The Gospel Observer (December 24, 2017)

Contents:

1) Miracles of Jesus (Tom Edwards)
2) News &  Notes
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Miracles of Jesus
Tom Edwards

The miracles of Christ served to confirm what He taught and who He was (and is).  When some Jews had asked Him, “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly” (Jn. 10:24), the Lord responded by saying, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me” (Jn. 10:25).  He then went on to say, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37-38).  In John 5:36, Jesus declares, “But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish – the very works that I do – testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me.”  Compare also John 10:25.

When John, while in prison, sent word to Jesus, asking, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?” (Matt. 11:3),  Jesus answered, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM” (vv. 4-5).

The Bible records some of the miracles Jesus performed while on earth. John says about them: “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:30-31).

John then closes his account in John 21:25 with the following words: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.”  This makes me often think of Jesus as being the great Creator (cf. Jn. 1:1-3), and wondering how many volumes of books it would take to just mention each individual star and other heavenly bodies that He has made.  For God “counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them” (Psa. 147:4).

The following is a list of some of the miracles that Christ performed while on earth:

1. He not only turned water into wine, but also into the best wine (Jn. 2:1-11).  For He has the power to bring about change and produce quality.  Through Him, the sinner can become a saint, the child of the devil can become a child of God, and those in the domain of darkness can be transferred into the kingdom of God’s dear Son by simply meeting His conditions.  For when cooperating with God in this way, He is then able to “work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  And Jesus made all that possible.

2. While in Cana of Galilee, Jesus healed a nobleman’s son who was about 16 miles away in Capernaum (John 4:46-54).  For Jesus is not limited nor hindered by distance — not even by the endless realm of infinity!  As the psalmist writes:

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make by bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
Even there your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of me.
If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,’
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You” (Psa. 139:7-12).

3. The Lord healed a lame man at the pool of Bethesda who had been ill for 38 years (John 5:1-9).  For Jesus, who is from Eternity (cf. Micah 5:2 and Jn. 8:58), is also the One who brought our linear time into existence (cf. Gen. 1:14-19).  Jesus dwelt in eternity before there was time as we know it.  So time has no bearing on who He truly is.  For He “is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8).  And whatever effect time might have in making matters worse, it makes it no more difficult for Christ to resolve the problem — whether one had been sick for one day or thirty-eight years, etc.  As Peter writes, “…with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pet. 3:8).

4. In the first miraculous catch of fish, it was so abundant that the nets began to break; and the catch filled two boats to the extent that it caused them to begin to sink (Luke 5:1-11).  For Jesus also has the power to bring forth in great quantity.  This has truly been demonstrated in the innumerable, heavenly objects of His creation that go even beyond what astronomers have been able to fully discover (cf. Jn. 1:3).  His multiplying the few loaves of bread and a few fish to feed the great multitudes of “four thousand men, besides women and children” (Mark 15:38) and, on another occasion, “about five thousand men…besides women and children” (Matt. 14:21) show that He is not limited by the amount.  For He has the power to not only give increase, but also to even bring into existence — out of nothing — that which had not existed before.  And, according to Genesis 1:3, the Lord can do this by simply speaking what He wills into existence.  For He said, “..’Let there be light’; and there was light” (Gen. 1:3).  After saying that “the worlds were prepared by the word of God,” the Hebrew writer then goes on to declare, “so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Heb. 11:3).  And in the case of the miraculous catch of the fish, could it be that the Lord had commanded such a large number to go to those nets, just as God had brought the creatures to Noah that were to enter the ark? For after mentioning “every beast after its kind, and all the cattle after their kind, and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, all sorts of birds,” it then goes on to say, “so they went into the ark to Noah, by twos of all flesh in which was the breath of life” (Gen. 7:14-15).  “Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, entered as God had commanded him; and the LORD closed it behind him” (v. 16).  So these creature “went into the ark to Noah.”  And Jesus could have caused this with the disciples’ catch of fish or He could have simply multiplied them as He did the few loaves of bread and few fish; but either way, it was a miraculous event — especially after catching nothing all night!

5. Casting out the unclean spirit (demon) (Mark 1:23-28; Luke 4:31-36).  By casting out demons, Jesus also showed that His power is superior to theirs.  And, yes, His power is infinitely greater than that of Satan and all the evil forces combined!

6. Healing Peter’s mother-in-law (Mat. 8:14-17; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38-39).  Healing of sickness was no problem for the Lord — regardless of whatever the illness or infirmity.  Unlike the many so-called faith-healers today, not once did Jesus ever fail in making anyone well again. Matthew records that “Jesus was going throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. The news about Him spread throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, those suffering with various diseases and pains, and demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them” (Matt. 4:23-24).

7. Cleansing a leper (Matt. 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16).  What a lonely life it must have been for many a leper who had to live apart from the rest of society, as an outcast; but Jesus reached out to these as well.  In Mark’s account, the Lord was not only willing to heal the leper, but was also “Moved with compassion” to do so (Mk. 1:41).

8. Healing a paralytic (Matt. 9:2-8; Mark 2:3-15; Luke 5:18-26).  It was by this miracle that Jesus also showed He had the power on earth to forgive sins.

9. Healing a man with a withered hand (Matt. 12:9-14; Mark 3:1-5; Luke 6:6-11).  Because Jesus did this on the Sabbath, some found fault with Him.  But the Lord pointed out their own inconsistency.  For they would help a sheep that had fallen into a pit on the Sabbath.  And Jesus said, “How much more valuable then is a man than a sheep!” (Matt. 12:12).  How did the Pharisees react to this?  They then “went out and conspired against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (v. 14).

10. Healing a centurion’s servant (Matt. 8:5-13; Mark 7:1-10).  The centurion knew that just as he had soldiers under his charge who would do whatever he commanded them, the Lord had that same kind of authority even over any illness and infirmity.  He could simply will it to be gone — and it would be!

11. Raising a widow’s son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17).  Jesus has power over even death, for He is “the resurrection and the life” (Jn. 11:25).  And He proved that by miraculously raising various people who had been deceased.

12. Healing a blind and dumb demoniac (Matt. 12:22; Luke 11:14).  This man had also been demon possessed, and the Lord’s casting out of that demon is seen in connection with the healing.  Of course when some of the Pharisees heard of this, who sought to turn people against the Lord, they falsely said, “This man  cast out demons  only by Beelzebul the ruler of the demons” (Matt. 12:24).

13. Stilling a storm (Matt. 8:18, 23-27; Mark 4:35-41; Luke 8:22-25).  Here, Christ demonstrated His power over the elements of nature. For after all, it, too, was part of His creation.

14. Delivering the Gadarene demoniacs (Matt. 8:28-34; Mark 5:1-20; Luke 8:26-39).  Two men had become so “extremely violent” by being demon-possessed that people would have to avoid them.  But Jesus went to them and cast the demons out, thus freeing those men.  Luke’s account focuses on just one of them and points out that he had been possessed by “many demons” that went by the name “Legion.” This man had lived unclothed for a long time, in the tombs.  There had been occasions when he “was bound with chains and shackles and kept under guard, and yet he would break his bonds and be driven by the demon into the desert” (Luke 8:29).  But thanks now to Jesus, this man was set free!  The demons were gone, and the man was now clothed and in his right mind and greatly desiring to accompany the Lord.  But Jesus told him to “Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you” — and the man proclaimed that throughout the entire city (Luke 8:39).

15. Healing a woman with an issue of blood (Matt. 9:20-22; Mark 5:25-35; Luke 8:41-42).  This woman had suffered from a hemorrhage for twelve years. She had been to many doctors and spent all that she had, but none of them could make her well again.  With faith in Jesus, she believed that just touching His garment would heal her.  So she did so.  “Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction” (Mk. 5:29).  And when that was happening, Jesus was “perceiving in Himself that the power proceeding from Him had gone forth…” (v. 30) — a divine power that heals and makes well.

16. Raising Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Matt. 9:18-19, 23-26; Mark 5:22-24, 35-43; Luke 8:41-42, 49-56).  This was the daughter of a synagogue official who believed that the Lord could bring her back to life by merely laying His hand on her.  After the Lord took this deceased girl by the hand, she then arose — very much alive! (Matt. 9:25).

17. Healing two blind men (Matt. 9:27-31).  These men, who believed that Jesus could give them eyesight, had asked Jesus to have mercy on them.  “Then He touched their eyes, saying, ‘It shall be done to you according to your faith” (v. 29) — and it was so!  (v. 30).

18. Delivering a dumb demoniac (Matt. 9:32-33).  Demon-possession appears to have been experienced by many during the time Jesus was on earth.  Would this not be in order that Christ could demonstrate His superiority over them — which He did?

19. Feeding the 5,000 (Matt. 14:14-21; Mark 6:35-44; Luke 9:12-17; John 6:4-13).  In seeing this miracle, the people said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (Jn. 6:14) — and they wanted to “take  Him by force to make Him king” (v. 15).  For, sad to say, their concern was on the physical rather than the spiritual.  For later, when they sought Jesus, He said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (Jn. 6:26).

20. Walking on the water (Matt. 14:24-33; Mark 6:45-52; John 6:16-21).  Again, we see Jesus having power over the laws of nature — and now, specifically, the law of gravity.  For He is the One who also made that law.

21. Delivering a Syrophoenician’s daughter who had been demon-possessed (Matt. 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30).  The mother of this daughter was a Canaanite and very humble. For after the Lord had told her that He was sent “only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” and that “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs,” this woman, who had bowed down before Him, replied, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table” (Matt. 15:24-27).  The Lord then commended her for her great faith, and He healed her daughter.

22. Healing a deaf mute in Decapolis (Mark 7:31-37).  In this case, the Lord performed the healing by putting His fingers into the deaf man’s ears, “and after spitting, He touched his tongue with the saliva; and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said, to him, ‘Ephphatha!” that is, ‘Be opened!’  And his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was removed, and he began speaking plainly” (vv. 33-35).

23. Feeding the 4,000 by multiplying the seven loaves of bread and a few small fish (Matt. 15:32-39; Mark 8:1-9).  It was the Lord’s compassion for these people that led to the feeding of them.  For some had even come a great distance; and it was now three days they had been with Him and without anything to eat.

24. Healing a blind man at Bethsaida (Mark 8:22-26).  Here again we see another unusual way the Lord performed a healing. He spat on the blind man’s eyes and laid His hands on him.  Immediately, the man saw men, but they appeared to him “like trees, walking around” (v. 24). The Lord then laid His hands on the man’s eyes, and he then could see “everything clearly” (v. 25).  This is the only case in which it appears that a healing was done in two-stages. But  could it be that after the first time, the Lord’s spittle could have been causing the blur and distorted images, which was then cleared after the Lord touched the man’s eyes?

25. Delivering a demon-possessed boy (Matt. 17:14-18; Mark 9:14-29; Luke 9:38-43).  In reading the different accounts, this boy is described as having been a “lunatic” and “very ill” (Matt. 17:15) and had an “unclean spirit” (“demon”) (Luke 9:42) that caused the boy to go into convulsions, foam at the mouth, be mute, be slammed to the ground, and become rigid.  This demon had also “often thrown him both into the fire and into the water to destroy hm” (Mark 9:22).  When Jesus told the father that “All things are possible to him who believes,” the father responded, by saying, “I do believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24).  Jesus then commanded the deaf, mute spirit to come out of the son and never enter him again (v. 25).

26. Finding the tribute money in the first caught fish’s mouth (Matt. 17:24-27).  Jesus had instructed Peter to “..go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel…” (v. 27).

27. Healing a man born blind (John 9:1-7).  This man was healed though he did not even believe, at the time, in the sinlessness of Christ.  For the now healed man said about Jesus, “Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (v. 25).  Coming to him later, Jesus asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”  And the former blind man said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?”  Jesus said, “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking to you.”  The man then said, “Lord, I believe” and worshiped Him (vv. 35-38).

28. Healing a woman on the Sabbath who had been crippled for 18 years (Luke 13:10-17).  The account shows that the woman’s infirmity had been caused by a spirit (v. 11).  While she glorified God for her healing, the synagogue official found fault with Jesus for doing this on the Sabbath day and told the people that “There are six days in which work should be done; so come during them and get healed, not on the Sabbath day” (v. 14).  Jesus then said the following which humiliated his opponents: “You hypocrites, does not each of you on the Sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the stall and lead him away to water him? And this woman, a daughter of Abraham as she is, whom Satan has bound for eighteen long  years, should she not have been released from this bond on the Sabbath Day?'” (vv. 15-16).

29. Healing a man with dropsy (Luke 14:1- 6).  According to MedicineNet.com, dropsy is “An old term for the swelling of soft tissues due to the accumulation of excess water. In years gone by, a person might have been said to have dropsy.  Today one would be more descriptive and specify the cause. Thus, the person might have edema due to congestive heart failure.”

30. Raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:17-44).  Lazarus, along with his sisters Mary and Martha, had been a good friend of Jesus.  Jesus did not go immediately to heal Lazarus when he was sick, but stayed even two days longer, after hearing the news. For the Lord had said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (v. 4).  By the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days.  But at the Lord’s command, “Lazarus, come forth!,” it was so! (Jn. 11:43). By that miracle, Jesus also confirmed what He had previously declared about Himself that “I am the resurrection and the life…”  (v. 25).

31. Cleansing the ten lepers (Luke 17:11-19).  Though all were healed, only one of them had turned back to loudly glorify God, having prostrated himself before Jesus and thanking Him. And that healed and grateful man was a Samaritan.

32. Healing Blind Bartimaeus (Matt. 20:29-34; Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43).  Though some were sternly telling Bartimaeus “to be quiet…he  kept crying out all the more, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!'” (Luke 18:39).  Jesus certainly didn’t tell him to be quite; but, rather, asked, “What do you want Me to do for you?”  (v. 41).  “Lord, I want to regain my sight!,” was his reply.  Jesus then said, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well” (v. 42).  That led to not only his glorifying God and following Jesus, but also all the people praising God as well.

33. Cursing the fig tree (Matt. 21:18-19; Mark 11:12-14).  Because the fig tree was barren of its fruit, the Lord had cursed it so that it would never bear fruit again. It would seem that the Lord did this to make a lasting impression upon all of the need for the individual to be fruitful, as Jesus also speaks of in John 15:1-8.  For it actually was not the season for figs (Mark 11:13), but the thought of a barren fig tree being cursed could serve as a deterrent toward our own unfruitfulness.

34. Restoring Malchus’ ear that had been lopped off by Peter when the Roman soldiers had come to seize Jesus (Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10). Jesus had previously prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).  Knowing that the cross was now just hours away and what His Father wanted Him to submit to, Jesus was intent on doing so and did not want His followers to hinder Him from that, as Peter was trying to do.  And Jesus, even during this time of His betrayal by Judas and now to be taken into custody by the Roman soldiers, also graciously took the time to work a miracle for Malchus.  Of all people to drag off!  Here is One performing a miracle before them all, as He also did so many other times during His public ministry.  So much good Christ could accomplish for mankind, yet He is now being taken away to what  would eventually lead to a most torturous death on a cross.  And though He knew this and had been “very distressed and troubled” over it (Mark 14:33), He still took the time to heal this man of his severed ear.

35. Second miraculous catch of fish – 153 of them, and the net was not torn (John 21:1-14).  This occurred at the Sea of Galilee, following the Lord’s resurrection, and about 70 miles from where He had been crucified.  The apostles had been out in their boats fishing that night — but with no success. As day began to break, Jesus called out from the beach, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.”  They did so — “and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish” (v. 6).  This was the third time that Jesus had appeared to His disciples, following His resurrection.

Again, these are just some of the miracles that Jesus performed while on earth; but they have been recorded that we might believe in Him, submit to Him, and become a part of the family of God.

To think that with God all things are possible and nothing is too  difficult!  How wonderful heaven will be — and so much more than we have ever known or could ever imagine!  It is a place of perfect love, continual peace, and everlasting bliss.  May we each earnestly strive for that heavenly home.  For to miss out on that would certainly be our greatest regret!

(All Scripture is from the NASB.)

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News & Notes

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Frederick Farmsworth Crosby (of Panama City, Florida) who passed away December 26.  He was 82.

Ashley Ray Law has been requesting prayer for her grandmother Mary Rogers who has been in the hospital and not doing well.

Charlie Blevins has also been asking for prayer on behalf of his mother Lola Blevins whose condition is very poor.  She is 95 and now on hospice care.

Others who have continued to be on our prayer list: Cedell Fletcher, Frankie Hadley, Meadern Anderson; Belinda Medlock; Charles Crosby; James Green; Bennie Medlock; Pat Joyner; Jim Lively; Nolan McLaine; Shirley Davis; Judy Daugherty; Misty Thornton; Michelle Rittenhouse; Rachael Gerbing; Jarvis Williams; 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).
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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 (December 17, 2017)

Contents:

1) Our Common Salvation (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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Our Common Salvation
Tom Edwards

Though we often think of the word “common” to refer to that which is ordinary, usual, frequent, or unexceptional, it also has the meaning of “shared equally.” And it is this latter definition that applies to Jude’s mention of “our common salvation” (Jude 1:3). For it is the one plan of redemption that is to be accepted by all people of every race, nation, and social status.

Meets a Common Need

This common salvation meets a common need. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23. cf. v. 10). This is true of everyone, except for those in a “safe state” who have not reached the age of accountability (cf. Matt. 19:14; Matt. 18:3; 1 Cor. 14:20).

Demanded a Common Sacrifice

Throughout the history of the world, only one sacrifice has been able to atone for the sins of mankind; and that was the propitiatory sacrifice of Jesus Christ Himself, which was made for every transgressor — whether of the past, of that present time, or of any time yet to come.  Jesus accomplished what all the millions of Old Testament sacrifices had not been able to do. For they could not blot out even one sin (cf. Heb. 10:4). But that is certainly not the case with the atonement Jesus made by His death at Calvary. For “Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (vv. 11-14).  Yes, Jesus came to this world, taking on a human body, “…so that by the grace of God He might taste death for EVERYONE” (Heb. 2:9, emphasis mine).

Demands a Common Faith

Though we live in a world that is filled with various kinds of faiths (doctrines, beliefs, creeds), yet the Bible speaks of just one that we are to “contend earnestly for”; and it is “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Paul also shows the oneness of that faith when pointing out that just as there is only “one body,” “one Spirit,” “one hope,” “one Lord,” “one baptism,” and “one God,” even so, there is just “one faith” (Eph. 4:4-6).  This faith is the gospel — for it can be obeyed: As Luke writes, “The word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient TO THE FAITH” (Acts 6:7, emphasis mine).  So the oneness of that faith is seen in the oneness of the gospel, and that is something that is not to be swapped for another.  Concerning that, Paul warns: “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ.  But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Gal. 1:6-9).  The gospel shows what one must believe and how to obtain salvation.  And these words of Jesus very well apply to it, that “the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14).  Note, too, that He speaks of this as “the way” — and not as “the ways.”  For salvation in this Gospel Age is not of different ways for different people; but, rather, it is that one common way for all.

Enjoyed in a Common Body

As we saw above, there is just “one body” (Eph. 4:4); and that body is the church: Paul declares, “…I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church…” (Col. 1:24).  Consider also Colossians 1:18 and Ephesians 5:23.

The church is not the Savior. It is the saved! And one must, therefore, be in the church in order to have that salvation. This automatically happens when one becomes a Christian. For God Himself then adds that one to that universal body of redeemed people.  As an example of this, concerning the many who were becoming Christians in Jerusalem, “…the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).  So it is God who adds the Christian to the universal church — but each redeemed person is to also become a member of a local congregation in order to work and worship together with the brethren there. That, therefore, pertains to our responsibility.  For it is not in the universal church, but in the local congregation in which we carry out the specific activities that God has instructed just the congregation to do.

The only plurality of churches in the New Testament is with regard to various congregations, but all adhering to the common faith. For there were no denominations at that time.

Many people in our day put little emphasis — or none at all — on the church, its importance, and the need to be a part of it. Perhaps they have been disillusioned by the differing bodies of denominationalism, the religious confusion of conflicting beliefs and practices in the world today, and the wrongful things that have been carried out that bring reproach upon the Lord and the church.  For how often do people stereotype individuals, thus viewing others in the same negative light or as equally guilty — and even toward those who are serving and worshiping God correctly?  But the wrong of others should not deter us from doing what is right and striving to please the Lord by worshiping and serving Him in the way in which His word teaches — and even if we are being misrepresented. For God wants His people to worship and serve Him, and we are warned about “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES” (Heb. 10:25-27).

The very fact that Jesus had to suffer and die in order that there could even be a church — for it was “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28) — should also help us realize the importance of it.  For how can we minimize that which was obtained at such a great cost?!

Demands a Common Authority

The common salvation is based on the common authority in God’s word. Paul exhorted the Corinthians toward this, when instructing, “Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment” (1 Cor. 1:10). It is only through God’s word that Scriptural unity can be attained.  So it was what Paul taught “everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17).

Entered on Common Terms

As mentioned, there are not different plans of how to become a Christian — with some doing it one way, while others, another. There is just the one plan for all. And it includes the need to hear God’s word – for that is how faith comes (cf. Rom. 10:17), to believe in Jesus and His Deity (Jn. 8:24), to repent of sins (Luke 13:5), to confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38), and to 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 then, as Christians, to maintain our relationship with God by following His word (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 10:36-39).

Gives a Common Hope

Paul speaks of those Gentiles who prior to their conversion were “separate from Christ… having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). But what a blessing and great hope had come to them when becoming Christians! “For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom. 8:24-25). This common hope goes way beyond any kind of worldly hope.

The hope that God instills has been defined as “desire plus expectation” (which is based on God’s word). The need for both has been illustrated by the young boy who desired to make good grades – but he did not expect them. Then after seeing his report card and on his way home, he did not desire to receive a spanking – but he expected it! In neither case, did this poor, young fellow have hope.

Some have attributed to Shakespeare that “We are never beneath hope, while above hell; nor above hope, while beneath heaven.”

Having the hope of eternal life is a beautiful and helpful possession.  For no matter how much we enjoy our lives on earth, we also know (by our faith and hope) that the best is yet to come!

Conclusion

Our common salvation is far from being common in the sense of ordinary, usual, or unexceptional. Rather, what could be greater, more life-changing, more needful, and more of a reason to be thankful than in having this wonderful salvation that God has made possible for every sinner through His Son Jesus Christ!  For to simply be forgiven by God and to become His child is not just of great worth, but that which is of infinite and eternal value!

So may all come to Jesus, through obedience to His salvation plan.  For “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  And Jesus declares, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

(All Scripture from the NASB.)

* * * * *

-2-

News & Notes

People to be praying for:

Cedell Fletcher has been back in the hospital.  He has been having trouble with a blood disorder for many years.

Let us also continue to remember in prayer the family and friends of those who have recently departed: Brock McCorvey, Cambria Jade Shuman, and James “Buddy” Gornto.

Frankie Hadley is still at the Baptist Village nursing home.

Also to include in our prayers: Meadern Anderson; Belinda Medlock; Charles Crosby; James Green; Bennie Medlock; Pat Joyner; Jim Lively; Nolan McLaine; Shirley Davis; Judy Daugherty; Misty Thornton; Michelle Rittenhouse; Rachael Gerbing; Jarvis Williams; 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: 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 (December 10, 2017)

Contents:

1) Temptation (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
——————–

temptation
-1-

Temptation
Tom Edwards

Temptation is common to all. We are each confronted with it every day in various ways. Paul also speaks of its universal nature when saying, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

The Greek word for “temptation” (peirasmos) has a variation of meanings. It is defined as “an experiment, attempt, trial, proving. …  1b) the trial of man’s fidelity, integrity, virtue, constancy  1b1) an enticement to sin, temptation, whether arising from the desires or from the outward circumstances  1b2) an internal temptation to sin …  1b4) adversity, affliction, trouble: sent by God and serving to test or prove one’s character, faith, holiness  1c) temptation (i.e. trial) of God by men” (Thayer).  This Greek word is also translated four times as “trials” in the New American Standard Bible and seen in Luke 22:28, Acts 20:19, James 1:2, and 1 Peter 1:6.

So the same Greek word can refer to inward temptations as well as the outward.  And we also see in this that not all temptations are sinful in themselves, but could be an adversity or affliction that will test the caliber of the individual. It is in that sense that Genesis 22:1 declares that “God did tempt Abraham…” (King James Version).  Or, “God tested Abraham…” (NASB).  When we read on in the chapter, we see exactly how that was done. God commanded Abraham to offer his son on the altar as a burnt offering. The Lord, of course, was not trying to cause Abraham to sin; but was testing the faith and obedience of Abraham.  For it was never the Lord’s intent that Isaac would be killed.

Though we normally think of the word “tempt” as implying something evil, such as in trying to allure someone into committing a sin, its obsolete meaning, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to make trial of: test.”  And that is how it is being used in Genesis 22:1 of the KJV.

That is also indicated by James, the half-brother of the Lord, who has some things to say about this topic in James 1:13-16.  There we learn that “God…does not tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

From this passage, we see of a process that begins with temptation and ends in spiritual death; but there are also the steps in between that involve one’s yielding to the temptation and carrying out a sinful act.  So just being tempted in itself does not necessarily mean that one has sinned as a result.

Temptation, therefore, has been likened to a bird landing on one’s head. If that happened to you, you would probably swat the creature away immediately, as with a natural reflex – instead of allowing it the time to get cozy or to make a nest there.  So that can illustrate a temptation that one does not spend time wrongfully entertaining in mind and yielding to.

Also, if simply being tempted would in itself be a sin to the one experiencing it, then what about Jesus?  For the Bible says of Him, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Going through difficult times can be a challenge. Temptations, adversities, tragedies, heartaches, disappointments, things that break and cease to function, or whatever the troubles, we would probably prefer not to experience any of them.

But one thing that can help us when undergoing such is to realize that even times like that can be for our good and spiritual development as we face those difficulties the way God wants us to.  For when we are striving to please Him, in spite of the adverse circumstances, we will be strengthened in the Lord and helped through those trying times.

Going along with this, James exhorts, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).

As we see in this passage, James speaks of “various trials” (NASB).  The KJV renders that as “divers temptations” — but we should not think of that in the limited sense of “allurements to sin, but trials or distresses of any kind which test and purify the Christian character” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary).”

One of the ways in which temptation can come is through adversities that befall us.  For during such times, some people will turn to the wrong instead of to God. They might try to find an escape from their hardships through illicit drugs, intoxication, immorality, or in some other ungodly way.  So though they do want to find a way out from their troubles, they are tempted to turn in the wrong direction and often do.

Christians, of course, are not exempt from adverse circumstances.  And many through the years have incurred such by simply living a life in service to God.  As Paul told Timothy centuries ago, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).   Consider also John 15:20, Acts 14:22, and 1 Peter 4:12-16.

External trials, such as the persecutions upon the early church, could lead to internal temptation, such as the temptation to deny Christ in order to save one’s physical life from martyrdom. So whether we are talking about outward trials or inner temptations, God can use either for our spiritual development if we keep faithful to Him.

While the Bible shows that God does not tempt us, yet neither does He remove all temptations from us.  Throughout life, we are continually faced with making decisions for one thing or another.  This also means that God allows people to run their own course – whether for good or for evil – though we will all have to give an account of ourselves in the Judgment Day; and should, therefore, choose the way of the Lord while we have the time to do so.

Furthermore, if God were to remove all temptations, would He not have to remove all sinners who would seek to lead others astray from the gospel – whether they are doing that intentionally or unintentionally?  For they would be an external temptation that could possibly evoke internal temptations in others to sin against God.

May we all continue to do as in the exhortation of that old spiritual song (written in 1868 by Horatio R. Palmer), which begins the first four words of its lyrics with its title: “Yield not to temptation, for yielding is sin…”

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

-2-

News & Notes

Let us be remembering the following in prayer:

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Brock McCorvey who passed away recently at only 35 years of age.  He had lived in Waycross all his life.

Our sympathies also go out to all the family and friends of Cambria Jade Shuman who passed from this earth life at only 5 years of age. She is survived by many loved ones.

Frankie Hadley is now at the Baptist Village nursing home, where she will remain for the next couple weeks.

Also to include in our prayers: Meadern Anderson; Belinda Medlock; Charles and Kathy Crosby; James Green; Bennie Medlock; Pat Joyner; Myrna Jordan; Jim Lively; Nolan McLaine; Shirley Davis; Judy Daugherty; Misty Thornton; Michelle Rittenhouse; Rachael Gerbing; Jarvis Williams; Cedell Fletcher; Mary Vandevander; and the loved ones of James “Buddy” Gornto, Mae Ila Highsmith Todd, and Melissa Benson.
——————–

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 (December 3, 2017)

Contents:

1) Was Christ’s Resurrected Body a Different One? (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
——————–

Acts2_31

-1-

Was Christ’s Resurrected Body a Different One?
Tom Edwards

When Jesus arose from the dead, was it with the same body He had prior to His resurrection or was it some type of  “spiritual” body that replicated it?

Recently, I read of an unusual belief held by the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” with regard to this.  According to their doctrine, Jesus “said that he would give his ‘flesh in behalf of the world,’ as a ransom for mankind. … If he had taken back his flesh when he was resurrected, he would have canceled that ransom sacrifice” (JW.org). Therefore, according to their view, “At his resurrection from the dead, Jesus was brought forth with a spirit body” (Reasoning from the Scriptures, p. 334).

So there you have it. According to their teaching, the body Jesus had while on this planet, prior to His resurrection, was not the same body He had when risen from the dead and appearing to witnesses over a period of 40 days, before His ascending back to heaven. But is this what the Bible also teaches?

It is true that Jesus had to die in order to make an atonement for sin – but where does the Bible say that the Lord’s body that was put to death on the cross must remain dead, that there was to be no resurrection for it?

Instead, do we not read the exact opposite?  For Jesus “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).

The verse that the “Jehovah’s Witnesses” appear to be alluding to, in the phrase of Jesus saying that He would give His “flesh in behalf of the world,” is John 6:51. In this passage, Jesus declares, “I am the Living Bread which came down from Heaven. If anyone eats of this Bread, he shall live forever. And truly the bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

But how would that same body being resurrected nullify the atonement Jesus made by His death with that body?  And where does it say in the Scriptures that the crucified body of Jesus must remain dead in order for the atonement to continue to be effectual?

If Christ’s body prior to His resurrection remained dead, and it was switched with some type of “spirit body” that appeared human in His resurrection, why did Peter quote David who “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” (Acts 2:31-32).

So if the Lord was given a different body for the resurrection, what happened to the one that suffered and died on the cross? Would it not have undergone decay, if it had never been resurrected?

Also, what part of Christ was risen from the dead? Was it only His eternal spirit (His soul, His true essence)? And if so, where does the Bible say that that part of Christ died and only that part would arise?

Jesus declares, “if anyone keeps My word he will never see death” (Jn. 8:51).  But what part of these obedient ones would never die? Their bodies would die, but not their eternal souls (spirits). Now what about Jesus? How well did He do in keeping His Father’s word? He obeyed Him always and fully, having never failed even once. Christ never sinned. But still His body was put to death, while His spirit (His soul, His true essence) never died. But that spirit, which had been in the Paradise section of Hades for three days, following His death (cf. Luke 23:43; Acts 2:31), was then rejoined to His crucified body that was risen from the dead.

So the point is, in the resurrection, it is that which is dead that is brought back to life. And since it was the body of Christ that was put to death (and not His spirit/soul/true essence), that same body was then also risen from the dead.

Being the same body, it still had the wounds that had been made from the crucifixion. But if that had been some type of “spirit body,” a replica of what only appeared as His former body, wouldn’t that be deceptive, such as in the case of Thomas who wanted to see for himself and touch those wounds in the Lord’s hands and side?

It is true that some of the apostles thought they were seeing a spirit when they saw the resurrected Christ.  But that was apparently the only explanation they could come up with at the time, since they had not be expecting to see Him arisen from the dead (Luke 24:37). But what did the Lord then say to them? “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have” (vv. 38-39).

Doubting Thomas, who did not believe the testimony the other apostles had given about having seen the risen Lord, said, “Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn. 20:25).

It was then that next Sunday, when Thomas had been with the other apostles, that the Lord appeared to all of them: “Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then He said to Thomas, ‘Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing” (Jn. 20:27). Thomas’ response was, “My Lord and My God!” (v. 28).

Some people, who hold to the belief of a “spirit body” that only appeared human in the Lord’s resurrected form, point out that Jesus had the ability with that “spirit body” to go through closed doors. This is seen, as in the above passage that points out that “Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst…” Some Bible versions refer to those doors as having been “locked” (CEV, ESV, GNB, GW, ISV, LITV, WEB, Weymouth, and the NIV to name some).  Of course, even in the versions that speak of the doors being “shut,” it is also in the same passage that says they were shut “for fear of the Jews” (Jn. 20:19).   So would not that also indicate that they would be doors that were not only shut, but also locked?  Yet, the same verse also says that “Jesus came and stood in their midst.”

Why should we think, though, that the previous indicates that the body Jesus had on earth prior to His resurrection must have been a different one that was limited from doing what He could with His resurrected body?

Even prior to His resurrection, the Lord did some very astonishing things that would not seem to be humanly possible. In John 6:16-21, for example, the apostles got into a boat in order to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. That body of water is said to be at its farthest points about 13 miles from north to south and 7 miles at its widest part. But regardless of how far or close they were to their destination, as soon as they received Jesus into the boat, who had been walking on the water, the boat was  “immediately” at the land to which they were going. Various commentators view that sudden arrival as a miracle, which, of course, would be a miracle over space and time.

And it is also in that same section that says, “when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened” (v. 19). Was Jesus transformed to some type of “spirit body” that appeared as a human body to accomplish that? If so, what about Peter when he also came walking on the water to Jesus – at least for a moment? (See Matt. 14:29.) It wasn’t because Peter had a human body that the Lord rebuked him for sinking. Rather, it was because of Peter’s “little faith” and doubting (v. 31).

Also, in Luke 4:28-30, “all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage,” as they heard the teaching of Jesus. They then “got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill…to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went away.” How could Jesus have just walked through the midst of an angry mob without something miraculous about that?

So even with just a human body, Jesus did some mighty, amazing things! And we should not have trouble believing any of it, for with God “all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26) and “Nothing is too difficult” (Jer. 32:17).

Christ’s resurrected body was the same as the one He had on earth, prior to His resurrection.  And the resurrection of that body did not make void His atonement for sin, but was part of what makes forgiveness possible:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

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

-2-

News & Notes

We are glad to say that Pat Joyner has improved from her swollen leg and the much pain, though she is not completely healed and does have other complications. She will be getting in touch with her doctor this Monday about having a couple tests (deep vein thrombosis) to see if she might have a blood clot in that leg that has been swollen.

Last week, Shirley Davis had been to doctors and therapy Monday through Friday, with Wednesday’s visit being in Valdosta and Friday’s in Jacksonville.  She will be continuing with her therapy treatments till the end of this year, and will not have more doctor appointments until January.

Kathy Crosby is healing well from the recent surgery she had last Monday.

Though not as bad as before, the fluid build-up around his knee has been giving Charles Crosby some trouble.  He was back in Valdosta last week to see his knee doctor again.

Myrna Jordan has not been up to par lately.

Bennie Medlock has been having some trouble recently when on his feet.

Mary Vandevander is free from pain, but feels physically weak.  She misses working in her garden and being home on her own.

Also: the loved ones of those who recently passed away: James “Buddy” Gornto, Mae Ila Highsmith Todd,  and Melissa Benson; and those with physical ailments: Nolan McLaine,  Meadern Anderson, Belinda Medlock, Jim Lively, Judy Daugherty, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Jarvis Williams, Cedell Fletcher, and James Green
——————–

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)