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).
May 30, 2010


1) The Nature of God -- His Eternality (Steven J. Wallace)
2) The Culture of No Consequences (David Hartsell)


The Nature of God -- His Eternality
by Steven J. Wallace

"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: 'I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God'" (Isa. 44:6, all verses are from the NKJV unless noted). 

Isaiah gives us another expression to consider about our God. He is not only Jehovah, the self-existing one, the king and redeemer of man, the commander of an army of angels, but He is the First and the Last as well. 

This quality suggests that God's nature is eternal, without beginning and without end. He is before all things and will still be after all things. "Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last" (Isa. 48:12). This expression is likewise spoken of Christ in the New Testament, "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, 'Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last'" (Rev. 1:17 cf. Rev. 1:8; 2:8; 22:13). Because Jehovah is the "First and the Last," we should be fully trusting in committing our lives to Him. He survives all people, places and things, or perhaps better stated, "Nothing survives Him." It accords with His name, Jehovah. He changes not; He weakens not; He ages not! He will be with us during the storm and after the storm, but of course, He was here before there were any storms! Likewise we read, "Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? 'I, the LORD, am the first; and with the last I am He'" (Isa. 41:4). Note carefully this alternative expression, "...and with the last I am He." He is with the last and we might add, He is the same when He is with the last as He was with the first. "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8). Hence, the work which Jesus accomplished in the New Testament was known to Him before time began and was not something that He learned while on earth (2 Tim. 1:9). 

The eternality of God is seen clearly in these complimentary passages:

"Behold, God is great, and we do not know Him; nor can the number of His years be discovered" (Job 36:26).

"You, O LORD, remain forever; Your throne from generation to generation" (Lam. 5:19). 

"But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Pet. 3:8). 

When we observe the nature of God, we agree with the conclusion of Isaiah 44:6, "Besides Me there is no God." There is absolutely no God like Jehovah! There is no God who lives forever, but more than that, while He lives forever, He is still concerned with every passing day. The small increments of life are not ignored by Him but can become like a thousand years! While He is King of kings, He still takes note of the poor suffering person who passes on to obscurity. The trouble of the poor man Lazarus was not overlooked by His all powerful eye (Luke 16:20, 21). Even the sparrows whose wings fail to flap and flutter as they breathe their last touches the Great One in heaven (Luke 12:6, 7). Our God is big, yet He takes note of those things that are small. "For who has despised the day of small things? For these seven rejoice to see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. They are the eyes of the LORD, Which scan to and fro throughout the whole earth" (Zech. 4:10). 

There is no other God other than Jehovah because He is the first and the last, "'You are My witnesses,' says the LORD, 'And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me'" (Isa. 43:10). Any god that men contrive and worship is no god at all. 

There is no savior like Jehovah, "I, even I, am the LORD, And besides Me there is no savior" (Isa. 43:11). When God saves, He redeems, and He redeems because He loves. There is no God who loves like Jehovah (John 3:16). 

There is no God like Jehovah who is just. The created gods spoken of in history were based more on the imagination of man than on fact and they didn't love mankind nor were they just like Jehovah: "Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the LORD? And there is no other God besides Me, a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me" (Isa. 45:21). How could a god be more just than Jehovah who defined to us what sin is, who modeled before us what righteousness is as seen in Jesus Christ, and who provided for us the simple but sweet plan of pardon for transgression in the death of His own Son. Hence we join the sentiments recorded in Isaiah, "Look to Me, and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other" (Isa. 45:22). We are without excuse to deny the Lord God, especially we who live on this side of the cross, "To you it was shown, that you might know that the LORD Himself is God; there is none other besides Him" (Deut. 4:35). What else could the Lord have provided for us? He has given us an inspired Bible full of evidences, principles, examples, laws and truth. He has provided us equally the means to know Him. He has provided us the plan to be saved and outlined for us the way to get to heaven. Indeed as Moses said, so should we, "Therefore know this day, and consider it in your heart, that the LORD Himself is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other" (Deut. 4:39). 

Understanding the eternal nature of God helps us understand origins. Our universe consists of three primary dimensions of time, space and matter which are each further divided or measured into three (time = past, present, future; space = height, depth, width; matter = liquid, solid, gas). That these things exist cannot be denied; yet, it should be equally forceful that the cause of these three things should be greater than these. Hence the signature of God is seen in nature and conveys clearly that He is greater than anything in nature. In relationship to matter, God is spirit (John 4:24). In relationship to space, God is omnipresent (Jer. 23:24). Finally, in a relationship to time, God is eternal, hence, "'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,' says the Lord, 'who is [present, sjw] and who was [past, sjw] and who is to come [future, sjw], the Almighty'" (Rev. 1:8). The great universe project, is an effect of a Great God; it cries out "Almighty Cause" who is spirit, omnipresent and eternal. Only Jehovah suits this call. "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). 

The subject of God is in fact a grand subject to think about. His work, affection and interaction with man is a most edifying contemplation. In fact, there are no greater thoughts written down to meditate on than those penned by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:16, "And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory."

-- Via Truth Magazine, April 23, 2010


The Culture of No Consequences
by David Hartsell

In the beginning, the Lord blessed man with a paradise garden to keep, trim, and enjoy. Only one prohibition was mentioned. Adam and Eve were not to eat of the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" (Gen. 2:17). If they ate, they would lose their place in the garden and forfeit their right to the "tree of life." They would lose their lives and their special relationship with the Lord. This was the consequence. Sadly, they ate of the prohibited tree and paid the consequences. 

Have you noticed the singular lack of consequences in almost every system of American culture?  God's plan of behavior management for children (the rod of discipline Pro. 22:15) has been set aside by parents and schools. Athletes, stars and politicians are seen to break laws with impunity.  Bad manners and rudeness are tolerated if one is popular or famous.  Coaches throw chairs, athletes sling helmets, and parents attack other parents, all clear violations of team rules and rules of appropriate behavior.  Yet, rarely are those actions held to account.  Proverbs 19:19 tells us the truth:  "A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again."  Priests and teachers have abused children without penalty.  Presidents lie, congressmen take money, etc. 

Human beings require structure and discipline. Fortunately for us, our Creator planned for our growth and happiness by holding us accountable.  God is honest with us: sin brings death.  The Word clarifies His expectations and holds us accountable. God is predictable, consistent, and fair.  And aren't we thankful for that!  The beauty queen and best player have the same consequence and reward as the rest of us. Moses, God's chosen leader, was held accountable for disobedience (Number 20).  Samson, a judge chosen by God, maintained supernatural strength as long as he followed God's directions.  However, God allowed Samson to suffer the consequences of foolish behavior: the Philistines cut his hair, blinded and imprisoned him. Ultimately Samson gained victory over himself and over his enemies; God did not abandon Samson but answered his prayer.

Obedience begins with the fear of consequences. God's people cannot thrive if they accept the culture of no consequences. Churches grow numerically but not spiritually. Many are suffering from the lack of discipline among their members. Fornication, bar-hopping, gossip, and bitterness find their way into churches. Behavior that is plainly un-Christian is ignored while the "positive" is accentuated. By overlooking sin, the consequences of sin are not seen or felt. Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for this (1 Cor. 5:1-5). They accepted an adulterer as a faithful brother. Paul told them to deliver him to Satan -- to let him know where he was spiritually. They were not even to eat with him. How cruel! No! This is God's way of shocking the sinner into seeing the consequence of his sin. 

Not all consequences are bad. In fact, the disciplining of the Corinthian adulterer caused him to repent and return to Christ. Paul urged the brethren to reaffirm their love to him (2 Cor. 2:3- 9). The renewal of Christian fellowship was crucial in helping this brother remain faithful. It remains the same today. We can not live without consequences. Some believe, because God does not punish sin immediately, He will not punish it at all. "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecc. 8:11). This is a serious mistake. In this life we might evade many bad consequences. However, in judgment all will be made right. Everyone will stand before God to be judged based on the things we have done on earth (2 Cor. 5:10). Don't buy into the idea of a culture with no consequences, for there is no such place in existence. 

-- Via The Bulletin of the Church of Christ at New Georgia, May 9, 2010

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
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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.