The Gospel Observer (June 25, 2017)

Contents:

1) “Prehistoric Man” (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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“Prehistoric Man”
Tom Edwards

Since “prehistoric” simply means “of or pertaining to the time prior to recorded history” (Webster), how can that phrase still be used when even the very first day of creation is recorded in the Bible, along with the six following days and what God did on each of those days?  Recorded is the account of the first man and the first woman, their descendants, and events from that time that are also included in the book of Genesis to give us a look at the world in that beginning and early period of man.

As the Bible points out, Adam was created in the image of God, along with a female counterpart to be his wife and helper. They were given dominion over all else that had been made. They were to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:26-28). We are even shown of their diet to have been vegetarian at that time: “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you” (v. 29) – even the animals were then vegetarian, rather than carnivorous (v. 30).

We are also given the names of these first two people: “Adam” (Gen. 2:20) and “Eve” (Gen. 3:20). “Adam” is a transliteration from the Hebrew word “adam” and is said to mean “red earth” (Smith’s Bible Dictionary). It is also the same Hebrew word that is found in 348 other Bible verses where, instead of being used as a proper noun, it is used as a common noun that is translated primarily as “man,” and in 9 verses as “mankind.” It is also rendered as “human” (19 times), “person” (6), “anyone” (4), and some other ways in the NASB.

By the way, the Hebrew word for “ground,” from which Adam was made (Gen. 2:7), is “adamah.” And though that verse actually says “dust of the ground,” yet the Hebrew word for “dust” itself is defined by James Strong as “clay, earth, mud.”

We are also told of where that first couple lived, in the garden of Eden, and of the four specific rivers that flowed from the main river running through the garden (Gen. 2:8-14).  Two we are probably more familiar with: the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers.

Adam was to take care of the garden (Gen. 2:15); and from any tree in it, they could freely eat – except from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (vv. 16,17).

Adam also had the responsibility of naming all the animals that God had made (vv. 19-20).

We are told of the how and why that Eve came about (vv. 18,21-25) — because it was not good for the man to be alone.  Perhaps God did it that way to symbolically show how much the wife was to be a part of her husband’s life, since she was made from Adam’s rib, which God fashioned into a woman.

On and on, we could continue with early events that this first couple on earth experienced, such as their sin and expulsion from the garden (Gen. 3); their children and other descendants (beginning in chapter 4 and more seen in chapter 5); the corruption that led up to the days of Noah, and God’s specific instructions to Noah in building an ark; the great universal flood, and the time spent on the ark (Gen. 6-8). Noah and his family back on dry ground to repopulate the earth, given the promise that God would never again destroy the entire earth with a flood, and now allowed to also include meat in their diets (Gen. 9). More descendants listed in Genesis 10. The Tower of Babel, and the beginning of the different languages; those of the same language going off into their own groups and being scattered abroad over all the earth; and another genealogical record including ages at death and ending in Genesis 11 with Abraham, along with mentioning that his father passed away in Haran.  The history then  continues of Abraham, followed by Isaac, Jacob, and others through the rest of Genesis — and especially of Joseph in chapter 37 and his time in Egypt in chapters 39-48 and also in chapter 50 which ends with his death.

These are all historical events from a most reliable source.  The word “Genesis” actually means “an origin, creation, or beginning” (Webster), which is well-fitting for this first book of the Bible.  Genesis covers about a 2,400-year period from Adam (at the beginning of the Creation) to the death of Joseph.

“Prehistoric man,” however, is often depicted as having evolved from an apelike creature, but slowly developing more of today’s human characteristics through long periods of time. In his early version, his vocabulary is sometimes portrayed as not much more than a few different kinds of grunts or other sounds.

But how does that compare with the very first man Adam who was articulate? He communicated with God, with his wife, and had the responsibility of giving names to all the animals. In speaking of his wife, Adam said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man” (Gen. 2:23). And Eve, when tempted to take of the forbidden fruit, said to the tempter, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die’” (Gen. 3:2,3). Both Adam and Eve could well communicate — and could understand not only each other, but also what God had been saying to them.

According to a published paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science,  the earliest evidence of man’s use of fire goes back to 1 million years ago; and since evolution teaches that man began evolving from an apelike creature 6 million years ago, then that was about 5 million years before he was able to master the use of fire.

But the Bible, which does not teach the general theory of evolution, nor of man being millions of years on this planet, shows Abel, the son of the first man Adam, offering “the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions” as an offering to God (Gen. 4:4).  Would we not assume that fire was used with that sacrifice?  During the Mosaical Period, God’s instruction with regard to the firstborn of an ox, a sheep, and a goat was that they were not to be redeemed.  Rather, “You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall offer up their fat in smoke as an offering by fire, for a soothing aroma to the Lord.  Their meat shall be yours; it shall be yours like the breast of a wave offering and like the right thigh” (Num. 18:17-18).  This period of time, however, was about 2,500 years after the time of Abel.

Job, however, was a man who lived during the Patriarchal Age.  In a chronological reading of the Bible, the book of Job is placed right after Genesis 11, which mentions Abram’s birth in the end of that chapter and goes more into the life of Abram in Genesis 12.  But notice Job 18:5: “Indeed, the light of the wicked goes out, And the flame of his fire gives no light.”  And in Job 23:10: “…When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold.”  Many centuries later, God said through Isaiah, “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction” (Isa. 48:10, ESV).  The use of fire appears to have been very early in the history of man.

Concerning Adam and Eve’s first two sons, “…Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground” (Gen. 4:4).

Cain had a son named Enoch who built a city (Gen. 4:17). Enoch became the father of Irad, who became the father of Mehujael, who became the father of Methushael, who became the father of Lamech. And Lamech became the father of Jabal who was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock, which indicates a nomadic way of life, that kind that is still practiced in some parts of the world today.  Lamech was also the father of Jubal who was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe (Gen. 4:20, 21), which is also referred to as stringed and wind instruments. Isn’t it interesting that even way back then, just 8 generations from Adam, the world had musical instruments? Lamech was also the father of Tubal-cain who was a forger of all implements of bronze and iron — and does that not also indicate the use of fire?  According to Wikipedia, “Some metals may be forged cold, but iron and steel are almost always hot forged.”  How creative early man was — even in that most ancient period of history!

I suppose, however,  the speculation of some would be that these individuals – even Adam and Eve — were not until some billions of years after the earth was made. For the general theory of evolution teaches that it took about 4 billion years since the beginning of the earth until man evolved into being similar to how he is today. Yet, as we have recently seen, it was “In the beginning” that God “created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). And man was made on the 6th day of creation (Gen. 1:24-31), with each day being like our 24-hour day, having its evening and a morning (Gen. 1:5,8,13,19,23, 31). So man did not begin 4 billion years after the earth had begun, but within the first week!  Jesus’ declaration in Mark 10:6, in a section pertaining to marriage and divorce, also confirms this: “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female” (emphasis mine).

The depiction of early man by many today is far different from what is revealed in God’s word. And while man’s depiction is from the mind of man, God’s word, the Bible, contains His trustworthy account of those portions of His creation and the events that occurred, which He has seen fit to reveal through His divinely inspired word.  What history book could be more authoritative and enlightening of actual fact?  For God has never had to speculate, assume, or guess of these things in His account.

May we all, therefore, take the time to read this most important of all books — the Bible.  For it is more than a story.  More than just a true account.  For it also shows the way for fallen man to come back to His Creator, to be redeemed and brought into a meaningful relationship with God, which becomes a way of life — and a life that ultimately leads to the blissfulness of heaven’s glory forevermore!

So may it be a book we each learn to love more and more as we repeatedly consider it, find great comfort in meditating upon it, and enjoy the blessings of God in living according to it — and do so throughout all our days.  And for the world, in general, how wonderfully improved the present, the future, and the history of man would be if each one of us would do this!

(Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures are from the NASB.)
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News & Notes

We extend our condolences to all the family and friends of Barbara Darsey (of Manor, GA), who was found passed away in her home on June 25.

Our sympathies also go out to the loved ones of Charles Morris (of Dunedin, FL) who was found deceased on June 26.

We are glad to announce that Elizabeth Jane was born last Tuesday to William and Kristen Hendricks who are very thankful for the prayers of everyone.  All had gone well in the delivery.

Penny Medlock is now at Saint Simons By-The-Sea, where her doctors are looking into new medicines for her.

Bennie Medlock, who seems to be doing okay now, will be having some medical tests on the 30th.

Others who can also use prayer:

Shirley Davis, Pat Joyner, Ronald Renfrow, Randy Bartlett, Wayne Teel, Mary Lou Prevatt, Misty Thornton, Jim Lively, Mary Vandevander, Cicily Thompson, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, LaDonna Andrews, Buddy Gornto, Sunny Nichols, Billy Lowe, Cheryl Crews, Kelli Fleeman, Gary Cradick, Tom Haney and his wife.
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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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (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 (June 18, 2017)

Contents:

1) Enoch (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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Enoch
Tom Edwards

Sometimes it is just brief statements made about some individuals in the Bible that indicate their faith and devotion toward God — but that which can also give much encouragement to us in our own relationship with the Lord.

One such individual that the Bible says little about, but of whom we can infer had been a godly man, is seen in Genesis 5:18-24, along with a most unusual statement that is made about him.  It tells of a man named Enoch who at 65 became the father of Methuselah (who in living to be 969 years of age is the oldest recorded human in the Bible). But though that was unique for Enoch to have a son that lived to such a great age, yet there is something even more special brought to our attention. For while Enoch’s life of 365 years was 604 years shorter than his son Methuselah’s, yet there is something more important than the number of years one lives. Rather, it is how one lives those years. And Enoch lived his the right way! For the Bible declares that Enoch “walked with God” — a phrase which indicates that Enoch believed in God, obeyed the Lord, and had obtained His favor. This also ties in with what the Hebrew writer says about Enoch: “…he was pleasing to God. And without faith it is impossible to please Him for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:5,6).

But when did Enoch live, and what was it like in his day? Was it a time in which the world would be a challenge to his faith — a time in which ungodliness seemed to prevail?

Based on the genealogy in Genesis 5, Enoch was born 622 years, and in the seventh generation, after God created Adam. And since Enoch was on earth for 365 years, 308 of those years were while that first man Adam was still living!  I wonder if they ever met?  If they ever talked?  Wouldn’t that be interesting to meet and communicate with Adam and find out how it had been for him and Eve in the garden of Eden and of their relationship with God before the fall and their being driven out of the garden?  So soon sin had entered this world — not even the very first couple had kept from transgression!

Enoch lived 300 years after Methuselah was born. When Methuselah was 187, he became the father of Lamech. Enoch was then 252. When Lamech was 182, he became the father of Noah — 69 years after Enoch left this world.

But consider Genesis 6:1,2: “Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.”

Some view these “sons of God” as being the descendants of Adam and Eve’s third son Seth and of a godly lineage, while the “daughters of men” pertains to those descending from Cain and characterized with corruption.

According to the Pulpit Commentary, the phrase in Genesis 6:1, “And it came to pass,” is “Literally, it was; not in immediate sequence to the preceding chapter, but as some earlier point in the antediluvian period; perhaps about the time of Enoch (corresponding to that of Lamech the Cainite)…”

But regardless of how the world was in Enoch’s day, he strove to live in harmony with God, to be pleasing to Him, and to maintain that relationship.

And here is a most unusual thing we read of him. After mentioning that “Enoch walked with God,” the writer then goes on to say, “and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). The Hebrew writer elucidates on this when saying, “By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God” (Heb. 11:5).

God can do the impossible (cf. Matt. 19:26). We are reminded of another case, too, in which the Lord took one up who had not died first.  In knowing that the Lord would soon be taking Elijah away, Elisha had asked for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit to be upon him.  Elijah then said, “You have asked a hard thing. Nevertheless, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you; but if not, it shall not be so” (2 Kings 2:10). While they journeyed on, talking along the way, “…there appeared a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.  Elisha saw it and cried out…And he saw Elijah no more” (vv. 11,12).

This idea of being caught up (or supernaturally transported) by the Spirit is also mentioned in 2 Kings 2:16.  In not knowing where Elijah had been taken, the sons of the prophets, who had now recognized that the spirit of Elijah was on Elisha, had come to him with the desire to search for Elijah.  For they said, “perhaps the Spirit of the LORD has taken him up and cast him on some mountain or into some valley.”

For another instance, Obadiah had been “over the household” of Ahab; but being one who “feared the LORD greatly,” he hid 100 prophets of the Lord and provided for them.  For Jezebel, Ahab’s wife, had been killing the prophets.  Obadiah had then run into Elijah who wanted his whereabouts to be made known to Ahab by Obadiah.  But Obadiah expressed his concern: “It will come about when I leave you that the Spirit of the LORD will carry you where I do not know; so when I come and tell Ahab and he cannot find you, he will kill me, although I your servant have feared the LORD from my youth” (1 Kings 18:12).

Another example is that of Philip. Though not taken from the earth, yet notice that after he had baptized the Ethiopian eunuch “…the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him… But Philip found himself at Azotus…” ( Acts 8:39,40).  Though this Grecian term is found just once in the Bible, its Hebrew form of “Ashdod,” one of the five chief Philistine cities, is mentioned 19 times in the Old Testament (NASB) and 21 times in the KJV.  But notice again that Philip was “snatched…away” by the Spirit.  The same Greek word (harpazo) for that phrase is also used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which says, “Then we who are alive and remain will be CAUGHT UP together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (emphasis mine).

Paul also speaks of being “CAUGHT UP to the third heaven” (2 Cor. 12:2), though he didn’t know if it happened “in the body” or “out of the body.” But that he “was CAUGHT UP into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which a man is not permitted to speak” (v. 4, emphases mine).  Again, “caught up” is from “harpazo.”

There are also some instances, while Christ was on earth, that appear to have been a miraculous transporting from one place to the next. In John 6, for instance, there was a strong wind while the disciples were on the Sea of Galilee and “had rowed about three or four miles” (v. 19). While in the process, they saw Jesus walking on the sea toward them and were initially frightened. Mark’s account mentions that when “He got into the boat with them…the wind stopped; and they were utterly astonished” (Mark 6:51). So there they were in the Sea of Galilee, which is about 13 miles from its farthest points north to south, and 7 miles across at its widest points in the north; and, as we saw, they had rowed only about “three or four miles” — and now with no wind to drive them along. But notice what John brings out about this: “…He said to them, ‘It is I; do not be afraid.  So they were willing to receive Him into the boat, and IMMEDIATELY the boat was at the land to which they were going” (Jn. 6:21, emphasis mine).

When Jesus appeared to His apostles again, following His resurrection, the account says, “After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you'” (Jn. 20:26). This appears to have been a miraculous entrance by the Lord. But even if not in this instance, it does not take away from His ability to do that.

When we think of Enoch being “taken up so that he would not see death” (Heb. 11:5), perhaps this reminds us of what we saw earlier in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 of how that “we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…”

Though Paul is focusing on the Christians — whether living or deceased — in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, yet all of us (whether Christians or not) will be caught up to give an account of ourselves to the Lord.  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10).

Enoch also knew of the Lord’s coming in judgment upon the ungodly and prophesied of it (cf. Jude 1:14,15).  Enoch had faith in God, was wise to obey Him, and made himself ready for that great day of reckoning — and may the same also and always be true for each of us!

(All Scriptures from the NASB.)
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News & Notes

The open heart surgery for Wayne Teel on June 15 went well.  Though, understandably, he is very weak and hoarse, he was moved into his own hospital room on the 17th at 7 p.m.  His family has asked to keep him in our prayers.

Cheryl Crews had a heart catheterization June 15, which revealed “a severe heart valve problem” that will require its being replaced through open heart surgery.  Prayers are also asked for her.

Kelli Fleeman had been in the hospital from Wednesday to Sunday to receive inpatient chemo.  Scans are still revealing some spots on her throat.  For four days she had a terrible headache that is now gone and thought to have been due to neck pain.  They are now awaiting the results of a spinal tap to make sure that all is okay in that area.

Also for prayer: Shirley Davis, Pat Joyner, Ronald Renfrow, Randy Bartlett, Mary Lou Prevatt, Misty Thornton, Jim Lively, Mary Vandevander, Cicily Thompson, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, LaDonna Andrews, Buddy Gornto, Sunny Nichols, Billy Lowe, Tom Haney and his wife.
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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<b/ig>
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (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 (June 11, 2017)

Contents:

1) The Power to Forgive (Tom Edwards)
2) A Blessed Rest (Mike Johnson)
3) News & Notes
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The Power to Forgive
Tom Edwards

We are to be a forgiving people.  Notice, for example, Paul’s motivation toward this in the following exhortations: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, JUST AS GOD IN CHRIST ALSO HAS FORGIVEN YOU” (Eph. 4:32, emphasis mine).  Similarly, in writing to the Colossians, Paul also urges them to “…put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; JUST AS THE LORD FORGAVE YOU, SO ALSO SHOULD YOU” (Col. 3:12,13, emphasis mine).

What particular individual has ever sinned against us as much as we have sinned against the Almighty God?  If we, therefore, have been forgiven by the Lord, of all our many transgressions and ever have trouble in forgiving anyone, then we should remind ourselves that whatever wrong or wrongs another did toward us does not even come close to the many wrongs we have committed against God — and, yet, He had forgiven us!

Jesus actually gave a parable concerning this in Matthew 18:23-35.  It was in response to Peter’s question, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered by using two factors to figuratively indicate “always” as the “product”: “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven” (vv. 21-22).  So even if it were the 491st time, or any number greater than that, we are still to forgive.  He then proceeded with the parable of a slave who had owed his king ten thousand talents.  Since he was not able to pay, the king was going to have him sold, along with his family and everything he owned.  But the slave pleaded, “Have patience with me and I will repay you everything.”  On hearing this, the “lord of that slave felt compassion and released him and forgave him the debt” (vv. 23-27).  How greatly relieved the slave must have felt!  “But that slave went out and found one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and he seized him and began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe.’”  This fellow slave had also pleaded in the same manner, falling to the ground, and asking that patience be granted for the repayment.  But, unlike the compassion and forgiveness shown by the king to the first debtor, the creditor “was unwilling and threw him in prison until he should pay back what was owed” (vv. 28-31).

To better understand the above parable, what is the difference between the 10,000 talents and 100 denarii?  The denarius was the equivalent of about 16 cents; but for that time, it was what a common laborer would make in a day (cf. Matt. 20:2).  Since he could work about 300 days out of the year (earning $48), then 100 denarii would be 1/3 of a year’s salary ($16).  But just one talent is the equivalent of 6,000 denarii.  So 10,000 talents equals 60 million denarii!  The common laborer would have to work 200,000 years to earn that amount!

Something else that should motivate us toward forgiving others is realizing that if we don’t, then God will not forgive us.  Jesus taught this.  After giving His model prayer in Matthew 6, He went on to say, “For if you forgive others of their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (vv. 14,15).  The previous parable also brings this out: “So when his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were deeply grieved and came and reported to their lord all that had happened.  Then summoning him, his lord said to him, ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me.  Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you.’  And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:31-35).

Though we are to forgive others, we do not have the power to blot out sin in people’s lives.  That requires the atonement that Jesus made on the cross of Calvary, which He made for every sinner of all time, but is received by meeting His conditions – whether for the sinner who had never been a Christian or the backslidden Christian who needs to be restored.

Only God can truly blot out sin in one’s life because that forgiveness takes place in the mind of God.  Sin is not something inherited through DNA.  It is not something we are born with.  As John writes, “…sin is the transgression of the law” (1 Jn. 3:4, KJV).  When we commit sin, God knows — and He has no trouble in remembering.  But for those who will meet His conditions for pardon, the Lord has promised, “…I will remember their sins no more” (Heb. 8:12).

Mark records a time when some scribes overheard Jesus tell a paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5); and they accused him of blasphemy – for, as they said, “who can forgive sins but God alone?” (v. 7).  Unfortunately, they did not believe that Jesus was God.  But He was actually proving, by the miracle He performed, that He did have the power to forgive because He truly was and is as much Deity as God the Father.  As He states, “`Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, “Your sins are forgiven”; or to say, “Get up, and pick up your pallet and walk”? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins’ — He said to the paralytic, ‘I say to you, get up, pick up your pallet and go home’” (vv. 9-11).

Jesus could back up His claims!  In John 11, He refers to Himself as being “the resurrection and the life”; and that “he who believes in Me will live even if he dies” (v. 25 ) — and He proved that the same day by raising Lazarus from the dead, who had been deceased for four days! (vv. 43-45).

And now in Mark 2, Jesus indicates by way of miracle that He is Deity and does have the power to blot out sin from one’s life!

Do you have God’s forgiveness in your life?  Out of all the things you might have need of, nothing could ever be greater or more important than to simply have the Lord’s pardon of all your iniquities!  If you have never been a Christian, then receiving God’s forgiveness requires hearing the gospel (Rom. 10:17), believing in the deity of Christ (Jn. 8:24), repenting of sin (Luke 13:5), confessing faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and being baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).  For those who had been Christians, but fell away, there is a need to be restored by repenting and praying for God’s forgiveness (cf. Acts 8:13,18-23; 1 Jn. 1:9).  These passages show that having God’s forgiveness is conditional.

Maintaining a right relationship with God is also necessary in order to continue to benefit from the Lord’s atonement at Calvary.  John declares, “If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:6,7).  To walk in the light is to live according to the gospel.

We close with the comforting and praise-worthy words of the psalmist David:

“How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!  How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Psa. 32:1,2).

*****

(All Scriptures are from the New American Standard Bible, unless otherwise indicated.)
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-2-

A Blessed Rest
Mike Johnson

Revelation 14:13 says, “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

The word “blessed” means “happy.”  There is an obvious sense in which death brings sorrow, but for those who “die in the Lord” it can be regarded as a happy occasion.  Heaven is a place of joy, rest, and peace and we will experience this for eternity.

How do our “works” follow us? Consider two senses.  First, if we live a faithful Christian life, the effects of that will be felt here upon this earth even after we are gone.  “Good” will continue to be done by those whom we have influenced in righteousness upon this earth.  In Hebrews 11, Abel is mentioned as one though dead continued to speak.  Also, Peter spoke of his approaching death in the first chapter of 2 Peter. After pointing out he would soon die he said, “Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease.” Our life on earth has an impact upon others after we die and our works do follow us.  Another way to look at this passage is that the consequences of our works follow us into the next life as we will be judged on the bases of what we have done upon this earth.  II Corinthians 5:10 says,  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”  Also, in Romans 2:6, we are told God will render to every man “according to his deeds.”

In conclusion, it is important to consider that this blessed rest spoken of in Revelation 14:13 is only for those “who die in the Lord” and those who have “labored” for Him as the text indicates.  Those who “die in the Lord” will be saved eternally.  What is your situation?  Are you “in the Lord?”  Are you laboring for the Lord?  If so, your death can be a happy occasion.

— via The Elon Challenger, June 2017
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-3-

News & Notes

Pat Joyner’s next doctor appointment will be on the 19th for more tests, and followed by another on the 22nd for a carotid artery.

Also for prayer: friends and family of Lexi Crawford and Marilyn Hamel, Shirley Davis, Ronald Renfrow, Randy Bartlett, Mary Lou Prevatt, Misty Thornton, Jim Lively, Mary Vandevander, Cicily Thompson, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, LaDonna Andrews, Buddy Gornto, Sunny Nichols, Billy Lowe, Tom Haney and his wife.
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (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 (June 4, 2017)

Contents:

1) Sarah’s Faith (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
——————–

heb11_11

-1-

Sarah’s Faith
Tom Edwards

Isn’t it something the way you can read over the same Bible passages many times through the years — and then, decades later, suddenly see some of those verses stand out in a way they had not done so before?  This I experienced recently concerning the faith of Sarah.

Her name at the time was Sarai, and her husband was Abram, before God changed her husband’s name to “Abraham” (Gen. 17:5) and hers to “Sarah” (v. 15).   (The name “Abram” is said to mean ”exalted father,” while “Abraham” means “father of a multitude” [Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions.])

It was to Abraham that God spoke of these name changes; and after mentioning Sarai’s name to “Sarah,” the Lord then told Abraham that she would be blessed by God and bear a child and, thus, become “a mother of nations” with “kings of peoples” that “will come from her” (v. 16).

On hearing this, “…Abraham fell on his face and laughed”; and he “said in his heart, ‘Will a child be born to a man one hundred years old? And will Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?’” (v. 17).

When the LORD appeared to Abraham again by the oaks of Mamre and said, “I will surely return to you at this time next year; and behold, Sarah your wife will have a son,” “Sarah was listening at the tent door, which was behind him” (Gen. 18:10) – and she “laughed to herself” over the thought of having a child at such an old age (v. 12).  And not only had Sarah been “old, advanced in age” and way “past childbearing” (v. 11), but she had also been “barren”  (Gen. 11:30).  So she was “sterile,” as that Hebrew word (“aqar”) is also defined (James Strong and Brown-Driver Briggs), and, therefore, not able to conceive children even in her younger days.

With these factors against her, what is the possibility that she could have a child?  Thinking from merely a physiological standpoint, we would conclude that there is nothing she could do about it.  And, perhaps the thinking would also be, that for her to conceive a child, it would certainly have to be something totally up to God.  But was that how it was?

The verse that stood out to me recently is in Hebrews 11 – that great “Hall of Faith” chapter.  In each of the examples, faith had prompted certain individuals to do specific things.  They had an active, obedient faith – rather than the “dead” faith that James speaks of in James 2.  For instance, in Hebrews 11 (all emphases mine) we see that…

“By faith Abel OFFERED a better sacrifice than Cain…”  (v. 4).

“By faith Noah…in reverence PREPARED an ark for the salvation of his household…”  (v. 7).

“By faith Abraham… OBEYED by going out to a place…”  (v. 8).

“By faith Abraham, when he was tested, OFFERED up Isaac…” (v. 17).

“By faith Moses, when he was born, WAS HIDDEN for three months by his parents…” (v. 23).

“By faith Moses… REFUSED to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, CHOOSING rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt… By faith he LEFT Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he ENDURED, as seeing Him who is not seen.  By faith he KEPT the Passover…” (vv. 24-28).

“By faith they PASSED through the Red Sea…” (v. 29).

“By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been ENCIRCLED for seven days”  (v. 30).

It is said of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets that they “…by faith CONQUERED kingdoms, PERFORMED ACTS of righteousness, obtained promises, SHUT the mouths of lions, QUENCHED the power of fire, ESCAPED the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, PUT foreign armies TO FLIGHT” (vv. 32-34).

“…others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these, having gained approval through their faith…” (vv. 35-39).

All of these individuals lived a life of faith.  That faith prompted them in doing God’s will and standing for what was right — and, as seen in the above paragraph, they did so even in spite of the poverty, persecution, or death it had led to.

But if you take away that obedience, would any of these individuals then be mentioned in this “faith” chapter?  What good would their faith have been had they not obeyed?  James answers that: “faith without works is dead” (Jms. 2:26).  It would then be “useless” (v. 20).  Therefore, “a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (v. 24).

Though various men of faith are cited in Hebrews 11, there are only two women who are mentioned by name – and one of them is Sarah!  And this is the passage that recently became more significant.  It is Hebrews 11:11, which declares, “BY FAITH even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, SINCE SHE CONSIDERED HIM FAITHFUL WHO HAD PROMISED” (emphasis mine).

I imagine we would think that for a woman in Sarah’s time to not only be past the years of childbearing, but to also have been barren through her life, that the only way she could conceive a child would require intervention from God – and He alone!  But from Hebrews 11:11, we find that Sarah’s being able to conceive also involved her faith in God who had given that promise!  So it was not all entirely up to God!  For Sarah had to believe!

Some might say, though, but the promise was given before she even believed.  But that would only be from our linear perspective of time with its chronological order.  Would not, however, the eternal God, who has proven His ability to know of future events and even of how people will turn out to be, also know that Sarah  would believe in such a promise?

And can we not also liken this to the promise that God had given Joshua concerning Jericho?  In Joshua 6:2, the LORD said, “See, I have given Jericho into your hand, with its king and the valiant warriors.”  But Israel hadn’t actually taken the city yet.  And in order to do so, the LORD gave specific instructions in verses 3-5: “You shall march around the city, all the men of war circling the city once.  You shall do so for six days.  Also seven priests shall carry seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark; then on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall be that when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and the people will go up every man straight ahead.”

And this they did.  Then “…the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight ahead, and THEY TOOK THE CITY.  They utterly destroyed everything in the city, both man and woman, young and old, and ox and sheep and donkey, with the edge of the sword” (vv. 20,21, emphasis mine).

So though God had given Jericho into Joshua’s hand (v. 1), when was it that they actually “took the city” (v. 20)?  It was after they obeyed the instructions God had given them concerning this (vv. 3-5)!

As we had seen, Hebrews 11 sums that up by just saying, “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.”  But keep in mind that that doesn’t mean the additional things God had commanded of them in Joshua 6 were not necessary for that result.  For those other requirements were also included in their obedient faith – and needed to be.

So God also promised to Abraham and Sarah a child and said to Abraham that “you shall call his name Isaac” (Gen. 17:19).

Though Abraham also had laughed at first in thought of having a child at such an old age, yet he also went on in faith, believing the promise: “(as it is written, ‘A FATHER OF MANY NATIONS HAVE I MADE YOU’) in the presence of Him whom he believed, even God, who gives life to the dead and calls into being that which does not exist.  In hope against hope he believed, so that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be.’  Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform” (Rom. 4:17-21).

And looking again at Sarah’s involvement as to the result: “BY FAITH even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, SINCE SHE CONSIDERED HIM FAITHFUL WHO HAD PROMISED” (Heb. 11:11, emphasis mine).  So it was required of Sarah to truly believe God’s promise in order for her to conceive Isaac — and not just be totally up to God.  And, as the Bible record shows, she not only believed, but is also included in that great “Hall of Faith” chapter for having done so!

(All Scriptures from the NASB.)
——————–

-2-

News & Notes

Folks who can use prayer:

We extend our sympathies to all the family and friends of Lexi Crawford who passed away May 29 after having battled cancer for about two years.  She was only 16.

Our condolences also go out to the relatives and friends of Marilyn Hamel who had also passed away May 29.  She had been a member of the church in Maine where Doug and Marie Pennock also attend during their summer visits, and a friend to them.

Marlene Montero (Marde’s mother) fell recently and fractured her pelvis in two places.  It also put a severe gash in her arm and has left her with some pain.

We are glad and thankful that the surgery for Randy Bartlett (Danny’s brother) went well.  His kidney was removed, and he will begin chemo as a cautionary measure.

Pat Joyner was diagnosed in 2010 with Myasthenia Gravis (MG) and continues to have trouble with it. She will also be seeing her heart doctor this Wednesday for tests, followed by more tests on the 19th; and then seeing a doctor on the 22nd, concerning a carotid artery.  For some time, Pat has been averaging about 3 doctor visits per month.

Shirley Davis continues to have swelling in her legs, cellulitis, and pain. Her knees are getting worse and hurt all the time. Her eye is improving, following her cornea transplant, and she will be seeing her eye doctor again on the 7th.  She will also be having an MRI on the arm she recently fell on.

Also for prayer: Ronald Renfrow, Mary Lou Prevatt, Misty Thornton, Jim Lively, Mary Vandevander, Kelli Fleeman, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, LaDonna Andrews, Buddy Gornto, Sunny Nichols, Billy Lowe, Gary Cradick, Tom Haney and his wife.
 
——————–

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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (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)