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)

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