The Gospel Observer (February 18, 2018)

Contents:

1) Bible Prophecy (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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Isa9_6a

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Bible Prophecy
Tom Edwards

One of the reasons we can accept the Bible as being divinely inspired is because of the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.  Consider, for instance, the following which pertain to the first promise of the Messiah and those prophecies concerning and pointing to the time of and around His birth:

According to Genesis 3:15, Christ would be born of a woman.  But before one would say, “Well, what is so special about that?,” we must realize that what makes it extraordinary is that Jesus had been with God before the world began and the same in Deity (cf. Jn. 1:1-3); but instead of just coming into this world, already appearing as a man, as some angels have done, Jesus entered, instead, in the form of an infant that had to grow and develop into manhood.

But notice what else Genesis 3:15 shows in God’s statement to Satan (who was in the form of a serpent):

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.”

The term “seed” is sometimes used in the Bible to refer to descendants.  Notice, for example, Genesis 22:17-18 where God tells Abraham, “indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies.  In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.”

In this passage, “seed” is not only used to refer to Abraham’s descendants (as also seen in Psalm 105:6), but, in addition, to a specific One, as Paul shows in Galatians 3:16: “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ.”

That the serpent would “bruise” Christ on the heel, while Jesus would “bruise” the serpent on the head, figuratively refers to the crucifixion of Christ and what Jesus was able to accomplish by it.  For though Jesus had to go through great suffering and death, yet He also, through that death, was able to “render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14-15).

Also, in going along with Christ’s birth (and even though He has existed prior to the creation), is that the birth would be from one who was a virgin.  As also prophesied, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14).

Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit.  The account declares concerning Joseph and Mary that “before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 1:18).  Having not initially known that, Joseph was planning on sending Mary away secretly;  but, prior to doing so, an angel of the Lord assured him that “the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).

Matthew then points out that “…this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: ‘BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,’ which translated means, ‘GOD WITH US’” (v. 23).

And to think that even way back during the time of Adam and Eve, while they were still in the garden of Eden and before they became parents, God had indicated Satan’s defeat at Calvary by Jesus’ death on the cross that brought about that triumph – and a triumph, as we see in the New Testament, that would lead to the victory of many!

As we continue on, not only would Jesus be born of a virgin and of the lineage of Abraham, but He would also be a descendant of David (Acts 2:29-32; Matt. 1:1).  Jesus Himself acknowledged this as well: “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star” (Rev. 22:16).  But, of course, as Paul shows, Jesus being “born of a descendant of David” was only “according to the flesh” (Rom. 1:3).  For that is the part of Christ that did have a beginning, while His true essence has always existed.  And when it comes to the Deity-side of Jesus, He was “declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord” (v. 4). While on earth, Jesus was the “Son of Man” (Luke 22:48) as well as the “Son of God” (John 10:36).

It is also interesting to see that the very place where Jesus would be born was prophesied several centuries prior.  For Micah wrote about 700 to 681 B.C. and foretells:

“But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Too little to be among the clans of Judah,
From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel.
His goings  forth are from long ago,
From the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).

“Ephrathah” is an ancient name of Bethlehem.  It is also seen as Ephrath (Gen. 35:16,19; Gen. 48:7). That Bethlehem would be the place of Christ’s birth is also referred to in Matthew 2:5-6.  For in answering Herod’s question concerning where the Messiah was to be born, the chief priests and scribes said to him: “…’In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet: “AND YOU, BETHLEHEM, LAND OF JUDAH, ARE BY NO MEANS LEAST AMONG THE LEADERS OF JUDAH; FOR OUT OF YOU SHALL COME FORTH A RULER WHO WILL SHEPHERD MY PEOPLE ISRAEL.”’”  See also Matthew 2:1.

A terrible event of great sadness was also prophesied that would have one of its fulfillments to take place around the time of the birth of Jesus:

“Thus says the LORD,
‘A voice is heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
She refuses to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more’” (Jer. 31:15).

This second fulfillment of this dual prophecy is seen in Matthew 2:16-18: “Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi he became very enraged and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.  Then what had been spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled…,” which goes on to cite Jeremiah 31:15, as seen above, but with just a slight change in wording.

Why is Rachel the one mentioned as mourning for her children?  Though there are  several different Ramahs in the Bible, this particular one was in the territory of Benjamin, which was settled by those who could trace their lineage back to Jacob and Rachel.  Hence, we read of Rachel weeping over her children (descendants) to figuratively express the sorrowful events that would come to them (and though she had long been deceased). “Ramah was intimately connected with one of the saddest epochs of Jewish history.”  The leading residents of Jerusalem who survived Nebuchadnezzar’s attack on the city had been placed under guard at Ramah, while the Babylonians continued to plunder Jerusalem, destroy the temple and the palace, and cause other ruin.  Jeremiah had also been held captive at Ramah (Jer. 40:1).  The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature further states: “Perhaps there was also a slaughter… of the captives as, from age, weakness, or poverty” who “were not worth the long transport across the desert to Babylon. There, in that heart-rending scene of captives in chains wailing over slaughtered kindred and desolated sanctuaries, was fulfilled the first phase of the prophecy uttered only a few years before: ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping: Rachel weeping for her children… ’ That mourning was typical of another which took place six centuries later, when the infants of Bethlehem were murdered, and the second phase of the prophecy was fulfilled (Matt. 2:17).”

Let us close with the following prophecy concerning Jesus who was a very special “seed” indeed — and of far superior worth and value, as Isaiah 9:6-7 sets forth:

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
And the government will rest on His shoulders;
And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Eternal Father [the Father of Eternity], Prince of Peace.
There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
On the throne of David and over his kingdom,
To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness
From then on and forevermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”

How glad and thankful we can be that Jesus fulfilled these prophecies written about Him, that He came to our rescue, and that He manifested His love in the greatest of all ways!

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

Alice Jean Corbitt Young (Anita’s mother-in-law) passed away February 14 at the age of 87. She had lived in Ware County all her life and was preceded in death by two of her daughters (Jean Hancock and Barbara Darsey) and two of her sons (Albert and Robert). She had also outlived her husband James and all seven of her siblings.  Among her survivors are two daughters: Mary Hampton (husband Danny) and Sandra Morgan (husband Stanley); one son: James (wife Harriet); and 30 grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren, and a great great grandchild, along with many other relatives.  We extend our condolences to all her family and friends.

Though Penny Medlock is now doing better, the illness seems to have made its way to her mother Deborah who has seen a doctor for it and is being treated with medication.

Cedell Fletcher has been back in the hospital.

Charles Crosby is doing well, but still has several more weeks before receiving the new knee.

Let us also remember in prayer Jim Lively,  A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, Frankie Hadley, Meadern Anderson, Mary Rogers, Belinda Medlock, James Green, Bennie Medlock, Judy Daugherty, Misty & Jason Thornton, Michelle Rittenhouse, Rachael Gerbing, Jarvis Williams, and Mary Vandevander.
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The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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Tebeau Street
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Tuesday: 
7 p.m. (Ladies’ Bible class)
Wednesday:
 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: 
Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
Tom@ThomasTEdwards.com
https://thegospelobserver.wordpress.com (Gospel Observer website with pictures in WordPress)
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://tebeaustreetchurchofchrist.org/
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)

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Gospel Observer (February 11, 2018)

Contents:

1) Motivated by God’s Love (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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Rom2_4

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Motivated by God’s Love
Tom Edwards

When asked of which commandment is the greatest of all, Jesus replied that it is to “LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH” (Mark 12:30). He then also went on to say, “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (v. 31).

What a worthy, noble, and needed pursuit for all of us today!  Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone did live according to these holy principles of love toward God and toward one another?  What great changes for the better there would be!

And what should motivate us toward doing our part in this?  Would it not be the great love that God has shown to us – and even while we were sinners and so undeserving? As Paul writes to the Roman brethren:

“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more than, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Rom. 5:6-10).

The word “love,” in verses 5 and 8, is from the Greek word agape. E.W. Bullinger points out that it is “A word not found in the profane writers, nor in Philo and Josephus, nor in Acts, Mark, and James. It is unknown to writers outside of the N.T.  Philanthropy was the highest word used by the Greeks, which is a very different thing to [agape], and even far lower than [philadelphia]… [Agape] denotes the love which springs from admiration and veneration, and which chooses its object with decision of will, and devotes a self-denying and compassionate devotion to it. Love in its fullest conceivable form.”

That God is love is probably one of the first things we had learned about Him. And what an amazing love that is! For though we have been so unworthy, yet God showed His love to the world in the greatest way possible by giving His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who willingly came to this world to ultimately suffer a most cruel and torturous death on the cross in order to make an atonement for every sinner.

John speaks of this love in 1 John 4:10, by saying, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” The Greek word for “propitiation” (hilasmos) has been defined as “an appeasing” (Thayer), an “atoning sacrifice, sin offering…expiation; one who makes propitiation/expiation” (Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament). Jesus is that greatest-of-all sacrifice, and the only one that can truly blot out sin (cf. Heb. 10:4; Eph. 1:7; 1 Thess. 5:10).

Among his “Believe-It-Or-Not” writings, Robert Ripley makes mention of the longest love letter ever written. It was done so by a French painter by the name of Marcel de Leclure in 1875. Though the letter contained just three words – “Je vous aime” (I love you) – yet the statement was written 1,875,000 times! And not only was it written that many times, but it was also said 3,750,000 times in the process, for Leclure would dictate the statement each time to a secretary who then would recite it back, along with writing it down. So it was said and written a total of 5,625,000 times!

God, of course, as we have seen, does much more than acknowledge His love for us in words. For He has also demonstrated that by what He has done for us – as we especially see in the passages of the Lord’s crucifixion for our transgressions. So when we think of Jesus suffering and dying on the cross for all of us sinners, we can realize that He loved us that much and has, thus, truly proven His love for His Father and for humanity.

In view of what the Lord has already done for us, what great expectation the Christian can have toward whatever else God would do on our behalf. For as Paul declares, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (Rom. 8:32).

The story has been told about an eight-year old boy named Bradley who one morning at breakfast gave his mother the following bill:

Mother owes Bradley:
For running errands……….25 cents.
For being good………………10 cents.
For taking music lessons…..15 cents.
Extras…………………………….5 cents.
Total that Mother
owes Bradley………………..55 cents.

On reading this, the mother smiled; but she remained silent.  When lunch time came, Bradley then saw on his plate the bill he had left — and along with it was 55 cents.  Of course, he was glad to see that. But then he noticed another piece of paper, similar to his, that had been neatly folded by his plate. When he opened it, he saw that it was a bill from his mother, which read:

Bradley owes Mother:
For being good to him…………………………nothing.
For nursing him through his long illness
with scarlet fever…..………………………..nothing.
For clothes and shoes and gloves
and play things………………………………nothing.
For all his meals and
his beautiful room………………………….nothing.

Total that Bradley owes Mother……………nothing.

The story then tenderly closes by saying: “…the tears came into Bradley’s eyes, and he put his arms around his mother’s neck, and he placed his hand with the fifty-five cents in her hand, and said: ‘Take the money all back, Mother, and just let me love you and do things for you for nothing.”

Bradley came to realize just how much his mother loved him, and it motivated him toward wanting to show his love to her in return.

In similar manner, have we realized all that God has done for us in showing His love?  And have we allowed that love to stimulate us toward living for Him?  We certainly owe the Lord more than we could ever pay Him back.

But how many today, however, act as if God owes them something? Yet, even our obedience to His word is still part of God’s grace and not a work of merit on our part. For we can do nothing to earn or deserve God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness.  Rather, it is strictly because God chose to be merciful and extend His lovingkindness to the world that we can have His blessings when we meet His conditions.  For Jesus died for every transgressor, but we must submit ourselves to His plan of salvation in order to benefit from that atoning sacrifice.

May we, therefore, never take for granted all the things which God has done and made possible for us, and may that love He has shown be that which will also prompt us in our worship and service to Him.  “For the love of Christ compels us…” (2 Cor. 5:14, NKJV).

(All Scripture from the NASB unless otherwise indicated.)
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“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you, and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Ephesians 5:1-2, NASB).
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News & Notes

For the next few weeks, Charles Crosby will be seeing his doctor every Wednesday to check on how well the knee area is healing from infection.  As of yesterday’s update, things are going well for Charles; and he has very little pain, for which we are glad and thankful.

Frankie Hadley had another mini stroke recently, but is now back home.

Not only has it been back trouble that Melotine Davis has been dealing with, but also with fibromyalgia that has been causing pain in her legs.

Michelle Rittenhouse recently had surgery on her neck that involved the fusing of 4 discs and the elimination of 4 spurs.

Penny Medlock had been feeling sick and experiencing the symptoms of a bad cold last week.

Let us continue to also remember in prayer the following who also have poor health or other ailments: Jim Lively,  A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, 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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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) 281-9917
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 (February 4, 2018)

Contents:

1) The “Sinner’s Prayer” (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
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sinner's prayer

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The “Sinner’s Prayer”
Tom Edwards

A common misconception among many denominations, which is often taught and practiced today, is that non-Christians can be forgiven and become Christians by praying a “sinner’s prayer” to invite Jesus into their hearts.

Here is one such example from a very popular tract, entitled, Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?, written by Bill Bright, back in 1952, the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ in 1951.  In this tract, the reader is told, “You can receive Christ right now by faith through prayer…” The following suggested prayer is then given: “Lord Jesus, I need you. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be.” The tract then goes on to say, “Does this prayer express the desire of your heart? If it does, I invite you to pray this prayer right now, and Christ will come into your life, as He promised.”

Out of curiosity, I searched to find how many of these tracts have been printed and distributed since its beginning.  Here is what some different  sources said: “well over 25 million printed copies being distributed by 1980” (R.K. Johnston, Four Spiritual Laws).  Another source stated, “over one hundred million copies have been distributed in all the major languages of the world” (Crustore.org, 4 Spiritual Laws),  while others have placed the number at “Approximately 1.5 billion” (Mike Riley, Four Flaws in the Four Spiritual Laws), and even “over 2.5 billion” and in “over 200 languages” (Steve Murrell, A Short History of Campus Ministry, December 2016).   So I can not give an exact answer, but definitely many have been printed and distributed over all these years.

I’m sorry to say that before becoming a Christian in 1977, I had also mistakenly passed out many of these tracts and others that contained a similar kind of “sinner’s prayer.”

I cite from this particular tract because I was overwhelmed with how many people it has been distributed to.  And that is just one particular tract!  But then when we add that to the many other tracts that also teach the “sinner’s prayer” to become a Christian, is there any wonder why so many people do not see baptism as having any connection with conversion — but as only for those who are already “saved”?

Where in the Bible, however, can we find the verses for the New Testament Age, which began after the Lord’s crucifixion, in which prayer is shown as being the means whereby a non-Christian can be forgiven and become a Christian?

The scriptures often cited to attempt to prove the “sinner’s prayer” are verses that pertain to Christians who have sinned and need to be forgiven. For instance, when John writes, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jn. 1:9), he was writing to Christians: “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God…” (1 Jn. 3:1-2).

Another passage often misused is Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.” But to whom is Jesus saying this? Not to the world in general, but to the church at Laodicea that had become  lukewarm (indifferent toward spiritual things); and the Lord was about ready to “vomit” them out (v. 16, NKJV).

Another passage that is often misapplied today is Acts 2:21 in which Peter is quoting Joel’s prophecy and ends by saying, “And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Though that might sound like a “sinner’s prayer,” what does this same chapter show that individuals did in order to be forgiven and become Christians? Did they pray a “sinner’s prayer”?  Were they instructed to?

In reading on, we see that they were told by the apostle Peter to “know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ – this Jesus whom you crucified” (v. 36). So they were to believe in who Jesus was — but was that all?

Notice that “when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (v. 37). The use of the word “Brethren” was in the sense of just being fellow Jews — rather than fellow Christians.  For it was mandatory for all the male Jews to be in Jerusalem to observe the Jewish feast of Pentecost, which they had been doing.  So these who asked that question were not yet Christians – and that is why they are asking.  Also, the fact that they were “pierced to the heart” indicates they had believed the message about Jesus and were now feeling conviction for their sins.

So how did Peter answer their question of “what shall we do?” As noted, he already told them of the need to believe in Jesus, before they even asked that question; but now Peter is showing that it takes more than merely a belief toward whom Jesus is — and, apparently, they understood that, too. For in answering them, Peter instructed, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins…” (v. 38).

The Greek word for “for” (eis), in the phrase “for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38), does not mean “because of” (dia).  Rather, it is a word that means “into,” which is its most common translation in more than a thousand verses of the New Testament.  It is also seen, for example, in Matthew 2:11: “After coming INTO [eis] the house they saw the Child…” In addition, the phrase “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38, KJV) is also seen in Matthew 26:28, where Jesus declares, “for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many FOR [eis] the remission of sins” (KJV, emphasis mine).  Did Jesus suffer and die because sins had already been forgiven — or did He do so in order that they could be?  Baptism, when preceded with the other necessary steps, is that which is “unto” or “into” the forgiveness of sins.  This can also be inferred from the fact that the need to be baptized is coupled with the need to repent.  For why does one repent?  Do we do so because our sins have already been forgiven?  Or is repentance one of the steps toward obtaining that forgiveness?

Notice in Peter’s response (Acts 2:38) to their question of “what shall we do?” (v. 37), that he did not instruct them to pray a “sinner’s prayer” — nor do we see them doing that.

The Bible shows that baptism is that last step that puts one into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27), after believing, repenting, and confessing faith in Christ. Baptism is, therefore, also shown to be the way in which we “call” upon the Lord to be forgiven and become a Christian. Corresponding to that is what Peter declares in 1 Peter 3:21, when he says, “Baptism…now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a clear conscience…”  Webster shows that the word “appeal” means primarily “an earnest plea” or “entreaty.” And Peter is showing that baptism (when preceded by the other steps that lead to salvation) is how we are making that “plea” – or, in other words, “calling” on the Lord in a non-verbal way.

This is actually what we also see in the case of Saul of Tarsus who was told by Ananias to “Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22:16). So baptism was involved in Saul’s calling on the Lord.

Some folks, however, might think that Paul’s “calling on His name” was a “sinner’s prayer.” But let us back up a few days in Paul’s life from his baptism. In Acts 9, 22, and 26, we have the accounts of Saul meeting the Lord on the road to Damascus. It was at that time that Saul came to believe in Jesus, but was not yet forgiven of his sins. Saul had asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” And Jesus said to him, “Get up and go on into Damascus, and there you will be told of all that has been appointed for you to do” (Acts 22:10). Because of the great light that had blinded Saul, he was then led into Damascus by those who had been with him (v. 11). For three days in that city, Saul fasted – even going without drink (Acts 9:9). And during that time he was praying (v. 11). What do you think he was praying about? For this man who had always strove so diligently to do what he believed was right in his service to God, and then to learn how wrong he had been in persecuting Christians and consenting to their death – a major error that caused him to think of himself as the “chief” of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) – what would you imagine he was probably praying again and again? Would it not be something like, “Lord, I have sinned greatly.  Please have mercy on my soul and forgive me of the sins I have ignorantly committed against you and your people”? Surely, Saul would be wanting forgiveness and praying for it. Yet, he wasn’t forgiven by praying a “sinner’s prayer.” For as we just saw in Acts 22:16, in order to be forgiven and wash away his sins, he had to also be baptized!

Cornelius, too, was another whom the Bible speaks of that prayed before he had become a Christian; but it wasn’t by a “sinner’s prayer” that he then became one – and even though he is referred to as having been a man who “prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:2). Yet, he still needed to hear the gospel message and respond to it in order to be saved (cf. Acts 11:13-14).   The conversion to Christ of Cornelius and his household is the first instance of Gentiles becoming Christians who had not been proselytes to Judaism (cf. Acts 10, 11, 15:7) as Nicolas had been (Acts 6:5).  So neither Jews nor Gentiles could become Christians by simply praying a “sinner’s prayer.”

It is also interesting to note that even though Jesus had appeared to Saul, and an angel had appeared to Cornelius, that these men were not saved by having such a genuine, religious experience! Rather, they still had to hear the gospel plan of salvation and submit to it – just like any of us also need to.  And what are those steps that lead to salvation? They are as follows:

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).

As we have seen in this article, no where does the Bible teach, for our Gospel Age, a “sinner’s prayer” in order to be forgiven and become a Christian. Rather, we see those steps mentioned above that are required.

We do, however, have instruction in God’s word for the need of the Christian who sins to repent and pray for forgiveness, such as in the case of Simon (Acts 8:12-23). The Christian who falls away through sin does not need to be baptized again, but there is that need to repent and pray to be forgiven and then strive to maintain a right relationship with God (cf. 1 Jn. 1:6-7).

What the Bible teaches on the plan of salvation is not a popular doctrine — even among millions of religious people who would profess to be Christians.  For how many denominations and individuals include baptism as part of the plan for being forgiven to become a child of God?

Perhaps the idea of going against the belief of the majority can make it difficult for some to actually accept what the Bible teaches on the plan of salvation.  But if we truly love God and want to please Him, we will do what is right — and at whatever the cost.

Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction; and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:13-14).

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

We are thankful and glad that Charles Crosby’s surgery went well. The infection actually made it easier to remove the knee, and he is now being treated with antibiotics. He has very little pain and is feeling good. According to his doctor, in about 6 to 8 weeks, depending on when the infection clears, Charles will be receiving a new knee. Let us continue to keep him in prayer.

Michelle Rittenhouse‘s surgery went well on her neck, in which 4 discs were fused and 4 spurs were eliminated.

Melotine Davis has not only been having trouble with her back lately, but also with the fibromyalgia that is giving her pain in her legs.

Let us continue to also remember the following in prayer for their health problems or other ailments: Jim Lively,  A.J. & Pat Joyner, Shirley Davis, 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.
——————–

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 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
——————–

-3-

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.
——————–

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 21, 2018)

Contents:

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

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.
——————–

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 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.)
——————–

-2-

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)