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).
August 25, 2013
1) "What is Your Life?" (Bobby Witherington)
2) Prayerful Living (Gary Henry)
3) News & Notes
"What is Your Life?"
by Bobby Witherington
"Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a
city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:
Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is
your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time,
and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord
will, we shall live, and do this, or that" (Jms. 4:13-15).
The book of James is a four chapter, 106 verse "general epistle"
which was written to "the twelve tribes scattered abroad" (Jas.
1:1). The particular "James" who penned this epistle is
generally thought to be "James, the Lord's brother" (cf. Gal. 1:19;
Mark 6:3). However, in the letter bearing his name, James
simply and humbly described himself as "James, a bondservant of God
and of the Lord Jesus Christ" (Jas. 1:1). In all likelihood,
"the twelve tribes...scattered abroad" (to whom this epistle was
addressed) constituted Jewish Christians who were "scattered" by
reason of persecution (cf. Acts 8:1-4). As is implied by the
subject matter, the primary purpose of this letter was to warn
Jewish Christians against various besetting sins, and to encourage
them to steadfastness under persecution.
In some respects, Jewish Christians "scattered abroad" faced many of
the same dangers faced by their national ancestors who were taken
captive by the Assyrians and Babylonians -- not the least of which
was the danger of blending in with their surrounding culture, and
taking a "business as usual" approach to life. And similar
dangers face Christians today. In our quest for survival in
the world that now is, it is so easy to lose sight of the world to
come. In so doing, we lose our focus and we become more
consumed in making a living than in making a life. Hence, the
admonitions contained in this book are as applicable to Christians
today as they were to the original recipients of this inspired
With regards to the verses with which this article begins, you will
please note that James addressed some who were making business plans
-- determining to go to some city, "spend a year there, buy and
sell, and make a profit" (Jas. 4:13). Of course, there is
nothing inherently wrong in buying and selling and making a
profit. Honorable work, and honest trading for a profit
stabilizes the economy and enables people to feed their
families. This is good. However, it is not good for a
person to make plans irrespective of the brevity of life, and
without regard to what "the Lord wills." Planning ahead is wise, but
presumptuous planning which makes no provision for an uncertain
tomorrow and a certain eternity is foolish. With this in mind,
James asked, "What is your life?" And he then answered his own
question, saying "It is even a vapor that appears for a little time
and then vanishes away" (Jas. 4:14). The obvious point is that
"life," at best, is short -- so brief that it is likened to a
"vapor" that soon "vanishes away!" There is one thing upon
which all "old folks" will agree; it doesn't take long to live a
life! Hence, instead of "boasting" (v. 16) about what they
plan to do in the future, sober-minded people will say "If the Lord
wills we shall live and do this or that" (v. 15), and then act
Having made these observations, we now focus more directly upon the
question, "What is your life?" Contextually, the question was
intended to emphasize the brevity of life. And we must never lose
sight of this fact. Indeed, these verses are but a few among
many which force upon us an awareness that a person's journey from
the cradle to the grave is incredibly short -- especially when
compared to eternity. That being the case, the question "what
is your life" should receive due consideration by every responsible
person. The balance of this article is written with this in
mind. We have already addressed this question with regards to
the brevity of life, so we now
What is Your Life With Regard to Purpose?
The real value of life is not measured by quantity, but by
quality. The biography of the oldest man on record is given in
four short verses (Gen. 5:21,25-27). These verses tell us
about Methuselah. We learn that Enoch was his father; he bore
"sons and daughters," including Lamech; he lived 969 years "and he
died." This is all that is actually stated about
Methuselah. Using a little math, we can conclude that he died
in the year of the flood; he may have died in the flood. But,
regarding Methuselah, who lived 969 years, everything we know about
him can be summed up in one short paragraph which can be memorized
in five minutes.
Conversely, Jesus lived on earth for about 33 1/2 years, but four
New Testament books (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are books of
biography dealing with his life. The Old Testament looked
forward to his coming; the New Testament looks backward to his first
coming, and it looks forward to his return. The Law of Moses,
the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44) all spoke of the coming
Messiah. The life of Jesus was so significant that the apostle
John, after having already written about Jesus, concluded, saying,
"And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they
were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could
not contain the books that would be written" (John 21:25)!
Methuselah's life had length. Jesus' life had purpose.
Jesus summed it up, saying, "I have come down from heaven, not to do
My Own will, but the will of Him who sent me" (John 6:38).
Jesus knew his earthly stay would be short; hence, he said, "I must
work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is
coming when no one can work" (John 9:4).
Yes, we know about Methuselah, and we know about Jesus. But, friend,
what about you? "What is your life" with regards to
purpose? The purpose of many is to accumulate as many
material goods as possible, even though each one must die (Heb.
9:27), and not one of us can take any earthly possession with us (1
Tim. 6:7). The purpose of others may be summed up in these
words: "eat, drink, and be merry" (cf. Luke 12:15-21), but this
approach to life produces misery instead -- both here and hereafter.
What should be our real purpose in life? Solomon answered this
question in these words: "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole
matter. Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is the whole
duty of man" (Eccl. 12:13).
What is Your Life From the Standpoint of Destiny?
This question is inseparably connected with the previous
question. Purpose and destiny go hand in hand.
Speaking of destiny, there is a hell to shun (Matt. 10:28), and
there is a heaven to gain (1 Pet. 1:4). Hell is inconceivably
horrible. Heaven is inconceivably wonderful. But the
duration of each is the same; it is "everlasting" or "eternal"
One doesn't have to be morally wicked in order to be lost. In fact,
all one has to do to go to hell is nothing! When Jesus returns he
will take "vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who
do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:8). The
inspired writer expressed it this way: "Therefore, to him who knows
to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17).
Mindful of the agonies of hell, mindful of the boundless joys of
heaven, mindful of the length of eternity, and mindful of the value
of the soul, Jesus asked: "For what profit is it to a man if he
gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a
man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt. 16:26).
"The way" that "leads to destruction" is "broad" and heavily
traveled, whereas "the way which leads to life" is described as
"difficult," and there are but "few who find it" (Matt. 7:13,
14). But the "way" in which we travel determines direction,
and direction determines destiny.
We could view the question "what is your life" retrospectively,
introspectively, and prospectively (looking backward, inward, and
forward). But we have chosen, in this article, to ponder this
question with regards to duration, purpose, and destiny. Indeed,
"what is your life?" Do you need to make some changes to make
it what it ought to be? If the answer to that question is
"yes," then right now is the time to start making those
changes! Tomorrow may be eternally too late!
-- Via Truth Magazine, June 6, 2002, Vol. XLVI, No. 11
"Better is a little with righteousness than great income with
injustice" (Prov. 16:8).
"How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! And to get
understanding is to be chosen above silver" (Prov. 16:16).
by Gary Henry
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are
above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set
your mind on things above, not on things on the earth" (Colossians
DO WE HAVE DIFFICULTY KEEPING OUR MINDS PEACEFULLY FOCUSED ON GOD
WHILE WE ARE PRAYING? If so, a part of the reason may be that
we have not cultivated the habit of thinking about God throughout
the day. Minds that do not normally think of God at other
times will find it hard to stay focused on Him during occasional
periods of prayer. Thus it will help us, when we are praying,
to be people who are accustomed to "living prayerfully."
There is such a thing as a prayerful state of mind even when we're
not actually praying. We can think about God as we fulfill the
routine of our daily activities. We can be mindful of Him in a
general sort of way. Historically, those who have tried to take the
spiritual life seriously have always reported that they found it
beneficial to live consciously in the "presence" of God, being aware
of His reality at each moment. Doing this is hard at first,
simply because our minds are undisciplined. They are used to
wandering wherever they wish: here, there, and everywhere. But
with serious intent and with the discipline that is acquired in
living the spiritual life, we can learn to live in a constant state
of mindfulness about God. He can become our preoccupation.
When we're not specifically thinking about God, we can at least be
thinking about the higher and better things in the world that He has
made. Paul wrote, "Finally, brethren, whatever things are
true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever
things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of
good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything
praiseworthy; meditate on these things" (Philippians 4:8). To
think on these things is to bring ourselves closer to God and to
make our minds more inclined to the act of prayer.
God is pleased with those who seek Him diligently. And seeking
Him surely means that, amid the welter of our worldly concerns, our
minds will always be seeking Him out.
"Another way to stay with prayer is to keep your mind from wandering
too far at other times of the day. Keep it strictly in the
Presence of God. If you think of him a lot, you will find it
easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer" (Brother
-- Via WordPoints.com, August 20, 2013
News & Notes
All in all, it had been 25 precancerous and 3 cancerous spots that Terry
MacDonald recently had surgery to remove. All went
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) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
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.
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can
be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
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
(Gospel Observer website)