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"
July 12, 2015
1) Thinking of Jesus (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
Thinking of Jesus
by Tom Edwards
Is it enough to believe that Jesus was a good man, a prophet of the
true and living God, an excellent teacher of truth, and even a
perfectly righteous man who had never sinned? Though all of
this is certainly true about the Lord, does accepting just these
characteristics meet the need of John 8:24, in which Jesus warns,
"...unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your
In the same chapter, Jesus speaks of having "come from God...that He
sent Me" (v. 42), that God is His Father (v. 54); and indicates
having an eternal nature, when saying, "before Abraham was born, I
am" (v. 58).
How many today accept the fact that Jesus has always existed?
According to the Jehovah Witnesses, Jesus has not always been --
because He was created by the Father before the world began.
Though they claim that "Jehovah and his firstborn Son enjoyed close
association for billions of years -- long before the starry heavens
and the earth were created(1)," yet that is far short from an
Among the various things that Jesus would be called, according to
Isaiah 9:6, a couple of those are "Mighty God" and "Eternal
Father." Jesus, of course, is not the Father or first person
of the Godhead; He is the Son. But this phrase has been said
to express the idea that Jesus is the "Father of eternity," that
even eternity owes its existence to Him.
But going back to the Jehovah Witnesses' perspective, "Jesus is
Jehovah's most precious Son -- and for good reason. He is called
'the firstborn of all creation,' for he was God's first creation
(Colossians 1:15)" (ibid.).
Though firstborn often indicates "first in order," is expressing a
time-element the only way "firstborn" is used? From the
Scriptures, it is easy to see how it also evolved into a figurative
usage expressing a supreme rank. For during the Mosaical
Period, for example, the firstborn received a double portion of his
father's inheritance, thus putting him above his brothers in being
entitled to that (Deut. 21:17). And sometimes "firstborn" is used
without relation to time, but only to indicate rank, as seen in
Isaiah 14:30, where the phrase "the firstborn of the poor" (KJV) is
rendered as the "most helpless" (NASB) and the "poorest of the poor"
(NIV). So, again, "firstborn" is metaphorically used to
express that which ranks above others; and, in this case, those who
would be the most poor. But notice, too, how it is seen in
Psalm 89:27, in which God says of David, "I also shall make him My
firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." In this, we
can clearly see the idea of superiority. So in going back to
Colossians 1:15, Jesus being "the firstborn of all creation"
expresses His preeminence over everyone and all that exists.
Yes, He truly does "have first place in everything" (v. 18).
He is the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Rev. 19:16). He
has "All authority...in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18); and,
therefore, "...is the head over all rule and authority" (Col. 2:10).
God the Father "...HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS
[Jesus'] FEET...." And the Father Himself is the only
exception to that (1 Cor. 15:27,28).
In referring to God as His own Father, Jesus was viewed by others as
"making Himself equal with God" (Jn. 5:18), which is one of the
reasons for why some sought to stone Him (cf. Jn. 10:31-36).
The apostle John begins His account of the life of Christ by
speaking of His preexistence, His divinity, and His role in the
creation itself: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with
God. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him
nothing came into being that has come into being" (Jn. 1:1-3).
As Paul also declares, "For by Him all things were created, both in
the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible...all things have
been created through Him and for Him" (Col. 1:16). The Hebrew
writer expresses it this way: "And, 'You, Lord, in the beginning
laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of
your hands; they will perish, but you remain; and they all will
become old like a garment, and like a mantle you will roll them up;
like a garment they will also be changed. But you are the same, and
your years will not come to an end'" (Heb. 1:10-12).
It is also in this same chapter in which God the Father addresses
Jesus by calling Him "God": "But of the Son He says, 'Your Throne, O
God, is forever and ever...'" (v. 8).
Interestingly, even the Tetragrammaton, which is the four consonants
that make up the personal name of God, that some translate as
"Jehovah" and tell us that it pertains to only the Father, is also
used with reference to the Son: "For thus says the LORD of hosts,
'After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you,
for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye. For behold, I
will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their
slaves. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me'"
(Zech 2:8,9). So in this passage, the LORD of hosts is seen
having been sent by the LORD of hosts; and "LORD" is from the
Tetragrammaton in both places.
Though there are the three distinct persons of the Father, the Son,
and the Holy Spirit who make up the one Godhead, yet they are each
as much Deity as the other. As we have considered, the first
place where "God" is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 1:1, in which
Moses writes, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the
earth." It has been noted that "God" is from the Hebrew word
"Elohim," which is the plural form of God; and that also corresponds
with Genesis 1:26 that shows there was more than One involved in the
great work of creation: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our
image, according to Our likeness...' God created man in His
own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He
created them." Nowhere do we read of angels being involved in
that work, but we do see of Jesus and the Holy Spirit who
were. As we saw earlier, the focus was on Jesus in His role as
the Creator (Jn. 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:10-12), though all three
Persons of the Godhead worked together in that. For concerning
also the Holy Spirit, while the earth was still formless and void,
He was "moving over the surface of the waters" (Gen. 1:2).
Paul, too, speaks of the preexistence of Jesus, but also shows His
willingness to leave His glorious state in heaven to humbly take on
a human body, which was quite a sacrifice in itself: "...who,
although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with
God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a
bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being
found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming
obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Phil.
2:5-8). So Christ had to take on a human body in order that He
could make the atoning sacrifice by His death -- and He did that for
every sinner (Heb. 2:9).
Concerning Jesus being "the Word," this has been explained in the
Jehovah Witnesses' book to mean that "he spoke for God, no doubt
delivering messages and instructions to the Father's other sons,
both spirit and human" (ibid., p. 41). But Jesus did more than speak
God's message, for He also embodied Deity (Col. 2:9), being the
"exact representation" of His Father's nature (Heb 1:3) and, thus,
manifesting to the world what God is like (cf. Jn. 14:7-9).
For while on earth, Jesus was human and Deity simultaneously and
demonstrated the characteristics of both.
So truly believing in Jesus goes way beyond merely accepting the
fact that He was a good man, an excellent teacher, a prophet of God,
and One who lived a perfect and righteous life. For He was and
is the eternal, second person of the Godhead, the Creator, the
Savior, and the only way to everlasting life (cf. Jn. 14:6).
In many different translations of the New Testament, the word
"Christ" is in more than 500 verses. It is the Greek equivalent for
the Hebrew "Messiah." Only Jesus fulfilled that role. He made
the atonement by His own death that truly can blot out sin, and
which no other means could ever do -- not even all the countless
animal sacrifices that were offered from the days of Adam and Eve
(cf. Gen. 4:4) throughout all the entire Old Testament Period (cf.
Heb. 10:1-14). As the apostle Peter declares about Jesus in
Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no
other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we
must be saved." In writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul points
out, "For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and
men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the
testimony given at the proper time" (1 Tim. 2:5,6).
So may we each truly see Jesus, who is one with the Father (Jn.
10:30), for the perfect, eternal Deity that He is; and who is to be
honored as much as we honor the Father Himself. For to fail to
do so, results in not honoring God at all (cf. Jn. 5:22,23).
(1) "What Does the Bible Really Teach?" by the Watch Tower Bible and
Tract Society of Pennsylvania, page 41
News & News
Let those of us who are Christians be remembering the following
folks in prayer:
As mentioned last week...
Tom Holland has been in the hospital since June 16, due to
some complications following two heart valve replacements. The
second one required open heart surgery; and, for about a month, he
had to be on a ventilator.
Shirley Davis has had three blockages in her foot
recently. The doctor was able to eliminate one of them, and
told her to keep off her feet for a while.
Judy Daugherty's severe fall to the head had led to a spinal
problem affecting her nervous system and having caused some
immobility, which we pray is only temporary.
Raylee Metts, who is only 5 years old, has been diagnosed
with Ewing sarcoma that has led to tumors in many places and has
begun receiving chemo.
Lexi Crawford, who is only 14 years old, is also undergoing
Steve Vesta continues receiving hospice care.
The shut-ins: Mary Vandevander, Sue Wooten, and Jewell
And others to remember in prayer: Ronnie Crews, Sunny Nichols,
Jean Beach, Dexter Roberts, Betty Miles, Buddy Gornto, Dolly Downs
Moody, Jesse Bailey, Colleen Henson, Donell Wells, and
Let us also not forget our elderly and those of our
number who have chronic ailments.
The Ladies' Bible Class this Tuesday at 7 PM, in which all
ladies are welcome, will be the last one for several weeks.
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;
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. 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).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 5 PM
Wednesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
(Gospel Observer website)