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
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.
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
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
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;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
201 Rushing Road (at the Hampton Inn), Denham Springs, Louisiana
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.