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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matthew13_31b
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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)

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