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).
April 18, 2010


1) At the Beginning (Connie W. Adams)
2) "The Common People Heard Him Gladly" (Bryan Matthew Dockens)
3) News & Notes


At the Beginning
by Connie W. Adams

When Peter recounted the events at the house of Cornelius before his Jewish brethren, he said, "And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us at the beginning" (Acts 11:15). This caused Peter to remember the words of Jesus who taught the apostles that John baptized with water "but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (v. 16). Since there was the same outpouring of the Spirit when the gospel began with the Gentiles that had occurred at the beginning of the gospel with the Jews, Peter concluded that he should not withstand God; and the Jewish brethren concluded, "Then hath God granted to the Gentiles repentance unto life" (vv. 17-18).  

Pentecost, when the Spirit fell upon the apostles, empowering them to speak with other tongues and proclaim the gospel of salvation, was indeed the beginning. The events of that day of Pentecost reported in Acts 2 were the hub of the Bible. Prior to that day, all sacred history pointed to it. When it was done, the sacred writers and inspired preachers would always look back to it as "the beginning."

God's Eternal Purpose

The momentous events of that day brought to reality the plan of God which he purposed in his mind before the world began (Eph. 3:9-11). This was the plan God had chosen and predetermined "according to the good pleasure of his will" (Eph. 1:4-5). What occurred was neither accidental nor incidental. The whole course of human history moved steadily toward that day.

Patriarchs and Prophets

What God purposed in his own mind for the salvation of the human family was announced first to the patriarchs. The seed of woman would come to bruise Satan's head (Gen. 3:15). The seed of Abraham would come to "bless all nations" (Gen. 12:1-3). "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be" (Gen. 49:10).  

What was announced dimly to the patriarchs was enlarged upon by the prophets. Nathan announced to David who was disappointed that he would not be permitted to build the temple, "I will set up thy seed after thee... and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever" (2 Sam. 7:12-13). David spoke of the "day of his power" when his seed would sit at the right hand of God and rule in the midst of his enemies, where he would be priest while he ruled (Psa. 110:1-4).  Isaiah foresaw the establishment of God's government unto which all nations would flow, "For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem" (Isa. 2:2-3). Daniel prophesied of four great kingdoms, the fourth being the Roman Empire and declared, "In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed" (Dan. 2:44).  He further foretold the ascension of Christ when he saw visions in the night, "And behold one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given unto him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:13-14).  

When Peter began to speak on that Pentecost day, he said, "This is that spoken of by the prophet Joel" (Acts 2:16) and followed by identifying the events of the day with what David had spoken prophetically (vv. 25-31).  

The Preparatory Work of John

John the baptizer was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord" (Mt. 3:1-3). John was not "that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light" (Jno. 1:8). John promised, "He shall baptize with the Holy Spirit" (Mt. 3:11).  

The Preliminary Work of Christ

"After that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mk. 1:14-15). He promised that his kingdom would come in the lifetime of some who heard his voice and that it would come "with power" (Mk. 9:1). He said just before ascending that "ye shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (Acts 1:8).  

The Beginning

When that first Pentecost after Jesus arose from the dead and ascended to his Father did, indeed, come, the stage was set for the divine plan of the ages to be set in motion. Jerusalem was the right place. The anticipated power of the Holy Spirit came upon these apostles "as a rushing mighty wind" (Acts 2:2). They were "all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance" (v. 4). As Peter lifted up his voice, along with the eleven others, there was the beginning of the work of that gospel which Jesus said they should preach in all the world. They were not to begin this work until the "promise of the Father" came upon them as they "tarried at Jerusalem" (Lk. 24:47-49).  

Here was the beginning of the work of human redemption which would bruise Satan's head, bless all nations through the seed of Abraham, set in motion the "day of his power," establish the kingdom, and set the captives free as they turned to that truth which alone can make men free. 

Pentecost, then, was the beginning of the gospel age, the inauguration of the new covenant (Heb. 8:8) now that the testator had died (Heb. 9:15-17). Here was the beginning of the church. From this day forward "the Lord added to the church daily those that were being saved" (Acts 2:47). Any church which began at any other time, place or under other circumstances than these, cannot claim to be the Lord's. Here was the beginning of gospel preaching. Here was the announcement of the resurrection, coronation, and blessed reign of him who is at the right hand of God, exalted (Acts 2:33) and who now is declared to be "both Lord and Christ" (v. 36). Here for the first time, heart-stricken sinners were told to "repent and be baptized... for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (v. 38). Assurance was given that this promise was not only to them and to their children, but also to those afar off (Gentiles).  

Gentiles -- Why that's where we came in, wasn't it? When Peter defended his work among the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius, he said, "the Holy Spirit fell on them, as on us AT THE BEGINNING." So, you see, without understanding the significance of what took place on that Pentecost day, we are at a loss to understand the rest of the Bible. The patriarchy, the law, the prophets, John, the preaching and miracles of Christ -- all these pointed to Pentecost. The conversions in the book of Acts, the instructions in the epistles and the reassurances of the book of Revelation cannot fully be appreciated without understanding what took place "at the beginning."

It is precisely at this point that the whole denominational world stumbles. Without a clear understanding of this, one cannot rightly divide the covenants. They do not know when one law ended and another began. They do not know nor preach what the apostles preached on Pentecost and from that day forward. Theirs is "another gospel." They understand neither the universal nor the local body of the saved. Unless gospel preachers periodically call their hearers back to what happened "at the beginning," we shall lose our sense of identity and destiny. Have you heard much preaching lately on what happened "at the beginning"?

-- Via Searching the Scriptures, June 1992, Volume 33, Number 6


"The Common People Heard Him Gladly"
by Bryan Matthew Dockens

When Jesus taught in the temple "the common people heard Him gladly" (Mark 12:37).  

The gospel of Christ is God's power to save all who believe (Romans 1:16), but those most receptive to His message have always been commoners. Jesus even gave thanks to God, saying "that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes" (Matthew 11:25). Salvation is not reserved for the college educated, for captains of industry, or the crowned heads of Europe.  The word of God is most appealing to those who prefer simplicity. Paul remarked, "not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called" (1 Corinthians 11:26).  

That common people could hear Him gladly indicates the Lord spoke to them in a way that was simple to comprehend. He didn't dumb it down for them, but neither did he speak over their heads. The message is meant to be understood, which is why God commanded the prophet Habakkuk to "Write the vision and make it plain" (Habakkuk 2:2). When the people of Judah returned from captivity and restored proper worship, Ezra's assistants "read distinctly from the book, in the law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading" (Nehemiah 8:8). Sound doctrine doesn't impress the audience with the preacher's eloquence (1 Cor. 2:1-5); it just communicates God's word in a straightforward fashion. When this is accomplished, common people will gladly hear it.

- Via The Beacon, March 30, 2010


News & Notes

For those who are Christians, please be remembering my mother (Marian Edwards) in your prayers.  According to one of her hospice workers, this is my mother's last week.  But her doctor had told her in November that she wouldn't make it to December.  So they can't always say for sure.

Let us also continue in prayer for Eloise Craver who has constant pain from her hip surgery several months ago, and for Agnes Shuff who is now on various medications for her heart and arteries.

Jean Calloway recently had surgery to eliminate a blockage in her carotid artery.  All went well.  Let us prayer she will heal speedily from it.

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
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://home.onemain.com/~tedwards/audioser.html (audio sermons)


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.