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).
May 30, 1990
1) Many Aids, No Substitutes (Gordon Wilson)
Do You Believe, And Why? (Greg
3) The 144,000 (David J. Riggs)
Many Aids, No Substitutes
by Gordon Wilson
In somebody's bulletin I read, "There are many aids to Bible study but
no substitutes." This quote sums up quite succinctly what we have
sometimes taken whole sermons to say. All of the helps in the world
cannot take the place of the text of inspired Scriptures -- nor are
they designed to do so.
A student needs to possess a concordance. But why? So that he may run
BIBLE references; find things in the BIBLE. A good atlas serves as an
aid to familiarizing oneself with BIBLE places and settings. For
one interested in deeper study, a lexicon will give him definitions of
BIBLE words in the original language of Scripture. A Bible dictionary
(which is not the same as an ordinary English dictionary) will tell one
about people, places, and things in the BIBLE. You see, these things
are all aids to Bible study, but cannot substitute for it. In
fact, they virtually force one back to the Bible itself.
And commentaries are a whole story in themselves. Some have made the
mistake of thinking that a commentary is a substitute for Bible study,
inasmuch as it gives us the results of someone else's study, already
done and digested. But this is just not the purpose of a commentary at
all. In order for one to use one effectively he must first know what
the Scripture passage says, and have some tentative idea of its
meaning. Commentaries disagree between themselves, and frequently a
particular commentary will give several possible interpretations of a
passage. This is right and proper, for the purpose of a commentary is
NOT to tell us what a passage teaches, but to furnish us with a tool
for ferreting out the meaning for ourselves. Some are designated as
critical; meaning they show just what the original text says, along
with the meanings of difficult lingual constructions. Others are called
exegetical; meaning they give a connected exposition of how the
thoughts of a passage are formally strung together. Still others are
homiletical; meaning they outline the applications that can be made of
a passage for purposes of teaching. Some commentaries are more general
and combine all of these methods. In any case, they require, if used
properly, that we do our own study (2 Tim. 2:15) of the BIBLE with
There is nothing wrong with using aids in Bible study. Frankly, I never
knew a really good Bible student who did not do so; and as a general
rule, the very best and most scholarly students and teachers are those
who use the most aids in the CORRECT way. The danger begins when one
begins to think of aids as SUBSTITUTES, or is content to let others do
his study for him. God expects us to do our own! Believe it, friend:
there is no substitute for personal Bible study. May we help you in
What Do You Believe, And Why?
by Greg Gwin
A recent poll by Roper's USA Reports showed that 74% of Americans
believe there is a heaven and a hell. That's good news! We are glad
that this high percentage of people believe these important
truths. But, the survey goes on to say that:
Given this additional information, we feel much less comfortable about
the results concerning heaven and hell!
- 50% believe in ESP
- 41% believe there is human life elsewhere in the universe
- 25% are sure we've been visited by aliens from outer space via
- 15% believe in reincarnation
Our point here is a simple one. Believing in ESP, UFOs, reincarnation,
and extraterrestrials requires faith of the "blind leap" variety.
There is simply no evidence to support those conclusions. It is sad to
see that many folks apparently put belief in heaven and hell in that
same category. It does not belong there.
We should believe what the Bible says about heaven and hell (or any
other subject) because the claims are fully corroborated. God does not
want a "blind leap" of faith. He has supplied "evidence of things not
seen" (Heb. 11:1), and He expects us to use our logic and reasoning
abilities to form firm conclusions about the truth. Using this
evidence, you should be able to tell others what you believe, and also
to prove why -- "to give an answer to every man that asketh you a
reason of the hope that is in you" (1 Pet. 3:15).
Now, back to the survey. If 74% of Americans believe in hell, why
aren't more of them doing something to avoid it? That's not logical
either, is it?
by David J. Riggs
The number "144,000" is mentioned in two passages in the book of
Revelation (Rev. 7:4; 14:1,3). In Rev. 7:3 the 144,000 were the
faithful who were sealed on the earth as shown in verses 2 and 3. The
seal signifies ownership and consequent protection (Ezek. 9:6; 2 Tim.
2:19; 2 Cor. 1:21,22; Eph. 1:13,14; 4:30). Chapter 7 of Revelation
represents an interlude between the sixth and seventh seals (those on
the book which the Lamb opened, chs. 5 and 6). As the seals were opened
great plagues or judgments were brought upon the wicked. Those sealed
of every tribe were the ones who would not be hurt or effected by God's
coming judgments (compare 9:4). They were the spiritual Israel living
in John's day (Rom. 2:28,29; 9:6-8; Gal. 3:6-9, 29; 6:15-16;
Phil. 3:3) who were yet to die for their faith (Rev. 6:11).
The number of 144,000 is not to be made literal here (John said it was
"signified" or given in symbols, 1:1). If one makes the number literal,
he must also make the tribes literal meaning that only Jews would go to
heaven. However, John is speaking of those sealed in his day which
included many Gentiles. Furthermore, the number does not refer to those
in heaven at all, but those sealed on earth.
In chapter 14 of Revelation the victorious Lamb stood on mount Sion and
with him an 144,000 who had his Father's name written in their
foreheads (14:1). These are those that were sealed earlier and are now
also before the throne (14:5). The term "before the throne" is
figurative of the place of comfort or paradise. Thus, the 144,000
represent the complete number of the martyred saints including the rest
of those who were to come out of the great tribulation (6:9-11).
They were the holy city that would be tread under foot (11:2); the
beast had made war with them and overcame them (13:7). They are now
safe with God and thus sing a new victory song (14:3). They had gotten
victory over the beast (15:2) and their blood would soon be avenged
(16:5-6; 17:6; 18:24; 19:2). They were the martyrs living and reigning
with Christ (20:4).
Again, the number "144,000"
must not be taken literal. It simply represents the complete number of
the martyred saints. If one
makes the number literal, he must also make their description literal.
This would mean that only virgin men will go to heaven (14:4). On the
contrary, these were the "firstfruits" unto God and the Lamb (14:4)
indicating others would follow. The Bible speaks of heaven for every
faithful child of God (2 Cor. 5:1-2; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Pet.1:4-5).
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;
can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet.
First published for the Tri-state church of Christ in Ashland,
Kentucky, at 713 13th Street.
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards