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" (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
September 30, 2018


1)  Not Our Workmanship, But His (Bill Hall)
2) The Myth (Shane Williams)
3) What Makes the Difference? (Bill Crews)
4) Whose Orders? (Bob Hines)
5) News & Notes


Not Our Workmanship, But His
Bill Hall

"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).

When one is baptized he becomes a new creation, but he is not the creation of any man. He is the workmanship of God.

He is not the workmanship of the person who converted him -- not primarily, anyway. Man can teach, influence, persuade, and baptize; but only God can cleanse, and give him new life. He is God's creation -- God's workmanship. Just as surely as no man could create an "Adam," just that surely no man can create a new creature in Christ.

Neither is one self-made. In Christ, one does not lift himself "by his own bootstraps." Christianity is not a "do-it-yourself religion" -- not in the fullest sense. One does not effect his own salvation through his own merit. Rather, in obedience to the gospel and faithfulness as a Christian, he places himself as clay in God's hand, to become the work of the divine Potter, who molds, shapes, and perfects him that he might be fashioned in the image of His Son.

He is the workmanship of God because his salvation is "by grace...through faith," "the gift of" God (Ephesians 2:8,9). If one's salvation were of meritorious works, he would not be the workmanship of God. This is the primary thrust of the passage.

The workmanship of God exists as a monument to the greatness of the Potter; as a beautiful painting is a monument to an artist, so a mature and perfected Christian is a monument to the marvelous power of God. Such a person is a product of God's grace and exists for "the praise of His glory" (Ephesians 1:6,12,14; 3:14-19). That God could take a Peter, a John, a Saul of Tarsus, an Aquila, a Priscilla, a John Mark, and mold him or her into the lovely vessel each became is a manifestation of His greatness. That He could do the same for people this writer has known and observed equally manifests His greatness. That He can and will do the same for me if I will but submit myself to His care in humble obedience, trust, and prayer is the greatest marvel of all.

The workmanship of God must be handled with care. Such a person is special, precious, priceless to God. As one is cautious in handling a family heirloom or rare piece of pottery fashioned by the hands of a master, so we must be cautious in our treatment of that creation which is the work of God. "Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food," Paul warned the Romans (Romans 14:20). That person toward whose tender conscience you are showing little regard or whose soul you are placing in jeopardy is the work of God. Love that person. Appreciate him. Be tender toward him. Recognize his value. Handle with care!

The workmanship of God must never be content until it is brought to perfection. "Finish then Thy new creation," Charles Wesley wrote in his familiar hymn, "Love Divine." In keeping with this, Paul could express his confidence in the Philippian Christians, "That He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6,7). Only those who remain in the Potter's hands until brought to completion and perfection become vessels of honor. All others become marred and fit only for destruction (II Timothy 2:19-21).

Let not man, then, boast of himself. Self-righteousness has no place in the heart of a Christian. If any man boast, "let him glory in the Lord" (I Corinthians 1:31) and "in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Galatians 6:14). We are His workmanship.

— via Gospel Power, Vol. 13, No. 33, Aug. 13, 2006


The Myth
Shane Williams

Once we decide to obey God completely, it's easy to assume that the rest of our life will run smoothly. If it does, we think this proves that we're doing God's Will. If we run into obstacles, however, we're quick to conclude that we must be doing something wrong or God is unhappy with us. Rather than question our measuring stick, we question our dedication, and sometimes even God.

It's a myth to believe that if we obey God, everything will always go well. Being dedicated to God means going with Him even when things don't go our way. In fact, as you consider the growth of the church in the first century, the Bible is clear that the gospel advanced during times of suffering.

Although Paul was imprisoned when he wrote to the Philippians, his adversity didn't cause him concern. His objective was to preach the gospel and he didn't question that goal just because he had been arrested. He made the most of the circumstances and continued to proclaim Jesus even to his captors. His imprisonment furthered the gospel!

"Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else, and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the Word of God without fear" (Philippians 1:12-14).

How would you and I react if we were in Paul's shoes? Would we question our faithfulness, God's love for us, or perhaps question if there was even a God?

Don't be fooled by the misleading notion that life will be easy if you obey God. God doesn't always remove difficulties; He uses them for your good and for His glory.

— via The Lilbourn Light, Vol. 9, Nos. 4,5, Aug/Sept. 2008


What Makes the Difference?

Bill Crews

* If a man has money and is not willing to have it examined, people think it is counterfeit.

* If a man is afraid to take a lie detector test, people think he is guilty of crime.

* If a man conducts a business and is unwilling to let anyone investigate it, folks think he is running a crooked business.

But, many preachers teach doctrines that under no circumstances will they test or allow to be tested by the Bible. Yet millions of people will accept them as upright, honest teachers of the truth, and will risk their salvation upon them. What makes the difference? The Bible instructs us to try the teachers (I John 4:1). The truth never fears investigation!

-- Via La Vista church of Christ


Whose Orders?
Bob Hines

Years ago I read notice of a horrible train wreck in which many people died painfully amid the twisted burning wreckage. The engineer was killed as well. But as he lay near death he showed those nearby a paper, saying, "Take this. It will show I was given the wrong orders." And, they were the wrong orders. He had been on the wrong track, yet he was still dying, along with many others.

Friend, you have an eternal soul. What orders are you following: God's, or man's idea of religion? Make sure, because sincerity is not enough!

-- via the Beacon, July 8, 2018


News & Notes

We are glad that things went well for Doug Pennock last Wednesday when he underwent a procedure for an aorta aneurysm.

It is good to be out of the hospital. I (Tom Edwards) was admitted last Saturday (9/22), late afternoon, and was released Tuesday about 10 a.m.  I had sepsis, due to an urinary tract infection, probably caused by more than 5 weeks of using catheters.  (As of 9/30, it has now been about 6 weeks and 4 days.) The specific bug that caused the infection is called “klebsiella pneumoniae,” and for which I am now on antibiotics for 12 days.

Joyce Rittenhouse has recently been afflicted with Bell's Palsy, which is affecting the right side of her face.  Let us pray that she will soon and speedily be healed.

I appreciate Danny Bartlett and Baxter Cribbs filling in for me while I was absent.  Due to their preaching last week — instead of today (the fifth Sunday of the month, when we give opportunity for two of the men to preach) — I will be doing the preaching for both worship services.

Let us continue to remember the loved ones of Richard Kristianson and Rick Hadley.  Also continue praying for Mary Aldrich, Roger Montgomery, Danny Hutchinson, Jim Lively, Shirley Davis,  Mary Vandevander, A.J. & Pat Joyner, Bennie & Deborah Medlock, Michelle Rittenhouse, Tommy Lindsey, Hannah Laughlin, and Misty Thornton.

WordPress version for 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; 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, 
living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Tebeau Street
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA  31501
Sunday services:
 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
2 p.m. (Ladies' Bible class)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
Tom Edwards (912) 614-8593
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