word, whereby we can learn and understand the things essential to salvation (Rom. 1:16; 10:17; Eph. 3:3-5).

“Confirmed Salvation”: We can be sure that the salvation offered through Jesus Christ is legitimate.  The message of salvation was confirmed by the men who knew Jesus, who saw Him, heard Him, worked with Him.  They were eyewitnesses to His life, and their words and accounts assure us that these things are true.  In fact, their willingness to die for His cause is one of the surest proofs of all.  Furthermore, God also confirmed their testimony by way of the miracles they were empowered to do (see the previous verse, Heb. 2:4).

“Conditional Salvation”: A key word in this great text is the word IF.  It clearly teaches that our salvation is conditional upon meeting the requirements set forth in God’s word.  God offers us this wonderful gift.  We show our willingness to accept it by doing His will. Salvation is for “all them that obey him” (Heb. 5:8,9).

— Via The Beacon, May 24, 2016
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Where Do You Turn?
Shane Williams

Where you turn when you’re in trouble reveals your character. What does it tell us about young kids whose trouble turns them toward gangs, guns or drugs? What do we learn about adults whose problems direct them toward alcohol, adultery or the weird teachings of a cult?

What about ourselves? Where do we turn when we have trouble in life? Do we look to the world or the Bible for wisdom? Where do we look for help when we are struggling with sin? We must turn to the Lord Jesus and to His Word. He is the only one who can help and certainly the only one who can offer us forgiveness. The answers of this world will never lead us to “real” help but only to destruction.

The Christians to whom Peter addressed were facing various trials (I Peter 1:6), slander and maligning (I Peter 3:15; 4:4), sufferings and reviling (I Peter 4:12-14). To whom should they turn? Not to the world or its ways, but rather to “the God of all grace” (I Peter 5:10). We need to look back and remember that He called us, recognize His glory in Christ, and look ahead to see how God is equipping us through our difficulties. “And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, Who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (I Peter 5:10).

Trouble on the horizon? Put your confidence in God. He helped the early Christians who suffered through persecutions to overcome. He will help us through our troubles today.

— Via The Lilbourn Light, Vol. 10, No. 4, August, 2009
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News & Notes

I am soliciting the prayers of the saints for the following:

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of Harold Robert Harrell who passed away July 15 at just 49 years of age.  He had taught and preached in the church of Christ in various places, even preaching overseas to hundreds in India where he had made three month-long trips, and had also been preaching full-time for the church in Blackshear, Georgia, up to his passing.  He was the kind of person that if you had talked with him on just a couple occasions would probably seem like a good friend whom you had known for a long time, when later remembering.

Jim Lively had a heart catheterization Friday morning, and it was determined that he will need to have open heart surgery within the next few weeks.  He will be seeing his primary doctor this Friday and his heart doctor Monday (8/1).

Three-month old Rex Cothren will be having brain surgery within a month, due to the soft spot of the skull closing up too soon and causing pressure on the back of the skull as the brain grows.

Easton Cox’s ANC (blood count) has dropped to about 450, which will have to improve before his final chemo treatment this Thursday.

Camp Tatum, who is only about 2 years old, had some cancer on the brain that the surgeon was able to simply “peel off.”  But there were also some cancerous cells detected in the spine.

Andra Johnson has now gone into labor and could be giving birth any time now, if she hasn’t already.

After Michelle Rittenhouse received 32 botox injections, her 45-day headache went away!  The results might be good for up to 3 to 6 months.  But she also has several things wrong with her heart, such as its beating too fast and skipping at times, which has been attributed to Rheumatoid arthritis.

Penny Medlock had to go back into the hospital Friday and was then transferred the next day to St. Simons, due to having a need for her medication to be adjusted again.

Doyle Rittenhouse, who is now on additional medication, will be seeing a bone-and-joint doctor Tuesday for a steroid injection in his hip.  As recently mentioned, he now also has arthritis in both hips and bursitis and numbness in the left.

Melotine Davis had to cancel her doctor’s appointment for the 21st, but will be rescheduled for after her more important appointment on the 25th for the pain in her neck, shoulder, and arm.

We were glad to hear that Carole Drain received a good report Wednesday for the results of the chemo treatments she has completed.  She will be seeing her doctor again in three months.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer Shirley Davis (back pain and foot surgery), James “Buddy” Gornto (healing from heart-valve replacement), Kelli Fleeman (receiving treatments for lymphoma), Joyce Rittenhouse (liver tests), James Medlock (for his health), Brianna Mackey (having therapy, due to being born premature), Mary Vandevander (housebound), and Sue Wooten (nursing home).
——————–

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
, living for the Lord; 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
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com
(Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

 

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The Gospel Observer (July 17, 2016)

Contents:

1) “He Who Wins Souls Is Wise” (R.J. Evans)
2) The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mike Johnson)
3) News & Notes
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“He Who Wins Souls Is Wise”
R.J. Evans

“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, And he who wins souls is wise”  (Proverbs 11:30).

Every faithful Christian seeks to win souls because he is wise.  Without doubt, winning souls is one of the greatest works on earth.  Surely, no true disciple of the Lord can ignore the urgent need to seek the salvation of precious lost souls.  Our God is in the soul saving business (Jn. 3:16; Matt. 28:19-20; Mk. 16:15-16).  While on earth, Jesus stated, “for the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).  Thus, every Christian should, likewise, be in the soul saving business.  No work in this life is more “Christ-like” than teaching the soul saving “gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

In this short article, let’s observe some important reasons why we ought to be soul winners.

1. The value of the soul.  The Bible clearly sets forth the value of the soul.  In the beginning, God created the soul of man in His own image (Gen. 1:26-27).  Jesus said, “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).

2. The brevity and uncertainty of life.  It has been estimated that every time the clock ticks, thirteen people die somewhere in the world.  James said, “For what is your life?  It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (Jas. 4:14).

3. The certainty of death and the judgment.  There is an appointment that all must keep.  “And as it is appointed for all men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27).

4. The horror of hell.  In the word of God, hell is described as a place of “outer darkness” (Matt. 25:30); “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30); “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thes. 1:9); “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15); and a “lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).

5. The beauties of heaven.  The human, finite mind cannot conceive or fully comprehend all of the eternal beauties of heaven.  But to get some idea as to how it will be, please read Revelation 21, where it tells us that there will be no more death, sorrow, tears, crying, or pain in heaven. Read about the “throne set in heaven” in Revelation 4 & 5. Oh, what a place!

6. Our own salvation depends upon it.  Consider carefully the words of Ezekiel: “When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’  and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Nevertheless if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul” (Ezek. 33:8-9).  The Apostle Paul was able to tell the Ephesian elders: “Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men.  For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:26-27).

In view of all the above, this should surely cause us to appreciate the words of Proverbs 11:30 — “HE WHO WINS SOULS IS WISE.”  We sometimes sing, “I want to be a soul winner for Jesus everyday,”  but do we really mean and practice what we sing?  We close with the words of another song: “If the name of the Savior is precious to you, If His care has been constant and tender and true.  If the light of His presence has brightened you way…O will you not tell it today?”

— via article for the church bulletin at the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, July 10, 2016
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The Parable of the Mustard Seed
Mike Johnson

Matthew 13:31-32 is one of the accounts where “The Parable of the Mustard Seed” is found, and it tells us about the growth of the kingdom. The passage says:

“Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and  becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.”

Mustard Seed

In verse 32, the mustard seed is said to be the least of all seeds.  Those familiar with the mustard seed today are well aware of its small size.  However, the mustard seed is not the smallest seed known as there are several kinds of seed which are smaller.  It was, however, the smallest seed which would normally be planted in the fields by the Jews.  It seems Jesus used the expression (the least of all seeds) in that sense.  Also, the phrase “small as a grain of mustard seed” was a proverbial expression among the Jews.  It meant something very small.  Jesus used the expression again in Matthew 17:20 when He said, “. . . If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, remove hence to yonder place and it shall be removed . . . .”

Mustard Tree

Verse 32 points out that the seed grew into a tree, and it was so large the birds came and lodged in the branches of it.  Most of us are unfamiliar with mustard plants which grow this large.  However, it seems that in the Palestine area these plants could grow much larger than what we are accustomed to.  The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia  points out, “Several varieties of mustard have notably small seed, and under  favorable conditions grow in a few months into tall herbs 10 to 12 feet.” Barnes, in his commentary on Matthew, quotes from an individual who said, “I have seen this plant on the rich plain of Akkar as tall as the horse and his rider.”

Application

The seed started out very small and produced a large plant. The kingdom, or church, is compared to this as it started out with small numbers and grew to a large size.

In Acts 2, we read of the beginning of the church and its growth. Here Peter preached to people who had actually been involved in the crucifixion of Jesus. He told them they needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of their sins (2:38).  Many realized their error and obeyed.  Acts 2:41 says, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”  The early Christians faced much persecution, but this did not stop the growth of the Lord’s church.  Acts 4:4 shows that it continued to grow as it says, “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.”  Only the number of men is recorded. Clearly, however, there were many women who also obeyed the gospel which would have added to this number.  We can further see the growth of the church from Acts 5:14 which points out that believers were the more added to the Lord.   Acts 6:7 shows the continued growth of the early church as it says, “.  .  . and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.”  After Stephen’s death, the disciples went everywhere preaching the Word (Acts 8:4).  The scattering of the church from Jerusalem, because of further persecution, only helped spread the Word even more.  Finally, in Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he pointed out that the gospel “. . . was preached to every creature which is under heaven. . . .”  The church clearly grew a lot.

It would be very difficult to say exactly how many people became Christians in the first century.  It is obvious, however, the growth was tremendous as Christ indicated it would be in this parable.  The growth has continued even until today.  Like the mustard seed, the church started out very small but grew to large proportions.

— Via The Elon Challenger, Volume XIII, Number 11, July 2016
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News & Notes

We extend our sympathies to all the family and friends of Michael W. Crawford of Waycross, Georgia, who passed away July 17 at the age of just 53.  Let those of us who are Christians be remembering in prayer all his loved ones.

Let us also be praying for the following:

Jim Lively will be having a heart catheterization Friday morning.

Doyle Rittenhouse spent several hours in ER Saturday, due to pain in his hips, which he described as being like a toothache that won’t quit — all the way to his toes.  His left hip is the worse and with also numbness in that leg.  He has been diagnosed with bursitis in the left hip and arthritis in both and will again be seeing his regular doctor Monday, as well as an orthopedist.

Joyce Rittenhouse has been having tests on her liver and will be having another blood test in 3 weeks, which will also determine whether there will be a need for a liver biopsy.

Michelle Rittenhouse will be receiving botox injections July 22 to eliminate severe migraines, which she has frequently been having, along with other adverse reactions, from a new medicine.

Shirley Davis’ foot surgery for the 25th was canceled, and she is now waiting to hear when it will be rescheduled.  Friday, she saw her local doctor, but is still waiting to see the specialist about her back trouble.  She would like us to pray that all of this will be speeded up. For the pain began last November when she fell, but has gotten worse over the last 3 or 4 months. It is difficult for her to wear shoes, and picking up even 5-pound objects can lead to more pain.

Melotine Davis is also waiting to see her doctor about the continual pain she has been having in her neck, shoulder, and arm.  She had an  appointment on the 21st and will have another on the 25th.

Having completed her chemo, Carole Drain also had scans done Friday to determine the results of her treatments and will be finding that out July 27.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer James “Buddy” Gornto (healing from heart-valve replacement), Easton Cox (just one more chemo treatment to go), Kelli Fleeman (receiving treatments for lymphoma), Brianna Mackey (having therapy, due to being born somewhat prematurely), James Medlock (for his health), Mary Vandevander (who is housebound), and Sue Wooten (nursing home).
——————–

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
, living for the Lord; 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
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com
(Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (July 10, 2016)

Contents:

1) The Sponsoring Church Arrangement (Ethan R. Longhenry)
2) Love or Legalism? (Steven F. Deaton)
3) Looking Into God’s Mirror (James 1:22-25) (Mike Johnson)
4) News & Notes
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The Sponsoring Church Arrangement
Ethan R. Longhenry

God wills for all people to be saved in Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:4, 2 Peter 3:9); Christians must go out and proclaim the Word of the Gospel to their fellow human beings (Matthew 28:18-20, Romans 10:14-17). The local church, as the Body of Christ manifest in a given area, has an important role to play in facilitating, funding, and encouraging the work of evangelism (1 Corinthians 9:1-14, 12:12-28, Ephesians 4:11-16). But are there limitations to the means by which a local church facilitates evangelism?

One of the major disagreements which led to the division between the Disciples of Christ, Christian Churches, and the Churches of Christ by the end of the nineteenth century involved the missionary society. Most among churches of Christ at the time recognized that the Scriptures did not authorize the local church to fund such endeavors. And yet, as many associated with the Gospel Advocate began agitating toward greater congregational support of parachurch institutions and organizations within a generation or two, a new and novel form of cooperation among local churches emerged. The means by which such coordination would take place became known as the sponsoring church arrangement in which the elders overseeing one local congregation would become the “sponsor” of a missionary family, an area of evangelistic effort abroad, or a regional or national evangelistic endeavor. Other congregations who agreed to help provide financial support for these endeavors would thus send their money to the “sponsoring” church, and they would then distribute the money as they saw fit. Early examples of the “sponsoring church arrangement” in terms of consolidating support for missions included the Broadway church of Lubbock, Texas, as the sponsor for the work in Germany and the Union Avenue church in Memphis, Tennessee, as the sponsor for the work in Japan. Meanwhile the Highland church in Abilene, Texas, established themselves as the sponsoring church for the Herald of Truth radio (and later television) program, ultimately supported by churches around the country. More recent examples of such arrangements include the “One Nation Under God” campaign sponsored by the Sycamore church in Cookeville, Tennessee, attempting to distribute religious literature to houses around the country in 1991, and the Gospel Broadcasting Network (GBN), sponsored by a church in Southaven, Mississippi, receives funding, from among other sources, the donated collections of local congregations.

By what authority does the sponsoring church arrangement exist? Its proponents believe that the major problem with the missionary societies was not the cooperative effort but the intermediating human institution. It is believed that financial cooperation can exist among churches as long as a given evangelistic work remains under the oversight of the elders of a local congregation. It is defended as being more efficient and providing the opportunity to maintain evangelistic endeavors which may go well beyond the ability of one local congregation to fund and maintain. Many will point to Philippians 4:10-19 as authority for the “sponsoring church arrangement,” claiming that the church in Philippi was Paul’s sponsor. Are these claims true?

While the presence of an intermediating human institution was assuredly one of the unauthorized and challenging aspects of the missionary society, it was not the only concern. The New Testament betrays no command, example, or suggestion that any local congregation took upon itself to organize the funding of evangelism for a given area.

The eldership of a local church has every right to encourage and promote evangelistic endeavors in their local areas and to provide sufficient funding for them; they also have the right to directly support evangelists working in other areas. But if a local church gives money to another church to do any such thing, they have given up all control over the resources, acceded their autonomy to a degree, and thus have abrogated their responsibilities before God in so doing, for God has not commanded local churches to give to other local churches to fund evangelism and evangelists, but for them to do the work and the support of the work themselves!

God expects each local church to carry out the work which He has given them independently, and for good reason. To abrogate that work to another congregation to create a greater or more efficient work centralizes influence to an unhealthy and unauthorized degree and neglects the very reason why the work is based in and centered around local congregations. Each local group must understand its own context and encourage people locally; mass media programs may provide some teaching but does not facilitate the important relational connections with the local church. What if the nationwide radio program no longer teaches the truth or seeks to tickle itching ears? What if people become dependent on the programming and neglect the development of spiritual relationships and accountability among God’s people in the local church? Why must the work of evangelism be done in these ways?

The “sponsoring church arrangement” has no more Biblical authority or standing than the missionary society. Elders and local churches should exist; nevertheless their existence does not justify the overreach of their authority and levels of cooperation not authorized in the New Testament. May every local church seek to accomplish the work of evangelism God has given it in its own area and context, financially supporting evangelists as they have opportunity, but always seeking to encourage reconciliation between God and the lost!

— Via the La Vista church of Christ
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Love or Legalism?
Steven F. Deaton

When we insist men must adhere strictly to the commandments of God, is it love or legalism?

Men say it is legalism. They say, “We should obey a Savior, not a system.” Or, “Give me the man, not a plan.” Their idea is that to admit the existence of a law by which man must live in order to be right with God, is legalism.

God, however, calls this love. The Spirit said, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:3). Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). Keeping the commandments of God is an expression of love, not legalism. To insist others do the same is love for God and man, not legalism in a system or plan.

The Holy Spirit was sent to reveal all truth (John 16:13). Why would anyone think the truth was revealed so men could be cavalier toward it? It was revealed so men could obey it and be set free (John 8:32). Paul wrote, “But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered” (Romans 6:17). This does not destroy a relationship with the Savior, for it is His system — the gospel (Hebrews 5:9).

— Bulletin article from the Collegevue church of Christ, Columbia, Tennessee, February 7, 2016
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Looking Into God’s Mirror
(James 1:22-25)

Mike Johnson

Mirrors are everywhere.  Most bathrooms have a mirror.  They also may be strategically placed in various places in a house.  We see them in stores, they are in our automobiles, and a woman will often carry a mirror in her purse.  It is not usually very difficult to find a mirror.

What is  a mirror for?  We look at mirrors to see if something about us is amiss — to see if anything needs to be changed.  Our tie might be crooked, our hair might not be properly combed or brushed, we might have food around our mouths or toothpaste on our lips.  A woman, for example, may look in a mirror to see if her make-up is properly applied.

James 1:21 points out we are to put away sin and wickedness and are to receive with meekness God’s Word.  Verse 22 says we are to be “doers” of God’s Word and not “hearers only.”  It is not enough to simply be a hearer of God’s Word; we must also obey it.  The writer then gives an illustration about looking into a mirror in verses 23-24.  He says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.”

Generally speaking, a person does not look into a mirror; see something wrong and then not make a correction.  It is not uncommon, however, for a person to look into God’s mirror (the Bible); see sin in his life and make no changes whatsoever.  As with the analogy, this does not make much sense.

Many people hear the Word of God but are not willing to make changes.  It is great that one is willing to hear the Word of God, but it is also essential to do what it says.  On one occasion Jesus asked (Lk. 6:46), “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?”  In Luke 11:28, he said to a woman, “…blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

In verse 22, he said those who hear the word and do not obey it are “deceiving” themselves.  In what sense is this true?  They think that hearing the Word of God is good enough, and there is enough merit in only hearing the Word to make themselves acceptable in the eyes of God.  If someone thinks this, he is deceiving himself.

How you looked into God’s mirror lately?  If so, what did you see?  Seeing imperfections is not enough.  We must make the corrections!

— Via The Elon Challenger, Volume XIII, Number 10, June 2016
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Isaiah declares: “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then I said, ‘Here am I! Send me'” (Isaiah 6:8).
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-4-

News & Notes

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Olajoe Behrens of Georgetown, Texas, who passed away July 3 and would have turned 88 in just 7 days. We were always glad when she and her husband Henry had visited with us where I preached in Denham Springs, Louisiana, where their daughter Christie Holt, son-in-law Bill, and granddaughter Skyla had attended regularly.

Our sympathies also go out for the family and friends of Adam Douglas Noel of Waycross who passed away July 9 at just 28 years of age.

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering in prayer all the loved ones of these who have departed, and also include the following:

Sue Wooten, who has been living in a nursing home for quite some time, recently had gall bladder surgery which she is now healing from.

Shirley Davis’ foot surgery for the 25th was canceled, and she is now waiting to hear when it will be rescheduled.  Friday, she saw her local doctor, but is still waiting to see the specialist about her back trouble.  She would like us to pray that all of this will be speeded up. For the pain began last November when she fell, but has gotten worse over the last 3 or 4 months. It is difficult for her to wear shoes, and picking up even 5-pound objects can lead to more pain.

Melotine Davis is also waiting to see her doctor about the continual pain she has been having in her neck, shoulder, and arm.  She has appointments for the 21st and 25th.

Having completed her chemo, Carole Drain is now waiting to find out when she’ll have some scans done for the treatment-results.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer James “Buddy” Gornto (healing from heart-valve replacement), Easton Cox (just one more chemo treatment to go), Brianna Mackey (having therapy, due to being born somewhat prematurely), Kelli Fleeman (receiving treatments for lymphoma), James Medlock (elderly with health problems), and Mary Vandevander (elderly and housebound). 

——————–
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
, living for the Lord; 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
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com
(Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (July 3, 2016)

Contents:

1) Don’t Allow Anyone to Steal Your Heart! (R.J. Evans)
2) How to Defeat Temptation (Kent Heaton)
3) News & Notes
——————–

Proverbs4_23


-1-

Don’t Allow Anyone to Steal Your Heart!
R.J. Evans

There were a number of sad and tragic events in the life of King David.  A series of events began with his sin with Bathsheba.  His adultery with her led to deceit, and ultimately, the murder of her husband, Uriah.  After David had Uriah killed and had taken this man’s wife, God told him: “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house….Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house” (2 Sam. 12:10-11).  Soon his troubles and heartaches began.  His infant son with Bathsheba died; his son Amnon raped his daughter, Tamar; his son, Absalom, murdered Amnon (2 Sam. 12-13).

Surely, one of the most heart-breaking developments in the life of David was when his son, Absalom, turned and rebelled against him. He committed treason against his own father — “Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (2 Sam. 15:6).  When having to go to battle against his son, David instructed his commanders to “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom” (2 Sam. 18:5).  As the battle raged, David was asking, “Is the young man Absalom safe?” (2 Sam. 18:29,32).  When word came to David that his son had been killed, he cried out, “O my son Absalom — my son, my son Absalom — if only I had died in your place!  O Absalom my son, my son!”  (2 Sam. 18:33).  This has to be one of the saddest scenes that we read about in the Bible.

But let’s go back to the beginning when Absalom started stealing the hearts of the people.  He very cunningly became trusted and more popular than David.  He worked hard at it; he looked for troubled people; he reached out to them; he took a personal interest in them; he sympathized with them; he never personally attacked his father directly, he just promised to do better (2 Sam. 15:1-12).

This reminds me of what has been happening among God’s people today, especially to some of the young.  Over the past few years, I have learned of congregations being affected by this type of thing.  A young preacher (not always a preacher) comes in with false ideas, endears himself to the group, especially college students and young married couples, influences them and takes them away with his false teachings.  Just recently, a friend called and told me of something similar to the aforementioned scenario that happened where he worships.  A young preacher came in and preached the truth for about three years, all the while developing a close relationship with the young people.  Then he started teaching error, split the church, and took about 40-50 with him — a dangerous trend that has been developing.  We have great young people faithfully serving the Lord today, but some are being led astray.  Yes, there are problems that often exist, but some have reacted by going to the extreme with bitterness toward those who are sincerely seeking to hold fast to the ancient landmarks of faith — the “old paths” of truth.

Here are several examples of erroneous teachings that some are promoting in different parts of the country that have come to my attention over the past few years.   (1)  A person is saved or “born again” before baptism — that baptism is not essential to salvation.  They are using typical, Calvinistic, denominational arguments that teach salvation by “faith only.”  (2) Approved apostolic examples are not binding in establishing Bible authority for what is allowed or not allowed in the service of the Lord.  They are saying that books such as Acts are to be viewed simply as a narrative, not as an example for us to follow today.  (3) Social drinking is justified and accepted.  (4) Distorted views are held on worship — particularly the Lord’s Supper.  Sadly, there are brethren who are being influenced and led astray by these false teachings.

In principle, the actions of those who are teaching some of the above errors just cited are much like Absalom who “stole the hearts of the men of Israel.”  Thus, we all need to be alert to this potential problem.  We must be careful not to become bitter and unhappy, allowing ourselves to become vulnerable to false teachers and some of the dangerous trends that are occurring.  Much of what has been mentioned feeds off bitterness and dissatisfaction toward the truth and God’s people.  Brethren are being led astray!  The Apostle Paul said, “Watch, stand fast in the faith” (1 Cor. 16:13).  The Apostle John said, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1).  Our hearts belong to God!  We are to love, serve, and obey Him with all our hearts.  Brethren, especially those of you who are young, don’t allow anyone to steal your heart!

— Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, March 6, 2016
——————–

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” (Psalm 8:3,4, NASB).
——————–

matthew26_41
-2-

How to Defeat Temptation
Kent Heaton

Whenever we think of something as a temptation we consider it as evil. The original Latin could suggest something good or bad, but the evil sense has taken a predominate role in its definition. The idea of temptation is rooted in the challenge of character. Trials rightly faced are harmless, but wrongly met become temptations to evil. Overcoming temptations is the focus of a daily walk in a world given over to the indulgence of temptations.

James exhorts us to “count it all joy when you fall into different kinds of temptations” or “trials” (James 1:2). Barnes said, “Regard it as a thing to rejoice in; a matter which should afford you happiness. You are not to consider it as a punishment, a curse, or a calamity, but as a fit subject of felicitation (act of congratulating).” Paul reminds us that nothing will be put upon us that we cannot overcome with the power of the Lord. “No temptation has taken you but what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted above what you are able, but with the temptation also will make a way to escape, so that you may be able to bear it” (I Corinthians 10:13). Our prayers are to be laced with exhortations of faithfulness. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil” (Matthew 6:13).

No matter our best efforts we stumble and give in to temptations. Often we succumb to temptations because we fail to know the way of defeating temptation. Jesus offers the answer to defeating temptation in the garden of Gethsemane as He exhorts the disciples: “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. Truly the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38). The two-part answer to temptation is to be watchful and to be praying. The only way we can stand against temptation is to stand on the pillars of watch and pray.

Jesus did not say look and pray; He said watch and pray. The word “watch” carries with it the idea of vigilance and being alert. Often we see temptation and invite it in. Being watchful is being careful of what we are allowing to happen in our lives. Many things in life we cannot control, but allowing that thing to remain and become a temptation is when sin happens. In defining sin, James said that temptation comes about when “each one is tempted by his lusts, being drawn away and seduced by them. Then when lust has conceived, it brings forth sin. And sin, when it is fully formed, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).

Being watchful about temptation is to remove those things that would bring about temptation. We are to pray for the Lord not to lead us into temptation (Matthew 6:13) but we do not need to go running into it either. To the discerning mind, sin is easily defined by watching out for it and being aware of the dangers of giving in to temptation. As Barney Fife would say, “Nip it in the bud.” Good advice.

The second pillar of strength to overcome temptation is vital: prayer. Watching for temptation helps us identify sin, but prayer helps us defeat sin. Prayer is powerful (James 5:13-18). Prayer made the sun stand still (Joshua 10:12-14); the dead rise (II Kings 4:32- 37); the rain stop for three years and six months (James 5:17). The knee bent in prayer will keep the feet from running to evil. A humble heart of prayer will melt the fiery desire of temptation. In our text, Jesus is in the garden before His death, earnestly praying to His Father for strength. The cross was the greatest temptation Jesus faced. He had the power to destroy all those who sought to kill Him, but He chose to give His life a ransom. He overcame temptation through prayer.

The Lord will not allow you to be tempted beyond your ability to resist — provided we are watching and praying. “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17) is an admonition to help us overcome temptation “without ceasing.” Constant vigilance and watchful care for those things that will tempt us with harm and the continued spirit of prayer will defeat temptation. “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

— Via article from the La Vista church of Christ
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

After having tests in Savannah Friday, Melotine Davis will also be seeing two more doctors in Waycross soon.  The increase in her medicine to reduce inflammation helped her to have a better day yesterday.

Shirley Davis has been having some terrible back pain, which also causes nausea.  She has to be very careful when moving around and will be seeing a specialist.  Also, on July 25, she will be having surgery to put a pin in her toe that has been giving her trouble for about 7 months.

James “Buddy” Gornto is doing well, following his recent heart-valve replacement.  He returned home from the hospital June 29.

The higher dose of chemo is difficult for Easton Cox for about 5 days following the treatment.  He now has just one treatment to go.

Carole Drain had her last chemo treatment Friday, with the worst of it usually being a few days to follow.

Kelli Fleeman has now begun her chemo treatments for lymphoma with 5 more to go.  She had been back in the hospital for 16 days, primarily for back pain, but is now back home.

Sue Wooten, who lives in a nursing home, recently had gall bladder surgery that she is now healing from.

Let those of us who are Christians also continue to remember in prayer: Brianna Mackey, James Medlock, Marie Pennock, and Mary Vandevander
——————–
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
, living for the Lord; 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
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com
(Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)