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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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
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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/)
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“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.
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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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