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).
April 18, 1990


1) The Word FROM God (Tom Edwards)
2) Remaining Within the Shelter of God's Love (Tom Edwards)


The Word FROM God
by Tom Edwards

A prominent editor of a London newspaper once sent to one hundred of his peers a simple questionnaire, which asked, "Suppose you were sent to prison for three years and could only take three books with you. Which three would you choose? Please state them in order of their importance." Those responding were members of parliament, university professors, authors, and merchants. Most of them were irreligious and only a few had been church-goers; some were agnostics or atheists; yet ninety-eight percent of them had put the same book on their list as the one they would want to take above any other -- it was the Bible.

To the Christian, God's word can truly give the greatest cheer and the utmost assurance even in the darkest and most troublesome times.  This great message, however, needs to be more than just the most important book that resides in our library -- its contents must also be the most important teaching that we treasure in our hearts and conform to with our lives.

Is this true, though, with us? Do we examine God's word as we should?  or has our own laziness deceived us into thinking that Bible study is too much of a chore? I suppose man is often reluctant to begin that which he feels is too big of a task. But is Bible study too laborious?

According to Eleanor Doan, "It takes 70 hours and 40 minutes to read the Bible at pulpit rate...In the Old Testament the Psalms take the longest to read: 4 hours and 28 minutes. In the New Testament the Gospel of Luke takes 2 hours and 43 minutes." A church in Scotland reported it read the Bible non-stop in 62 hours and 55 minutes.

I was just looking at the page numbers in some of the Bibles I have in my study. Naturally, these vary because of their size, whether they're annotated or not, or whether they contain other references or not. Four of them, which included not much more than the basic text, averaged 1210 pages. To read all of this in 70 hours, you would only have to read about 17.28 pages an hour. Unless you're a speed reader, you probably read normally at about twenty to thirty pages an hour. If you, therefore, read at 20 pages an hour, you could finish the entire Bible in 60 hours. If you read at twenty-five pages an hour, you could complete the Scriptures in roughly 48 hours. And if your average reading-speed is 30 pages an hour, you could complete the Bible in almost 40 hours.

If you have never read all of the Scriptures, I would like to encourage you to do so. Doesn't it seem rather unusual that there are actually portions of GOD'S WORD that many people have just not taken the time to read? Think about it -- It's a message to you, not from the mayor or from the governor or from the president of the United States, but A WORD FROM THE ALMIGHTY, ETERNAL GOD HIMSELF; yet some people have just not been interested enough to hear. We need to take the time to listen to ALL of what God has to say. The Bible is replete with many fascinating stories that will help you to understand more about the Lord and increase your faith in Him. These are just some of the reasons why God has given us His word. As Paul told the Roman brethren, "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Rom. 14:4). Why not start reading the message FROM GOD today?


Remaining Within the Shelter of God's Love
by Tom Edwards

There is a remarkable, little spider in South America that has its home in an underwater environment. By developing a "bubble-hut" about itself, which serves as a miniature diving bell, this small, air-breathing creature is able to submerge to the bottom of a lake, pond, or river. While within its underwater abode, the tiny spider can remain for hours, breathing the much needed air brought from above that had been entrapped within its spherical shelter.

Amazingly, when this unusual resident of the aquatic world surfaces, it is found to be completely dry. Even the slightest amounts of moisture have not been able to penetrate the impervious, transparent wall of its underwater home; and though this tiny creature spends much of its life submerged, it is able to remain separate and untouched from its aqua-surroundings.

How suitably this illustrates the relationship the Christian is to have to the world: though living in it, he is not to be engulfed by its torrents of sin; but, rather, he must stay within the safe shelter of God's protective care. For this, Jesus compassionately prayed in the following manner: "I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that THEY ALSO MAY BE IN US...." (John 17:20,21, emphasis mine).

Though living in the world, the faithful Christian truly abides in Christ and has the responsibility toward reflecting the Lord's illumination in even the most remote regions of darkness. As he strives in doing this, he must be cautious that his light does not flicker or become snuffed out by the extinguishing power of sin. For if this occurs, his influence becomes marred -- darkened by the reproachable character of iniquity. The Christian must strive to keep himself untainted from the world (James 1:27), for he is now dwelling in a new, sacred environment in which wickedness is not allowed to either flood or trickle in.  Colossians 1:13 gloriously proclaims that Christ has "delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son...." In order, though, for us to continually dwell in the kingdom of God, we must never cease to obey His word; for it is only in this way that we can abide in Christ (John 15:1-10).

It was the fault of some of the angels long ago to "not keep their own domain"; but, rather, they had abandoned their "proper abode." As a consequence, they are presently being "kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 6). May we who are Christians, however, learn to truly appreciate this heavenly kingdom in which we safely dwell and not be as those who foolishly wandered from their appointed habitat. The borders of the Christian's realm are delineated within the holy pages of God's word, and it is within this spiritual domain that we can gain access to the Father and commune with Him in the sanctuary of His Mighty Fortress.

James, the Lord's half-brother, writes: "This is pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father, to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to KEEP ONESELF UNSTAINED BY THE WORLD" (James 1:27; emphasis mine). Let us remember the little spider who remained safe within the confines of its underwater domain; for it to have left its life-sustaining shelter while submerged in that aquatic environment would have only led to death. In like manner, spiritual death exists anywhere outside of the realm of God's kingdom. Every sinner must "flee from the wrath to come" by entering, through the door of humble obedience, the Lord's kingdom of mercy and safety.

May we each strive to always abide within this wonderful shelter of God's love.

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

First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland, Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.

evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards