The Gospel Observer

"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" (Matt. 28:19,20).
February 21, 2010


1) Christianity is Practical (Norman E. Fultz)
2) Amazing Race (Bubba Garner)
3) News & Notes


Christianity is Practical
by Norman E. Fultz

Faithful Christians do well to occasionally have their grand estate in Christ reaffirmed. Not only does it strengthen one's own faith, it better prepares him to show the alien his condition out of Christ and compare it with what he could enjoy in Christ.

One of the difficulties with which we have to contend today, it appears to me, is showing folk that the "hereafter," not just the "here and now," is worthy of one's attention. Particularly do young people have trouble becoming really concerned with eternal matters in a society where the getting of "things" consumes the greater part of man's attention and energy, physically and mentally. Christianity often seems to be translated by them as applicable only to something which seems to them to be far removed and with which they are not presently concerned. But that it is applicable to the "here and now" we shall see. Christianity is practical. But to properly appreciate the proposition, let's look at the terms. By Christianity, this article means the religion of Christ, true religion as revealed in the New Testament -- not some watered-down version of it as seen in denominationalism and among many who claim to be "of Christ." We shall be using "Christianity" and "godliness" as interchangeable. By practical, we mean that it is useful, workable, capable to being turned into use or account as opposed to that which is only theoretical or speculative. The religion of Christ is a taught religion -- "teach... baptize... teach them" (Matt. 28:19-20); "the thing that thou hast heard... commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others" (2 Tim. 2:2); "they shall be all taught of God" (John 6:45) -- but it is a system of teaching that is practical or useful because it meets definite needs.  

1 Timothy 4:6-11

Please read this passage carefully. Space will not permit a lengthy exegesis, but note that Paul advises Timothy to "refuse profane and old wives' fables." This is in contrast to his being "nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine" which will enable him to "exercise himself unto godliness." "Bodily exercise is profitable for a little; but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is (the here and now), and of that which is to come (the hereafter)."  The "all things" in which godliness is said to profit is to be understood as meaning the life that now is and that to come.  

Christianity Is Practical Because It Meets the Needs of This Life

"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:19). "For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly" (Psa. 84:11). The needs of man are many, and they are as varied as they are many; but all man's needs -- whatever is really necessary will be supplied. There is not a worthwhile interest of man that godliness will not promote.  

Godliness will promote the health of the body. Abstinence from evil which harms is expected (1 Thes. 5:22).  Moderation and temperance in all things is advised (Phil. 4:5; 1 Cor. 9:25), and physical exercise is profitable (1 Tim. 4:8).  

Godliness is favorable to a clearness and vigor of the intellect as it sets before one the relative value of objects. The value of the soul is set over against the value of the world (Mat. 16:26). The use of the mind is encouraged in study and investigation (2 Tim. 2:15; cf. Prov. 1-6).  

Godliness offers a recipe for happiness. For those who "would love life and see good days," it is not a "do your own thing" philosophy of humanism. It rather involves compassion, loving as brethren, tenderheartedness, humble-mindedness, a returning of blessing for evil and reviling, a controlled speech, doing of good, and seeking peace while trusting in God's approbation (see 1 Pet. 3:8-12).  

Christianity promotes a peace of conscience by leading to a faithful performance of one's duties in all relationships of life (cf. Acts 24:16; 1 John 3:18-21). There is instruction for the husband-wife relation (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; 1 Cor. 7:1-5).  The parent-child relationship is dealt with (Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20-21). Under the figure of the servant and master, the employer and employee may learn how to treat each other (Col. 3:22-4:1; Eph. 6:5-9; 1 Pet. 2:18; Tit. 2:9-10). The citizen learns of his relationship to his government and how to fulfill his duty to it (Rom. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13-17; 1 Tim. 2:1-2). Nor is one left uninformed as to how to live before and treat his fellowman generally (1 Pet. 2:11-12; Mat. 7:12). The relationship of the creature of the Creator is one of obedience and worship (Eccl. 12:13-14; John 4:23-24).  

Godliness will produce a good name (Prov. 22:1), because it leads to honesty, industry, and sobriety as a course of life, or "lifestyle" to use the current "buzz word."

There are the promises of physical needs being met (Mat. 6:33; Phil. 4:19; Psa. 37:25).  And, finally, in meeting the needs of the life that now is, godliness offers comfort in trial (Deut. 33:27; Psa. 46:1), calmness in death (Psa. 23:4) and immortal peace beyond the grave (Rev. 14:13).  

Christianity is Practical Because It Provides for the Life to Come

Infidelity makes no promise of future happiness. Madelain Murray O'Hare and her ilk live only for the "here and now." A life of sin and lust promises nothing but remorse at death and in death. And though many things (beauty, wealth, fame, power) hold flattering hopes of happiness here, they offer nothing of eternal bliss. Nothing but godliness can so promise. A life without aim is like a ship without a rudder, but godliness offers aim and direction in life (Col. 3:1-2), and its promise of eternal life (1 John 2:25) is a stabilizing force (Heb. 6:13-20). The hope we have in Christ is not in this life only (1 Cor. 15:19). We hope for something far better (2 Cor. 4:16-18).  

Truly, Christianity is the only really sensible way for one to live. It enriches this life and promises bliss in that to come. Yet with all its promises, many defer it to the last period of life or reject it altogether. And some who once accepted it return to the weak and beggarly elements. How tragic! How sad!

A Faithful Saying

Paul's estimate of the promise in 1 Timothy 4:8 is found in verses nine and ten. It may be depended upon as true and it is worthy of being embraced. And that which godliness affords is worth one's labor and even the suffering of reproach. "These things command and teach."

-- Via Searching the Scriptures, April 1990, Volume 31,  Number 4


Amazing Race
by Bubba Garner

Sports are not a recent phenomenon. Man has long been interested and engaged in athletic contests. Their influence is even reflected in the language of the Scriptures, particularly in Paul's writings. "I press on to the goal" (Phil. 3:4). "Let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us" (Heb. 12:1,2). I have finished the course" (2 Tim. 4:7).  

In 2 Cor. 9, the apostle devoted an entire paragraph to the comparison of the Christian life with "the games." The Isthmian Games were held every two years at the Isthmus of Corinth, eight miles outside the city. They were modeled after the Olympic Games and included events such as foot races, boxing, wrestling, and chariot races. In such an environment, Paul's Corinthian audience would have had little trouble making the jump from the physical games to their own spiritual contest. All Christians are involved in a race. It is not a sprint or a dash, but a marathon to be "run with endurance." It is a race that has hurdles and twists and turns and one that must be conducted according to the rules. And unlike sports seasons and games held every two years, this is a race that is ongoing.  

What does it take to be successful in the race of life? You have to finish what you've started. "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win" (1 Cor. 9:24). Running is not the same as winning. Just because you got out of the starting blocks does not mean that you have crossed the finish line. Just because you have run for a little while does not mean that you have gone far enough. In this race, you win when you finish what you've started.  

In the next chapter, Paul used the Israelites as an illustration of this point. They all left the bondage of Egypt. They all passed through the Red Sea. But they did not all make it to the Promised Land. Because of their disobedience along the way, most of them "were laid low in the wilderness" (1 Cor. 10:5). The Christian race involves determination to complete the journey you have begun. Otherwise, you lose. You must see the need for discipline. "Everyone who competes in the games exercises self control in all things" (1 Cor. 9:25). There were specific requirements for the athletes who entered the Isthmian Games.  They had to prove that they were of pure Greek blood. They had to show that they had not forfeited their citizenship through misconduct or improper behavior. And they had to demonstrate that they had submitted themselves to ten weeks of training, willingly foregoing things that would interfere with their goals of competition. Otherwise, they were disqualified.  

In our culture of convenience, everything must be obtained immediately. We want quick fixes, overnight success, and ten minute abs. But the Christian race is not run this way. It takes time, effort, energy, and deep concentration. It takes a willingness to bring our heart, soul, strength, and mind into subjection to a new Master. It takes a decision to follow the guidelines specified in the Word of God. To run without discipline, as even Paul admitted, is to run the risk of disqualification. You have to keep your concentration on the prize. "They do it to receive a perishable wreath, or crown, but we an imperishable" (1 Cor. 9:25). The reason an athlete subjects his body to exercise and training is the reward that awaits him. When Craig Biggio was interviewed near the close of his career, he was asked if he would rather be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame or win the World Series. He didn't skip a beat when he answered, "I want that ring."

In the Isthmian Games, the winner of the contest received a crown made out of olive branches and, in later years, pine leaves. And that was well worth it to them. How much more, then, our "crown of life" (Rev. 2:10) and our "unfading crown of glory" (1 Pet. 5:4)? It's the reason we started running in the first place. How tragic to forfeit the prize for something of far less value.  Don't take your eye off of where you are going. When you do, you start running in the wrong direction. We have all overcome obstacles to get this far down the road. There are likely other trials that await us up ahead. But let's not stop until we get home. This is a race to the finish.

-- via The Jackson Drive Reporter, July 12, 2009 


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be praying for Paul St. Clair (the brother of Ed) who had his third stroke February 18.  By Monday, he was up walking again, but still having a little trouble with his right foot and speech.

I'm glad to report that Eloise Craver has been recovering well from her therapy, after having hip surgery about 3 months ago.  She has recently returned home and is now able to walk without pain and to drive.  We are looking forward to seeing her at church this coming Sunday.  Let us thank the Lord for her recovery.

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; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana 70726
Sunday services: 9:15 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 4 PM (worship)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520


Take the Denham Springs exit (exit 10) off of I-12.  At the end of the exit ramp, turn north.  Go about a stone's throw to Rushing Road.  (You'll see a Starbucks, Circle K, and two other gas stations; with each on each corner.)  Turn left on Rushing Road, and go less then 0.3 of a mile.  Hampton Inn will be on the right.  We assemble in its meeting room, which is very close to the reception counter.