The Gospel Observer (December 25, 2016)

Contents:

1) Some Marks of God’s People (Virgil Hale)
2) Need: A Pride Killer (Adam Litmer)
3) The Fundamentals (Adam Smith)
4) News & Notes
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Some Marks of God’s People
Virgil Hale

Malachi 3:16 reads, “Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.” In this text there are three characteristics given concerning the people of God that I want us to study, and then we will observe the blessing that followed. There are great lessons in this text for all of God’s people today.

In the first place it says that they “feared the Lord.” This in and of itself does not make one a child of God. It is said of Cornelius that he “feared God with all his house…” (Acts 10:2) and that he was “a just man and one that feareth God…” (verse 22). At the time, Cornelius was not a Christian, and he had to obey the Gospel in order to become a child of God. The kind of fear under consideration is not a fear that causes one to shudder at the very thought of God, but it is a reverential awe and respect for God and His will. In speaking of God David wrote, “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant forever: holy and reverend is his name” (Psa. 111:9). The writer of the Hebrew letter said that we are to “serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Heb. 12:28). It is evident that most people have little or no respect for God or His Word. According to Solomon, the whole duty of man is to “Fear God and keep his commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). Peter made this statement at the house of Cornelius,”…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34-35). There is no way that one can be a faithful child of God if he has no reverence and respect for God and His will.

Secondly, it is said in our text that these people of God “spake often one to another.” This implies that they had fellowship one with another, that they cooperated one with the other, that they were mutually helpful to each other. The word fellowship carries with it the idea of joint participation. We are told, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works (Heb. 10:24). Paul wrote that we are “workers together with him…” (2 Cor. 6:1) and that “we are laborers together with God” (1 Cor. 3:9). The Psalmist wrote, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Psa. 133:1). Some things might be pleasant that are not good for us, and some things might be good for us that are not pleasant, but unity is both good and pleasant. Christians are to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honor preferring one another  (Rom. 12:10). Paul wrote, “Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Phil. 2:2-3). Love for one another lets the world know that we belong to Christ (John 13:34-35). The early church certainly fit this pattern (Acts 2:44-45; 4:34-37).

Thirdly, it is said of God’s people that they “thought upon his name.” This implies that they meditated upon God and His will, and that they were devout worshipers of Him. Do you enjoy studying God’s Word, and are you a faithful worshiper of God? The “Blessed” man of Psalm chapter 1, is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his Law doth he meditate day and night.” Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). What do you think about most? We are products of our thinking (Prov. 23:7; Rom. 12:1-2). We cannot rise above our thinking!

Finally, notice the results of the preceding, “and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them…” Rest assured that God does not forget His people. Paul spoke of people “whose names are written in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3). We need to remember that God has said, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Heb. 13:5). Because of that promise we can “boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (verse 6). Rest assured “our labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58). “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). Do we really believe these promises? I hope that we do, because God cannot lie (Tit. 1:2; Heb. 6:18). May we strive to have the characteristics that we have discussed in our lives, and heaven will someday be our eternal home.

— Via The Auburn Beacon, October 16, 2016, Volume 8, Issue 4
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“And my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ And my adversaries will rejoice when I am shaken. But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, Because He has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:4-6, NASB).
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Need: A Pride Killer
Adam Litmer

In Luke 8:40-42 we read, “Now when Jesus returned, the crowd welcomed him, for they were all waiting for him.  And there came a man named Jairus, who was a ruler of the synagogue. And falling at Jesus’ feet, he implored him to come to his house, for he had an only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she was dying.”

As a ruler of the synagogue, Jairus was a man of no small influence. However, he found himself in a situation that rendered him powerless. His daughter was dying and there was nothing he could do stop it.  All of his influence, wisdom, power, and fame meant absolutely nothing to him in the face of such a terrible predicament. Jesus had many enemies and there is little doubt that at least some of them witnessed Jairus running to Jesus and falling at his feet. There is even less doubt that word of Jairus’ actions spread very quickly. However, whatever pride Jairus may have possessed was crushed beneath the weight of his tremendous need.

A saved relationship with Jesus Christ demands one thing above all else — a humble willingness to admit that  one is a sinner, helplessly lost, and completely reliant upon the mercy and grace of One infinitely greater than they (Romans 3:23; 5:1-11). This humility boasts in the cross of Jesus Christ, never in self (Galatians 6:14). This humility boasts in weakness for it is in weakness that the  power of Christ shines brightest (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  Is there any wonder, in our increasingly humanistic world, that such humility is rarely seen?

Unfortunately, such humility is not as common as it should be even among those who claim Christ as Lord. It is lacking in the elder who lords his authority over the flock, looking upon the congregation as his own personal fiefdom.  It is lacking in the evangelist who forgets that his duty is to present Christ, not himself.  It is lacking in the Christian who imagines that his or her salvation will be achieved on the basis of personal goodness.

Need. The word ought to be emblazoned upon the heart of every Christian for the day will never come when the mercy and  grace of God is not our greatest need. The one who glories in self has yet to recognize this.  When they do, that realization will crush the pride that bars their way to the Lord and salvation.

— Via University Heights Messenger, December 18, 2016, Volume 8, Number 56
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“Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling. It is better to be humble in spirit with the lowly Than to divide the spoil with the proud.  He who gives attention to the word will find good, And blessed is he who trusts in the LORD” (Proverbs 16:18-20, NASB).
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The Fundamentals
Allen Smith

It’s impossible to accomplish some things in life until we have mastered the fundamentals. Any sports coach will tell you that a great team has to first be grounded in the fundamentals. Teachers will tell you the same thing about successful students – and the same thing is true about Christians. The fundamentals – the “first principles” – are not always the most enjoyable part, but they are the most essential part of what we need to learn. If we don’t, we may very well be characterized by these words – “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14).

May we be well-grounded in the fundamentals so we can grow up to enjoy the “solid food” found in God’s word.

— Via The Old Hickory Bulletin, 5/4/2014
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News & Notes

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of Brian Corbitt (Cheryl’s husband) who passed away yesterday (the 28th).  Funeral arrangements will be made later today.  Let those of us who are Christians be keeping all of his loved ones in prayer.

Others also to be praying for:

Mary Vandevander has been moved from the local hospital to the Pierce County nursing home for physical therapy.

James “Buddy” Gornto had surgery the Monday before last, and then also the Monday after to correct the previous one, which pertained to a dialysis port.  As of last Wednesday, he had been in the hospital for about 11 days.

Also: Shirley Davis, the Medlocks (Bennie, Deborah, Penny, and James), Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Camp Tatum, Kelli Fleeman, Jim Lively, Brianna Mackey, and Ray Richards.
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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, living for the Lord; 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)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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The Gospel Observer (December 18, 2016)

Contents:

1) “Lessons From A Changing World” (Larry Rouse)
2) Themes of the Law (Doy Moyer)
3) News & Notes
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“Lessons From A Changing World”
Larry Rouse

Anyone who lived in the 1950s or 1960s has witnessed great changes in our society. These changes have come so fast and moved so swiftly that if one fifty years ago had been told of these coming changes I am certain that he would not have believed them. Any change within the society around us will have a corresponding effect upon Christians in that society. A careful study of the churches of Asia in the book of Revelation reveals the struggle that must take place in the heart of every Christian against the surrounding social conditions.

Changing morals and decaying societies are not new in human history. We may as a country be moving even more rapidly towards self-destruction than societies of the past, but as Christians we can rest in the certainties of an unchanging God and His revealed will. In the hymn “Abide with Me” we sing: “Change and decay in all around I see; O Thou who changes not, abide with me!” Indeed God Himself has told us, “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6).

How can we resist the raging currents pulling us within this culture? We look to the God who is far greater than anything men or the rulers of men could ever say or do. In Isaiah, God says: “Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales” (Isaiah 40:15). The promise of God’s continual care and guidance makes the shallow and false promises of the world seem as nothing. Our challenge is to build and maintain an unshakable faith in an unchanging God. Do you daily glory in the promise that God made when He said: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6).

We need the wisdom of God to see this world for what it is and to overcome the efforts of Satan to subvert our faith. God has plainly described both the end of worldly things and the means of attack Satan will use. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15-17).

— via Online Articles from the Manslick Road church of Christ, June 29, 2014
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Themes of the Law
Doy Moyer

The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) is probably the the most well-known part of the Law of Moses (Exod. 20; Deut. 5). The framework for the rest of the Law is found therein. While it is tempting to view the commandments as a list to check-off, those commandments were to be seen as foundational to the Israelites’ way of life. The Decalogue is a charter of ethical behavior and respect. Consider the basic commands:

1. You shall have no other gods before Me.

2. You shall not make for yourself an idol (no graven images, not to worship or serve them).

3. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.

4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

5. Honor your father and mother.

6. You shall not murder.

7. You shall not commit adultery.

8. You shall not steal.

9. You shall not bear false witness.

10. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house or wife.

Applications of these commands are many and varied. For example, Jesus demonstrated how these commands are to be understood in a broader context than just a check-list. He showed that not only is the act of murder wrong, but the attitude that leads to it is also a violation of the principle (Matthew 5:21-22). Not only is the act of adultery sinful, but the lust that leads to the act is also sinful (Matthew 5:27-28; see also James 1:13-15). In other words, understanding the nature of these commandments means understanding the principles that can be applied to various circumstances. Never should we see God’s word as a rote check-list with no further implications.

With that in mind, think about some of the interwoven themes that are involved in these commandments*:

1. Authority. The authority of God is stressed in the first four commands. No other god has the authority to command and expect obedience, for Yahweh alone is God. He is the Creator and has the right to be honored by His creation. Further, the authority of parents is stressed in the fifth command. Children were to honor their parents and obey them. The significance should be apparent in that the home is the first place children are going to learn about the concept of authority. Most importantly, they will learn something about God’s authority. The command to honor father and mother comes in the middle of the ten purposefully, as it serves as a hinge that points to both God and others.

2. Respect. Respect for God demands close attention to how we view and treat God. Making a graven image of God or taking His name in vain shows a lack of respect for God with His glory and dignity. Idolatry is an attempt to bring God down to humanity’s level or lower. Likewise, a lack of respect for human life, marriage, and personal property is what would lead to someone violating the commands that relate other people. Inherent in the commandments are the rights and privileges of individuals to own property and expect others to respect that personal property. Murder, adultery, and stealing represents a complete disrespect for what God considers precious and valuable.

3. Commitment. One who is committed to God will also be committed to holiness. The commandment to keep the sabbath holy presents a principle that requires His people to keep all holy things holy. Keep what is holy in its proper place, and by this God is honored. If God has pronounced something holy, then we must be committed to keeping it that way in our lives. Further, the commandment not to bear false witness represents a commitment to truth. The ethic of the child of God will not permit lies and slander. Commitment is also foundational both to authority and respect. Without a fundamental commitment to do what is right as defined by God, then nothing else will work properly.

The commandments were not intended to be read in some wooden fashion that failed to appreciate the underlying principles. Again, Jesus also showed this point when He was asked about the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40). Isn’t it interesting that His response does not include one of the Ten Commandments, but rather commandments that are all encompassing. Loving God and loving neighbors stretch across the ten commandments to all of the Law and the prophets. While we need to follow the commandments of God (whether old or new stipulations), we also need to learn to understand the principles implied by the commandments. This will take some discernment, but that process comes through our maturity in Christ (see Heb. 5:14).

All of this reflects upon how we read Scripture. Are we seeing the principles, the connections, and the applications that grow from the passages? Are we just looking for a minimal list of what we have to do, or are we seeking to better understand our God and Savior through His Scriptures so we can better love and appreciate who He is and what He has done for us?

*These are not unique to me, but I believe these well express the basic categories.

— via Bulletin Articles of the Vestavia church of  Christ, December 11, 2016
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 “…Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O LORD! You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O LORD, make me to dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:6-8, NASB).
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News & Notes

Mary Vandevander is still in the local hospital with a lung problem (and possible infection) and growing weaker.  Right now, she cannot stand on her own, though she could prior; and they are keeping her on oxygen. They are hoping to move her this week to a nursing home in Blackshear where she can receive therapy.

Shirley Davis has continued in her physical therapy for six weeks now.  She not only goes to a therapy clinic twice a week, but also works out at home at least 5 days a week for an hour a day.  She has an appointment with her doctor in Valdosta this week to see if she is now ready for the complete knee replacement.  Let us pray that she will be!

Doyle and Joyce Rittenhouse, though still a little under the weather, and Doyle with still also some of his back trouble, are both doing better than before.

Let us also continue to remember the Medlocks (Bennie, Deborah, Penny, and James) who can each use the prayers of the saints.

And also: Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Camp Tatum, Kelli Fleeman, Jim Lively, Brianna Mackey, and Ray Richards.
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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, living for the Lord; 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)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (December 11, 2016)

Contents:

1) “My Lord and My God!” (Tom Edwards)
2) “It’s About Me!” (Steve Patton)
3) Why Do We Have the Lord’s Supper on the First Day of the Week? (Bill Crews)
4) Still Growing! (Tom Edwards)
5) News & Notes

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“My Lord and My God!”
Tom Edwards

Thomas was not present when the Lord had first appeared to the ten apostles, after His resurrection.  In later hearing their testimony that “We have seen the Lord!,” Thomas then responded, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25).

It was the following Sunday when Thomas was given that opportunity.  For the Lord again appeared to His disciples, standing in their midst and saying, “Peace be with you” (v. 26).  And then, specifically to Thomas, Jesus said, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (v. 27).

We are not told whether Thomas actually touched the Lord or not, but we are given his response in what he saw, when he acknowledged, “My Lord and my God!” (v. 28).

Jesus then said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (v. 29).

We note that Jesus does not specifically say that Thomas had touched Him, but that he had seen Him – and that appears to have been all that was necessary for this previous doubter!

Thomas, of course, had not been the only doubter, prior to seeing the resurrected Lord.  For that was also the case of all the Lord’s apostles – and even after hearing the testimony of Mary Magdalene, that faithful follower of Jesus Christ who had often been with them, and the one to whom the Lord first appeared, following His resurrection (Mark 16:9).  For she had declared to them that she had seen the Lord; yet, the apostles did not believe her (vv. 10,11).  Where was that knowledge and even that inkling of faith in them that the Lord was to arise from the dead?  Had they had that, would not such a testimony of Mary have been all they needed to have sparked and brought them to the realization of this marvelous event?!

The Lord’s resurrection is that which truly bears witness to His Deity.  For as Paul writes concerning Jesus, “who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was DECLARED THE SON OF GOD WITH POWER BY THE RESURRECTION from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 1:3,4, emphasis mine).

And as we just saw, it was in seeing the resurrected Jesus that prompted Thomas to declare, “My Lord and my God!”

If Christ had been merely a man, would not His response to Thomas have been a rebuke for calling Him “God”?!

Thomas would certainly not call the apostle John “God” nor say that about any other man.  But he said that of Jesus, and the Lord did not point out any error in what Thomas had said, but accepted it.  And not only that, but He also pronounced blessing upon all those who had not seen, but yet still believed in His resurrection.

We recall the time when Peter came to the household of Cornelius, and Cornelius “fell at his feet and worshiped him” (Acts 10:25).  But in seeing that, “Peter raised him up, saying, ‘Stand up, I too am just a man’” (v. 26).

And when the apostle John, while receiving the great Revelation from God through an angel, “fell at his feet to worship him,” the angel said, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God…” (Rev. 19:10).

So even holy angels are not to be worshiped.  Yet, according to Hebrews 1:6, all the angels are to worship Jesus Christ!

While on earth, Jesus was worshiped.  He was worshiped when an infant (Matt. 2:11).  He was worshiped in adulthood (Matt. 14:33, 28:9,27; John 9:38) – and not once did He rebuke any of these for doing so!  For Jesus is to be reverenced and worshiped just as greatly as we reverence and worship the Father – and to not do so is to not honor the Father at all!  As the Lord declares, “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him” (Jn. 5:22,23).

After considering all of these above passages, we should well understand what the Lord meant by warning, “unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jn. 8:24).

May the world not only come to that great conclusion that Jesus truly is Lord, and that Jesus is truly God; but also be able to declare, like Thomas, that Jesus is “My Lord and my God!”

* All Bible verses are from the New American Standard Bible.
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“It’s About Me!”
Steve Patton

Our world constantly emphasizes that life is “all about me.”  We have it hammered into our brains daily with ad slogans like: “You are special.  You deserve a break today.  Have it your way.  Because you’re worth it.  We do it all for you.  It’s everywhere you want to be.”  So life is all about me and my wants and desires.  Happiness means getting everything I want.

I believe such an idea can be attributed to two things.  One is the battle with our own lusts — lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eye, and the pride of life (1 John 2:15-16).  Flesh versus spirit is a battle we fight our whole life. God’s Word teaches us that self-denial and sacrifice are fundamental to a meaningful existence (Luke 9:27; Romans 12:1, etc.).

But secondly, we are told that life can be meaningful without a belief in a Creator God who is the source of all existence and to whom we will ultimately answer.  Radical evolutionists have been at the heart of this idea, telling us that this world is here without the hand of God, and that its continued successful existence is up to man.  In the evolutionist’s mind we are but one species in a long continuum of beings evolving into higher forms over billions of years.  Our responsibility is to do our part to see that this evolutionary march continues throughout the millenniums ahead.  I’m not sure why they think we should do this since we each live only one lifetime.  Shouldn’t that one brief lifetime be filled with doing whatever I want, not with fulfilling any responsibility to future higher evolved beings?  After all they will not care one bit about me and how I lived.

The evolutionist says that to find meaning to life, do not look up.  Rather look around you and find something more important than yourself and work for it.  Sounds good but I think someone long ago tried that.  King Solomon recounted his quest for meaning in “something more.” With great success he completed grand projects, amassed fortunes, and enjoyed mountaintop experiences, each failing to quell his heart’s deepest pangs. His life lesson: Lasting significance is not found in something, but in Someone (Eccl. 12:14).

Do not let this world fool you.  Life is not just about “me.”  It is about both God and others.  When your life needs meaning, learn to look up.  Have the heart of the Psalmist when he wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God” (Psa. 42:1).  There you will find life’s meaning.

— Via articles from Manslick Road church of Christ, January 19, 2014
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Why Do We Have the Lord’s Supper on the First Day of the Week?
Bill Crews

The New Testament accounts of the institution of the Lord’s Supper are found in Matt. 26:26-29; Mk. 14:22-25; and Lk. 22:19-20.  Paul also cites this occurrence in 1 Cor. 11:23-26.  In all of these the followers of Christ are commanded to observe the Lord’s Supper.  Those who constitute a congregation or local church are taught to assemble together for this observance (1 Cor. 11:18,20,33).  In Acts 20:7 we have the example of the church in Troas assembling together “upon the first day of the week” for the purpose of eating the Lord’s Supper (called “breaking bread,” just as it is in Acts 2:42).  This approved example is the only New Testament clue we have as to when first century Christians observed the memorial feast of the Lord’s Supper.  Church histories compiled by men confirm that it was indeed the practice of Christians in the first few centuries to assemble on the first day of each week for the purpose of eating the Lord’s Supper.  In later years, led by those who believe that the frequency of doing so and the day of the week upon which it is done are not important, the practice of annual, quarterly, and monthly observances were begun. There is no Bible authority for such.

— via the articles of the Collegevue church of Christ, November 13, 2016
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Still Growing!

In thinking of our need to continually grow in our relationship with God, I was once reminded of that by Pablo Casals — that renowned cellist who was a virtuoso in his field.  On his 75th birthday an interviewer asked him why he still found it necessary to practice the cello for four hours a day. “Because,” Casals answered, “I think I’m making some progress.”

Regardless of how long we have been a Christian, we, too, can still make some progress as we continue in our service to God and grow in His word.  And may that always be our desire.

— Tom
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News & Notes

Last Thursday, Cheryl Crews was taken off the ventilator and continues to improve each day.

Shirley Davis has been receiving physical therapy for the last few weeks to strengthen her legs, which is needful prior to her having a knee replacement and which she will soon be talking to her doctor about.

Bennie and Deborah Medlock have both fallen recently, which has led to some back trouble.

Doyle Rittenhouse had been getting better over his illness, but also had recently fallen, which has caused some back trouble (and to a back which he has long had trouble with).

Jim Lively has also fallen again and put a couple bruises on the back of his head.  He is still undergoing cardio therapy 4 days a week.

Let those of us who are Christians also continue to remember in prayer the following: Joyce Rittenhouse, Michelle Rittenhouse, Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Camp Tatum, Kelli Fleeman, Mikaela Jones, Brianna Mackey, Ray Richards, 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)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (December 4, 2016)

Contents:

1) Sacrifice, Forgiveness, and Holding Fast: A Picture of the Gospel (Doy Moyer)
2) Careful Learning (Gary Henry)
3) Not Enough Time to Read the Bible? (selected)
4) News & Notes
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hebrews10_19-23
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Sacrifice, Forgiveness, and Holding Fast: A Picture of the Gospel
Doy Moyer

Hebrews 10 gives us a powerful lesson on the plan of God. Understanding God’s plan through the shadow and form concepts appealed to in Hebrews also gives us great incentive for remaining faithful to Christ. Let’s be reminded of the importance of understanding this. Please read Hebrews 9-10 to get the bigger picture.

Shadow and Form

The Law was never meant to be the final piece of God’s plan. Instead, it was meant to point to Jesus, who would complete and perfect it through His sacrifice. The Hebrews writer says the Law contained a “shadow,” not the actual form of what God intended (Heb. 10:1). This “shadow” concept shows that one who focused on the Law and didn’t see what the Law intended would be like someone staring at a shadow and thinking that the shadow was its own entity. The Law foreshadowed something much greater; it was never meant to be an end in itself.

Included in the Law were the sacrifices (in addition to other “regulations of divine worship and the earthly sanctuary,” Heb. 9:1). Because these sacrifices were part of the shadow, they could not in themselves “perfect those who draw near.” If they were capable of doing that, then they would not have needed to be offered year after year. One sacrifice worked for a time, but then another sacrifice was needed, and then another. Each sacrifice was only temporary. Why? “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).

A Body Prepared

But God had a plan. These sacrifices, as part of that Law, pointed to someone much greater. How would God provide a sacrifice that would not have to be re-offered year after year? The writer appropriates Psalm 40 to show that ultimately those animal sacrifices were not what God had in mind for His plan to forgive. Rather, a particular person is in view: “I have come … to do Your will, O God” (10:7). In order to accomplish this will, a body was prepared by which that “once for all time” sacrifice would be made. No longer would the yearly sacrifices be needed. By preparing the body of Jesus, “He takes away the first in order to establish the second” so that “by this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (vv 9-10).

The New Covenant is about forgiveness (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8:7-13), and God’s plan for salvation is wrapped up in Jesus. The old law, the old sacrifices, the old priesthood, could not offer what God ultimately wanted to accomplish. They were given for a time, given temporarily until the right time for Christ to come, but the time came when they had to be set aside. By establishing the covenant through Christ, and through Christ’s one offering of His own body, “He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). Since forgiveness is now possible through Jesus, there is no longer a need for the continual offering of sacrifices required by the Law (Heb. 10:18).

Holding Fast the Confession

Now think about the Temple imagery from Hebrews 9. How do we go into the Holy Place of God? The answer is “by the blood of Jesus,” which constitutes a “new and living way which He inaugurated through the veil, that is, His flesh” (vs. 20). The veil that separated the Ark of the Covenant from the rest of the temple can now be approached by all who share in the blood of Jesus. Because we have such a great priest over God’s house, the results are clear: “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith…” (vs. 22). Christ’s sacrifice was intended to allow us to draw near to God.

We have been washed, our consciences purged, and this gives us the incentive to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering.” We know that God is faithful. In turn, we need to encourage each other to continue doing what is right — to stimulate one another to love and good works. Sadly, some had forsaken those efforts, discouraged perhaps by persecutions and trials. But we must take the long view, understanding that God will do exactly as He has promised in His time.

Failure to stay true to God will only result in judgment. Spurning the sacrifice of Jesus has terrible consequences. If people died without mercy under Moses’ law, how much severer should the punishment be for those who regard the blood of Christ as unholy and insult the Spirit of grace? The writer’s encouragement is clear: we are not those who turn away. “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised … but we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul” (vv. 36-39).

May God help us to see the greatness of His plan, Christ’s sacrifice, and our need for remaining faithful to Him.

— via bulletin articles of the Vestavia church of Christ, November 13, 2016
——————–

bible-and-glasses-gary-henry
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Careful Learning
Gary Henry

“For all the Athenians and the foreigners who were there spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing” (Acts 17:21).

AS PLEASURABLE AS OUR INTELLECTUAL PURSUITS MAY BE, WE MUST BE CAREFUL TO KEEP THESE IN PERSPECTIVE. Like the Athenians, we may be thrilled “to tell or to hear some new thing.” But it is to be hoped that we have our sights set on something more than the mere exchange of intellectual information. Seeking God requires the use of our intellects, and there is an intense joy in the right use of the minds that we’ve been given. Yet seeking God is not just an intellectual pursuit. We must work at achieving balance between this priority and others that are no less important.

One of the dangers that we face, of course, is pride. Paul contrasted the benevolent benefits of love with the lofty attitude that often goes with learning when he said, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies” (1 Corinthians 8:1). It is a rare individual who can make more intellectual progress than his peers and not begin to feel at least a little proud of that fact. So in seeking the knowledge of God, we must keep pride in check by every possible means.

But the word “love” suggests another danger: we may become so consumed with intellectual activity that we disconnect ourselves from the people around us and from the active responsibilities of daily living. Spiritually speaking, we can’t afford the luxury of living in an ivory tower. Having wrestled, perhaps by the burning of midnight oil, with the ideas that are involved in seeking God, we must come out into the sunshine of real human relationships and put to work the truths that we have learned. We must not engage in “pointless lucubrations,” as I once heard a friend refer to purely abstract inquiries.

There is a great accountability that goes with knowledge. On the one hand, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and on the other, much will be expected of those to whom much has been given. Whether we’ve learned little or much, whatever we’ve learned involves a stewardship. There are serious responsibilities that go with knowledge, and especially with the knowledge of God. To know even a little of Him is a privilege that we should respond to with reverence, caution, and respect.

“Don’t let your intellectual pleasure exceed your fear of misusing it” (Guigo I).

— Via WordPoints, December 3, 2016 (https://wordpoints. com/careful-learning-december-3/)
——————–

“I will rejoice and be glad in your lovingkindness, Because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul” (Psalm 31:7).
——————–

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Not Enough Time to Read the Bible?

How much time does it take to read from Genesis to Revelation?  If you would read the Bible at a standard ‘pulpit’ speed  (slow enough to be heard and understood),  the reading time would be seventy-one (71)  hours.  If you would break that down into minutes and divide it into 365 days, you could read the entire Bible, cover to cover, in one year by only reading 12 minutes per day.  Is this too much time to spend reading about God?

— selected (via articles from the Collegevue church of Christ)
——————–

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News & Notes

Those on our sick list for prayer: Cheryl Crews (who has been in critical condition in ICU, but showing some improvement each day), Doyle and Joyce Rittenhouse, Bennie and Deborah Medlock, Mikaela Jones, and Brianna Mackey.

Those who have had cancer surgery and those who are undergoing treatments: Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Camp Tatum, and Kelli Fleeman.

Those who had open heart surgery: Jim Lively and Ray Richards.

Our shut-ins: Mary Vandevander and Shirley Davis.
——————–

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)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

The Gospel Observer (November 27, 2016)

Contents:

1) “Let Another Man Praise You” (R.J. Evans)
2) Born (Again) to Serve (John Thompson)
——————–

1cor1_31
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“Let Another Man Praise You”
R.J. Evans

“Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger and not your own lips”  (Proverbs 27:2).

Is it safe to say that most of us have difficulty from time to time in heeding and obeying the words of wisdom in our text?  I’m sure we have all been guilty of doing a little bragging and boasting at times.  In fact, generally speaking, it appears that boasting has become an accepted practice in our present culture.  Just think about politics or the social media, and you realize how common it has become.

The boaster is the individual who wants other people to think of him as a great doer of many things.  He is the type individual who likes to talk about himself, and is not bashful about bragging about all his accomplishments.  There is an old saying that is associated with this kind of person: “If you want to know how great he is (or members of his family), just ask him, and he will tell you.”  Then there are those who do not have to be asked; they constantly boast about themselves, whether others want to hear it or not.

We just mentioned that boasting has become a part of our present culture.  We can also observe that this practice is addressed in God’s word.  In Romans 1, the Apostle Paul described the many evil characteristics of the Gentiles, one of which consisted of “boasters” (v. 30).  In writing to Timothy, he stated, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy”  (2 Tim. 3:1-2).  These sins are running rampant today, and most certainly, boasting is no exception.

The Apostle Paul did engage “in a little folly” — a type of foolish boasting in order to expose his opponents who were false apostles — taking advantage of the brethren at Corinth (2 Cor. 11).  However, he had already established the fact that acceptable glorying or boasting is to be only in the Lord — “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord” (2 Cor. 10:17).  Likewise, he told the Galatians: “But God forbid that I should glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14).

There are many admonitions throughout God’s word against being proud and boastful.  Jesus taught that when we do our good deeds, don’t “sound a trumpet” but let it be in secret to the extent that — “when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (Matt. 6:1-4).  In other words, don’t be telling others and bragging about what good deeds you have done.  The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector teaches against self-righteous boasting and pride (Lk. 18:9-14). The Apostle Paul stated, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).  In planning for the future, James said “you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’  But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil” (Jas. 4:15-16).

Boasters are proud, which is totally against the humble spirit that should characterize the faithful child of God.  James said, “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (Jas. 4:6).  The boaster is one who thinks he is better/smarter/more important than others.  But the Scripture teaches that “in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).  The boaster often makes others feel bad about themselves, and become discouraged over “falling so short” of all the braggart’s alleged accomplishments and abilities.  But the Lord says, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Rom. 15:2).  And there are other problems associated with all the damage a boaster causes.  Thus, boasting is an attempt to belittle others, while seeking to elevate self above everyone else.

It has been said that no one likes to be around a boaster — having to constantly hear him brag about himself.  No doubt about it, that is so true!  Who wants to hear and see actions of someone essentially saying: “Look at me and see how great I am”?  Never let it be said or observed that the faithful child of God is a boaster.  May we at all times heed the words of our title: “LET ANOTHER MAN PRAISE YOU.”

— via the bulletin for the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana, October 16, 2016
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2cor4_5
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Born (Again) to Serve
John Thompson

Jesus entered Jerusalem about six days before He was to be crucified. One evening at supper with His apostles, he did an unusual thing.  Ever the master teacher, he arose, removed his outer garments, tied a towel around his waist, put some water into a basin and began to wash the feet of his disciples. He had a reason for doing this most humbling act of servitude.

12“When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you understand what I have done to you? 13You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him’” (John 13:12-16).

Jesus not only humbled himself, taking on the form of a servant (Philippians 2:7), but he performed one of the more disgusting tasks of washing dirty, dust-encrusted feet.  Furthermore, he washed the feet of those under his authority: the teacher washing the feet of his students. Finally, he washed the feet of his enemy, his betrayer, for Judas had not yet left to carry out his plan.

Do you remember the story of young Samuel, how he was leant to the Lord by his mother and reared by Eli? After some misunderstanding who was calling him, Samuel was finally advised by Eli to respond by saying, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.” Can you think of a better way to respond to the Lord? There is so much contained in that short response: a recognition of Deity; an attitude of servitude; and the willingness to learn and carry out the Lord’s will.

You know, some of the godliest people who have ever  lived were perfectly content to be servants of God.  When  Satan appeared before God, as reported in the book of Job, God expressed extraordinary confidence in His servant, Job: 8“And the Lord said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job, that there is no one like him on the  earth, a blameless and upright man, who  fears God and turns away from evil?’” (Job 1:8). Paul, who played such an indispensable role in the establishment and spread of the church, was just as prone to refer to himself as a servant of God as he was to call himself an apostle: “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1). “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons” (Philippians 1:1).  See also Titus 1:1.  James, Peter, and Jude also begin their inspired letters by identifying themselves as servants of God.

Paul makes it plain that being  a servant of God means serving others. 5“For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Corinthians 4:5).

In a time when entitlements are on everyone’s minds and people are quick to demand to receive what they believe they deserve, servitude will not be very popular.

When one becomes a Christian, he or she is born again, born again to serve Christ through service to others. Serving others is, very simply, the means by which the Christian serves God. 34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:34-40).

An article on servitude is appropriate at any time, but especially so at this time. Our brother, Garry Banks, was a servant of the Lord who did not hesitate to serve others. He is now at rest awaiting his final reward.  I believe God could have said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant, Garry Banks?” And I believe Garry will hear, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…. as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

— Via University Heights Messenger, August 14, 2016, Volume 8, Number 34
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Cheryl Crews had been admitted to the ICU, due to a critical condition that required being kept sedated to an unconscious state, while also on a breathing ventilator and receiving kidney dialysis.  Since then, as R.J. Evans writes, “She is showing improvement each day. The doctors have cut back on the oxygen and pressure of the ventilator.  (This is the beginning of a process of weaning her off of the ventilator.)  She is now on dialysis every other day.  Thus, over-all, Cheryl continues to make progress with the passing of each day.  Please pray that her progress will continue and that she will fully recover.  Many prayers by multitudes of God’s people have been prayed on Cheryl’s behalf.  To God be the glory!”

Doyle and Joyce Rittenhouse are both not well. Doyle had been back to the doctors Friday, the previous Monday, and the Monday prior. He has been breaking out in a sweat 4 to 5 times a day, had an EKG, blood tests, and was put on two different antibiotics. It is not thought to be the flu. Though Joyce had been getting better, she had a relapse and is now on a Z pack.

Others of our number who can also use the prayers of the saints for their health are Bennie and Deborah Medlock, Marie Pennock, Mikaela Jones, Shirley Davis, and Mary Vandevander.

…and also for the following whom we’ve been keeping in prayer: Kay Byars, La Donna Andrews, Lexi Crawford, Camp Tatum, Kelli Fleeman, Jim Lively, Brianna Mackey, and Ray Richards.
——————–

“For it is You who blesses the righteous man, O LORD, You surround him with favor as with a shield” (Psalm 5:12).
——————–

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)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
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://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)