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).
March 31, 2013


1) A Merry Heart (R.J. Evans)
2) 1 Timothy 4:13-16 (Tom Edwards)
3) News & Notes


A Merry Heart
by R.J. Evans

"A merry heart does good, like medicine, But a broken spirit dries the bones"  (Prov. 17:22).  

A merry heart, as used in our text, is a rejoicing heart.  Such a heart will do a person good.  A Christian with a merry heart will also be a tremendous blessing to others.  

This does not mean that we can escape the heartaches, pains, and sorrows of this life.  In fact, when the Lord told Ananias to go to Saul of Tarsus to tell him what to do to be saved (Acts 22:16) and tell him that his primary work would be as "a chosen vessel...before the Gentiles," notice what the Lord further emphasized: "For I must show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake" (Acts 9:15-16).  After Paul's conversion, he often spoke of his sufferings for Christ (2 Cor. 11:22-33; Phil. 2:27; 1 Thes. 3:7).  

If the joy of our heart is great enough, sorrow will not destroy us.  In the midst of all of Paul's sufferings, he stated, "as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing" (2 Cor. 6:10).  Again, Paul said, "I am filled with comfort.  I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation" (2 Cor. 7:4).  

Being of a merry, joyful heart will do us much good.  For one thing, it can change our countenance -- "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance" (Prov. 15:13).  In other words, we don't have to walk around with a sad frown on our face all the time, as so many do.  We have enough joy of the Lord on the inside that it shows up on our face on the outside.  

Our text seems to be saying that a merry heart will make us healthier -- it is "like a medicine."  Medical science will agree.  Having a good, positive attitude will help us cope and heal better when we are sick. My oncologist has told me that he has observed over the years that a person's attitude has a lot to do with how they respond to treatments. Having a good, joyful relationship with the Lord will improve our lives mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  When we live righteously and "Fear the Lord and depart from evil, It will be health to your flesh and strength to your bones" (Prov. 3:7-8).  Thus... "the joy of the Lord is your strength" (Neh. 8:10).  

The Apostle John wrote an inspired letter to Christians "that your joy may be full" (1 Jn. 1:4).  As Christians anticipate their upcoming reward of heaven in the midst of various trials, the Apostle Peter said, "yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory" (1 Pet. 1:8).  There are so many other blessings that produce joy in our hearts -- such as forgiveness of sins (Acts 8:39; 16:33-34), answered prayer (Jn. 16:24), Bible study (Jer. 15:16), a good word from a friend (Prov. 12:15), and a host of other blessings.  

One thing is for certain, the Lord wants our joy to be full --  "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full" (Jn. 15:11).  And when our joy is full, it will do us good "like medicine."

Have you been taking your daily dosage of medicine?

-- Via the bulletin of the Southside church of Christ, Gonzales, Louisiana


1 Timothy 4:13-16
by Tom Edwards

In 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul gives the following instruction: "Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching."

This, therefore, is one of the purposes for the local congregation -- so that God's word can be publicly declared and individuals can be exhorted and taught.   Of course, each Christian is also to study the Scriptures at other times, as well, when not assembled with all the brethren.  

As we think on the term "exhortation," it can be said that all exhortation would be teaching -- but not all teaching is exhortation.  For to exhort, first of all, means "to urge, advise, or caution earnestly; admonish urgently."  And, secondly, "to give urgent advice, recommendations, or warnings" (Random House Webster's College Dictionary).  

The KJV translates "teaching" as "doctrine"; and though some people try to make a distinction between the two, they are both synonymous.  The English word "doctrine" is defined secondly as "a body or system of teachings relating to a particular subject..." (ibid.).  

In view of those who think we should eliminate doctrine and "just love Jesus," notice in this passage that "teaching" or "doctrine" is not to be discarded.  Rather, we are to give our "attention" to it.  

The Jews were very familiar with the public reading of Scripture.  For that was a primary function of the synagogues.  Notice, for instance, Luke 4:16-20: "And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.  And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written,  'THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IS UPON ME, BECAUSE HE ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR. HE HAS SENT ME TO PROCLAIM RELEASE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERY OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET FREE THOSE WHO ARE DOWNTRODDEN, TO PROCLAIM THE FAVORABLE YEAR OF THE LORD.'  And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him."  Also Acts 13:14,15: "But going on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. And after the reading of the Law and the Prophets the synagogue officials sent to them, saying, 'Brethren, if you have any word of exhortation for the people, say it.'"  Luke records: "For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath" (Acts 15:21).  

The Bible also shows of the public reading of the New Testament in 1 Thessalonians 5:27, where Paul declares toward the close of the epistle, "I adjure you by the Lord to have this letter read to all the brethren."  Similarly, the Colossians were given this following instruction:  "When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea" (Col. 4:16).

It was a while before the canon of the New Testament was completed, and then entire copies of it made into books.  How fortunate we are to have such ample access to numerous copies of the Bible.

Paul then exhorts Timothy to "Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery" (1 Tim. 4:14).  Though the elders appear to be involved in this, we know that they did not have the power to bestow on Timothy the Holy Spirit; but, apparently, Paul was also there at that time in order to do this.  For consider 2 Timothy 1:6, in which Paul tells Timothy, "For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands."  It might be, however, that these elders had spoken on Timothy's behalf, through prophecy, to Paul.  For notice what he says in 1 Timothy 1:18: "This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight."  Still another thought is that through the prophecy of these elders, Timothy was instructed in the way of truth -- and that is the spiritual gift that he is to not neglect; but, rather, apply it and teach it to others.  And the laying on of the elders' hands was a way of their expressing their endorsement or approval toward Timothy being sent out to use his gifts in proclaiming the good news, which would be similar to the way Paul and Barnabas were sent out on Paul's first missionary journey:  "And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, 'Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.'  Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:2,3).  So the laying on of hands, in this sense, was a way of setting these men apart for this specific service, and desiring God's blessing to be upon them.  

Paul then tells Timothy to "Take pains with these things; be absorbed in them, so that your progress will be evident to all" (1 Tim. 3:15).  The beginning of this is translated as "Meditate upon these things" in the KJV.  Thayer shows the Greek word for "meditate" or "take pains" ("meletao") to mean "to care for, attend to carefully, practice."  He also shows that it is the word that was "used of the Greeks of the meditative pondering and the practice of orators and rhetoricians."  So this indicates much serious thought they would be giving to this, which can also be seen in the same verse that instructs Timothy to "be absorbed in them," or as the NKJV renders it, "give yourself entirely to them."  By Timothy's doing so, it would lead to his further progress in the Lord -- and a progress that would be manifest.  

The chapter then closes, in 1 Timothy 4:16, with Paul exhorting Timothy to "Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will ensure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you."  The KJV words this as, "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee."

Again, as we think of the need for doctrine -- in contrast to those who want to disregard it -- notice how important Paul shows it to be in this passage: Taking heed to one's self and the doctrine will result in salvation.       

This verse has been summed up with the old cliche, "practice what you preach." Timothy was to put and keep in practice the things which he taught.  For to be a hearer and not a doer would leave a person without the benefits of Christ's atonement, as James shows: "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.  But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does" (Jms. 1:21-25).  Notice that the blessing comes not to the man who merely hears, but to the man who acts in accordance to what he has heard.  Isn't this what Jesus also taught in Luke 6:46-48?  "And why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?  Everyone who comes to Me, and hears My words, and acts upon them, I will show you whom he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation upon the rock; and when a flood rose, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built."  And by Timothy's putting God's word into practice, it would then help him in his ministry when it came to being a better influence and converting others to Christ.  

Something else we learn from this passage is the need to persevere.  For while on earth, the goal of heaven is that for which we must always be striving.  In Colossians 1:23, for instance, Paul expresses the need for the Christian to "...continue in the faith firmly established and stedfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel...."  This is also why the Hebrew writer admonished the brethren to persevere in the faith: "For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.  FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY.  BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.  But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul" (Heb. 10:36-39).  And this is also why Paul was so diligent to "...press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus," as he states in Philippians 3:14, and continued this "pressing on" to the end of his life.  As he writes in 2 Timothy 4:7, his last epistle and shortly before his death: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith."  That is what each one of us must also continue to do (cf. Rev. 2:10).  So may it be so!


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following people in prayer:

* Peggy Lefort has not been feeling well for the last couple weeks.  She has had to be on different kinds of antibiotics, which were also giving her some trouble.  

* Let us also be remembering in prayer: Linda Blevins who has been diagnosed with bilateral renal artery stenosis and will be undergoing some more tests; Tom Smitherman (Lee's father) who has been diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer; Bill Barfield (Linda Blevins' uncle) whose health is very poor; Pam MacDonald who has major back trouble; Cheryl Crews who has some chronic ailments; Shirley Young who suffers from fibromyalgia; and Jean Calloway who has health problems.

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).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)