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).
June 30, 2013


1) The Home Wrecker (Dan S. Shipley)
2) Hating the Prophet (H.E. Phillips)
3) Do the Details Matter? (Steve Klein)
4) News & Notes


The Home Wrecker
by Dan S. Shipley

Though seldom identified, the sin of selfishness is the culprit responsible for most every problem, heartache, misery, and division occurring in the home.  One of the marks of the "grievous times" of which Paul prophesied was that men would be lovers of self (2 Tim. 3:1,2).  And grievous it is when husbands and wives will subordinate family needs to personal preferences; when they think in terms of self: What I want, what I like, my rights, my interests, and my happiness.  Such thinking is practically the guarantee of hard times at home.  But too few see selfishness as being a personal problem.  

As H.W. Beecher has said, "Selfishness is that detestable vice which no one will forgive in others, and no one is without in himself."  It is our inclination to see ourselves as the victims of selfishness rather than the guilty.  As the unhappy wife I recently read about was heard to say, "My husband doesn't show any interest in what I do.  All he cares about is whatever it is that he does at that place -- wherever it is -- that he works!" (Bits & Pieces, Aug. 83)  Such an attitude may describe us more than we care to admit.  As God's people we are not ignorant of Satan's devices (2 Cor. 2:11), the deceitfulness of sin, nor its blinding power.  Therefore, however remote and unlikely it may seem, we must see the possibility of selfishness in our own lives!  Like the prodigal son, we must come to self to overcome self (Lk. 15:17).  As Paul says, "Examine yourselves..." (2 Cor. 13:5), test your motives with absolute honesty for none can begin to deal with a problem he won't admit.  

Self-denial is one of the first lessons to be learned by the follower of Christ (Matt. 16:24).  Nothing is more fundamental to obedience and righteousness.  Without it, no man can truly love his wife as Christ loved the church (Eph. 5:25).  As Christ's love sacrificed self for the church, so must be the husband's for his wife.  It is an unselfish and giving love.  Without it, wives cannot be in subjection to their husbands, as unto the Lord (v. 22).  The very spirit that prompts submission to the Lord should prompt it between husband and wife.  Being what the Lord wants me to be means being what I need to be to my mate.  Selfishness, then, is a sin against man and God -- and, oftentimes, against children.  

Accordingly, bringing up children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4) involves denying self.  For instance, rearing children for heaven takes time.  Selfishness robs many children of that precious time -- under an alias, to be sure.  Too busy, too tired, to talk and answer questions, to read the Bible, to pray with them, to take them to worship.  But worse, perhaps, are those children who suffer because selfish parents divide the home rather than deny self.  It is almost unthinkable that some would trade a good family for a selfish indulgence: for a bottle, for a lover, for "good times."  Yet, it continues to happen, even among some claiming to be Christians.  In these, and even in more subtle and respectable ways, selfishness is the great home wrecker: May God helps us to want it purged from our lives.  

-- Via Plain Talk, November 1983


Hating the Prophet
by H.E. Phillips

All through the history of sinful man the word of God has always had two effects upon man: it makes him repent and turn to righteousness, or it makes him hate the message and the prophet who brings it.  When Ahab was king of Israel, he followed a very wicked course and gathered about him many false prophets who would prophesy as he desired.  This is very much like religious conditions in the world today.  The preacher who dares to speak what God has revealed on all matters, especially when it condemns the general practice of people, becomes the object of hate.  

"And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, There is yet one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may enquire of the Lord: but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.  And Jehoshaphat said, Let not the king say so" (1 Kings 22:8).  

Ahab was not the last man to hate a prophet because he did not speak good concerning him.  This attitude was characteristic of Israel all through their history.  Stephen concluded his discussion with the Jews of the Synagogue with these words: "Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers" (Acts 7:52).  For these words Stephen was killed by the mob.

The setting of the statement in 1 Kings 22 shows that the king of Israel had designs against another king and wanted the help of Jehoshaphat in the effort.  He already had the death sentence passed against him by Elijah because of his crime of greed and murder.  His evil wife Jezebel had developed a plan which he carried out to have Naboth killed because he wanted his vineyard.  When Elijah told Ahab that "in the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood even thine" (1 Kings 21:19), Ahab replied to Elijah: "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?"

Paul inquired of the Galatians, "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16).  

Why is it that a man can be corrected -- told the truth -- about many other matters, but makes you his eternal enemy for telling him the truth about God's word?  A stranger can be stopped on the street and told that he is going into danger if he keeps on in the direction he is going, and he will thank you and take another course.  But your best friend can be sinning against God and if you tell him about it he will, in many cases, become your enemy.  

Maybe the answer to this strange behavior lies in the nature of religion itself, and in the fact that most people do not like to be considered ignorant of such important matters.  Most people think of  religion as a thing so personal that it should not be changed.  They think of it as a sort of heritage that belongs to their ancestors.  For this reason it is an insult to tell them that they are wrong.  

Men do not like to appear uninformed in the basic and important matters of life and eternity, but the terrible truth is that the great majority of this age is ignorant.  To try to tell one the truth when he considers himself informed enough to know, is an insult.  

But neither of these reasons appear in the case of Ahab's hate for Micaiah.  It was a clear case of a man wanting to do a thing but not wanting to reap the consequences.  He wanted to be told that he would be victorious in spite of the fact that he knew a prophet had told him he would die.  Those today who want to hear "good" about themselves when they are doing those things that are wrong are in the same class with this evil king.  

It will be observed that the truth was not changed because several hundred prophets spoke "good" of the king, nor was it changed because the king hated the prophet and had him put in prison.  It is the same today.  The truth remains the truth whether we believe it or not, and even if we hate the preacher.  

The religious population of the world, whether actively practicing the precepts of their religion or not, will cry out against the man who has the conviction and courage to speak out against error in doctrine and practice.  "Hast thou found me, O mine enemy?"  They will cry.  Many will say or think: "but I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil."  Do not confuse the message with the messenger. You will not destroy the truth by killing the bearer of that truth.  "Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?" (Gal. 4:16).  

-- Via Searching the Scriptures, January 1980, Volume XXI, Number 1


Do the Details Matter?
by Steve Klein

Near the end of his life the apostle Paul wrote, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (I Timothy 4:7).  Like Paul, each one of us who succeeds at keeping the faith is assured of a "crown of righteousness" when the Lord appears again (2 Timothy 4:8).  If we understand this, keeping the faith which was "once for all delivered to the saints" will become the focus of our lives.

But what constitutes "the faith"?  What must be "kept" in order to go to heaven?  Must we simply believe that Jesus is the Son of God?  Do we also have to believe in the three Persons in the Godhead, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, the inspiration of scripture?  What about religious practices?  Does it matter what one accepts as God's will concerning what to do to be saved or how the church is to be organized? Should we care if one religious group forbids its bishops from marrying while another requires them to be married?  Is it possible that we are all keeping the one faith despite our disagreements over these details?

Today we are told with increasing frequency that the details don't matter.  As long as believers are agreed on certain basics, what we teach and practice scarcely makes any difference.  Of course, even those who say such things are not agreed on what constitutes "the basics."  Even if they were, their popular position is contrary to scripture.  The scriptures teach that the faith was to be maintained, not just concerning the basics, but also concerning the specifics and the particulars.  

In I Timothy 4:1-4, the Spirit foretells that some would "depart from THE FAITH" by "forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from foods."  Does it matter whether or not church leaders are forbidden to marry or church members are allowed to eat meat on Friday?  Are these unimportant details?  The scriptures teach that those who believe and practice error in these things have not kept the faith; they have departed from it.  Inattention to detail can cause one to stray "concerning the faith" (I Tim. 6:21).  May it be our aim to keep the faith once delivered to the saints.  

-- Via The Bulletin of the church of Christ at New Georgia, August 21, 2011


News & Notes

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

Virginia Fontenot's cancer markers continue to decrease remarkably!  As mentioned last week, they had dropped from 497 to 14.  But now they are down even more -- all the way to 6 (and normal is "3").  The doctors have given her a rest from her chemo treatment this week, since her platelets were too low; but she will resume the chemo later.  She is also awaiting surgery that will involve a bowel resection.  Following the operation, she will then undergo 6 more rounds of chemo, like she has been having -- which will afterwards be switched to a maintenance dosage.     

Linda Blevins, who was recently told that her kidneys were working at only 50% and has been diagnosed with bilateral renal artery stenosis and has hydronephrosis, will be seeing another nephrologist July 9.  

Jean Calloway is recuperating from a cardiac arrest on May 8 and continues receiving dialysis three times a week, therapy, and other treatments.

Janice Webb (Anthony's mother) is healing from the removal of her thyroid, due to a malignant tumor.  Her voice is not completely back yet, but should be soon.   

Cindy Crews is now healing from her second surgery for breast cancer.

Ashley Robertson Walters' recent bout with a kidney stone has not been troubling her lately, but there is an uncertainty as to whether it is no longer with her.

Pam MacDonald is still healing from major back surgery that required adding 16 pieces of metal to her spinal column.    

Bill Barfield (Virginia Fontenot's brother) has now spent about 15 months in a few different hospitals continuously.  

Robert Howton will soon be having surgery, due to bladder stones that he has had for about a year.

* Let us also be remembering the following in prayer: Tom Smitherman (Lee's father) who has been diagnosed with an aggressive prostate cancer; Cheryl Crews who has some chronic ailments; and Shirley Young who suffers continually from fibromyalgia.

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).

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