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).
February 22, 2015
1) A Rainbow in the Clouds (Colly Caldwell)
2) Why Do "Churches of Christ" Differ So Widely? (Sewell Hall)
3) News & Notes
A Rainbow in the Clouds
by Colly Caldwell
"I establish my covenant with you: Never again shall all flesh be
cut off by the waters of the flood; never again shall there be a
flood to destroy the earth." And God said: This is the sign of the
covenant which I make between Me and you, and every living creature
that is with you, for perpetual generations: I set my rainbow in the
cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between me and
the earth" (Gen. 9:11-13).
Do you remember this old song we used to sing: "As I journey here
'mid the toil and tears, there's a rainbow in the cloud; He will
safely lead, I must have no fear, there's a rainbow in the clouds."
"Noah and the Ark" is one of the first Bible stories we all remember
from our cradle classes in the church. God told Noah to build a huge
boat and take into it every kind of animal. By doing so, Noah and
his family would be saved from perishing in a flood that would take
all other living beings on the earth. It was amazing!
But perhaps the most amazing part of the story is when the water
recedes and God makes a covenant with man and every living creature
on earth that He will never again destroy the earth by a flood like
that. To confirm that promise, God established a sign, the rainbow,
as a reminder.
I want to encourage you to think about God's promise every time you
see a rainbow. It is not just a pretty vision of blue, red, violet,
green, and golden arches. You can see pretty rounded designs in
front of McDonald's, near the riverbank at St. Louis, or even on
billboards advocating homosexuality. But you can see this vision of
God's great promise to man in multiple colors anywhere on earth when
the storm clouds ease and the rain is passed, telling us that He
will never destroy us all by flood again.
I want to encourage you to think about something else which should
be a great blessing to you. Notice in the wonderful paragraph from
which we are reading in Genesis, chapter nine, that God says in
verse 14, that He too will look at the rainbow and remember. "It
shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow
shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is
between Me and you...." And again in verse 16, he says, "The rainbow
shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the
everlasting covenant...." This is saying that when we look at the
rainbow and remember God's promises, He is looking too!!!
Some of the oldest of Bible stories speak to our hearts today in
ways that move us to want to be better people and to be more
Godlike. They do so by reminding us not just of truths like the fact
that God will not destroy us all in a flood. They do so by reminding
us of the great character of God and of His love for us. Think about
Even when God sees the terrible sinfulness of man, He wants to save
us. Even Noah was not a sinless man. Neither were his wife and sons
and their wives. And yet, when the world hit bottom and God had to
do something because "the wickedness of man was great in the earth,
and every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil
continually," He offered an escape for humanity through this one
You know, God made another covenant (with Abraham), that he would
save the world through his seed, and that came when He sent His Son
to die for us. That covenant had two signs, circumcision and the
Sabbath, in Old Testament days. But ultimately, the universal symbol
we recognize of that covenant and the New Covenant is the cross!
That is beheld each Lord's Day when we partake of the Lord's Supper.
The cross is not just a piece of wood to us, but a symbol of God's
love and His promise to save those who have faith in His Son.
It is sad that people often see in God's symbols only the material,
physical elements intended to remind us of greater things. Like the
woman in Paris in 1993, who paid $18,000 for two slivers of wood
supposedly from the cross on which Jesus was crucified. With them
she received two certificates from the Vatican issued in 1855 saying
they were authentic.
I believe that God sees the cross in His mind's eye and remembers
His spiritual covenant with man in Jesus; just as he looks on the
rainbow and remembers His physical covenant with all the creatures
on the earth. He does that because of His love for us and His desire
to save us from the consequences of our sins.
Do you see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? God has
secured rich rewards for those who believe in Him and follow His Son
along the pathway that leads to the blessings secured by His
promises. All God's promises are true. There's a rainbow in the
-- via Biblical Insights, July 2012
Why Do "Churches of Christ" Differ So Widely?
by Sewell Hall
A sign reading "Church of Christ" in front of a building tells you
very little these days. Most any doctrine or practice may be found
inside. This is frustrating to many people.
Outsiders make fun of the situation, saying, "You preach unity but
you are the most divided people we know." They may add, "This just
proves you are not the true church." This last statement shows a
total misunderstanding of what the true church is, but it is a
misunderstanding shared by far too many "members of the church."
How Can We Explain It?
First, many churches that claim to be churches of Christ are not "of
Christ" at all. Any church can claim that designation, but only one
that truly recognizes Christ as its head is justified in using it.
There is no denominational accrediting board that can certify a
church as a true church of Christ -- the Lord Himself is the judge
In addition, there are churches, claiming to be churches of Christ,
that intend to follow Jesus but have widely differing ideas of what
that involves. Some, like the Sadducees, "are mistaken, not knowing
the Scriptures nor the power of God" (Matthew 22:29). Others know
the scriptures but construe them loosely, rejecting only those
things that are forbidden. Still others believe that only those
things clearly authorized are to be practiced; but even among these
there may be differences as to what is authorized. When such
congregations are truly autonomous, it is inevitable that there will
be noticeable differences.
Such Differences Are Not New
Differences existed among churches established by the apostles even
while the New Testament was still being written. The "seven churches
of Asia" (Revelation 2 and 3) provide good examples.
A visitor in Ephesus would have found an old established church that
was doing everything right but with a lack of love (Revelation 2:4).
Moving on to Smyrna, he would find a rather poor little group that
had a bad reputation among the Jews in town (Revelation 2:9).
Visiting the church in Pergamum, he might well hear a teacher
defending idolatry, approving the eating of meat sacrificed to them
(Revelation 2:14). And if that was not shocking enough, going on to
Thyatira he might meet a woman in the church who claimed to be a
prophetess and was actually teaching and seducing the men to commit
fornication (Revelation 2:20).
If the traveler expressed concern about what he had found thus far,
he might well be told that he would find things better in Sardis
where there was a church widely known as a really lively church. But
on arriving there, he would be disappointed to find that, as far as
doing what God wanted them to do, they really were dead (Revelation
3:1-2). Moving on to Philadelphia, he would find a church made up of
good people, but relatively small and with "little strength"
(Revelation 3:8). Finally, in Laodicea, visiting the church he might
be met by greeters at the door offering him a brochure and telling
him how rich and self-sufficient the church was; but on closer
inspection he would find that they really were spiritually
"wretched, miserable, poor, blind and naked" (Revelation 3:17). At
least, that's what the Lord found.
Were all of these churches right because they would claim to be "of
Christ"? No! Two of them were threatened with total rejection by the
Lord (Revelation 2:5; 3:16) and three others were warned of dire
consequences if they did not repent. Did the remaining congregations
comprise the "one true church?" NO! The one true church is not
composed of congregations but of faithful individuals saved by the
Lord (Acts 2:47). In spite of the false teaching and immorality in
some of the churches there were still some who had "not defiled
their garments." The faithful remnant in these and other churches
made up -- and make up -- the "one true church."
What All Churches Must Do
In John's epistles, written about the same time, we see echoes of
the same problems. He speaks of those who questioned both the
divinity and humanity of Jesus (doctrine of the Nicolaitans?); of
those claiming they could sin without guilt and of some who hated
their brethren. There had even been divisions which John explains by
saying, "They went out from us because they were not of us" (I John
John stated the solution. Approximately ten times in I and II John
he speaks of "the beginning." Most often that expression seems to
refer to the beginning of the church on Pentecost under the
direction of the apostles of Jesus (see I John 2:24). After warning
of false teachers (I John 4:1) he provides the standard by which
they are to be tested. As an apostle he writes: "We are of God. He
who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By
this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error" (I John
We cannot be responsible for every church in the world that calls
itself a church of Christ. Our responsibility as congregations is to
go back to be the church as it was in "the beginning" and to the
apostles doctrine in which that church continued steadfastly (Acts
2:42). As individuals we must make sure that we are a part of the
faithful remnant that makes up the "one true church."
-- Via Biblical Insights, February 2012
News & Notes
We extend our sympathies to the family and friends of Patricia
Lynn Seif (nee Daniels) who recently passed away, due
to complications brought on by cancer. Though originally from
Reading, Pennsylvania, she had moved to the Dallas area soon
after her marriage in 1986 to Jeffrey L. Seif. She is also
survived by her two sons Jacob (and his wife Sasha)
and Zac, and also by her mother Jenevieve Rosteck Daniels,
and brother Johnny Daniels. Let those of us who are
Christians pray that God will bring comfort to her loved ones.
And let us also include the following in our prayers:
Doyle Rittenhouse is still having trouble with his
back. Though he went out once last week, due to “cabin fever,”
that made it worse; and he’s having to use a cane around the
house. His wife Joyce is still having trouble with a
couple of her fingers on her right hand, due to a recent fall. Her
mother Jewell Wilson is doing well from her surgery,
which shut off her tear ducts and removed all infection from her
eyes. She is now free from pain, and will be re-examined March
R.J. Joyner has improved from his shingles, which have peeled
off; and the pain is gone. But last Monday, he fell backwards in the
snow, which hurt his back and hip.
Melotine Davis is still having pain from time to time, due to
her recent knee replacement -- and especially when undergoing
physical therapy. She has also been using a cane.
Mary Vandevander is now at the Baptist Village nursing home.
Let us also continue to remember the following in our prayers: Myrna
Jordan, Danielle Howard, Jim Lively, Deborah Medlock, Shirley
Davis, Penny Medlock (glaucoma), Cheryl Corbitt
(seeking employment), Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jesse Bailey
(cancer), Dexter Roberts (cancer), Sue Wooten (at
nursing home), Dolly Moody, and Collen Henson.
There will be a Gospel Meeting March 6-8
at the church of Christ in Hoboken with Bob Waldron as the
guest speaker. Time: Friday (7:30 PM), Saturday (6
PM), and Sunday (9:30, 10:30, and 5). The church meets at 5101
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM (worship)
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
(Gospel Observer website)