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"
December 13, 2015
1) "We Beheld His Glory" (David McClister)
2) Return to the Lord (Warren E. Berkeley)
3) News & Notes
"We Beheld His Glory"
by David McClister
God's presence is an indescribable glory. In Biblical scenes where
God appeared to men, the word "glory" usually pops up in the
Biblical text. When Israel complained about food, Moses told them
"in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord," which is
exactly what happened: "they looked toward the wilderness, and
behold, the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud" (Exod 16.7 and
10). One of the best descriptions of it comes in Exodus 24, where
Moses described what he saw on Mt. Sinai: "The glory of the Lord
rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on
the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. And
to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the
Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top" (vv 16-17).
While the word "glory" does not appear in the story of the burning
bush (Exod 3), it is clear that Moses had seen the same thing there.
Perhaps the closest anyone came to seeing God in his glory in the
Old Testament was Moses. You remember the famous scene: after Moses
had been near God on Mt. Sinai, Moses asked to see God's glory. God
replied: "'You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!'
Then the Lord said, 'Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall
stand there on the rock; and it will come about, while My glory is
passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover
you with My hand until I have passed by. Then I will take My hand
away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen'"
(Exod 33.20- 23). In a similar scene, when Solomon's temple was
finished and dedicated, the Bible reports that "the priests could
not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the
Lord filled the house of God" (2 Chron 5.14). God's glory was a
fearful and overpowering thing, and yet it was also strangely
As impressive as those experiences must have been, none of these
people saw anything near the fullness of God's glory. But God spoke
of the day when his people would see his glory in an unprecedented
way. The prophet Haggai said "The latter glory of this house will be
greater than the former" (2.9). Isaiah predicted that the wilderness
(a metaphor for God's people in this context) "will blossom
profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of
Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They
will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God" (35.2).
When we come to the New Testament, John plainly tells us "the Word
became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of
the only begotten from the Father" (John 1.14). The apostle Paul,
using language borrowed from the Biblical creation account, said a
similar thing about Jesus in 2 Corinthians 4.6: "For God, who said,
'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our
hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the
face of Christ."
Just exactly what about Jesus was so glorious? His words? His
actions? Was John referring to what he saw at Jesus'
transfiguration? The answer lies in the statements of Jesus himself.
As the time for His death drew near, he said "The hour has come for
the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly I say to you, unless a
grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but
if it dies, it bears much fruit." Clearly, Jesus was speaking about
his death. In John 13.31, on the way to Gethsemane where he would be
taken into custody by his enemies, he said "Now is the Son of Man
glorified, and God is glorified in him." Furthermore, Jesus said "if
I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself" (John
12.32). The "lifting up" of which Jesus there spoke was not his
ascension to heaven, but his being lifted up on the cross. Like the
burning bush of Exodus 3, Jesus' death would be a spectacle full of
the glory of God that would attract people to it.
So what was the glory of God that was so visible in Jesus? What was
so glorious about his death? It was God's love, which was fully
displayed in the death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus died because of
God's love for us (John 3.16). That great display of God's love,
mercy, and grace is designed to touch our hearts and draw us to God.
It fulfills God's words in Jeremiah 31.3: "I have loved you with an
everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness."
Like Moses at the burning bush, when we see the outpouring of God's
love on the cross of Jesus, it is supposed to get our attention and
make us want to go near and understand it more perfectly. The gospel
story is the story of how God loves us and sent Jesus to die for us.
This is why Paul calls it "the glorious gospel" (1 Tim 1.11; see
also 2 Cor 4.4).
When John says, therefore, that "we saw his glory," John meant that
he had seen, above all, the death of Jesus and had come to
understand that it was a proclamation of God's great love. The death
of Jesus, announced in the gospel, was the fulfillment of Isaiah's
prediction that people would see the glory of the Lord. John also
added that the glory he saw in the death of Jesus was "full of grace
and truth." This is exactly what God tried to convey to Moses. You
remember that scene where Moses asked to see the glory of God? This
was God's first response to that request: "I Myself will make all My
goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord
before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and
will show compassion on whom I will show compassion" (Exod 33.19).
In other words, God was saying to Moses, "The most glorious thing
about me is my love, mercy, grace, goodness, and compassion." And
that is what was on full display in the cross of Jesus.
-- Via Focus Online, November 23, 2015
Return to the Lord
by Warren E. Berkeley
Built in to the message of the prophets was the appeal to repent.
These men were sent by God to expose sin and urge the guilty to
repent. Often the appeal was framed as a challenge to return to the
Lord (Isaiah 6:10; Jeremiah 3:1; Malachi 3:7). For instance, Joel's
appeal to Judah was for the people to repent of their sins. "So rend
your heart," and "return to the Lord your God" (Joel 2:13). Through
the distribution of His judgments (locusts, drought, desolation),
God intended to admonish His people to come out of their sin and
back to Him. It was His loving purpose to prompt a change in their
direction. The essential definition of repentance has not changed
through the dispensations. We can, therefore, use Joel's statement
as the basis for our understanding of returning to the Lord. And
this study can find application for those who have been baptized but
have left their God.
Repentance is a change in direction. The simple word "turn" shows
that to be so. Those guilty of sin (before or after baptism) need to
turn; a change of direction is needed. If you've been letting the
world influence your thinking, your speech, your conduct, your dress
or attitude, you need to change your direction. If youve abandoned
the assembly, harbored ill-will in your heart, accepted false
teaching, helped false teaching advance, participated in party
strife or refused to grow, God seeks a change in your direction.
Repentance is a change in your direction, turning from your sin to
the Lord (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
Repentance occurs in the heart. Observe in verse 12 of Joel 2, "with
all your heart." Everything we do before God ought to be done with a
whole heart. Repentance, to be complete and genuine, must come from
a whole heart: a heart of reverence for God, love for God; a heart
influenced by the cross of Christ. Repentance should be the product
of a heart of mature responsibility toward everything that is holy
and right. The conviction of sin from the Word should be let in, so
that repentance finds its true and good expression.
Repentance is not just a ritual. "So rend your heart, and not your
garments...." It was customary among the Jews to express their
emotions in very public, visible ways. To this day in middle eastern
cultures, when a family member dies, there may be public weeping and
wailing; throwing dust in the air; beating the breast and the
rendering of garments. The problem to be noted here is, the emotion
must not be ritualized and confused with true repentance. The fact
that someone may cry in public or come down an aisle doesn't assure
wholehearted repentance. Repentance is a personal decision to leave
sin behind and come to God. It is a decision of heart, productive of
good fruit. It may be accompanied by some open expression, but the
essence of the matter lies in the heart and the results in life.
Repentance is made possible by a gracious God. "Return to the Lord
your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and
abounding in love...." If you are alive to hear the Word, be
convicted and repent, thank God that you have such a blessed
opportunity. Thank Him for the precious blood of Christ. "The Lord
is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is
longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that
all should come to repentance." If you are alive today, you can
repent. Thank God for the time He has given you to return to Him,
but don't presume upon His grace and providence. "He relents from
doing harm," but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the
night. Repent while there is time.
If you are reading this as one convicted of your sin, now is the
time to repent. If you just plan to repent someday, that isn't good
enough. Ask God to relent, turn from your sin and enjoy peace with
Him through the Lord Jesus Christ.
-- Via The Beacon, February 18, 2014
News & Notes
Anita Young will be having surgery this Thursday, due to
Danielle Howard is progressing well from the kidney
transplant. The swelling in her arm, which had been attributed
to a dialysis port, has gone down. She should be home this
Shirley Davis has also been improving, though still having
pain and difficulty with her left hip. She will be seeing her doctor
Monday in Jesup, and another in Waycross on Thursday.
Deborah Medlock has arthritis in her neck which is causing
continual pain and the need for a neck brace. She is also
experiencing continual numbness on and near her left shoulder and
will soon be having tests: x-rays, CT scan, and MRI.
Andra Johnson is now expecting her third child with the
delivery date for July. She had a little trouble with her
previous pregnancy and has been having a little difficulty with this
Let us also be remembering the shut-ins: Mary Vandevander
and Sue Wooten
WordPress version of this week's bulletin:
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;
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.
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)