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).
January 5, 2014


1) The Cure for Troubled Hearts (Larry R. Devore)
2) "We Know -- We Know" (Julian R. Snell)
3) Religion: The New "Dirty" Word (Greg Gwin)
4) News & Notes


The Cure for Troubled Hearts
by Larry R. Devore

In John 14:1 we find these words of Christ: "Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me" (NASB).  

These words suggest to us that Jesus is the cure for troubled hearts.  Regardless of the heaviness of the burden that you bear, God's own Son will lift you up, heal your troubled heart, ease your burdens as no one else can.  Shortly before in John 13:21 the scripture says,  "When Jesus had thus said, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me."  Jesus knew by experience the anguish of a troubled spirit, as on this occasion He had foreknowledge of the fact that one should betray Him, and also, that despite Peter's vow of faithfulness even unto death, Jesus knew Peter's efforts were doomed to failure (Jn. 13: 38).  Jesus, then, could say with authority and sympathetic understanding, "Let not your heart be troubled."  Peter and the other disciples needed to hear these words in John 14:1-6, and we today need the comfort of these words.  

It is wonderful what Jesus can do with a broken heart when we give Him all the pieces.  Jesus can meet and fulfill our every spiritual need.  What do you need, my friend?  Do you need salvation?  Jesus is the answer.  In fact, He is the only answer (John 14:6; Acts 4:12).  By obedience to His gospel, He will wash away your sins and make you whole and clean: Jn. 15:3; Mark 16:16; Jn. 20:31; Luke 24:45-47.  

Do you need peace for a sin-guilty conscience?  Jesus will give you peace (John 14:27).  Not the peace of sleep or a drug-induced peace, but true spiritual peace.  

Do you need comfort because death has separated you from someone you love?  Jesus can heal your broken heart.  He who is "the resurrection and the life" gives us assurance that "though were he dead, yet shall he live" (John 11:25).  As Jesus conquered death, so shall they who "die in the Lord" also conquer death.  

Jesus will take care of your every spiritual need if you will let Him and will conform your life to His will.  Our partaking of the spiritual blessings Jesus provides (Eph. 1:3) depends upon our doing His will (Matt. 7:21).  

Don't expect Jesus to fulfill your every whim and fancy for material things that you may covet.  Jesus did not and does not promise to give you a new car because your neighbor has one and you are down in the mouth about it.  That is not what is under consideration in this article.  (But you know that.)

So many people are searching today for the peace and joy and fulfillment of life, and yet they never find it because they look in the wrong places.  Some search for peace (or at least escape) in the cup of wine, or in the hypodermic needle, or in the accumulation of material possessions, or in occultism, or what have you.  But the answer lies in none of these.  

I suggest to you that true peace only comes through serving God and His Son, by being a member of His Son's body, the church for which He died (Acts 20:28).  God cannot be served acceptably in secular society or in a religious institution of human origin.  Jesus points out to us that there is only ONE WAY to heaven, and only one acceptable manner of worship (IN SPIRIT AND IN TRUTH) (John 2:24).  

My friend, Jesus can meet and fulfill your every spiritual need.  He can heal your troubled heart; give you a new life in Him (2 Cor. 5:17), and give you a spiritual peace that the world knows nothing of, nor can it offer anything like it.  Will you let Him help you?  "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16).

-- Via The Gospel Guardian, July 29, 1971



"We Know -- We Know"
by Julian R. Snell

Confusion and doubt in so many areas of life seem to lend, at least with some, even to the relationship in Christ. With what, for me, is, increasing frequency I am hearing members of the church speak with uncertainty about their faith, whether saved or not, faithful or not, and the like.  A great deal of writing has been done on the grace of God and some are still perplexed and with them the bottom line is, "Can we be certain of God's grace?"  Careful study of the First Epistle of John reveals a positive note which seems especially timely.

The basic theme and purpose of the First Epistle of John is expressed within, "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God" (1 Jn. 5:13).  In face of the heresy afflicting churches of Asia Minor near the close of the first century this statement has special impact.  

Gnosticism, a combination of religion and philosophy, projected the idea that only spirit is good and that flesh and material things are all together evil.  The Gnostic believed one must free himself from the material and be occupied solely with the spirit.  His means of solving the problem was in the exaltation of superior knowledge, or human wisdom.  "Gnosis" is the Greek term meaning "to know."  The Gnostics thought they knew all the mysteries of the universe and having solved these, freedom was theirs.  This concept of superior knowledge occupied the place of faith and actually outmoded faith.  To the superior mind thus enmeshed in this fallacy the great question was not "What must I do to be saved? but "What is the origin of evil?" and "How are we to restore the primitive order?"  Having by superior wisdom resolved this, they saw themselves as dwelling on a totally spiritual plane in this material realm.  John summarizes the basic thrust of the epistle toward correcting the uncertainty and doubt generated by these errors.  The details undergirding this are challenging.

The repeated use of the expression "we know" in this epistle encourages confidence and certainty.  Our conclusion is that there is a certainty attending our relationship to the Lord which does not lend itself to doubt.  Faith and the hope it produces is not uncertain and doubtful in any respect.  However, these initial observations are not to be seen as a slighting of conditions or in any way overriding those conditions.  Quite to the contrary, it is the meeting of the conditions that gives the assurance and confidence.

"And hereby we know that we know him, if we  keep his commandments" (1 Jn. 2:3).  This is a clear cut statement of criteria whereby we may know if we are God's children.  The word "keep" is present subjunctive, thus conveys the meaning "keep on keeping."  The sense of the statement at this point clearly impresses an attitude of submission that produces the fruit of obedience.  To conclude a one time obedience would be ridiculous.  It is continuity that is here impressed.  Those thus described "know" God.  Mere acquaintance with his nature does not satisfy the point.  Rather an intimacy akin to Father-children involving His spirit and character which sees a taking on and a reflection of  them.  The "know" of the Gnostic is in contrast with the knowledge of faith, the latter based upon believing and obeying the commandments of God.  Which commandments are we to obey?  A frivolous question when we recognize that the commandments of God are as one: "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all" (Jas. 2:10).  Similar to breaking a pitcher by a small puncture hole, it no longer serves its purpose.  One commandment broken nullifies the purpose of God and identifies the violator as reverencing his own will over and above the will of God even in making choice of the commandment he breaks.  The negative consideration of verse 4 furnishes a conclusion on the foregoing premise: "He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him."  By such the nature and character of the true father, the devil, is demonstrated.  "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do" (Jn. 8:44).  

"Hereby we know that we are in him" (1 Jn. 2:5) further identifies with the keeping of His word.  "In him verily hath the love of God been perfected" makes us aware that our standing as complete and mature revolves around obedience as such gives expression to our love of God.  "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous" (1 Jn. 5: 3).  Obedience has ever been the acid test of love, and only in those who are passing the test is there the intimacy of relationship which embraces all the blessings flowing from God.  Truly, the kind of fruit produced as result of our love for God indexes our union with Him.  One's life is the reflection of the pattern by which it is shaped and molded.  For the second time, we take note of the certainty and confidence repeatedly expressed by this Apostle as he makes us aware of the certainty of our salvation.

-- Via Searching the Scriptures, August 1985, Volume XXVI, Number 8


Religion: The New Dirty Word

A bumper sticker recently viewed said: "I'm not religious, I just love the Lord."  What in the world does that mean!?!

This strange expression probably is a reaction against the hypocritical conduct of lots of so-called Christians and many of their pretentious leaders.  You don't have to be terribly perceptive to realize that there are a lot of folks out there in the religious world who "say and do not" (Matthew 23:3).  These are the sort who received Jesus' strongest condemnations.  He called them "hypocrites," "blind guides," and "whited sepulchres which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones" (Matthew 23:15,16,27).  

But shall we delegate the word "religious" to the realm of dirty words simply because there are those who act this way?  Absolutely not!  James 1:27 speaks of "pure religion and undefiled before God."  The verse goes on to describe this type religion: "to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world."

Now, think about the bumper sticker again -- "I'm not religious, I just love the Lord."  Taken literally, this means that the car owner which displays this logo does not "visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction," and does not "keep himself unspotted from the world."  Gets a little crazy doesn't it?  The dictionary says that to be religious is to be "pious, devout, godly," and thus it is impossible to truly "love the Lord" without being "religious"!  Think!

-- Greg Gwin, via The Beacon, December 10,  2013


News & Notes

The accommodations for Clara Jean Calloway's funeral service on January 7 turned out to be more than expected.  I appreciate, too, the fine job that Erin Percell did in leading the singing; and the good prayer that Ken Robertson led at the close of the service.  They both helped to make it even better and to bring more comfort to all the family and friends.  Let those of us who are Christians also continue to remember Jean's loved ones in prayer.

I heard some good news from Linda Blevins recently, concerning her mother (Virginia Fontenot) who for the last several months has been treated for stage 4 cancer.  Linda reported that her mother had reversal surgery January 7 for a previous colostomy. So she is no longer in need of that.  And even better still is that when they examined her abdominal cavity (which includes the stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, small intestine, kidneys, large intestine, and adrenal glands), there was no trace of cancer -- and even though there had been some there before!  Linda attributes this to the chemo treatments and to God answering prayer.  In 3 or 4 weeks, Virginia will begin an oral medicine intead of infusion with a needle.  It will probably be a few weeks, as she is recovering, before she can be out and about.  Let us also continue to remember her in our prayers.

Let us also be praying for Doris Crews
On December 26, she slipped on the ice -- right in front of her chiropractor's office -- and broke her hip, which required putting in two pins.
Let us also continue to offer prayers for 
Shirley Young, Cheryl Crews, and Terry and Pam MacDonald.

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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