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).
July 11, 2010


1) How to Become a Strong Christian (Steve Klein)
2) Will You Swallow Anything? (Oliver Murray)
3) The Tongue -- One of Man's Most Dangerous Weapons (Wayne Jackson)


How to Become a Strong Christian
by Steve Klein

What is the definition of a strong Christian?  We might each have a different idea about that.  But I think we could all agree that a strong Christian is one who stands fast in the faith through thick and thin.  He loves the Lord.  He loves the truth and lives it with conviction.  He continues doing the Lord's will regardless of changes in circumstances.

From where do strong Christians come?  Do they have some sort of special advantage or secret that others don't have?  Is it a genetic predisposition?  Well, no.  Strong Christians come from the same place all Christians come from.  Initially, all Christians come right out of the world.  They were once "dead in trespasses and sin" and "children of wrath," but they were made alive by Christ (Ephesians 2:1-3).  They may have been raised in a godly environment like Timothy (2 Timothy 1:5; 3:15), or they may have been surrounded by the most heinous forms of worldliness like the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).  In either case, they became Christians by being born again (John 3:5), coming up out of the water of baptism to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4), and thus becoming a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).

In the beginning, Christians are like newborns, begotten by one Father (1 Peter 1:3).  Their spiritual genes are the same.  So why does one become strong and another become weak? Why do some fail to thrive in their new life in Christ?  It has to do with nutrition and exercise.

If we want to become strong Christians we must start by feeding on God's word.  "As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word that you may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2).  We will have no energy to grow and become strong if we fail to feed on God's word regularly.  Strong Christians all have this in common: the word of God dwells in them!  In 1 John 2:14, the apostle John says, "I have written to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you."

The second thing we must do to become strong Christians is exercise.  We can't build muscle by just sitting on the couch eating, and we can't become strong Christians by just sitting in a pew feeding on God's word while never putting it into practice.  Strong, mature Christians are those who "by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:14).  They "exercise . . . toward godliness" (1 Timothy 1:7).  When they learn something from Scripture, they immediately attempt to put it into practice in daily life.

No one becomes a strong Christian by accident.  It is a result of choosing to dwell on God's word and apply it in life. This is a choice that you can make. Even the weak and hapless Corinthian Christians could choose to be strong.  Paul encourages them to, "Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong" (1 Corinthians 16:13).  If they could do it, so can you.  

-- Via The Bulletin of the Church of Christ at New Georgia, June 6, 2010


Will You Swallow Anything?
by Oliver Murray

The shark is a large fish that swims in ocean waters and has an equally large appetite. In fact, so large is his appetite that he will swallow almost anything that he can get into his mouth without even knowing what it is. A small fish called the urchin fish, when he encounters a shark, will roll himself into a small ball. The shark will of course swallow the urchin, but in this case the shark is the loser. This urchin fish is a parasite, and once inside the sharks stomach he unfolds and begins to prey on the shark from within its stomach, eventually destroying his victim completely.  

What a stupid thing it is for the shark to "swallow" something without first knowing what it is, but after all, aren't there people in the religious world like that? Many swallow the traditional religion of their relatives without ever first checking to see if that is what the Bible really teaches.  

Many simply swallow what their church or denomination practices and teaches simply because "that's the way it's been done or taught for years."  Many swallow what their preachers and teachers teach without any concern as to whether the Bible teaches it or not, so long as it "sounds good."

Modernism and liberalism are running rampant, not only in the world, but also among churches of Christ. More and more we hear of congregations who are accepting the "new hermeneutics," that is, the new way of interpreting the Bible. The old way of commands, apostolic example, and of necessary inference, is a thing of the past, no longer acceptable to "modern and more intelligent thinking."  As a result more and more we hear of denominational "baptism" (whether it's sprinkling, pouring, etc.) being accepted. We are hearing of women being allowed to serve in roles in worship and organization that the Bible strictly forbids.  The Lord's Supper is no longer served each Sunday, but on Wednesday or any other day. Elderships are being dissolved because members no longer recognize them as having authority to "rule" and make decisions -- except as those decisions are first corroborated by "prominent men" in the congregation or by the "deacons."  We hear of more and more churches of Christ simply becoming "community churches," serving simply the social needs of the community (tax seminars, "Sexual Enlightenment" seminars, "Arts and Crafts" groups, etc.).  

Let's examine carefully what we "swallow," because like the shark it may be too late afterward. Similar to the shark who has few enemies that can destroy it from without, God's Kingdom cannot be destroyed from forces without. Satan's forces, as powerful as they may be (and they are powerful), simply are no match for the spiritual forces and strength of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His Word. Paul said, "...If God is for us, who is against us? But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:31,37). God's people can only be destroyed from WITHIN! That's what is happening in many congregations today.  

We need to be "Examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11). We are responsible to not "swallow" anything that anyone says, it matters not who or what they are. We will be held individually accountable to God for the errors we have allowed to come into our minds and into the church!

-- Via In Newness of Life, February 21, 2010


The Tongue -- One Of Man's Most Dangerous Weapons
by Wayne Jackson   

Jesus Christ gave a stern warning regarding the unseemly language that sometimes proceeds from a person's mouth. It is not without significance that two of the Ten Commandments deal with speech -- taking the name of God "in vain," and bearing "false witness" against another person (Exodus 20:7,16). Similarly, in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned against the abuse of the tongue in "swearing falsely" (Matthew 5:33-37).  

The way one talks is a very revealing index to his character. The Scriptures describe different kinds of "tongues" (speech). Let us consider some of these.  

The Hateful Tongue -- Jeremiah spoke of those "treacherous" people who "bend their tongue like a bow." He cautioned that no one should place trust in the person who "deceives" and "slanders," nor with those who "have taught their tongue to speak lies" (Jeremiah 9:2-5). Jehovah hates the lying tongue (Proverbs 6:17; cf. Acts 5:3-4). Some use their tongues to rip and "gut" others -- even their brethren in Christ.  

The Licentious Tongue -- Solomon said that the mouth of the forbidden woman is a "deep pit" (Proverbs 22:14). Note the perfume-drenched words ("fair speech") of the dissolute woman who lures the unwary lad to his destruction (Proverbs 7:14ff). Men have similarly taken advantage of vulnerable, lonely women by their deceitful language.  

The Boasting Tongue -- The vain Pharisee, in a dramatic presentation before the Lord, paraded his feigned accomplishments, but he was not accounted as just with God, in spite of his boasting (Luke 18:9). It was Francis Bacon who said something to the effect that "a bragging man is scorned by the wise, and admired by fools." There are those with whom one can scarcely engage a conversation without being bored to tears with an incessant stream of self-adulating and dubious accomplishments.  

The Impetuous Tongue -- An inspired writer declared, "let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak" (James 1:19). The poet Robert Frost once said that "half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." A wise man wrote: "Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise" (Proverbs 17:28). Unfortunately, he frequently opens his mouth and removes all doubt! There are far too many people who talk in an attempt to discover the content of their thoughts.  

The Obscure Tongue -- Have you ever had a religious conversation with a person, and when the exchange was concluded, you had no earthly idea where he stood on any significant issue? Such folks slip and slide, flip and flop. "What is your position, brother?" "Well, I think there is much to be said on both sides of that argument." Some people simply cannot be pinned down on any point of truth.  

The Critical Tongue -- A wise man values constructive criticism; it's just that sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between constructive criticism and plain old "meanness." But, as Solomon observed, "A rebuke enters deeper into one who has understanding, than [do] a hundred stripes into a fool" (Proverbs 17:10). A wise person can learn valuable lessons from his critics if he but will. On the other hand, there are those who have turned "criticism" into a recreational sport. Whenever they gather, like vicious piranha, they devour all flesh in sight.  

The Double-Tongued -- In setting forth qualifications for deacons, Paul admonished that they must not be "double-tongued" (1 Timothy 3:8). The "double-tongued" person is one who has refined the art of duplicity. He will say anything to get you off his back, then say quite another to someone else. His word is not his bond. His tongue flaps like an irritating awning in a winter storm (see Proverbs 8:8).  

The Explosive Tongue -- James observed that the tongue is an instrument that no man can control completely (cf. James 3:8). But some make almost no attempt at the effort. At the least irritant they explode with expletives. One might be surprised to listen to the language of the man on Monday, who has spoken so piously over the Lord's table on Sunday! To those who operate in such fashion, the Lord's says: "What right have you to recite my statutes or take my covenant upon your lips?" (Psalm 50:16).  

"Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth . . . " (Ephesians 4:29), rather, "put away shameful speaking from your mouth" (Colossians 3:8). Listen to the warning of the Judge of the Universe: "I say unto you, that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matthew 12:36-37).  

-- Via The Bulletin of the Church of Christ at New Georgia,  April 25, 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 a little less than 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.  Just walk pass the check-in counter; turn right at the hall.  The first and second doors on the left lead to where we meet.