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"
May 3, 2015
1) The Parable of the Elder Son (H.E. Phillips)
2) Am I Honest? (Gary Henry)
3) News & Notes
The Parable of the Elder Son
by H.E. Phillips
Jesus was the greatest teacher who ever lived upon earth. He taught
his disciples by many different parables, and often made the
application for them. The fifteenth chapter of Luke contains three
well known parables: the parable of the lost sheep -- verses 3-7;
the parable of the lost coin -- verses 8-10; and the parable of the
lost son -- verses 11-24. The point of these parables is the
rejoicing over finding that which was lost and found. Those things
that were lost were of such value that when they were found there
was great rejoicing.
Turn now to Luke 15:25-32 and read of the elder son who would not
rejoice at the restoration of his brother. He was also alienated
from his father.
The account of the elder son is a part of the parable of the
prodigal son who took his inheritance and went into a foreign
country where he wasted it in riotous and evil living. When all of
his money was gone, and he found himself in great need, he "came to
himself" and resolved to return to his father and seek forgiveness.
He repented of his sins and returned home. His father saw him coming
and ran to meet him and welcome him home. He rejoiced because "this
my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And
they began to be merry."
Now the elder son was in the field. As he came to the house and saw
the celebrating because of the return of the younger son, he called
a servant to find out why his father had made a feast. When he
learned of the return of his younger brother, he was angry and would
not go into the house. No doubt this elder son represented the
scribes and Pharisees in Jesus' lesson. They were angry at Jesus for
receiving sinners who repented. They were envious of all who did not
stand with them in their attitude toward Jesus.
There are five things about the elder son to which I want to call
1. He was angry. Verse 28: "And he was angry, and would not go in:
therefore came his father out, and entreated him." He was angry
because his lost brother was found and had been restored to his
father. Anger expresses resentment. It also indicates selfishness in
most cases. The elder son had a bad attitude toward both his father
and his brother: he did not want his brother to receive the
blessings of his father, and he did want his father to rejoice at
the return of his brother. He was envious of his brother, and
therefore was angry because he was received home with joy.
2. He was self-righteous. Verse 29: "And he answering said to his
father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I
at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid,
that I might make merry with my friends . . . . "
The younger son who repented said: "Father, I have sinned against
heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy
son" (verse 21). The elder son said: "Lo, these many years do I
serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment . . .
" (verse 29).
A self-righteous person will not obey the righteousness of God. They
go about to establish their own righteousness. Romans 10:3 says:
"For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to
establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves
unto the righteousness of God." The elder son did not consider
himself a sinner, and he did not seek any favor from his father.
3. He was ungrateful. He said to his father: "...and yet thou never
gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends" (verse
29). But his father told him: "...Son, thou art ever with me, and
all that I have is thine" (verse 31). His father said he had
anything the father had, but he was so ungrateful that he did not
consider himself to have anything. Ingratitude is a terrible sin. It
hardens the heart to the manifold gifts of God and the blessings
available every hour of the day and night to his saints. We must ".
. . let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which ye are
called in one body; and be ye thankful" (Col. 3:15).
4. He hated his brother. He was envious of his brother and did not
want him to receive anything from the father. Verse 30 says: "But as
soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with
harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf."
The New Testament teaches that we cannot hate our brother and be
saved. 1 John 3:15: "Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and
ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." 1 John
4:20 says: "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is
a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how
can he love God whom he hath not seen?" We must love our brother if
we want to be saved.
5. He was not happy. He would not rejoice because his brother had
quit his sinning and returned to his father. His father said unto
him: "It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this
thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is
found" (Luke 15:32).
Those who have the attitude of the elder son must look at themselves
and repent as the younger son did, if they want to be received and
be blessed of the Father in heaven.
-- Via hephillips.org
Am I Honest?
by Gary Henry
Generally, we wish to get correct answers to the questions we ask.
The more important the questions are, the more we would like to feel
were on track in getting the right answers to them. It would seem
obvious that correct answers are nowhere more critical than with
respect to the general question of religion. And when we are
confronted with the religious claims of Jesus of Nazareth -- not
only that a right relationship to the Creator should be our ultimate
concern, but that such a relationship is possible only through Jesus
Himself -- we have a specific set of questions that we ought to want
to have answered with nothing less than the full truth.
But getting the right answers to the questions of religion in
general, and of the gospel of Jesus Christ in particular, is not a
mechanical process. We cant assume the truth is going to yield
itself up automatically to anyone who pushes the right logical
buttons, regardless of what his character or his intentions might
be. To the contrary, this happens to be a subject in which getting
the right answers depends largely on whether we are a certain kind
of person and whether we are asking for a certain kind of reason.
To put it more bluntly: whether we are able to get at the truth
about Jesus Christ and His church depends on what we intend to do
with the truth. Before we can be in a position to ask questions
about the thing called Christianity, there is a more fundamental
question we are required to ask about ourselves -- and that is
whether we are really honest inquirers who intend to do what is
right about the truth, whatever it may turn out to be. Jesus went a
good deal farther than merely saying we must be "intellectually
honest" folks who are willing to weigh the evidence objectively.
While the Bible certainly does talk about loving the truth, Jesus
explained exactly what that means -- and how essential it is -- when
He said, "If anyones will is to do Gods will, he will know whether
the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own
authority" (Jn. 7:17). What that says is simply that if I don't have
the integrity and honesty to do what I know I ought to do about the
right answers I say Im looking for, then I may not even recognize
those right answers when I come across them.
There is really no more sobering text in the New Testament than 2
Thess. 2:11,12, which asserts that God will actually lead those away
from the truth who are not honestly looking to obey it: "Therefore
God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is
false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the
truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness." The armchair religionist
is bound to get tangled up; he may even go astray on the
fundamentals of his subject, let alone the more difficult questions.
No matter how diligent and scholarly his pursuits, his
investigations will be skewed by the fact that he is merely looking
for curiosities to think about. But the fellow who waits only for a
reasonable assurance that the truth is really the truth before he is
ready to render obedience to it, that is the individual who is going
to get the information he is seeking.
It is of utmost importance, then, that we be honest about the truth.
The trouble is, we are often not willing to be honest about whether
we are honest. As a person claiming to want the truth about the
questions of religion, how can I know whether I am honest or not?
And if I'm not willing to search for, accept, and act on the truth
about myself, would I do any better about other truths?
One good place to begin testing our own honesty is asking what we
are doing about the religious truth we already possess. The person
deserves no additional light who is wasting what he presently has,
and if we are avoiding dealing with obligations that have been in
plain view for quite some time, there is little point in debating
the finer points of the law.
But there are some other tests that may help us focus on our
honesty. Am I, for example, capable of being persuaded, or is my
mind basically made up already? Am I a person who decides questions
on the basis of evidence, or am I guided by prejudices and
preconceptions? Do I tend to believe that the truth is whatever I
want it to be? How hard am I willing to dig for truth? How careful
am I in approaching weighty issues? Am I fair? On the question of
God, do I harbor any reservations about how far I'd be willing to go
in accepting the implications and consequences of the truth?
Questions like these ought to tell us some significant things about
the level of honesty at which we approach the issues of life.
Jesus taught on one occasion that His word germinates in the "honest
and good heart" (Lk. 8:15). Deciding to have just that sort of heart
has got to be the beginning point for any serious quest for truth.
It is, as Jesus said elsewhere, the truth that will make us "free"
(Jn. 8:32) -- but the truth is a maiden who will not be wooed by
just anybody. Anything less on our part than a bona fide commitment
to be faithful to truth -- whatever that may entail, at whatever
cost -- and truth will disguise herself from us. If we are serious
about getting at the right answers to the questions that pertain to
life's deepest meaning, then we can ill afford to have anything
other than the attitude of the Psalmist: "Make me to know your ways,
O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for
you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long"
(Psa. 25:4,5). It's that kind of honesty that gives us a chance to
make progress. Without it, we are as lost intellectually as we are
-- Via WordPoints, January 2, 2015
News & News
It was a good gospel meeting we recently had with Phillip Owens,
and we were also glad for all our visitors who came out to be with
us. For many, it had been about 25 years since they last saw
Phillip when he used to preach here at Tebeau Street in the late 80s
and early 90s.
I imagine these following people would appreciate, on their behalf,
the prayers of the saints:
Judy Daugherty (Jim Lively's sister) spent about 4 days in
the hospital, due to falling backwards and severely hitting her
head. She is now having to use a walker as she continues to
Jean Beach (also a sister of Jim Lively) has been having
some bad stomach ailments, along with other physical problems, and
is feeling poorly.
Ronnie Davis has recently been having some heart issues and
not feeling well, for which he is undergoing some testing.
Jewell Wilson, who had been hospitalized, due to a slight
stroke and other complications, has been transferred to the nursing
home on Riverside Avenue.
Marie Pennock has been having continual trouble with her
back, which gives her pain.
Mikaela Jones has not been feeling well lately, due to a
touch of bronchitis.
Let us also continue to remember the following in prayer: Myrna
Jordan, Mary Vandevander, Melotine Davis, Danielle Howard, Penny
and Deborah Medlock, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis, Sunny Nichols,
Dexter Roberts, Betty Miles, Steve Vista, Buddy Gornto, Sunny
Nichols, Dolly Downs Moody, Rex and Frankie Hadley, Jesse Bailey,
Sue Wooten, and Colleen Henson.
The Ladies' Bible study meets every Tuesday at 7 PM in the
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) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts
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.
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can
be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
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)