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 13, 2014


1) The Water of Life (R.J. Evans)
2) If Not the Rapture, What Then? (Kent Heaton)
3) News & Notes


The Water of Life
by R.J. Evans

Water!  What a blessing!  To think that here in America, if we are thirsty, we simply turn on the faucet, go to the water fountain, or open up a container of bottled water.  When we get ready to take a shower, wash our car, water our garden, we simply turn on the faucet.  Oh how we take this wonderful blessing of water for granted!

While "the earth was without form and void, and darkness was on the face of the deep...the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters" (Gen. 1:2).  During the creative process, God said, "Let there be a firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament; and it was so" (Gen. 1:7).  From the reading of these verses, perhaps water was one of the "firsts" of God's creation, in that, it existed when the earth was still without form and void.  Most all living creatures God put here on earth are composed of a high percentage of water.  Humans, animals, and vegetation all need water in order to survive.  

I find it interesting that God, in His wisdom, included immersion in water as part of His plan of salvation for man -- baptism.  Jesus said, "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk. 16:16).  He further stated, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"  (Jn. 3:5).  The eunuch said to Philip, "See, here is water.  What hinders me from being baptized?...And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him" (Acts 8:36-38).  At the house of Cornelius, Peter raised the question, "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized?...And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord" (Acts 10:46-48).  Peter stated that "God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.  There is also an antitype which now saves us, namely baptism..." (1 Pet. 3:20-21).  

Though water covers much of the world, more than 97 percent is salty.  Two percent of fresh water is locked in snow and ice, leaving one percent for us.  Two-thirds of our water is used to grow food.  Americans use about 100 gallons of water each day in their homes.  Millions of the world's poorest populations subsist on fewer than five gallons of water per day.  Forty-six percent of the people who live on this earth do not have water piped to their houses.  Women in undeveloped countries walk an average of 3.7 miles to get water.  Truly, we Americans are blessed!  Some estimate that by the year 2025, 1.8 billion people will live where water is scarce.  (These facts and figures were obtained from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, A Special Issue, WATER: OUR THIRSTY WORLD, April, 2010.)

As wonderful and essential as water is, let's consider the One who created it and gave it to us -- Jesus, the Son of God.  The Bible tells us that He created all things -- "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him" (Col. 1:16).  

Now let's consider another kind of water that Jesus provides.  While having a conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well, Jesus told her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.  But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (Jn. 4:13-14).  Just imagine -- never thirsting again, a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life!  Jesus provides this for us by the giving of His life and our obedience to His gospel.  

What a contrast!  When we are thirsty and get a drink, we thirst again.  This living water causes us to never thirst again.  Later on, Jesus said, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water" (Jn. 7:37-38).  Thus, all the spiritual blessings that are provided "in Christ" (Eph. 1:3) are represented as "living water."  And then, to think that this water flows in Heaven, "and he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and the Lamb" (Rev. 22:1).  

Surely, we desire such water -- indescribable blessings, life everlasting in Heaven!  It's even better than the legendary "fountain of youth."  And it can all be ours if we will but simply come to Him believing, repenting of our sins, confessing our faith in Him, being baptized for the remission of our sins, and being faithful until death (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3, 5; Matt. 10:32-33; Mk. 16:16; Rev. 2:10).  

And, finally, consider this: Jesus invites us to drink of this water.  "And the Spirit and the bride say 'Come!'  And let him who hears say 'Come!'  And let him who thirsts come.  And whosoever desires, let him take the water of life freely" (Rev. 22:17).  

-- Via the bulletin for the Southside church of Christ in Gonzales, Louisiana, July 2014


If Not The Rapture, What Then?
by Kent Heaton

The doctrine of men suggesting the Lord will return to earth a second time for a "rapture" disregards the nature of the second coming of Christ described by the writer of Hebrews in Hebrews 9:27-28. "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." The first time Christ appeared was when He came as a man (Philippians 2:5-11). The Hebrew writer says Christ will "appear a second time" and this time it will be for salvation. The Bible nowhere teaches Christ will appear a third time (as taught by those who believe in the "Rapture").  

The second appearing of Christ will be the final appearing of Christ. Paul told the church at Thessalonica, "and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). The day Paul speaks of is the final day of man's existence on earth -- the second coming of Christ.  

There are numerous passages that show how things will be when Christ returns. "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats" (Matthew 25:31-32). The coming of the Lord will be a time of great noise (unlike the teaching of the silent rapture). "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first" (1 Thessalonians 4:16). "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Corinthians 15:52).  

When we see the nature of the second coming of Christ it is clearly evident with the "shout," the "voice of an archangel," the "trumpet of God," and the "last trumpet" (which suggest no more trumpets) this event will be accompanied by a great deal of noise. Jesus declared upon His return that "all who are in the graves will hear His voice" (John 5:28). This last day event is deafening to the measure of Heaven's power being brought to bear upon the earth and all mankind.  

The apostle Peter spoke of the last days and how the coming of the Lord will be characterized. "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). The coming of the Lord will be like a thief and it will come with a "GREAT NOISE." At the coming of the Lord the earth will be burned up. Judgment will take place and the lake of fire will receive its recipients and Heaven will fill with the saints of God. People of God will be "looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God" (2 Peter 3:12).  

Are you ready for the second coming of Christ? He is only coming one more time!

-- via Biblelist, April 18, 2011


News & Notes

Let those of us who are Christians be praying for the following people:

Danielle Howard is scheduled to have a second hip replacement July 22, which might change the earlier plans of her thyroid surgery that is to be August 5 (but that will soon be determined).   

Due to his shortness of breath and heart blockages, Jim Lively is seeing, in addition to his heart doctor, a pulmonary physician.  On July 30, Jim will be undergoing a sleep study for sleep apnea at the Outpatient Sleep Lab; and on August 11, a breathing study at the Mayo Clinic. And in the next several weeks, he will also be having bypass surgery for his heart.  

Norma Burton was admitted to the Mayo Clinic July 15 due to a painful infection and swelling in her right leg.  It has now been treated, and she is on medication; but as of the evening of July 18, she was still experiencing discomfort from it, while it is healing.

Virginia Fontenot’s new treatment for her cancer went a little easier for her -- compared to the previous ones she has been through.  Her daughter, Linda Blevins, also informed me that we should know in about 3 weeks of how well or not that treatment will shrink or eliminate the tumors, which had been increasing in number and in size.

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

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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