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).
October 12, 2014


1) What God Has NOT Given Us (David Diestelkamp)
2) Our Reception of It (Gilbert Alexander)
3) The Truth Sometimes Hurts (Jonathan Perz)
4) News & Notes


What God Has Not Given Us
by David Diestelkamp

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).

We talk a lot about what God has given us in Christ, but we don't think as much about what God has not given us.  

We might wonder what the point would be since God hasn't given it. So we don't have it; so what? However, the point is that we are to accept, embrace, and live what God has given -- so the converse is also true; we are not to accept, embrace, and live what God has not given!

In the context of 2 Timothy 1:7, Paul is reminding Timothy to "stir up the gift of God which is in you" (1:6). "Be all you can be" and "Serve God with your all" is what he's writing.   

What could stifle that? Fear!

God Has NOT Given Us A Spirit of Fear

Yassar Arafat was a leader of several Islamic nationalist groups which influenced Arab countries from the 1960s to about 2000. He was accused of masterminding Middle East violence and terrorism. A man tells of meeting Arafat and talking about Jesus. He was surrounded by heavily armed men at an undisclosed location. He said he didn't know if he would live or die. Some present tried to stop him, yet he continued. Arafat silenced those who interrupted. Arafat was kind and appreciative and continued contact afterward. When asked about being scared, the man said he wasn't afraid. He said, "If I died, what better way to go to the Lord?"

What would fear have done to the above story? Sometimes what we call "political correctness," "tact," and "taking it slowly" is really just fear on our part.  

In order to "stir up the gift of God which is in you," we are going to have to stop being afraid. Fear causes reluctance. It causes us to hide our lights.  

"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matthew 5:16).  

Our spirit is the thinking, reasoning, choosing part of us. It's that part of us that makes us what we are: "For as he thinks in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7).  

That inner part of us is not afraid because God has recreated our spirit to not contain fear -- fear is contrary to its nature. God has not simply emptied our spirit of fear, He has replaced it with a spirit that doesn't contain fear. He has crowded fear out by giving us a spirit "of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Tim. 1:7).  

God HAS Given Us...  

Power -- We aren't afraid like other people because God has given us not a spirit of fear but a spirit "of power." Thayer's Lexicon tells us that this word has the idea of "strength, ability, power"; and then he says, "power residing in a thing by virtue of its nature." When we plug this into 2 Timothy 1:7, we see that the power to overcome fear doesn't reside in our own abilities. We don't fear because God changes our inner person and the inner person He creates in us is not by nature fearful. It is by nature strong, able, and powerful!

Do we open ourselves up enough in faith for God to change us at this level? What, that God asks of us, can we not do if our spirit is 100% of God and for God?

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).  

Love -- It's easy to welcome the spirit of love God gives us, but we may fail to recognize how it removes fear and motivates action. Having a spirit of love means more than not hating. It moves us to do positive acts of love. We love God and others because who we are has changed and there is now no place for hatred in us. When our spirit is given us of God and is "of love," our thoughts and actions will follow!

"By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).  

A Sound Mind -- Disciples of Christ aren't crazy. We haven't abandoned reason. We are clear thinking and self-controlled. We don't live in fear, not because we avoid all fearful situations, but because we remain clearheaded even in intense situations; and we know something that fearful-spirited people don't know. We know that we don't live for this life. We know our hope is based on infallible truth and the guaranteed promises of God. Nothing can shake our spirit to divert attention from the Author of our faith or separate us from His love. What fear could intimidate a spirit like this?

"looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2).

-- Think on These Things, January-February-March 2014, Volume 45, Number 1


Our Reception of It
by Gilbert Alexander

How we ought to receive what God has said to us, and how we ought to respond to His instruction is a matter of  grave  concern to true believers, for we will be judged at  last by His word (John  12:48-50).  "Whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them" is the language Jesus used to pronounce blessing upon  the obedient (Matthew  7:24). He taught people to be concerned about all of God's instruction to them. Even jots and tittles have their significance  (Matthew  5:18).  "Every word," "the whole counsel of God," and "all scripture" are biblical expressions that make us attentive to all that Christ has said to us, to receive it and to do it (Matthew 4:4; Acts 20:27; II Timothy 3:16,17).  

When the Pharisees asked Jesus, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?," how did Jesus respond?  Did He tell them that they were too concerned about law and its particulars?  Please read Matthew 19:3-9.  Did Jesus tell the Jews that it was not required that they tithe mint and anise and cummin?  Please read Matthew 23:23 carefully!  When Cornelius told Peter that those present were there to hear all things commanded by God (Acts 10:33), did Peter tell him that he was on the wrong track and that Christianity is all about love and not commandment-keeping?  Please read Acts 10:34-48.  Was love excluded from Peter's message?  Certainly not!  Note verse 38.  Obedience is the manifestation of love and an essential element of it (I John 3:16-18; 4:9; 5:2,3).  Love does not supplant obedience, but urges and  requires  it.  "He  who  has  My  commandments  and  keeps  them, it is he who loves Me," Jesus said (John 14:21).  To ignore or refuse to obey Christ's commands is to show that one does not truly love Him (John 14:24).  

Friends and brethren, we will all give an account to God based on how we have received His word and whether  we  have  believed  and  obeyed  it,  loving  God  and  fearing  God.  Let  us not commit the error of contrasting love and obedience to the commands of the Lord, and let us not deny the essentiality of either love or obedience for salvation.  

-- article via the Eastside church of Christ (Athens, AL)


The Truth Sometimes Hurts
by Jonathan Perz

How much do you appreciate the truth? The truth is easy to hear when it is flattering, encouraging and uplifting. However, the truth can sometimes hurt. Do you always desire the truth from those around you, regardless of whether it is favorable or not? Do you always demand the truth from those who preach and teach the gospel of Christ?

The truth pleased the rich young ruler until Jesus told him the one thing he lacked (Mark 10:17-22). Some would call such a declaration of truth unloving, but the Spirit called it love (note verse 21). How do we feel when someone courageously and honestly points out our shortcomings (Prov. 27:6)?

Some of the Jews who heard Peter on Pentecost appreciated the truth, though it indicted them. They chose repentance and baptism (Acts 2:36-40). Whereas, those Jews who heard Stephen speak that same truth hated what was spoken. They responded by stoning Stephen to death (Acts 7:54-60). How do we respond to the truth?

The Galatians loved the apostle Paul -- so much that at one point they were willing to pluck out their own eyes and give them to Paul. However, in the very next verse, Paul was compelled to ask if he had become their enemy because he told them the truth (Gal. 4:14-16). Do we despise those who tell us what we need to hear?

Simply stated, unless we have a love of the truth, we will never appreciate the truths that hurt (2 Thess. 2:10-12). Unless we are willing to accept painful truths, we cannot know the sanctifying power of truth (John 17:17). Unless we obey the truth, we will be condemned (Rom. 2:8).  

How much do you appreciate truth? The answer is painfully obvious when we are confronted with agonizing truths that require change in our lives. Change hurts, but the truth saves. How will you respond the next time you are confronted with the truth?

-- The Beacon, October 7, 2014


News & Notes

Let those of us who are God's children be remembering the following people in prayer:

Marie Turner is now back home, following her recent surgery for cancer.  She will be having follow-up in 2 weeks and will require targeted radiation treatments.

Myrna Jordan had been back in Savannah recently to see her physician and all continues to progress well for her.

Carol Drain's cataract surgery also went well on October 14,  and she will soon be having the same for her other eye.

Let us also continue to include on our prayer list the following for their health: Jim Lively, Danielle Howard, Virginia Fontenot, Ronnie Davis, Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jewel Wilson, Mary Vandevander, Deborah Medlock, Shirley Davis, Sue Wooten, Dexter Roberts, 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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