The Gospel Observer (August 26, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Living with Guilt (Dan Gatlin)
2) News & Notes
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Living With Guilt
Dan Gatlin

Do different sins carry different consequences? Well, that depends on how we look at it. From a spiritual perspective the answer is no. The Bible tells us that all sin separates us from God (Isa. 59:1-2). Though man distinguishes between “big sins” and “little sins,” the New Testament does not. James writes, “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law” (2:10-11). James is not saying that the murderer is also guilty of adultery, rather, that one stands before God as either forgiven or condemned. In our courts, if someone is convicted of stealing he cannot successfully argue, “I should be set free because I have never murdered, committed arson, or assaulted anyone.” We stand before the judge as either innocent or a violator of the law. Violating even one law, though we keep the rest, makes us guilty.

From the standpoint of church discipline all sin should carry the same consequence. It matters not whether a Christian is guilty of gossip, forsaking the assembly, fornication, or teaching false doctrine, if they refuse to repent (1 Jn. 5:16-17), discipline should follow (2 Thess. 3:6-15).

But the simple fact is that different sins can vary widely in their earthly consequences. One who repents of a “little white lie” (if there is such a thing) may immediately regain his reputation. But the young woman who repents of fornication may find herself with a child to raise. Both may be forgiven, but the consequence of the latter endures while the former is more easily forgotten.

The alcoholic/drug addict may destroy every important relationship he has. Family, friends, and neighbors, may all abandon him, yet if he “comes to himself” (Lk. 15:17) he can find forgiveness with God. His other relationships may never be repaired. The adulterer may find himself divorced and in a position where he can never remarry (as far as God’s law is concerned), but he also can obtain God’s forgiveness. Loneliness as a “single” may be the price he has to pay to be acceptable to God and to gain eternal life.

Living with the consequences of sins like these serve as a daily reminder of those sins. While God and man may forgive us, forgiving ourselves may be much more difficult. David wrote, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me” (Ps. 51:3). While God forgave him (2 Sam. 12:13), his guilty conscience continued to plague him. How can we deal with the guilt associated with the consequences of such sins? God’s word provides the answer.

1. Devote Yourself Completely To God. Being “double-minded” (James. 1:8) is how most Christians become entangled in sin in the first place. We cannot have one foot in the world and one foot in the church. Jesus warned, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24). Those who try to live a double life will eventually find themselves in a situation where they have to make a choice between living as the world and living righteously.

Consider the words of Paul in Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Paul’s life was not his own, it was entirely dedicated to Christ. The statement, “I have been crucified with Christ,” is explained in Gal. 5:24, “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” One does not have to be an apostle or preacher for these statements to apply to them. All must set aside their desires and do those things that are pleasing to God. The degree of our devotion to God is expressed by Paul, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (Col. 3:17). “Whatever you do in word or deed” is all encompassing, everything we say and do must comply with His word. God expects us to serve Him every day. We must pray (1 Thess. 5:17), study (Acts 17:11), and meditate (Phil. 4:8; Ps. 1:1-2) each day. Without taking such “drastic” action, we leave ourselves open to Satan’s attacks. Overcoming Satan’s snares takes preparation, discipline, and work.

2. Make Corrections Where You Can. Part of repentance includes restitution. We can’t rob a bank on Friday, be converted on Sunday, and decide to keep the money on Monday. Zacchaeus told Jesus, “if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold” (Lk. 19:8). While we can’t always make restitution for our sins, we can express sorrow for our sins and show by our life that we have changed. This is what John and Paul meant by the phrase, “fruits of repentance” (Matt. 8:3; Acts 26:20). If we make changes in our spiritual lives, others can’t help but see it (1 Pet. 4:3-5; Eph. 2:1-10).

3. Recognize That God Forgives You. Even if we don’t feel forgiven, we can know that we are. Of course, such knowledge comes only after we have repented, and only by trusting in God’s promise to forgive. Unfortunately, our emotions don’t always fall in line with our intellect. The apostle John wrote, “For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God” (1 Jn. 3:20-21). (John is not saying that we can continue in sin and God will overlook it. Why would the apostle who emphasized obedience to the commandments [Jn. 14:15; 1 Jn. 2:3-4, 3:22, 5:2-3; 2 Jn. 6] deny that obedience here?) We may know that God has forgiven our sins and that we are walking by His commandments, but somehow the feelings of guilt may remain. This is part of what John meant by saying, “if our heart condemns us.” In such cases, God is greater than our hearts. If the guilt subsides so that “our heart does not condemn us,” then we are blessed with “confidence toward God.”

While David felt the guilt of his sin (Ps. 51:3), he also recognized the blessedness of God’s forgiveness. Psalm 51 expresses David’s sorrow over his adultery and murder. In contrast, Psalm 32 expresses his joy over the forgiveness of those sins: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit” (vs. 1-2). The apostle Paul never forgot the fact that he was a persecutor of the church (1 Tim. 1:13). He referred to himself as “the least of the apostles” (1 Cor. 15:9) and “the least of all saints” (Eph. 3:8). Yet, even with such guilt he could say, “Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

4. Take Responsibility And Accept The Consequences. When God confronted Adam and Eve with their sin, Adam took the cowards way out: “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). He blamed Eve and then God when he knowingly chose to sin (1 Tim. 2:14). God has never accepted excuses, and He certainly will not on the day of judgment.

Again, we turn to David as an example. His statement to Nathan was simple, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Sam. 12:13). The consequence was: “Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house”  (2 Sam. 12:10). In years to follow David witnessed the rape of Tamar by Amnon, the murder of Amnon by Absalom, the overthrow of his throne by Absalom, and finally the death of Absalom. No doubt David remembered the words of this prophecy as “the sword” ravaged his family.

5. Use Guilty Feelings Positively. Today men go to great lengths to avoid feeling guilty. Doctors dispense drugs, Psychiatrists and Psychologists try to convince people that their sin is simply an “alternate lifestyle.” But avoiding guilt when we are guilty causes our conscience to become calloused (Eph. 4:17-19). In reality, a tender conscience is a blessing. Consider the good things guilt can do in our lives. First, it should motivate us to live humbly toward God and those we may have sinned against. Humility is the foundational attitude that makes our relationship with God acceptable. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:8-10).

Second, guilt can keep us from further sin by reminding us of the pain we’ve caused God, others, and ourselves. Men are inclined to think of the “passing pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:25) rather than the pain and suffering that later results. By focusing on the consequences of sin, and not its pleasures, we can avoid the trap that is awaiting us.

Third, guilt can remind us of the fate that awaits those who don’t make their lives right with God. “What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:21-23). Part of the torment of hell will be remembering the missed opportunities of this life (Lk. 16:25). Let us always make the most of those opportunities while there is still hope.

— Via The Auburn Beacon, August 16, 2015, Volume 6, Issue 41
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Editor’s Note: I would think the part in the above article that says, “Doctors dispense drugs” (to eliminate their patient’s guilty feelings) and “Psychiatrists and Psychologists try to convince people that their sin is simply an ‘alternate lifestyle'” are meant as generalizations, rather than that which would be true of all.
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News & Notes

Folks to be praying for:

Mary Aldrich (Danny Bartlett’s mother) has been in the hospital for two and a half weeks, due to her bowels having burst.  She is recovering, but slowly. (UPDATE: After spending more time in the hospital, she was transferred to a rehab clinic September 5, but had to return to the hospital after just one day.)

Baxter Cribbs has been suffering with some continual pain in his back for the last couple months because of a nerve on a spinal disc.  Sometimes it is a little better than others, but never totally gone.

Let us continue to remember the friends and family of Minnie Lanier (Bennie Medlock’s sister) who passed away recently

Richard Kristianson (Marie Pennock’s youngest brother) has been dealing with pancreatic cancer for about 5 years, having tried various treatments.  Lately, he has been having a little more difficulty with it.

Rex “Rick” Hadley, Jr.
(Anita Young’s brother) has been in the hospital with congestive heart failure.

I (Tom Edwards) have now been to the ER three times following my inguinal hernia surgery on August 9, due to the severe pain brought on by fluid retention that has required a catheter — even up to now. (UPDATE: On August 5, I had the third catheter removed by my urologist, but had to have another reinstalled later that same day.  I’ll see him again on the 19th for its removal and to find out if I can do without it.  I also heard from the hospital Monday that tests at the ER on August 24 show that I have a urinary track infection, which I am now taking medication for, and hoping that eliminating the infection will also eliminate my need for the catheter.)

Others to also remember in prayer: Danny Hutcheson (paralysis of all but one arm), Roger Montgomery (needs a liver transplant), Jim Lively (collagenous colitis), Shirley Davis (pain in legs and shoulder),  Bennie Medlock (aortic aneurysm), Deborah Medlock (hurt herself from a fall), Pat & A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Tommy Lindsey, Hannah Laughlin, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, 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: 2 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 (August 19, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) Jesus: Intolerant, Confrontational, and Exclusionary (Dan Gatlin)
2) News & Notes
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Jesus: Intolerant, Confrontational, and Exclusionary
Dan Gatlin

The typical denominational view of both Father and Son is that “God is love,” and only love. What is so easily forgotten is His severity (Romans 11:22) and wrath (II Thessalonians 1:3-10). Jesus is depicted as quiet, soft-spoken, harmless, almost a wimp (nothing could be further from the truth). The consequence of this one-sided view of Jesus is that while many believe in Him, they no longer fear Him. Yet, Jesus taught that we are to fear Him, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). This tolerant, inclusive, non-condemning Jesus will accept just about any scheme that man will devise or any form of worship so long as it is offered in sincerity. But Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23). Clearly, the ideas that many have about deity are contradicted by the scriptures.

Sadly, this political correctness has crept into the thinking of many Christians, including some who occupy pulpits and are entrusted with the leadership of congregations. For many the motivation is clear, a “cleaned up” Jesus who preaches a “cleaned up” gospel is less offensive and will attract more people. But man’s desire for God to be different than what He actually is does not make it so.

Truths That All Bible Believers Recognize

God is love. This is clearly stated in I John 4: 8, 16. His love for man caused Him to send His Son to die on the cross as a sin sacrifice (John 3:16), while man was an enemy (Romans 5:6-10). Truly, this degree of love is incomprehensible. But the forgotten side is that “the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24). These are not conflicting ideas, the two sides make a whole.

God wants all men to be saved. “For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Timothy 2:3-4). While God offers salvation to all mankind (Titus 2:11) the majority will reject His offer, and God will destroy them (Matthew 10:28; II Thessalonians 1:9).

God is no respecter of persons. The promise made to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3) extends to all the nations of the earth. That promise is fulfilled in Christ (Galatians 3:16). Though Christ and His disciples preached primarily to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6), God’s plan after Jesus ascended was that the gospel be preached to all men (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 10 & 11; Ephesians 2:11-16). While salvation is extended to all without partiality, only those in the Lord’s church have accepted the offer (Acts 20:28). All others are lost.

The Side Of Jesus That Is Often Ignored

Jesus Was Intolerant Of Sin And Those Who Promoted It. Much of His time on earth was spent exposing and condemning the sins of the Jewish leadership. He warned His disciples, “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and the Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6). Initially the disciples didn’t understand His words. But after Jesus explained, “they understood that He did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:12). His language in Matthew 23 is among the strongest in all the Bible. He referred to the Scribes and Pharisees as “hypocrites,” “serpents,” “brood of vipers.” He described them as “full of extortion and self-indulgence,” “full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” He said that they, “devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers.” He was intolerant of those who rejected Him after seeing His miracles, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you” (Matthew 11:21-22). Jesus was intolerant of those who set aside God’s law to follow human tradition (Matt. 15:3-9). He did not tolerate “false christs” and “false prophets” (Matthew 24:24). He told the Sadducees that they were “mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29).

Jesus’ disciples followed His example of intolerance. The early church did not tolerate the sin of Ananias and Sapphira, they were struck dead (Acts 5:1-11). When the Judaizing teachers came to Antioch, “Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them” (Acts 15:2). When these same false teachers tried to compel circumcision Paul “did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Galatians 2:5). Paul wrote, “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Ephesians 5:11). The New Testament occasionally exposed false teachers by name and the error they tried to teach (II Timothy 2:16-18).

The language of the early preachers was similar to that of Jesus in Matthew 23. Stephen called the Jews he was addressing “stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears” and “betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:51-52). The apostle Paul said of Elymas, “O full of all deceit and all fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?” (Acts 13:10). He referred to the false teachers who would come into the church at Ephesus as “savage wolves” (Acts 20:29). James called some of his readers “adulterers and adulteresses,” “sinners” and “double-minded” (James 4:1-10). Truth should never be given equal weight with error, and the faithful Christian will never tolerate that which opposed to truth.

Jesus Was Confrontational Toward Those Who Knew The Truth But Rejected It. Jesus intentionally provoked the religious leaders of His day. Often the controversy was related to the Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6; Luke 13:10-17). In Luke 14:1-6 we read, “Now it happened, as He went into the house of one of the rulers of the Pharisees to eat bread on the Sabbath, that they watched Him closely. And behold, there was a certain man before Him who had dropsy. And Jesus, answering, spoke to the lawyers and Pharisees, saying, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ But they kept silent. And He took him and healed him, and let him go. Then He answered them, saying, ‘Which of you, having a donkey or an ox that has fallen into a pit, will not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?’ And they could not answer Him regarding these things.”

Jesus also confronted people with the fact that He was deity. After healing a man on the Sabbath we read, “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God”  (John 5:16-18). On another occasion we read, “Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.’ Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by” (John 8:58-59).

Preachers in the early church were just as confrontational. After being arrested and released the apostles went right back into the temple preaching the truth (Acts 5:29) contrary to what they had been commanded. To describe Stephen’s sermon (Acts 7) as non-confrontational is to not have a clear grip on reality. When Peter separated himself from Gentile Christians Paul wrote, “Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision” (Galatians 2:11-12).

Jesus Excluded Many By His Teaching. It is not that Jesus wants to exclude anyone from salvation. As already stated His offer of forgiveness is extended to all men. But He will exclude those who reject His teachings. Yes, even those who claim to be His disciples. “Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this, said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can understand it?’ When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, ‘Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. And He said, ‘Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father.’ From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (John 6:60-66). Jesus recognized that His words were offensive. His follow up comments offended them further. He knew that many of His disciples would no longer follow Him, so why did He say what He did? To exclude those who would not accept His difficult teachings.

Jesus Advocated A Culture Of Obedience

Listen to His words: “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21). “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).

— Via La Vista church of Christ
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News & Notes

We extend our condolences to the family and friends of Minnie Lanier (Bennie Medlock’s sister) who recently passed away.  Five of her children had preceded her in death.

Richard Kristianson (Marie Pennock’s youngest brother) has been dealing with pancreatic cancer for about 5 years, having tried various treatments.  Lately, he has been having a little more difficulty with it.

Rex “Rick” Hadley, Jr. (Anita Young’s brother) has been in the hospital with congestive heart failure.

I (Tom Edwards) saw my urologist September 5.  The catheter was removed, but had to be reinstalled later that day.  The doctor told me that the fluid retention problem is not due to the hernia surgery (August 9), but that it is prostate related.  So I am to double the amount of Tamsulosin (“FlowMax”) per day, and then try again in 2 weeks to have the catheter removed to see if I no longer need it.

Baxter Cribbs has been dealing with back pain for the last few weeks, due to a nerve that is being pinched by a disc in his spine; but is now doing better.

Mary Aldrich (Danny Bartlett’s mother) had been in the hospital for a few weeks, due to her bowels having burst; but was transferred to a rehab unit September 5. She continues to recover, but slowly.

Others to also remember in prayer: Danny Hutcheson (had a massive brain bleed and is paralyzed, except for one arm), Roger Montgomery (needs a liver transplant), Jim Lively (collagenous colitis), Doyle Rittenhouse (healing from surgery of cancer removal), Shirley Davis (pain in legs and shoulder),  Bennie Medlock (aortic aneurysm), Deborah Medlock (hurt herself from a fall), Pat & A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Tommy Lindsey, Rhyan Thomas, Hannah Laughlin, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, 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: 2 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 (August 12, 2018)

Contents:

1) What is a Parable? (Bill Crews)
2) Is All Evil Sin? (Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes
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matt13_35

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What is a Parable?
Bill Crews

While this is a study of subject matter found in the New Testament, it is worthy of note that the word  “parable” can be found in English translations of the Old Testament. In both the King James Version and the American Standard Version it appears some eighteen times, all from the same word (MASHAL), which word is also rendered “by-word” (1), “like” (1) and “proverb” (19 times). In the New King James Version and the New American Standard Version the word “parable” appears far fewer times (just 4 or 5). The translators preferred “oracle” or “discourse” instead. MASHAL is defined in Strong’s Concordance as “a pithy maxim, usually of a metaphorical nature; hence a simile (as an adage, poem, discourse).” In Wilson’s Old Testament Word Studies it is defined as “a comparison, similitude, parable; a sentiment, maxim; a proverb, by-word, satire.”

We also find some Old Testament passages that have to do with the parables of Christ in the New Testament. Psalm 78:2 (attributed to Asaph) says, “I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old.” In Matthew 13:34-35 this passage is referred to as a prophecy which Jesus fulfilled by speaking in parables. It reads: “All these things Jesus spoke to the multitude in parables; and without a parable He did not speak to them, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet saying: ‘I will open My mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.’” Isaiah 6:9-10 apparently has a dual application — to the Israelites in Isaiah’s day and to the Jews who heard the parables of Jesus. See Matthew 13:14-15 where this Isaiah passage is quoted and which appears between the parable of the sower (vv. 1-9) and the explanation of that parable (vv. 18-23).

The word “parable” in the New Testament, except for John 10:6 (PAROIMIA in the original, meaning an “adage” or “dark saying,” rendered “parable” only in the KJV and the ASV), is always from the Greek word PARABOLE, a word which the translators chose, not to translate, but to transliterate (transpose the Greek letters into English letters) and anglicize (give it an English-sounding ending). You already knew that this is how they came up with “baptize” and “baptism” rather than translating the Greek words for “im-merse” and “immersion.” The word “parable” appears sixteen times in Matthew, twelve times in Mark, seventeen times in Luke, and once in John in some translations (as noted previously). We will be examining some of the parables spoken by Jesus in the first three books of the New Testament. In some instances they are specifically referred to as parables; in others they are not, even though it is obvious that they are.

What is a “Parable”?

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of N.T. Words (Vol. III, p. 158) says, “PARABOLE — literally denotes a placing beside (akin to paraballo, to throw or lay beside, to compare). It signifies a placing of one thing beside another with a view to comparison. It is generally of a somewhat lengthy utterance or narrative drawn from nature or human circumstances, the object of which is to set forth a spiritual lesson … sometimes it is used of a short saying or proverb.” Vine’s also warns of two dangers: “that of ignoring the important features, and that of trying to make all the details mean something.”
Generally, a parable was designed to teach one central truth, and was called for by the circumstances present and the attitude of the listeners for whom it was intended. J. H. Thayer’s A Greek-English Lexicon of the N. T., p. 479, says of PARABOLE: “1. a placing of one thing by the side of another, juxtaposition, as of ships in battle … 2. metaphorically, a comparing, comparison of one thing with another, likeness, similitude … specifically, a narrative, fictitious but agreeable to the laws and usages of human life, by which either the duties of men or things of God, particularly the nature and history of God’s kingdom are figuratively portrayed … 3. a pithy and instructive saying, involving some likeness or comparison and having perceptive or admonitory force; an aphorism, a maxim…”

A parable, unlike a fable (which attributes human characteristics and actions to animals, plants and inanimate things) is a story or statement involving people and things and actions that were true to life and familiar to those who were listening. Its purpose was to bring out, illustrate and emphasize a spiritual lesson or lessons. At times Jesus explained the meaning. At times He did so when asked by His disciples. But usually He simply told the parable, allowing the listeners to ponder the meaning. A common and abbreviated way of putting it: “A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning.” A definition not quite broad enough.

All of the New Testament parables were spoken by Jesus and appear in Matthew, Mark and Luke. There are none in John, Acts or the epistles (although the latter do contain rhetorical allegories and similes). The Revelation is filled with metaphorical language (signs and symbols), but contains no parables. Mark contains only one parable (the Seed Growing in Secret, 4:26) not found in Matthew or Luke; the others, the Sower, the Mustard Seed and the Wicked Husbandmen, are also in Matthew and Luke. Matthew and Luke contain two in common, the Leaven (Matt. 13:33 and Lk. 13:20-21) and the Lost Sheep (Matt. 18:12ff and Lk. 15:3ff; not necessarily spoken on the same occasion). Ten parables are peculiar to Matthew: the Tares, the Hidden Treasure, the Pearl of Great Price, the Draw Net, the Unmerciful Servant, the Laborers in the Vineyard, the Two Sons, the Marriage of the King’s Son, the Ten Virgins and the Talents. Seventeen parables are peculiar to Luke: the Two Debtors, the Good Samaritan, the Friend at Midnight, the Rich Fool, the Watchful Servants, the Barren Fig Tree, the Chief Seats, the Great Supper, the Rash Builder, the Rash King, the Lost Coin, the Lost Son(s), the Unrighteous Steward, the Unprofitable Servant, the Unrighteous Judge, the Pharisee and the Publican and the Pounds.

The parables of Christ are striking and designed to make a deep impression, thus making it easier to remember the lessons they were designed to teach. They are drawn from such categories as building or construction, farming, tending animals, cooking and housekeeping, finding treasures, fishing, stewardship, weddings, marriage and other feasts, masters and slaves, employers and employees, worshiping God in prayer, persistence in prayer, inheritances, relation of the old covenant to the new and other matters. The lessons they teach have to do with individual responsibilities, duties toward others, the mercy of God, forgiving and being forgiven, the concern of God for the lost, the worth of citizenship in the Lord’s kingdom, the results of preaching the gospel, the nature of the Lord’s kingdom and being prepared for the coming judgment. Many are introduced with the words: “the kingdom of heaven (or God) is like …”  The kingdom would be open to Gentiles as well as Jews. As the end of His ministry drew near and the time for His crucifixion came closer, the parables became more pointed in their depiction of the unbelieving Jewish leaders.

In the next article we will consider the Lord’s reasons for teaching in parables and some things that will aid in understanding their lessons

— Via Roanridge Reader, August 5, 2018, Volume 33, Issue 31, pages 2-3
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Is All Evil Sin?
Tom Edwards

All sin is evil, but not all evil is sin. Sometimes “evil” (in the Bible) is referring to “distress, misery, injury, calamity” (part of Brown-Driver-Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions for “evil” H7451). For example, God said, “…I am bringing calamity on the house of Jeroboam, and will cut off from Jeroboam every male person, both bond and free in Israel, and I will make a clean sweep of the house of Jeroboam…” (1 Kings 14:10, NASB). The LORD also speaks of bringing “calamity on Jerusalem and Judah” (2 Kings 21:12, NASB). The King James Version uses the word “evil” (instead of “calamity”) in these passages. And the fact that it was the Lord Himself who brought about this “evil” indicates that it could not have been something sinful. For the Lord has never sinned, nor ever will.
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News & Notes

Rex “Rick” Hadley, Jr. (Anita Young’s brother) is in the hospital with congestive heart failure.

Jim Lively has been diagnosed with collagenous colitis, which only about 42 people out of 100,000 have, and recently began trying some new medication for it.

Rick Cuthbertson began his chemo treatments on Wednesday, but had an adverse reaction toward it.

Doyle Rittenhouse is to be careful while he heals from recent surgeries that involved the removal of two malignant spots.

I (Tom Edwards) had to go into ER, April 12 for about 5 hours, beginning around 7:40 p.m., due to fluid retention that required a catheter, following the recent hernia surgery.

Others to also remember in prayer: Danny Hutcheson (had a massive brain bleed and is paralyzed, except for one arm), Roger Montgomery (needs a liver transplant), Shirley Davis (pain in legs and shoulder),  Bennie Medlock (aortic aneurysm), Danny Bartlett (leg muscle problem), Deborah Medlock, Pat & A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Tommy Lindsey, Rhyan Thomas, Hannah Laughlin, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, 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: 2 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 (August 5, 2018)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
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Contents:

1) The Sovereignty of God (Gene Frost)
2) News & Notes
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psa103_19
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The Sovereignty of God
Gene Frost

Sovereignty is the state of being sovereign, which is to be “above or superior to all others; chief; greatest; supreme.” We illustrate:

In all the realm, the king was sovereign. There was no one holding  greater rank, with greater authority, or greater power. He willed that on a certain day, from the rising of the sun until the setting of the same, all who came before him and pledged their allegiance personally would receive a special blessing from the king himself. The time was sufficient to allow every subject to appear, and none would be turned away. The day came and many made their appearance and pledged their allegiance. However, the disgruntled and rebellious refused to humble themselves before the king. True to his promise, the king graciously bestowed great favor upon the humble, a reward far exceeding what any had imagined.

Question: Did the king surrender his sovereignty by stipulating conditions in order to receive his blessings? Did he cease being supreme in the kingdom when his subjects sought his favor and obeyed his orders? Did he lose control of his power by fulfilling his promise? Was the bestowal of blessings still within his power or had he thereby lost control? Did he still have power over who were blessed when the number was determined by the choice his subjects made? Did the action of his subjects, in making a choice to submit or refuse, in any wise diminish his authority and power? Who could rightly deny that the sovereign king was still sovereign king after he blessed his subjects?

I wouldn’t suppose anyone would have a problem with this scenario. Why is it then, when it comes to the sovereignty of God, Calvinists tell us that He cannot offer blessings to the obedient without losing that sovereignty? When God sets forth conditions for man’s salvation, allowing man the freedom to either humbly obey or obstinately refuse, He is in complete control of whom He will bless and whom He will refuse. His role and authority remain supreme. Whatever man does is without effect upon God’s will; God is the ultimate determiner, who acts according as He has promised. There is a body of the saved, those who meet His requirements, and a body of the lost, who live and die in sin alienated from Him. The body of the saved consists of those who receive salvation which He offers “in Christ.” Those in Christ, who remain faithful in Christ, constitute His elect (Ezekiel 18:26; Hebrews 6:4-6; I Corinthians 15:1-2). They are predestined to everlasting life. Predestined, not as individuals without regard to character, but as those “in Christ,” who love His appearing (II Timothy 4:8). Whether one is among the saved or not depends upon his response to the grace of God, which is extended to all men (Titus 2:11-12; I John 2:2). Therefore man has the free will to choose (Joshua 24:15). In either case, God is sovereign, fully in control.

Calvinists’ Spin

Calvinists put a spin on the word “sovereign” that assumes that He had to pre-program and predetermine everything — every thought, every action, every event, to the minutest detail. Of course, their theological assumption is not inherent in the word. They use their contrived definition to formulate doctrines, doctrines not set forth in Scripture and will not stand the test of investigation standing alone. By using “sovereignty” (their definition), they beg the question. This is a fact they recognize. For example, they cannot reconcile their “sovereignty” with “human responsibility.” How reasonable and just is it for God to hold man responsible for what he thinks and does when God Himself supposedly pre-programmed him to be as he is? Here is what Calvinists admit:

“The one thing that man cannot do is reconcile the responsibility of man and the sovereignty of God.”

“Both of these are equally true – they are both in the Bible – and we have no trouble in our minds when we consider them separately, but, we cannot (in our minds) put them together.”

Of errors to be avoided, we are told: “probably the most common error is to try to reconcile God’s Sovereignty and Man’s Responsibility.”

“They are both in the Bible – both true – but humanly we cannot reconcile them with each other.”

Can you imagine that God gave us a revelation of His will which defies our reason, that logically is contradictory! Au contraire! There is no conflict between God’s sovereignty, when properly defined and as His supremacy is used in Scripture, and man’s responsibility before God. It is Calvinist theology that is contradictory, that defies reason.

Fixed, Unchangeable Intents

One mistake Calvinists make about the sovereignty of God is to assume that every decree of God is absolute and unchangeable, that there are no contingencies with God. Man has no choice that affects God’s actions. In contrast, observe the following:

“At one moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to uproot, to pull down, or to destroy it; if that nation against which I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent concerning the calamity I planned to bring on it. Or at another moment I might speak concerning a nation or concerning a kingdom to build up or to plant it;  if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it” (Jeremiah 18:7-10).

God may plan to destroy a wicked nation, but if it turns to  God He will relent. Either course is within His power and authority. His spoken will and intention is not absolute and unchangeable. It is contingent upon man’s behavior. Thus God “relents or changes his dealings with men according to his sovereign purposes” [Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. II, p. 571]. See also Ezekiel 3:17-21 and I Samuel 23:11-13.

Consider the following passages where God decreed, but changed it.

God told Hezekiah to set his house in order because he would not live; he would die. Hezekiah prayed to God. In response God said, “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will heal thee: on the third day thou shalt go up unto the house of the LORD. And I will add unto thy days fifteen years” (II Kings 20:1-6).

God’s decree was not fixed, and as the situation changed, God’s will changed. You see, it is as God says, “The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much”  (James 5:16). See also Jonah 3:4,10.

Contingency is seen in many passages:

“And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).

Whoever wills (determines, chooses) to respond to God’s invitation may, or he may choose not. God will respond accordingly. The Calvinist says, “No, man’s will is not involved. When the Spirit and bride say, ‘come,’ only those whom God has elected will come, not of their own will but as predetermined; they are pre-programmed to come.”

“Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man” (Matthew 7:24).

The Calvinist responds, “No, he that does as the Lord orders is not ‘wise’… he is pre-programmed. He does what he must. In fact, one may be dull, but if God has elected him he will do as programmed to do. On the other hand, a non-elected wise man may turn away in spite of his wisdom simply because it is God’s pleasure that he be eternally lost.”

In writing this article, the only difficulty in refuting the Calvinist’s theological bluster was in selecting passages from a wealth of Scripture which expose its fallacy.

Our God is Sovereign

“The LORD has established His throne in the heavens; And His sovereignty rules over all” (Psalms 103:19).

“He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen” (I Timothy 6:15-16).

— via Articles for the La Vista church of Christ
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News & Notes

Rex “Rick” Hadley, Jr. (Anita Young’s brother) is in the hospital with congestive heart failure.

Jim Lively has been diagnosed with Collagenous colitis, which only about 42 people out of 100,000 have, and recently began trying some new medication for it.

Rick Cuthbertson began his chemo treatments on Wednesday, but had an adverse reaction toward it.

Doyle Rittenhouse is to be careful while he heals from recent surgeries that involved the removal of two malignant spots.

Others to also remember in prayer: Danny Hutcheson (had a massive brain bleed and is paralyzed, except for one arm), Roger Montgomery (needs a liver transplant), Shirley Davis (pain in legs and shoulder),  Bennie Medlock (aortic aneurysm), Deborah Medlock, Pat & A.J. Joyner, Rex & Frankie Hadley, Tommy Lindsey, Rhyan Thomas, Hannah Laughlin, Misty Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, 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: 2 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)