The Gospel Observer (January 28, 2018)

Contents:

1) “Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen” (Tom Edwards)
2) False Standards (Andrew Mitchell)
3) News & Notes
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Matthew22_14c

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“Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen”
Tom Edwards

In His parable of a king giving a wedding feast for his son, in which many individuals had been invited, but turned down the offer, the Lord then concluded by saying, “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).

The parable reminds us of the many in real life whom God desires to come to salvation – but they are unwilling and reject His gracious invitation! For “The Lord is…not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). And Paul speaks of the Lord as being One “who desires all men to be saved…” (1 Tim. 2:4); and through Isaiah, God had implored people to “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22).  Even to that wicked one called “Jezebel” in Revelation 2:20-21, who was leading God’s “bond-servants astray so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols,” the Lord declares, “I gave her time to repent…” (v. 21). But He also goes on to point out that “she does not want to repent of her immorality.”  And think of all the people in Noah’s day whose minds were only on evil continually (Gen. 6:5), yet God was also patient in giving them time to repent (Gen. 6:3; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15).

In thinking how his life had been prior to his conversion, the apostle Paul referred to himself as being the “chief” of sinners because of his persecution toward the church and even consenting toward the death of Christians.  But he also cites himself as an example of the mercy of God. For if the Lord could pardon Paul of all his past sins,
then the Lord can pardon anyone who will meet His conditions — for “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners…” (1 Tim. 1:15-16). And “whosoever will” may come (Rev. 22:17). So, yes, many are called because God does not want anyone to be lost; but, sad to say, many will be lost for rejecting the call of the Lord. And all who reject Him will also have to be rejected by Him (cf. Matt. 10:33; Luke 9:26).

But for those of us who have accepted the Lord’s gracious invitation, we can know that God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity, but now has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:9-10).

This does not mean that every saved person was arbitrarily chosen to be saved before the world began, and apart from any necessary belief and obedience on the individual’s part. For salvation has always been based on meeting certain conditions that no one – not even God – can do for us.

Paul makes this calling clear. He explains: “But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. And it was for this he called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:13-14).

Again, we see of the desire God has had from the very beginning toward saving the lost. Yet, we also see in this passage that one’s salvation involves not only the Lord, but also the individual’s response toward God. So, according to this passage, one’s salvation was not totally brought about before the world began or prior to the birth of that individual. But, rather, it was the plan of salvation that was prior. And that plan would involve the need to hear God’s word to acquire faith (cf. Rom. 10:17), to believe in Christ (Jn. 8:24), to repent of sins (Luke 13:5), to acknowledge faith in Jesus (Acts 8:36-38; Rom. 10:9-10), to be baptized in water (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Pet. 3:21), and to continue in the faith (Rev. 2:10). In other words, these steps can be clearly seen as that which we are each to make in faithfully responding to God’s plan of salvation and benefiting from it. For look again at 2 Thessalonians 2:13: We must not only be sanctified by the Spirit, but also have faith in the truth in order to be saved, which indicates our responsibility in that. So our salvation is not totally up to God — though without His love, His grace, and His mercy, all the believing, repenting, and meeting other conditions on our part would be to no avail.

The need for our involvement in our calling can also be inferred from 2 Peter 1:10. For here Peter exhorts, “…give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” Such exhortation would be unnecessary, if one’s calling were totally up to God and separate from any necessary action on the believer’s part. But living a life unto the Lord is part of God’s purpose for His people – and that which He had planned from all eternity (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9). For Jesus “died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:15). “For God has not called us for the purpose of impurity, but in sanctification” (1 Thess. 4:7). The King James Version renders “sanctification” in this passage as “holiness.”

So our calling from God leads to a new way of life. As Paul instructs: “Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:1-3).

And the importance of living this new life can be seen in Hebrews 12:14-15: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.”

And when does that new life begin for the penitent believer who has confessed his faith in Christ? “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).  So baptism is in order that “we too might walk in newness of life.”  Compare also the following: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Gal. 3:27). “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17).  Again, we see baptism in connection with receiving the new life.

Yes, Christians are “called to be saints” (1 Cor. 1:2); and, as the term denotes, a “saint” is one who is “made holy” and “set apart” for a special service unto God. May all of us who are Christians ever live to carry out our calling from the Lord. For by meeting His conditions of salvation, that were in His mind before the world even began, He is then able to accept us as His chosen ones who are on that narrow road that leads to eternal life, though few there be that find it (cf. Matt. 7:13-14).

So, yes, many are called, but few are chosen.  And as we have seen in all this, the choice is really up to us.  For God wants us to be saved, to be one of His chosen — for He loves us more than we can fully realize and wants no one to be lost.  But in order to be one of His chosen, we must accept the Lord Jesus Christ by submitting to His plan of salvation (as mentioned above).

God is lovingly calling through His gospel message — but we must obediently respond to that gracious call.

(All Scripture from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
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False Standards
Andrew Mitchell

I often hear people trying to establish right and wrong based on the wrong standard. Here are some examples:

Our Parents (Mt. 10:21,34-37).  As much as  we should love and respect our parents, we cannot establish right and wrong on the basis of our parents alone.

Our Conscience (Ac. 23:1; 26:9-11; 1 Tim.  1:12-13). Even though our conscience can be useful, we may still be wrong even though our conscience doesn’t bother us. Paul had followed his conscience even when he was a persecutor.

Emotions & Feelings (Pr. 14:12; 28:26; Jer.  10:23). Just because something “feels” right to you, that doesn’t necessarily make it right. Sin can even “feel” right.

The Majority (Mt. 7:13-14). Don’t ever think that something is right simply because most believe it. The majority is headed to destruction.

Preachers & Religious Leaders (2 Cor. 11:13-15; 2 Pet. 2:1-3). Your preacher may be a great guy, but that doesn’t mean he is right.

Tradition (Mt. 15:1-9; Col. 2:8). Truth is not  established by how long something has been around. Sin has been around a long time, too.

The Good End (Rom. 3:8). The end doesn’t always justify the means. Something is not right just because we may think it is causing “good.”

What is the “RIGHT” way to tell right from wrong? God’s WORD, and HIS word ALONE (Jn. 12:48).

–  via the bulletin of the Collegevue church of Christ, July 23, 2017
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Charles Crosby
will be having surgery on his knee this Friday (February 2). It is the same knee which had been completely replaced back in January 2017. Since then, however, he has been having much trouble with it, due to infection and swelling, and had been back in the hospital a couple times for it (in February and August). We are glad that recently they discovered the specific type of infection that has been causing the problem, which they now can deal with accurately. The knee will again be totally replaced, following a few weeks of making sure that all the infection is eliminated.

Michelle Rittenhouse will be having surgery next Tuesday (February 6) on her neck. Four spinal discs will be fused, and four spurs will be removed. She has often suffered from severe headaches lasting a long time.

Ronnie and Melotine Davis have both been having some back trouble recently.

Mikaela Jones appears to be coming down with the flu.

Let us continue to also remember in prayer those with poor health or other ailments: Jim Lively, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, Jason Thornton, Cedell Fletcher, Meadern Anderson, Mary Rogers, Belinda Medlock, James Green, Bennie Medlock, Judy Daugherty, Misty Thornton, Rachael Gerbing, Jarvis Williams, and Mary Vandevander in the nursing home.
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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 (January 21, 2018)

Contents:

1) The “Washing of Regeneration” (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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Titus3_5

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The “Washing of Regeneration”
Tom Edwards

Though there are certain conditions that one must meet in order to be saved, which we might refer to as the steps that lead to salvation, yet Paul pointed out to Titus that even after meeting those requirements, our redemption has not been earned, deserved, or merited.  For “He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

So one should not wrongfully think of this passage to mean that there are no deeds one must do to be forgiven and become a Christian — such as the need to hear God’s word whereby faith comes (Rom. 10:17),  to repent of sins (Luke 13:5), to acknowledge faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38), and to be baptized in water for sins to be forgiven (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Pet. 3:21); but, rather, that it means that even after carrying out these demands, salvation is still not earned.  And how could one actually think otherwise!  We are talking about the forgiveness that leads to eternal life in heaven’s endless glory and bliss.  How could we ever imagine doing anything to deserve that — and even if we had a million years to strive each day to serve the Lord faithfully!  How much we each need God’s mercy, His grace, and His forgiveness in our lives!  For without that, who can be saved?

In this passage, we also see that salvation is obtained “by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”  What element comes to mind when we think of “washing”?  Is it not water?   So here we see water in connection with “regeneration.”  But what does  “regeneration” mean?  According to the Random House Webster’s College Dictionary, one of its definitions is a “spiritual rebirth.”  So in the very phrase “washing of regeneration,” we are made to think of being born again and having that spiritual rebirth through water.  And this actually parallels with what Jesus taught Nicodemus concerning the need to be “born again” (John 3:3) — to be “born of water and the Spirit” in order to enter the kingdom of God (v. 5).

The Spirit’s involvement, therefore, is also another parallel in John 3:5 and Titus 3:5.  For while Jesus speaks of the need to be “born of water and the Spirit,” Paul refers to “the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit.”  The Holy Spirit has revealed the need to be baptized and of the other requirements toward becoming a Christian and living as one; and when an alien sinner submits to the Spirit’s instructions, he or she will then become a Christian, “a new creature” in Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 5:17) — one who is born again.

So to be “born again” is to be “regenerated,” to have that “spiritual rebirth.”  And Jesus and Paul both show the need for water and the Spirit for that to occur.

Some might not realize, that in the meaning of the Greek word for “baptize” (baptizo) there is no indication of even one drop of water!  For the Greek word simply means to “immerse” or “submerge,” as Thayer defines it. And one could be immersed in various things.  How about a big tub of olive oil, a wooden vat of grape juice, or a large oak cask of maple syrup?  Immersion would be possible in any of these.

But when we look to the Scriptures we see what element was used to do the immersing — and it was always water.  This can be seen in the reason John the Baptist baptized in Aenon near Salem – “because there was much water there” (Jn. 3: 23). And what did the Ethiopian eunuch say after having heard Philip preach about Jesus? “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?” (Acts 8:36). Also, Peter said concerning those Gentiles at Cornelius’ house, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized…” (Acts 10:47).  In 1 Peter 3:21, Peter also shows that it was real “water” that was to be used in baptism; and this was the element that the penitent believer was to be “buried” in, after confessing faith in Christ (Acts 8:36-38), so that he could then be raised up to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4).

So the way the Bible shows the water in connection with salvation (in “being born of water and the Spirit”) is in baptism — and not just by drinking a glass of water or pouring it on someone’s head.  For as we just noted, one is to be “immersed” or “submerged” in it.

If the Greek word “baptizo” had been translated — instead of transliterated (in which the Greek letters are converted to their English equivalents and the word is Anglicized) — everyone would clearly see that it does not mean to pour or to sprinkle (as some administer it today); but, instead, it means to immerse.  For in a translation, the meaning of the word is given.  Of course, even if one did not know the meaning of the word “baptism,” the passages that liken it to a burial indicate immersion (cf. Rom. 6:3,4; Col. 2:12).  For to be buried is to be completely covered.

We mention this element for baptism being water because some people might be of the mistaken opinion that baptism is just a spiritual thing — apart from any water.

There are also those today who wrongly assume that folks are to receive the same baptism of the Holy Spirit that the apostles had.  So they might believe in a plurality of baptisms for our time.

But notice what Paul states in Ephesians 4:5.  Here, among various things that there is just one of — such as one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one God and Father — Paul also includes “one baptism.”

So which one is it?  What is the one baptism that is to continue on?  Is it Holy Spirit baptism?  Is it water baptism?

The Ephesian letter was written about A.D. 60 to 62.  But Peter’s first epistle was written about A.D. 64 to 65.  And notice what he declares in 1 Peter 3:21: “Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (ESV).

Peter shows that it is not by merely getting clean in the water that one is saved, but through baptism one is making his appeal to God for that good conscience.  And we, therefore, also see in this that the one baptism that is to continue on is the water baptism that saves!

The Holy Spirit baptism was a promise to the apostles.  They had a special measure of it.  We don’t find in the Scriptures of penitent believers being commanded to be baptized in the Holy Spirit, but we do see that they were commanded to be baptized in water.

It is true that Christians are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit,” but that is not the same as receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit. For notice in Ephesians 5:18-19, pertaining to the instruction of spiritual songs that Christians are to participate in, Paul begins that by exhorting them to “be filled with the Spirit” (v. 18).  But then in the parallel of Colossians 3:16, which also speaks of the spiritual songs the saints are to engage in, Paul begins that section by saying, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…”  It is, therefore, through that means (of having God’s word in our hearts) that we are filled with God’s Spirit today and will develop the fruit of that Spirit.

In view of these scriptures, the Bible does refer to a literal water that is to be used in baptism, just as it is a literal fruit of the vine and a literal unleavened bread that make up the two elements used in the Lord’s Supper.  Though the bread and grape juice are not the real body and blood of the Lord, respectively – nor do they become that through  “transubstantiation,” as Catholicism teaches – yet that in no way minimizes the importance of the observance, in which one could actually “eat and drink damnation unto himself” if he makes a common meal out of it (1 Cor. 11:23-30, 34).

The water of baptism does not literally wash away sins as in a likened manner to dirt being scrubbed off by a good washing; but by so submitting to baptism — along with believing in Christ, repenting of sin, and acknowledging one’s faith in Christ – one is responding to God’s plan of salvation; and by meeting those conditions, the Lord’s atonement will then be applied to that individual.

This has been likened to the healing of Naaman the leper who was instructed to dip himself seven times into the Jordan River in order to be healed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5:1-14).  It was not the water itself that brought the cure.  Rather, it was God who did so when Naaman met the conditions which the Lord had commanded.

The same is also so with the water of baptism and being forgiven of sin.  For it is part of what God has commanded in His plan of salvation; and when we submit to those things for the washing of regeneration, our forgiveness then takes place in the mind of God; we become His children — and He chooses to remember those sins no more (Heb. 8:12; Heb. 10: 17).

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

Jason Thornton was in the hospital recently, due to a heart attack.  He writes: “Never in a million years would I have thought that I would have had a heart attack at 42. Luckily it was caught in plenty of time with no damage to the heart — just weak on the right side, which will heal in due time.” Jason was also given a stent to help out.  Let us be keeping him in prayer.

We are glad that they recently discovered the specific type of infection that Charles Crosby has been having in his knee. Let us pray that the new medication will now heal him speedily and completely!

Since his double lung transplant last April, Gary Cradick has been back in the hospital several times for a few days or a week or more each time. He had often not felt well and depleted of energy, but now is starting to feel a bit better for the most part.  Also, after 8.5 months of using the feeding tube, he now no longer needs it, is eating food again, and acquiring a better appetite.  But on a sad note, his oldest brother Lynn passed away the morning of New Year’s Eve. He was only 67 and had been well-liked by many.  Gary had also lost his younger brother David back in 2013 who was only 54 and was known as Kidd Kraddick on his nationally syndicated radio show and was also a television personality.

Frankie Hadley is now back home, following her recent stay in a nursing home.

It still hasn’t even been a month since Frederick Farmsworth Crosby and Lola Blevins passed away. Let us continue to remember their loved ones in prayer.  Also, those with poor health or other ailments: Cedell Fletcher, Meadern Anderson, Jim Lively, Mary Rogers, Belinda Medlock, James Green, Bennie Medlock, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, Judy Daugherty, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Jarvis Williams, and Mary Vandevander in the nursing home.
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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)



The Gospel Observer (January 14, 2018)

Contents:

1) How the Holy Spirit Operates Today (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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Eph6_17

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How the Holy Spirit Operates Today
Tom Edwards

There are various misconceptions some have today concerning the Holy Spirit and His work in the lives of others. Many folks, for instance, are of the notion that the Holy Spirit is working directly and miraculously upon the hearts of individuals in our time — such as in supernaturally enabling them to understand the Bible; to miraculously impart to them the conviction of sin and the desire, along with the ability, to obey God; and to miraculously speak to them and supernaturally lead them in the way He wants them to go.

There, of course, was a time when God spoke miraculously to men, such as to the apostles and the prophets. During the early church there was a great need for that until “that which is perfect is come” (1 Cor. 13:10, ASV). And that “perfect” is not referring to Christ, but to “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), which is the New Testament in its entirety. For the “perfect” is seen in contrast to “that which is in part” (1 Cor. 13:10, ASV), which would be done away with when the completeness of the New Testament would be delivered. For it contains “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3), whereby “…the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17, ESV).

We strive to encourage people to look to the Bible. For other than what we can infer about God from the creation – “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature” (Rom. 1:18-19) – it is through the Scriptures that the Lord can truly speak to us. And it is through that message that the Holy Spirit can work in our hearts.

Shortly prior to His leaving this world, Jesus promised the apostles the Holy Spirit who would be a “Helper” to them. He would teach them all things and bring to their remembrance all that the Lord had said to them (Jn. 14:26) — thus guiding them “into all the truth” (Jn. 16:13). The Holy Spirit would also “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn. 16:8).

In the Scriptures we see how He did this. In Acts 2, for example, as Peter preached about Jesus whom they had crucified, but whom God raised from the dead to be “both Lord and Christ,” there were those that “…when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart” (Acts 2:37). In other words, they came to believe in Jesus and were convicted of sin by that gospel message, which also led to their desire to ask Peter and the other apostles of how to be saved — and “those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls” (v. 41).

Consider, too, Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. In 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, he speaks of having caused them sorrow through his letter, which was a gospel message to them (v. 8). By it, they were “made sorrowful to the point of repentance” (v. 9). For it was not merely a sorrow of the world; but, rather, a “godly sorrow” (v. 11) that ”produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation” (v. 10).

The point we can see in these examples is that the Holy Spirit was convicting these people of sin — but not through some direct, miraculous operation upon their hearts; but, instead, through the word of God which they were hearing.

So we are seeing in this a relation that the Holy Spirit has to the Scriptures. For that message is the instrument that He is using to convict men today concerning sin, righteousness, and judgment. And this connection of the Holy Spirit to the word is exactly what Paul is speaking of in Ephesians 6:17, where he exhorts the brethren to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

So just as a logger would use a chainsaw or some other tool to fell a tree, the Holy Spirit uses the “instrument” of God’s word to work in the hearts of people today.

In realizing this connection of the Spirit with the word, we can better understand passages that might otherwise seem somewhat contradictory. For while one verse shows a certain thing to be accomplished by the Holy Spirit, another passage attributes the same thing to the word of God. Consider, for instance, these following examples:

CONVICTED

Holy Spirit: “..He…will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (Jn. 16:7-8).

Word of God: “Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart…” (Acts 2:37).

BORN AGAIN

Holy Spirit: “…unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. …that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3:5).

Word of God: “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23).

WASHED

Holy Spirit: “…but you were washed…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

Word of God: “…just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:25-26) .

SANCTIFIED

Holy Spirit: “…you were sanctified…in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

Word of God: “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth” (Jn. 17:17, a prayer of Jesus).

JUSTIFIED

Holy Spirit: “…but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).

Word of God: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10: 17).

SAVED

Holy Spirit: “He saved us…by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5).

Word of God: “…in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1: 21). “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Rom. 1:16).

One would be greatly mistaken to cite these Bible passages as contradictions. Rather, they show how the Holy Spirit is working today through the written word of God. And keeping Ephesians 6:17 in mind – to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” – better helps us to realize this.

This also shows why it is so important for man to hear the gospel, to believe it, and to respond to it.

The gospel is “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints”; and what we are to “contend earnestly for” (Jude 1:3). It has been given to us so that we may learn of the way that leads to everlasting life, be freed from the bondage of sin, and know how we are to live and please God while on earth. By our submitting to the word of the Lord, the Holy Spirit then works in us, helping us to grow spiritually and to develop more of the mind of Christ. And may that always be so of each one of us.

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

Mary Rogers (Ashley Ray Law’s grandmother) appears to have had another better day yesterday. With head elevated from her hospital bed, she was looking rather contended as she was touching the tiny hand of her very young, great grandchild who was sitting up in the bed with her for a visit. (Ashley had posted the picture on facebook.)

Let us also be remembering Jim Lively in prayer who had a bad fall last week, but didn’t break any bones. He has seen his doctor and had an adjustment made in medication.

Easton Cox has been having some flu-like symptoms lately.

Also for prayer: the family and friends of Frederick Farmsworth Crosby and Lola Blevins. And those with poor health or other ailments: Cedell Fletcher, Frankie Hadley, Meadern Anderson; Belinda Medlock; Charles Crosby; James Green; Bennie Medlock; Pat Joyner; Shirley Davis; Judy Daugherty; Misty Thornton; Michelle Rittenhouse; Rachael Gerbing; Jarvis Williams, and Mary Vandevander in the nursing home.
——————–

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 (January 7, 2018)

Contents:

1) The New Year (Tom Edwards)
2) A New Year, A New Beginning (poem, anonymous)
3) News & Notes
——————–

 

resolved

-1-

The New Year
Tom Edwards

The start of a New Year can be an exciting time of possibilities.  It can motivate many into making New Year’s resolutions that will improve their lives – and man has been prompted by this for a long time.  It is said that the ancient Babylonians began making New Year’s resolutions 4,000 years ago and would also observe that first day of the year with celebration.

But I wonder, though, if they were any better at keeping those resolutions.

If you are not of that 8% in our time who actually do keep their New Year’s resolutions, why not realize that every day is also a new day to make good changes that lead to a better life!  We do not have to wait until a new year begins.

Sometimes just one day can make a great deal of difference.  I’m reminded of how this is seen in the words of the psalmist:  He declares, “…Weeping may last for the night, But a shout of joy comes in the morning” (Psa. 30:5).  How refreshed, and ready for a new day, we can often be by a good night’s rest.  And when a day brings trouble and sadness, we can hope for a better tomorrow and realize its possibility.

I once heard a preacher ask the congregation, “What was your biggest problem a year ago?”  Often, folks don’t even remember what it was that had once troubled them so. Time itself has a way of healing. And even when that problem is remembered, the pain, distress, and other terrible feelings that had once accompanied it are also greatly reduced – if not completely gone.

A Nielsen’s research in January 2015 resulted in the following for the kind of New Year’s Resolutions many people are making:

1) Stay fit and healthy (37%)
2) Lose weight (32%)
3) Enjoy life to the fullest (28%)
4) Spend less, save more (25%)
5) Spend more time with family/friends (19%)
6) Get organized (18%)
7) Will not make any resolutions (16%)
8) Learn something new/new hobby (14%)
9) Travel more (14%)
10) Read more (12%)

From these, we do see many good resolutions that one could make – many good things for the body and the mind.  But what about our soul?  Should we not also be concerned for taking care of that each day of every year?  Yes, our bodies and minds need food and exercise; but our souls also need a spiritual food and involvement.  When Jesus’ body was beginning to starve to death after a 40-day fast, and the devil tempted Him by saying, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread,” the Lord responded, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD'” (Matt. 4:4). Let us, therefore, be in the habit of studying God’s word daily — and applying it, that we may live by it and have its life in us.  For Jesus says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (Jn. 6:63).  And even so were the words of the Father to Jesus. For He explains, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (Jn. 4:34). After urging the brethren to not “receive the grace of God in vain,” Paul then declares, “for He says, ‘AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU, AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.’  Behold, now is ‘THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,’ behold, now is ‘THE DAY OF SALVATION’” (2 Cor. 6:1,2).

What better thing could you do this day for your soul – if your soul needs saving – than to have all of your sins blotted out by the precious blood of Jesus Christ and to maintain that kind of relationship with God?

For though there is some good in striving to improve our physical bodies with diet and exercise, yet look at where Paul puts the emphasis in 1 Timothy 4:7-8: “But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”

I feel good about taking care of myself, avoiding junk foods, eating healthier, keeping up with some exercise; but what makes that even better is in having a relationship with God.  For then, no matter how much you can enjoy your life on earth, you can also know that the best is yet to come!

May we be thankful for each new day that God blesses us with, and take heed to Paul’s exhortation: “Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:15-17).

While we are here on earth in this realm of time, we are to prepare ourselves for that great eternity that is to come.  We should be heavenly minded.  As Jesus instructs: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:19-21).

It is also in this same passage where the Lord continues to show the need for this heavenly-mindedness: For rather than being worried about even the necessities of life (food, drink, and clothing), we should instead “…seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matt. 6:33-34).

“Therefore if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind 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).  This, of course, is another emphasis passage. It does not mean that we are not to have any thoughts pertaining to earthly things, but it is the spiritual things of God that need to be exalted above all else.

How do we seek first God’s kingdom and those things that are above?  We do that by looking to God’s word and making the right application of it in our lives.  And let us strive to do this each day of every year.  Though for some that might seem like a long time, yet how short it will actually be compared to eternity!  So no greater resolution can we make at any time than to simply submit our lives to Christ through obedience to His gospel and strive to be faithful unto Him throughout each day of which the Lord blesses us.

Let us all have that kind of resolve that we see in Joshua who declared to the people of his time:  “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).

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

-2-

A New Year, A New Beginning

The old year ends, a new begins
With pages clean and new;
And what is written on each page
will now depend on you.

You can’t relive the year that’s past,
Erasing every wrong;
For once a year – or day – is spent,
It is forever gone.

But don’t give up in dark despair
If you have failed some test;
Seek God’s forgiveness and resolve
Henceforth to do your best.

Resolve each precious day to do
Things good and kind and pure;
Though days and years may pass away,
These things shall still endure.

You know not where your path may lead
Nor what’s beyond the hill;
But know that God walks at your side,
If you will do His will.

All things are possible with God,
Though days be bright or dim;
So do your best and know that you
Can leave the rest to Him.

– anonymous
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Let us be remembering the family and friends of Lola Blevins (mother of Charlie Blevins, gospel preacher) who passed away January 4.  She was 95 years old and a member of the church of Christ.

Other folks to also continue to remember in prayer: the family and friends of Frederick Farmsworth Crosby.  And those with poor health or other physical problems: Mary Rogers, 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 in the nursing home.
——————–

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 31, 2017)

Contents:

1)  Godliness (Tom Edwards)
2) “Set My Face Like Flint” (Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
——————–

1Timothy4_8

-1-

Godliness
Tom Edwards

Paul had much to say to Timothy about godliness. He was to teach others to pray for all people everywhere – even “for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity” (1 Tim. 2:1,2).  And while “bodily discipline is only of little profit,” yet “godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).  Therefore, one should discipline himself “for the purpose of godliness” (v. 7) and pursue after  it, along with righteousness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness (cf. 1 Tim. 6:11).

Peter also shows of the need for godliness — along with moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, brotherly kindness, and love – which is to be diligently added to one’s faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). For what good would faith be without godliness and these other virtues?

Peter also directs the attention to where godliness can be acquired – and it is through God’s word.  For he says in 2 Peter 1:3, “seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

And in view of the fact that “the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire…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” (2 Pet. 3:7,10), we each should strive to be a people of “holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” (v. 11).

The Greek word for “godliness” in 2 Peter 3:11 is “eusebeia.” It is translated 14 times as “godliness” and once as “piety” in the New American Standard Bible.  Literally, it means “to worship well,” “to be very devout.”  The Random House Webster’s College Dictionary primarily defines godliness as “obeying and revering God; devout; pious.” W.E. Vine describes it as “that piety which, characterized by a God-ward attitude, does that which is well-pleasing to Him.”  According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, godliness denotes a “character and conduct determined by the principle of love or fear of God in the heart.”  And E.W. Bullinger brings out an interesting point that godliness is “The opposite of… religion.  Eusebia relates to real, true, vital, and spiritual relation with God; while threskeia [religion] relates to the outward acts of religious observance or ceremonies, which can be performed by the flesh. Our English word ‘religion’ was never used in the sense of true godliness. It always meant the outward forms of worship…”

We can clearly see Bullinger’s definition demonstrated by many of the scribes and Pharisees whose “godliness” was only on the surface — like an impressive veneer. In other words, they performed acts that made them appear righteous, while in actuality they were far from being godly.  As Jesus states in Matthew 23:27-28: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like white-washed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

This is also seen in God’s rebuke of Judah who, though they went through the motions of being religious with their observance of sacrifices and feast days, yet were far from being godly (cf. Isa. 1:10-21). Compare also Amos 5:21-27.

This is similar to those whom Paul had told Timothy about in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. There, the apostle lists numerous specific sins that individuals would be guilty of in the last days, when difficult times would come. In this group, he points out those who will be “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.”

Concerning this phrase, “holding to a form of godliness,” Bullinger points out that the Greek word for “form” (morphosis) has not only the meaning of “embodiment,” but also “form without substance.”  The latter describes these individuals who had a “form of godliness,” but in appearance only and not actuality.  Some other Bible translations render this as, “an outward form of godliness” (Analytical-Literal Translation), “having an appearance of godliness” (Douay-Rheims). The Contemporary English Version states, “Even though they will make a show of being religious, their religion won’t be real.” And the Weymouth New Testament renders it, “and will keep up a make-believe of piety and yet live in defiance of its power.”

When one is just going through the motions, that can lead to hypocrisy – and  true godliness and hypocrisy do not mix. Consider also Matthew  6:1-18, which warns against performing deeds merely to be seen (and praised) by men.  This was typical of many scribes and Pharisees.  Jesus states: “And everything they do they do with a view to being observed by men; for they widen their phylacteries and make the tassels large, and love the best seats at a dinner party or in the synagogues, and like to be bowed to in places of public resort, and to be addressed by men as ‘Rabbi’” (Matt. 23:5-7).

Instead, true godliness is characterized with a “God-ward attitude.” It means we are seeking to be seen and approved by God – rather than by man.  Unfortunately, gaining just the favor of men was the concern for many of the rulers.  As John writes: “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God” (Jn. 12:42-43).  These, therefore, had a “man-ward attitude” rather than a “God-ward” one.

So we might summarize godliness as pious conduct that is carried out with a desire to please God. It begins in the heart and is manifest in conduct and actions.  And as we have seen in this lesson, godliness is a most valuable and necessary virtue to possess.  May we, therefore, ever strive to develop more of it in our lives.

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

-2-

“Set My Face Like Flint”

The above title is taken from a prophecy concerning Christ in Isaiah 50:6-7.  It states,

“I gave My back to those who strike Me,
And My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard;
I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting.
For the Lord GOD helps Me,
Therefore, I am not disgraced;
Therefore, I have set My face like flint,
And I know that I will not be ashamed.”

To “set My face like flint” describes how determined the Lord was toward carrying out His Father’s will.

As we think about New Year’s Resolutions, may we also strive toward being as resolved and dedicated in our service to God as Jesus was!

– Tom
——————–

-3-

News & Notes

Let us continue to remember in prayer the family and friends of Frederick Farmsworth Crosby (Charles’ brother of Panama City, Florida) who passed away December 26 at 82 years of age.

Mary Rogers (Ashley Ray Law’s grandmother) had a better day on the 29th and was sitting up, eating, and talking coherently (which was the first time in 2 weeks);  but she is now not doing as well.  Her condition seems to change from day to day.

Lola Blevins (Charlie’s mother) is now bedridden at home on hospice care with blood clots in her lungs and cancer in various places. She is 95.

Let us also be remembering in prayer the family and friends of these who are critically ill.

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
——————–

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)