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 6, 2014


1) The Deity is in the Details (Steve Klein)
2) Memorizing Scripture (Greg Gwin)
3) News & Notes


The Deity is in the Details
by Steve Klein

Romans 1:4 tells us that Jesus Christ was "declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead."  The resurrection of Jesus, more than perhaps any other single event, demonstrates to mankind the Deity of Jesus of Nazareth.  

People being raised from the dead, while not an everyday occurrence in Bible times, certainly happened occasionally.  Jesus raised Lazarus, the widow's son at Nain, the daughter of Jairus, and perhaps others (John 11; Luke 7:11-15, 22; 8:49-56).  None of these individuals are thought to be "gods" because they were raised from the dead.  

The case of Jesus is plainly different.  As Jesus lies in the tomb, there is no human standing outside calling him to come forth, no one taking Him by the hand and commanding Him to arise.  His body lies alone in Joseph's new tomb and the tomb is sealed and closely guarded.  No human even witnesses His actual resurrection -- when the angel rolled away the stone the guards "became like dead men" (Matthew 28:4). Jesus' resurrection was accomplished directly by the power of God.  The fact that "God raised up" Jesus is declared many times in the Book of Acts (2:24,32; 3:13; 4:10; 10:40; 13:30,37).  And it is this fact that identifies Jesus as the Divine Son of God.  

The resurrection of Jesus Christ occurred in such a way as to leave men with physical and testimonial evidence of it.  The details of this evidence give us striking proof of the authenticity of the resurrection, and thus of the Deity of Christ.  Consider the following details:

The tomb was new and no one had been laid to rest there before (Matthew 27:57; Mark 15:43; Luke 23:51).  There was no possibility of getting Jesus' body confused with the remains of another, or failing to remember where it had been placed in a tomb that housed many corpses.  

The tomb was sealed with a large stone and guarded (Matthew 27:60-66).  Grave robbers or others could not have taken the body.  

The grave clothes were left neatly in the tomb. When Peter and John went into the tomb after the resurrection, they "saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself" (John 20:6-8).  Who would steal a body and take the time to unwrap it and neatly fold up the clothes?  Who would not take the expensive grave wrappings if they had been raised from the dead? (Perhaps Someone who knew that He would never need them again!)

The scars in Jesus' resurrected body were examined.  On the very evening of the day He was raised, Jesus appeared to His disciples and "showed them His hands and His side" (John 20:20).  While wounds in the hands could be observed on anyone who had been crucified, Jesus' wound in His side was somewhat unique.  It offers gruesome evidence not only of His identity, but also of what His now living body had once endured.  

Many saw Him alive.  The number of witnesses to Jesus' resurrection makes it all the more credible.  In a court of law, facts can be demonstrated on the basis of two or three reliable witnesses.  Many, many more than that saw the resurrected Christ, including the apostles, Mary Magdalene, Cleopas, James, 500 brethren at once, and finally the apostle Paul.  

The detailed and reliable evidence we have been given for the resurrection of Jesus should make it all the easier to believe that it occurred.  And believing in the resurrection of Jesus is the key to our salvation and the cause for our commitment to Him. "Knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus" (2 Corinthians 4:14).  

-- Via Teaching Good Things (kalodidaskalos), July 4, 2014


Memorizing Scripture
by Greg Gwin

It was Mr. Powell's sixth grade class, and the plan was for a special celebration of Lincoln's birthday.  I was tall and skinny, and with a stove pipe hat made of construction paper and a fake black beard, I made a pretty fair 'Abe Lincoln.'  My assignment was to memorize the Gettysburg Address and recite it before the whole student body.  I can still remember how hard it was to memorize that speech.  And the stage fright -- WOW!

For some folks memorizing things is a real challenge -- for others, it comes easier.  But for us all, it requires special effort and commitment.  This is certainly true when it comes to memorizing Scripture.  But the benefits are real and the need is critical.  All Christians need to have important passages of God's Word committed to memory.  

It is impossible to imagine a more important document that we could endeavor to learn by heart.  The Bible contains God's complete revelation to man (2 Timothy 3:16,17) and contains everything we need for "life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3).  It is the only way we can know the mind and will of the Eternal Creator (1 Corinthians 2:9-13).  For these reasons this inspired message should be our "delight" (Psalm 1:2) and "the joy and rejoicing of our heart" (Jeremiah 15:16).  

It is worth noting that God has always expected -- even commanded -- that His people commit His Word to memory.  Moses instructed the Israelites to "lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul" (Deuteronomy 11:18).  That sounds like memorizing, does it not?   Similarly, Paul wrote that we ought to "let the word of Christ dwell in you" (Colossians 3:16).  

Of course, our motivation for memorizing needs to be correct.  In the early 1900s a young Russian boy named Nikki won prizes at the Russia Orthodox church in his home village of Kalonovka.  He even received special recognition for memorizing and reciting the complete texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  But his incentive was for the prizes and acknowledgement, not for the real sake of learning and applying the Scriptures to his daily life.  Oh, by the way, we know that young Nikki better for his later activities as the Communist ruler Nikita Khrushchev (Parade Magazine, 2/11/62).  

As was mentioned earlier, the benefits of memorizing Scripture are many and significant.  For instance, it serves as a principle resource for resisting temptation and sin.  The Psalmist asked: "Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way?"  In other words, how is a young person going to 'stay on the strait and narrow'?  He continues with the answer: "by taking heed thereto according to thy word . . . Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:9-11).  Hiding the Word in your heart?  Certainly sounds like memorization!  Of course, we have the perfect example of Jesus who resisted each of Satan's temptations by quoting Scripture (Matthew 4:3-10).  

Furthermore, knowing and being able to recite Scripture will help us make the difficult decisions that face us on a regular basis.  His Word is "a lamp unto our feet, and a light unto our path" (Psalm 119: 105), but we are 'left in the dark' unless we have it committed to ready recall.  The stress and hardships of daily life are eased by remembering and applying His truth in all of our circumstances.  Again in the Psalms we read: "Remember the word to Thy servant, in which Thou hast made me hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction, that Thy word has revived me" (119:49,50).  Do you see it?  Hope, comfort in affliction, revival -- all coming from the Word.  

Ranking high on the list of advantages we gain by memorizing Scripture is the courage we gain to share His truth with others.  Christians are often too timid and reserved when it comes to talking to others.  This timidity can be directly linked to the fear that we might be asked questions that we can not answer.  But, if we have worked hard to commit important sections of the Bible to memory, this fear is removed.  With an arsenal of memorized Scripture, we stand "ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15), and we are "set for the defense of the gospel" (Philippians 1:17).  

The story is told of an old preacher who was approached by a young admirer: "Sir, I'd give half my life to know the Bible like you do!"  The old preacher replied: "Well, son, that's about what it's taken -- about half my life."  If you really want to know your Bible well, and be able to recall and recite multiple passages of Scripture, you should start now to implement a specific plan to memorize God's Word.  You will not be sorry that you did.  

-- Via The Beacon, April 29, 2014


News & Notes

On July 1, Danielle Howard received some bad news, as her father reports, that "the ball in her right hip is shifting out of the socket," which the doctor thinks will require another hip replacement.  On July 2, her hemoglobin (which should be 12 for normal) was down to just 6.9.  And being below 7, for one undergoing dialysis, requires a blood transfusion.  On July 15, she will be back in Jacksonville to consult with her orthopaedic surgeon.  She has also been having swelling in her right arm and leg, which is thought to be due to the portal for dialysis.

Hospice care has been suggested for Virginia Fontenot, but she was also given a choice of trying a new chemo, which she will begin Tuesday.  Her doctor informed her that her lungs are "very bad."   

On July 8, Jim Lively was in the hospital for a heart catheterization, due to the shortness of breath that he has been experiencing the last couple months.  It was discovered that there are a couple complete blockages to his heart and one about 80%.  He will also be seeing his pulmonary doctor for further tests and will probably have bypass surgery in the next few weeks.

Also on the prayer list: Norma Burton, Ronnie Davis, Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jewel Wilson, Mary Vandevander, Deborah Medlock, Shirley Davis, Sue Wooten, A.J. and Pat Joyner, and Colleen Henson.

Let those of us who are Christians be keeping all of these people in our prayers.

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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