The Gospel Observer (August 27, 2017)

Contents:

1) Premillennial Concepts Refuted by the Bible (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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Premillennial Concepts Refuted by the Bible
Tom Edwards

In seeing what the Bible says about the kingdom having already come (Mark 9:1; Col. 1:13), Jesus already reigning over it (Acts 2:29-36; Eph. 1:20-23), and the universal resurrection for all on the “last day” (Jn. 5:28-29), we are also seeing how the Bible today disproves popular and particular beliefs concerning Premillennialism.

For Premillennialism teaches that as we near the second coming of Christ, it will be preceded by a “rapture” that will take place at the beginning of the 7-year Great Tribulation (though some premillennialists teach that the rapture will occur during the middle of that time; while others, at a time closer to the end of that 7-year period). In the rapture, according to the theory, all the Christians living and deceased will be snatched up to meet Christ in the air.

Though we might normally think of this word “rapture,” which is actually not used anywhere in the Bible, to mean “ecstatic joy or delight,” as Webster defines its primary definition, yet he also gives lastly its archaic meaning as “the act of carrying off.” It stems from Middle French, from about A.D. 1600.

But how and when did its premillennial meaning, with all that pertains to it, come about? The doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture is said, by various authors, to have begun in the 18th century by two Puritan preachers by the name of Increase Mather and his son Cotton; and was popularized in the 1830s by John Darby and the Plymouth Brethren; and eventually gained popularity in the U.S. in the early 20th century through the widely used Scofield Reference Bible (Wikipedia).

It appears that this idea of just the Christians being in the rapture is based on 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, which speaks of the Lord’s return when “the dead in Christ will rise first. 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.” This is how Paul, by divine inspiration, had answered the Thessalonians’ concern about their loved ones who had passed away as Christians. So that is why his focus is on just them, instead of everyone in general. He even concluded the thought, by saying, “Therefore comfort one another with these words” (v. 18). Yes, the believers can have comfort when their loved ones pass away as Christians, knowing that their spirits have not only gone to a better place, but that they will also be resurrected and caught up first when the Lord returns, and then immediately followed by those Christians still living at that time! The Greek word for “caught” (harpazo) in verse 17, in the phrase “caught up together,” means “to snatch out or away” (Thayer’s third definition). So though that is the archaic meaning of “rapture,” yet it has no reference to the premillennial rapture theory.

Concerning that time when the dead in Christ and the living Christians will be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air, that will also be the same time when all people – regardless of whether they are saved or lost — will be caught up.  For as we saw recently, that will all happen for the righteous and the unrighteous within the same “hour” (Jn. 5:28-29) on that “last day” and regardless of how long one has been deceased (Jn. 6:39-40; 12:48).

If there were to be a rapture, followed by seven years of the Great Tribulation, which would end by the Lord’s second coming, then what would virtually anyone be able to do – and without the use of even a calculator? For those who missed the rapture, they would then be able to easily pinpoint the day that Christ would return by merely adding 7 years to the date of the rapture!  But what does the Bible say?  It shows that when the Lord comes again, it will be “like a thief in the night” (1 Thess. 5:2). In other words, He will come unexpectedly. Yet, through the years, many folks have predicted what they believed to be the exact time of His return — which turned out to be incorrect.  It would seem they have either not read the Scriptures concerning this or have disregarded it.

This might answer a question that has arisen while reading up to this point: As you might have also guessed, the premillennialist doesn’t view Christ coming back for the Christians in the rapture as His second coming. They just want to call it the “Rapture” and have His second coming later on.

But another thing the Premillennial view makes more of — than what the Bible teaches — is on the resurrection. For instead of there being just one universal resurrection (as cited above), they have 1) a resurrection of the deceased Christians for the rapture; 2) a resurrection at the end of that 7-year period for those who had become Christians during that Great Tribulation, but also had died during that time; and, included with them, all the saved people of the Old Testament Times; and 3) a resurrection at the end of the Lord’s 1,000-year reign on earth that will be for all the lost souls of all time. So, according to this view, there is not one, nor not two, but three resurrections yet to come! And note, too, that there will be 1,007 years between the first resurrection and the third! That sure doesn’t sound like the “hour” of which Jesus said all would be raised – the saved and the lost (Jn. 5:28,29; Acts 24:15)!

Concerning the idea that the future Great Tribulation will be the worst time this world has ever known, Jesus had said that about the time pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70: “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will” (Matt. 24:21).  He then spoke more concerning that time and also pointed out the nearness of it, by saying, “…this generation shall not pass away until all these things take place” (v. 34).

Some believe that during that 7-year Great Tribulation it will also be a time of the greatest work of evangelism ever carried out. In his book, The Late Great Planet Earth, Hal Linsday, a premillennialist, writes, “After the Christians are gone, God is going to reveal Himself in a special way to 144,000 physical, literal Jews, who are going to believe with a vengeance that Jesus is the Messiah.” These will evangelize, and “…the earth will never know a period of evangelism like this period” (p. 110).

It will be at the end of that 7-year tribulation that Jesus will return, according to the Premillennial belief. He will then fight His enemies in the battle of Armageddon and defeat them. It will also be at that time when He will establish His kingdom on earth and sit on the throne of David to rule for a thousand years from here on earth.

As we have seen, however, Jesus is already sitting on the throne of David and ruling over the kingdom (cf. Luke 1:31-33; Acts 2:29-36; Dan. 7:13-14). And, note, too, the prophecy concerning this in 2 Sam. 7:12-16. Though this prophecy has a dual fulfillment in pertaining to Solomon as well as to Christ, it is in Acts 2:29-36 that we see that it was to the Christ that David had looked to be the ultimate fulfiller of it. The prophecy states: “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established for ever.”

With that prophecy in mind, now notice Acts 2:29-36: “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that GOD HAD SWORN TO HIM WITH AN OATH TO SEAT one OF HIS DESCENDANTS ON HIS THRONE, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says, ‘THE LORD SAID TO MY LORD, “SIT AT MY RIGHT HAND, UNTIL I MAKE YOUR ENEMIES A FOOTSTOOL FOR YOUR FEET.”‘ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ — this Jesus whom you crucified.”

So Jesus who built the church (Matt. 16:18), which is also referred to as “the house of God” (1 Tim. 3:15) and the Lord’s “kingdom” (Col. 1:13), is now ruling over that (Eph. 1:20-23).  For “…God has made Him both Lord and Christ…” (Acts 2:36), which indicates that Jesus is an “anointed ruler,” since “Christ” literally means “anointed”; and “Lord” can mean “ruler.”  So the promise that God the Father would give Jesus “the throne of His Father David” (Luke 1:32) has been fulfilled.  And going along with that, to help you understand it better, David’s throne is sometimes referred to as “the throne of the LORD.”  For Solomon “sat on the throne of David his father” (1 Kings 2:12), yet it is also said that “Solomon sat on the throne of the LORD as king instead of David his father” (1 Chron. 29:23).  It is called “the throne of the LORD” because God had anointed David to reign as king over the Lord’s people and do so as the Lord instructed.  Solomon was then to continue in that when he succeeded his father to the throne.  And how perfectly Jesus Christ is now doing so!  Therefore, Jesus being on the throne of David is not talking about a literal, physical throne, which the Lord would have to sit upon here on earth; but, rather, just as it was to be God’s rule through David and Solomon as they reigned over His people, it is God’s rule now through Jesus Christ, God’s anointed, who is not just a king of a kingdom, but also “a King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16) who rules over all (with the exception of God the Father)!

We considered earlier that at Christ’s second coming, according to the Premillennial view, the Lord will put an end to the Great Tribulation; will raise all the Old Testament saints from the dead and those who had become Christians during the Great Tribulation and died; that the Lord will defeat His enemies in the Battle of Armageddon and set up His kingdom on earth where He will reign over it for a thousand years. But what did we just read in 2 Samuel 7:12 concerning the time that God would set up His kingdom? The Lord told David, “When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers…” In other words, when David was deceased, all this was to happen. But the Premillennial view has David resurrected and alive when God would set up His kingdom on earth.

Think, too, about Christ having to come back to earth to literally dwell on it again, sitting on a physical throne in Jerusalem, as the Premillennial view teaches. Would this not be some type of demotion for the Lord – rather than an exaltation to a glorious position?! But where He is right now at the right hand of God, having all authority and power in heaven and earth (Matt. 28:18), having been given “dominion, Glory, and a kingdom, That all the peoples, nations and men of every language Might serve Him…” (Dan. 7:14), being exalted over all creation (cf. Col. 1:15-18), and having all things in subjection to Him with the exception of the Father (1 Cor. 15:27), how could Jesus ever have more dominion, be more glorified, or be more exalted than that?!  Nothing can top what He already has!

Let us be sure that the religious doctrines we believe and follow are of God and not merely of men.

(All Scripture from the NASB.)
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News & Notes

Folks who need prayer (along with the family and friends of those with more serious health issues):

The people of Texas being affected by Tropical Storm Harvey.

LaDonna Andrews who has cancer and continues to receive hospice care.

Kelli Fleeman has currently been having about 3 days in a row that have been better days.  From the beginning to the end of last week, five of her medical team have said that they are seeing an improvement in Kelli.

Shirley Davis will be having surgery on her shoulder August 31.  And will still need to have both knee replacements sometime in the future.

Charles Crosby had recently been in the hospital, due to an infection in the knee that is giving him trouble, and is now back home recuperating.  It is the same knee he had replacement surgery for January 17 of this year.

Joyce Rittenhouse has not been feeling well, due to a recent kidney stone, its infection, and the strong medication she must continue taking for several more days.

Pat Joyner has not been doing well with her health.

Also for prayer: Cedell Fletcher, Ronald Renfrow, Judy Daugherty, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Cheryl Crews, Cicily Thompson, and Mary Vandevander.
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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).
——————–

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: Ladies’ evening Bible class
(will resume September 12)
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 (August 20, 2017)

Contents:

1) “What About the Kingdom?” (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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“What About the Kingdom?”
Tom Edwards

In last week’s bulletin we saw that when Christ returns, several major events will take place – and all on what is referred to as the “last day.”  For on that day, all will be raised from the dead (Jn. 5:28,29; Acts 24:15; Jn. 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24); all will be judged (Acts 17:30,31; Jn. 12:48); the earth and all the universe, along with time itself, will cease to be (2 Pet. 3:4, 10-12; Gen. 1:14-19); and every person, from the first man Adam on down, will end up at one of two destinations where to spend an eternity.

So some might wonder, “What about the kingdom that Christ is supposed to set up here on earth?”  This question is asked because the kingdom is what many premillennialists are still waiting for.  They believe that because of the Lord’s rejection by the Jews, He was not able to establish His kingdom; so the church was then set up as a “substitute” until the kingdom would come; and that the church was not a part of God’s eternal, predetermined plan; but, rather, a mere afterthought in the mind of God.  This is also referred to as the “Parenthesis Theory,” with the church being the “Parenthesis” that fills the gap.

The Bible, however, shows that not only was the establishment of the church a part of God’s plan before the world began, but that it is also that “kingdom” that was to come!  Notice, for instance, in Ephesians 3 that Paul says: “To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be MADE KNOWN THROUGH THE CHURCH to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.  THIS WAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ETERNAL PURPOSE which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord…” (vv. 8-11, emphasis mine). So the church was a part of God’s “eternal purpose” and, therefore, that which had been in His mind before there was even a universe — and not a mere afterthought or last-minute substitution for the kingdom!

The coming kingdom is first seen in prophecy, way back during Old Testament Times.  Daniel, for instance, shows a succession of world-ruling empires in Daniel 2, as he interprets King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream.  These kingdoms are Babylon (vv. 37,38 – which reigned as a world-ruling empire for 70 years), the Medes and the Persians (v. 39 – about 200 years), Greece (v. 39 – about 130 years), and Rome (vv. 40-43 – about 500 years as an undivided kingdom).  All these kingdoms ruled in succession as world-ruling empires, but it would be during the days of the Roman Empire that God would set up His spiritual kingdom on earth (vv. 44, 45).

Jesus was born into this world during the time of the Roman Empire, and His message was “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17).  John the Baptist also preached the same (cf. Matt. 3:2).  That coming kingdom was so near that Jesus was able to say in Mark 9:1, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”  Though some folks today would say the kingdom has not yet come, should we believe them or what Jesus and John the Baptist said about it?

Though Isaiah does not use the word “kingdom” in Isaiah 2:2-4, yet he is referring to it and shows that it will be in the “last days” that it would be established.  Note here that he does not say the “last day” (when Christ comes the second time), but the “last days,” which is referring to the Gospel Age that began after the Lord’s death on the cross (cf. Acts 2:15-17).  For His death did away with the Old Covenant and established the New Covenant of the Gospel Age (cf. Col. 2:14; Heb. 8:6-13; 2 Cor. 3:6-18; Heb. 9:15-17; Heb. 10:1-10, 16-22).  Isaiah declares:

“Now it will come about that
In the last days
The mountain of the house of the LORD
Will be established as the chief of the mountains,
And will be raised above the hills;
And all the nations will stream to it.
And many peoples will come and say,
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD,
To the house of the God of Jacob;
That He may teach us concerning His ways
And that we may walk in His paths.’
For the law will go forth from Zion
And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem”
(Isa. 2:2,3).

That prophecy came to pass in Acts 2 on the day that the church (kingdom) was established.  For it was there in Jerusalem when the Holy Spirit fell upon the apostles, and they miraculously preached (with the gift of tongues) in the languages of those Jews who were “from every nation under heaven” (v. 5).  For they were in Jerusalem to observe the annual feast of Pentecost, and what they heard was “of the mighty deeds of God” (v. 11).  As a result, 3,000 souls were converted that day when they believed and obeyed the gospel plan of salvation (vv. 36-38, 41).  In their doing so, the Lord Himself then added them to His church (v. 47).

“Mountain” is sometimes used in the Bible to figuratively refer to a “kingdom” (cf. Dan. 2:35,44-45).  So here in Isaiah 2:2, God’s kingdom is shown as being superior to all other kingdoms.  For it is a “mountain” that is “chief of the mountains.”  The word “kingdom” in the New Testament, from the Greek word “basileia,” refers primarily to “1) royal power, kingship, dominion, rule 1a) not to be confused with an actual kingdom but rather the right or authority to rule over a kingdom” (Thayer).  But Thayer also goes on to show that it can mean in addition: “1b) of the royal power of Jesus as the triumphant Messiah” and “1c) of the royal power and dignity conferred on Christians in the Messiah’s kingdom.”  And, secondarily, “2) a kingdom, the territory subject to the rule of a king.” And “3) used in the N.T. to refer to the reign of the Messiah.”  So we see God’s kingdom first of all pertains to His royal power and rule, and then of those whom He is ruling over who have become a part of His kingdom.  With these thoughts in mind, notice, too, that upon the Lord’s “mountain” there is also a “house of the LORD” (Isa. 2:2).  So the Lord’s house is built upon God’s mountain and identified with it — rather than with any of those inferior mountains of the world.  And just as Isaiah refers to “the house of the LORD” that is on “the chief of the mountains,” God’s church is also referred to as being “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim. 3:15); and it has been built by Christ and is established upon Him who is the foundation of it (cf. Matt. 16:16-18; 1 Cor. 3:11).

The church is also referred to as God’s “kingdom,” for those in it are those who have submitted to God’s rule.  And while Acts 2:47 shows that  “…the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” Paul also speaks of God being the One who has “rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:13,14).  So the terms “kingdom” and “church” can be used interchangeably when referring to that body of God’s people during the Gospel Age. The apostle John also refers to himself as having been a “fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus…” (Rev. 1:9).

So, obviously, God’s kingdom has come — and it came almost 2,000 years ago — and still is!  It, therefore, has been around much longer than 1,000 years, and Christ has been reigning over it all the while (cf. Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:18; 2:10).  In His preaching to those on that day of Pentecost, Peter also declared, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ — this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).  “Lord” literally means “ruler”; and “Christ,” the “anointed” or “anointed one.”  Therefore, when we put the two together, we see Jesus as being an “anointed Ruler”; and, thus, reminding us of the anointing of kings long ago.  So this reference to God having sworn to David “to seat one of his descendants on his throne” is now being fulfilled by Christ whom David had looked forward to as being the fulfiller (cf. Acts 2:29-36).

So when Christ returns, it will not be to set up a kingdom; but, rather, to deliver God’s kingdom, that has long been on this earth, up to His Father in heaven: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death” (1 Cor. 15:22-26).

Now is the time to become a part of God’s kingdom.  The instructions of how to become a member of the Lord’s church and live as a Christian are also the same for how one is to enter the kingdom and live as a member of that—since they refer to the same.

In addition, if Christ’s kingdom has not yet come, then how could we acceptably serve and worship God?  For are we not to do that from in His kingdom — or can we remain in Satan’s domain of darkness and worship God from there?  When Jesus ascended back to the right hand of God (following His death, burial, resurrection, and the 40 days He spent on earth, proving His resurrection and Deity), that ascension had already been prophesied by Daniel centuries prior, as seen in the following:

“…He came up to the Ancient of Days
And was presented before Him.
And to Him was given dominion,
Glory and a kingdom,
THAT ALL THE PEOPLES, NATIONS AND MEN OF EVERY LANGUAGE
MIGHT SERVE HIM.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion
Which will not pass away;
And His kingdom is one
Which will not be destroyed”
(Dan. 7:13,14, emphasis mine).

Notice one of the purposes for that kingdom: “THAT ALL… MIGHT SERVE HIM”!  Unlike the Law of Moses, which was for only the Jews, the gospel is for all people of every nation; and all the redeemed become a part of the one body, the church, the kingdom; and, as a member, can serve and worship God acceptably.

So Christ is not a king without a kingdom.  For, as we have seen, God’s kingdom has come; and the concern of each of us should, therefore, always be to live in God’s kingdom as His loyal subjects, by living unto Jesus Christ as our great “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16).

(All Scripture from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
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News & Notes

Folks who need prayer (along with the family and friends of those with more serious health issues):

LaDonna Andrews, while she is under hospice care, due to cancer.

I’m glad to say that Kelli Fleeman is making improvement!  Her husband reported on the 19th that a recent MRI “showed possibly slight reduction in cancer.”  And by the 20th, she is now also “alert,” “seems to know everyone that comes along, has good discussions,” and her doctor is also happy with her improvements.

Charles Crosby is now back in the hospital, due to an infection in his knee that is giving him trouble and causing pain.  It is the knee that he had replacement surgery for January 17 of this year.

Shirley Davis will be having surgery on her shoulder August 31.  And will still need to have both knee replacements sometime in the future.

Also for prayer: Pat Joyner, Cedell Fletcher, Ronald Renfrow, Judy Daugherty, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Cheryl Crews, Penny Medlock, Cicily Thompson, 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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: Ladies’ evening Bible class
(will resume September 12)
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 (August 13, 2017)

Contents:

1) When Christ Returns (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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When Christ Returns
Tom Edwards

Of all the events down through time,  what could be more dramatic and emotionally stirring than when Jesus returns? For when He does, though He will not set foot on earth, there will be a great gathering together to meet Him in the air (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18).  That in itself we certainly be a major event!  And notice, too, of the other great occurrences that the Lord’s second coming will usher in:

A Universal Resurrection

Not only will the saints be raised on that day when Christ returns, but also all people – the righteous and the unrighteous!  For as Jesus declares, “…an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28,29).  Paul also shows of the universal involvement in this when saying “…that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15).  Notice that he doesn’t speak of a plurality of resurrections, such as one for the redeemed and another for the lost; but, rather, says that there will be “a resurrection” — singular — “of both the righteous and the wicked.”  And regardless of how long one has been deceased, all will be raised on that day – from the first man Adam and to all his descendants down through time!  What a great number that will be!

A Universal Judgment

Also taking place when Christ returns will be the Great Judgment Day!  And all will be there.  The rich and the poor, and all in between; the famous and the infamous, along with the billions who are unknown to us.  All will stand before God to give an account. Your favorite athletes, musicians, actors, painters, sculptors, inventors, poets, doctors, writers, political leaders, all your friends and relatives, and any other category of people, they will all be there – billions of us! “…For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom. 14:10). “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (v. 12).

It is, therefore, a time for which we need to prepare.  For “…God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30,31).  Jesus also shows the reason why His Father entrusted this duty to Him: “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).

To prepare for the judgment, we need to look to the gospel.  For it is the standard whereby we will be judged. Jesus says, “he who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings, has one who judges him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (Jn. 12:48).  This, of course, also includes those words that were not given until Jesus ascended back to the right hand of God and sent the Holy Spirit to lead the apostles into all the truth; because while He was on earth, the apostles were not yet ready for all He wanted them to know.  As the Lord Himself states: “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and he will disclose to you what is to come.  He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and disclose it to you” (Jn. 16:12-14).  So let us make sure we are using God’s word, and not just the teachings of men, to prepare ourselves for that Great Judgment Day.

The Universe Will Cease To Be

Peter writes of this time in connection with the Lord’s second coming.  For after speaking of those mockers who would be saying, “Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:4), he goes on to say that “…the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (v. 10).  And “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!” (vv. 11,12).

Time Will Come To An End

Since the universe will cease to be, then time will also come to an end.  For, according to Genesis 1:14-19, our time is based on heavenly bodies and on our earth’s revolving and orbiting.  On the fourth day of creation, “God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night, and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years; and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth’; and it was so.  God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day, and the lesser light to govern the night; He made the stars also. God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and to govern the day and the night, and to separate the light from the darkness; and God saw that it was good.  There was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.”

The day the Lord returns will, therefore, be the “last day.”  For, as we just saw, that is the day that the universe and time will cease to be.  So it will definitely be the last day.  But also we had noted that the great judgment would take place on that day; and, corresponding to that, Jesus also declares in John 12:48 that “the word I spoke is what will judge him at the LAST DAY” (emphasis mine). In addition, the day of the resurrection is also referred to as being on the “last day” (John 6:39,40, 44, 54).  Martha also knew that.  She said to Jesus, concerning her deceased brother Lazarus: “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day” (Jn. 11:24).

Eternity

When time, as we know it, ends, eternity, which is timeless, will still be what it has always been!  Someone once pointed out that time will end because it is something that can be measured.  Eternity, however, cannot be measured. It has no beginning, and it has no end.  For like God Himself, eternity has always been.

The concern of each one, therefore, should be as we see in this following, old hymn that sings out in the chorus, “What will it be? What will it be?  Where will you spend your eternity?  What will it be, O what will it be? What will your answer be?”  The song begins by pointing out that “Someday you’ll stand at the bar on high, Someday your record you’ll see; Someday you’ll answer the question of life, What will your answer be?” And then the second stanza: “Sadly you’ll stand, if you’re unprepared, Trembling, you’ll fall on your knee; Facing the sentence of life or of death, What will that sentence be?”  Then the wise exhortation in the third stanza: “Now is the time to prepare, my friend; Make your soul spotless and free; Washed in the blood of the Crucified One. He will your answer be.”  This song was written by Tillit Sydney Teddlie (1885-1987) in 1935.

Heaven or Hell — the Only Two Destinations!

Where we will spend our eternity depends on us — and whether we will accept and abide in God’s way of salvation or not, while here on earth.  For there will be only one of two possible outcomes for each individual, depending on whether that person truly belongs to the Lord or not — and either one is eternal.  Jesus shows of this in Matthew 25:46, when saying, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”  The same word used to express the punishment (in the English and the Greek) is also used to describe the reward.  It is the word  “eternal” (“aionios”).

What side will we be on?  “…when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed…” (2 Thess. 1:7-10).  When Christ comes again, there will be a separation of the saved and the lost (cf. Matt. 25:32-46).

The Bible shows that God does not want anyone to be lost (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9), and this is why He sent His Son to make an atonement by His death at Calvary for every sinner (Heb. 2:9; Jn. 3:16).  But we each must be willing to accept His conditions in order that we can benefit from that sacrifice.  For Jesus “…became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:9).  Though we cannot earn nor deserve it, yet when we submit to God’s terms of pardon, we can then have His grace, His mercy, and His forgiveness in our lives and become a part of His eternal family.  And those conditions are that we hear the gospel (for that is how faith comes — Rom. 10:17), that we believe in Christ for whom He truly is (Jn. 8:24), that we repent of our sins (Luke 13:5), that we confess our faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), that we be 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), and that we strive to be faithful unto death (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 10:36-39).

The apostles would be going through a most difficult time, which would involve persecutions and even death. (Judas killed himself; but all the other apostles, according to tradition, are said to have been martyrs, with the exception of John of whom the attempt was made to put to death by boiling in a pot of oil, but was miraculously spared and exiled to the island of Patmos where God gave him the Revelation.)   I wonder how often they must have thought of that beautiful promise that Jesus had given them, prior to His own crucifixion: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.  If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also” (Jn. 14:1-3).  And will not the Lord also do the same for all others who will be the redeemed in heaven? For will not He be the Maker of all things for us there as well? We, therefore, will not have to rely on whatever carpentry skills we acquired while on earth to build our own home in heaven!  Rather, we can trust in the One who is “the builder of all things” (Heb. 3:4); and even now be like Abraham, in ancient times, who “was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10)!

Let us, therefore, turn to the Lord and submit to Him so that heaven will be our eternal destination. For it will be a blissful place where “God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain… (Rev. 21:4).

As we have seen, various major events will take place when Jesus comes again.  So may we each strive to be ready for that great day!

(All Scripture from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
——————–

-2-

News & Notes

Folks who need prayer (along with the family and friends of those with more serious health issues):

LaDonna Andrews continues to do poorly with her cancer and on hospice care.

Kelli Fleeman, who is undergoing treatment for cancer, is not doing well.  It is on the side of her brain, affecting her mentally and physically, and causing confusion. Though somewhat improved at times, that is not the case for most of the time.

Cheryl Crews had open heart surgery August 7 for a valve replacement.  All went well. She was to spend at least 5 days in the hospital and then a couple months in recovering.

Cedell Fletcher continues with checkups every week for his blood disorder that is similar to leukemia and also receives a couple units of blood about every three weeks, due to its loss.

Shirley Davis received stents in both legs August 3 and has already noticed some improvement. She will be having surgery on her shoulder August 31.  And will still need to have both knee replacements sometime in the future.

We are glad that Judy Daugherty was able to return home last week, though she must still remain on oxygen continually.

Also for prayer: Pat Joyner, Ronald Renfrow, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Cicily Thompson, 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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: Ladies’ evening Bible class
(will resume September 12)
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 (August 6, 2017)

Contents:

1) “Jesus Calls Us” (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
——————–

matthew11_28

-1-

“Jesus Calls Us”
Tom Edwards

Written in 1852 by Cecil Frances Alexander, “Jesus Calls Us” is a comforting hymn with a drawing affect upon the humble, contrite, and sincere heart of a true believer.  For he knows that Jesus is greatly concerned; and for whatever the troubles of life, He is the One to whom we should turn and to whom we can cast all our cares and anxieties upon “because He cares” for us (1 Pet. 5:8).  The greatest problem of all, of course, is sin.  But whatever our distress, “Jesus calls us o’er the tumult of our life’s wild, restless sea; day by day his sweet voice soundeth, saying, ‘Christian, follow me!’”  (the first stanza).

According to Daniel Webster, a tumult can be not only that which is external, such as the “violent and noisy commotion or disturbance of a crowd or mob; uproar,” but also that which is internal, as a “turbulent mental or emotional disturbance.”  But for either kind, Jesus can help us through!  For He can give rest to the weary and heavy-laden (Matt. 11:28-30).  He can give peace to the troubled and fearful (Jn. 14:27; Luke 12:32).  And He can relieve us of our cares and anxieties (1 Pet. 5:7).  Though the state of the sinner is sometimes compared to an agitated sea (Isa. 57:20, 21), yet there can be sweet rest for those who come to the Lord — and Jesus calls all of us to do so!

The second stanza tells us that “Jesus calls us from the worship of the vain world’s golden store, from each idol that would keep us, saying, ‘Christian, love me more!’”

Here we see that the Christian is urged to put Christ above all worldly things. Even in the family relationship, where the head of the family is concerned of meeting the physical needs of his loved ones, his ultimate concern should still be for their spiritual well-being.  And though he loves his family, yet his love for them is increased by his having even more of a love for God.

To be called “from the worship of the vain world’s golden store” sounds likes something Solomon would have written, who had experienced so much of what he later referred to as vain things in life.  For he had enlarged his works, “built houses for himself,” “planted vineyards,” “made gardens and parks… [and] planted in them all kinds of fruit trees,” “made ponds…to irrigate a forest of growing trees,” had “both male and female slaves” and also “possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded” him in Jerusalem.  He “collected…silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces.” He provided for himself “male and female singers and the pleasures of men – many concubines.” He “became great and increased more than all who preceded” him in Jerusalem.  He  said, “All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure…  Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun” (Eccl. 2:4-11).   And as he also declares, “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves abundance with its income. This too is vanity” (Eccl. 5:10).

This is really the main message of the book of Ecclesiastes that all is actually vanity without God in one’s life.  We were not made to go through this life without Him.  Some have viewed this book as containing Solomon’s confession of his wrongs and his urging and instructing others to how they should really live, which he then brings to their attention in the very last two verses of this book, where he declares, “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.  For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil” (Eccl. 12:13, 14).

In the New Testament, we are also directed toward the heavenly rather than just getting lost in the worldly.  As Paul writes, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind [affections in the KJV] on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

As the hymn also shows, Jesus has called us “…from each idol that would keep us.”  How foolish for one to be kept in bondage by a lifeless thing that can do nothing for that individual (cf. Isa. 57:13; Ezek. 14:2-6). God states that His people were “estranged” from Him because of their idols, which indicates they were “turned away in feeling or affection.”  Note specifically the place where the Lord shows these idols had resided.  They were not merely on a mantle, or on a table, or set on some other piece of furniture; but, rather, the Lord went to the real core of the problem by pointing out in Ezekiel 14:3 that their idols were set up “in their hearts”!  And though these idols were lifeless, powerless things, yet what great damage they could do to the worshiper of them!  For idolatry was a violation of one of the Ten Commandments, and sin will separate a person from God (cf. Isa.59:1,2).  The Thessalonians, however, were commended for their turning to God from idolatry (1 Thess. 1:9), which was a wise move on their part.  They would not let those idols “keep” them.

We must remember that though it would probably be rare to find people in America today literally setting up idols to worship, yet even greed (or covetousness) is equated with idolatry (cf, Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:5).  And it is one of the reasons why “the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience” (Col. 3:6).   Greed, therefore, is a serious matter – but often not recognized.  La Salle, for example, has been noted as being one of the most popular priests during the Middle Ages who heard tens of thousands of people’s confessions, over the years.  And he once said that out of that great number, not once did he ever hear anyone admit to being guilty of having the love of money.  Could it be that greed can be deceptive?  Unrecognizable at times?  And how tragic — for what a deadly enemy greed can be!  An Associated Press article once published a story about a ragged peddler who had been found dead in his apartment. The day before his death, the peddler had told a friend that he didn’t even have $5 to pay a debt; but when he was found dead the next day among the littered filth in his apartment, it was also discovered that he had $61,000 in bonds and currency – and this was long ago, when that amount would have had much greater value than today!  He was only 48 years old, but the report ironically stated that he died of malnutrition.  Was it greed that had become such a cruel master that it made him deprive himself of even the needed food for his body?  Was he caught in greed’s terrible snare?

The third stanza then sings out, “In our joys and in our sorrows, days of toil and hours of ease, still he calls, in cares and pleasures, ‘Christian, love me more than these!’”

Whether we are happy or sad, been working hard or taking it easy, still Christ is to be put above all else. His kingdom must be sought after first (cf. Matt. 6:33). Surely, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to “be ready in season and out of season” (2 Tim. 4:2) applies in principle to us as well.  The International Standard Version renders that as “Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient.”  And whether in joy or sorrow, Christ needs to always be exalted on the throne of our heart, so that, according to 1 Peter 3:15, we can “always be ready” to make a defense of the hope that is within us to anyone.

The last stanza declares, “Jesus calls us! By thy mercies, Savior, may we hear thy call, give our hearts to thine obedience, serve and love thee best of all.”

It’s interesting that these two words are coupled: “serve” and “love.”  Of course, one can’t truly serve the Lord if one doesn’t love Him; nor can one truly love the Lord, if one doesn’t obey Him (cf. Jn. 14:23, 24).  For there is that need for both.  This might also remind you of another pair the Bible puts together, though many people try to pull them apart – and that is faith and works!  This has been illustrated as two oars that a man was using to row his boat. The oars were held in u-shaped oarlocks or braces that served as pivot-supports and helped with the rowing. One oar was called “faith,” while the other was called “works.” In neither case, could the rower use just one of those oars and expect to make it to his destination.  For to do so, would have him just going in circles.  But when he plied with both of them together, he made progress and arrived safely at the shore.

We need to each examine our service to the Lord, not just when we meet together at church, but also in our daily activities.  Can we honestly say we love the Lord by the way we live? If we shirk our responsibilities, are we any better off than the one-talent man who buried his talent instead of using it?  What was his retribution? “And cast out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 25:30).

May this song, “Jesus Calls Us,” encourage us toward a deeper commitment to Christ — and may it also be a wonderful invitation for those who have not yet come to Him, that they, too, will want to be a follower of the Lord.  For what a marvelous thing it is that God would actually call us to Himself that we might each enjoy a relationship with Him – and that for now and for all eternity!

(All Scriptures are from the NASB, unless otherwise indicated.)
——————–

-2-

News & Notes

Folks who can use prayer:

Judy Daugherty still has not yet returned home, following her surgery April 20 to not only replace a mitral value, but also to repair a hole in her heart that was discovered during the operation.  She had been going through physical therapy, and it appeared that she was doing better; but her health now is poor with congestive heart failure and having to be on oxygen continually.

Cedell Fletcher has also not been well.  He has long had a blood disorder that is similar to leukemia and requires being examined every week and receiving 2 units of blood about every three weeks.

LaDonna Andrews, who has been dealing with cancer for some time, is now primarily bedridden and receiving hospice care.

Joyce Carter, from Baxley, had been in our local hospital, due to fluid build-up.

Let us also continue to remember the family and friends of Mary Lou Prevatt who passed away July 27.

Shirley Davis received stents in both legs last Thursday and has already noticed an improvement. Later this month, she will be having surgery on her shoulder.  And will still also need to have an operation on both knees sometime in the near future for replacements.

Also to remember in prayer: Kelli Fleeman, Pat Joyner, Ronald Renfrow, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Cicily Thompson, 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 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: Ladies’ evening Bible class
(will resume sometime in September)
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)