BulletinGold #73 
January 7, 2009   Vol 6 #11

----by David Bragg

"Forgiveness is ...," the scribe's lecture might begin.  In reverent tones the long speech would lead down winding roads of facts and statistics.  Then he might ramble through an exhaustive list of ancient authorities on the subject.  The weary audience would conclude long before the the speaker finished speaking that he was well informed on this subject.  Not that he needed to be, except to teach his unholy admirers.  He, for one, liked things the way they were.

One day the clean theology of the local religious elite was challenged.  It happened in a home where Jesus was teaching.  A few enterprising friends were determined, despite the crowd, to bring thier friend to Jesus.  They decided to literally go through the roof to get him before Christ.  Everyone grew anxious to see the famous miracle worker perform.  No one was prepared for what was to come next, least of all the scribe.  "Son, your sins are forgiven you" (Mark 2:5).  The fiery response speaks for itself (verse 7).

Jesus compared God's vast scheme of forgiveness with the scribe's narrow understanding.  He showed forgiveness as freedom from guilt, shame, and condemnation.  Forgiveness sets one free from bondage to the sins of the past.  It sets one free to live a full life in the future.

It was hard for the scribe to accept.  Many didn't.  Many more today won't taste the forgiveness freely offered in Jesus.  These will continue to be hopelessly confined to their cots of sin, even while arguing what it means to be forgiven and who has the right to do it.  But all arguments aside, no one could dispute the fact that when Jesus forgave, the forgiven man walked home!

Jesus is, as He said, the Good Shepherd, the Great Physician, the Lamb of God, and our Savior.  He was the Master Teacher and the Way, Truth, and Life.  No greater theme could be addressed with the opening of 2007 than God's greatest gift to humanity, His own Son.  The items included in this month's BulletinGold exalts Jesus Chirst as our theme.  In your sharing of these items it is our prayer that others will adopt Him as the theme of their lives in the New Year.

David Bragg, co-editor
www.davidbragg. org

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Panning for Gold Feature Articles:

Commands from Christ are not Optional
By Edd Sterchi

I recently received a daily devotional email sample from a denominational organization hoping I would be interested in signing up (I suspect an acquaintance of mine who is a member of that particular group gave them my name).  After the devotional, they answered a Bible question.  The question was: "Can you go to heaven if you "trust" Jesus as your Lord and Savior but you are not yet baptized?"
They began their answer by saying: "Yes. Baptism has nothing to do with salvation."  Later in the answer they stated: "Baptism is an ordinance instituted by Christ until the "end of the age"...Clearly this command was not only for the apostles who heard it but for His followers throughout the entire age."  Finally they concluded with: "One is saved without, apart from and before baptism.  Those who are saved should desire baptism as a public profession of faith, but please realize that it is not necessary for salvation.  If a person believes in Jesus as Lord and is never baptized, they will still be saved."
I would like to analyze how they answered this most sincere and important question about baptism and see if it really "holds water."  I think it is very interesting that they admit that baptism is a command from Christ and then declare that it does not have to be followed.  Imagine that - the command from Jesus Christ to be baptized is optional (or so they say)!  I wonder what other commands from Christ would be optional?  I guess all that are not in line with man's teachings.
All facetiousness aside, listen to what Jesus Himself said of what our attitude should be toward every command He gives:
   * John 14:15, "If you love Me, keep My commandments.
   * John 14:21, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, 
     it is he who loves Me."
   * John 15:10, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in
     My love"
   * John 15:14, "You are My friends if you do whatever I command
Note that there is no room for options, opinions, or omissions.  That's because Jesus is the One with all authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 18:18).  Whatever He has commanded, we'd better do.  And Jesus commanded baptism as necessary for salvation (Mark 16:16) and declared it as the process for making disciples (Matt. 28:19).  The apostles went about baptizing "in the name of" Jesus Christ (i.e. in the manner and for the purpose He authorized, see Acts 2:38; 10:48).  They knew something we should never forget: If it is a command from Christ, it's not an option.
- Edd Sterchi preaches for the Harrisburg church of Christ in Harrisburg , IL .  He may be contacted at sterchi@midwest. net

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The God Who Supplies All Our Needs
By Alan Smith

     Here is a dilemma for your consideration:  You are driving along on a wild stormy night.  You pass by a bus stop, and you see three people waiting for the bus:
1. An old lady who is about to die.
2. An old friend who once saved your life.
3. The perfect man (or woman) you have been dreaming about.
     Which one would you choose, knowing that there could only be one passenger in your car?
     This is a moral/ethical dilemma that was once actually used as part of  a job application.
     You could pick up the old lady, because she is going to die, and thus you should save her first; or you could take the old friend because he once saved your life, and this would be the perfect chance to pay him back.  However, you may never be able to find your perfect dream lover again.
     Think before you continue reading..... ......... ......... ......... ....
     The candidate who was hired (out of 200 applicants) had no trouble coming up with his answer.
     His answer was,  "I would give the car keys to my old friend, and let him take the old lady to the hospital. I would stay behind and wait for the bus with the woman of my dreams."
     Why didn't I think of that???  I was feeling pretty good about taking care of the needs of that old lady, and along comes someone who meets ALL of their needs!

     It's very much the way I feel before God.  I am a person who gets pleasure from trying to meet the needs of people around me.  But, so often I fall short.  That's why I'm so very thankful to have a God who can not only meet all my needs, but also the needs of everyone else I come in contact with.
     "And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." (Phil 4:19-20)
Have a great day!

- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and minister for the White House church of Christ in White House, TN, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@ gmail.com

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The Beauty of the Cross
By David Ferguson

Paul wrote in Galatians 6:14, "But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world." (NKJV)
It is an old common saying that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. The cross of Jesus was a rough and ugly instrument of torture. It had no beauty in itself. As we think of the cross in 2007, we see an ornament, a precious piece of jewelry, or a religious symbol.
Why is the cross so attractive to us? Why does it bring us such joy and peace when we see it? It is because of the special meaning that Jesus gave it by His sacrificial death that it has attained its beauty.
Jesus knew the price He had to pay for my soul and yours. He knew the incredible pain and suffering that was to come for Him as He underwent the excruciating agony of the cross. God the Father knew that our sin required that someone would die, "for the wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23). Jesus obeyed the Father and went to His death in order that you and I could live, even knowing He had done no wrong, because He loved us so much.
God’s reaction to the sacrifice of Jesus gives the cross eternal beauty. Because of what Jesus did, God can look at those of us who have accepted Christ as their Savior, and see us as no longer His enemy, but instead as new creatures who are pure and sinless. Jesus alone restored the fellowship between God the Father and mankind. Jesus has been glorified and He was, is and will always be worthy of praise and worship.
Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:27-29, "But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." (NKJ)

In a nutshell, it is the love of God the Father and Jesus His Son for the lost that has transformed the cross, an instrument devised for the purpose of eliciting extreme torture and death, into a thing of beauty. Let us who are God's children do no less than Paul, and ""boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ"."

-- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Lakeland Church of Christ in Mattoon, IL.  He may be contacted at davidferguson61@ yahoo.com

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The Significance of Christ's Resurrection
By Wayne Jackson

Each spring, millions of people around the world acknowledge, in some fashion or another, that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead some twenty centuries ago. Modern society calls it "Easter."
The origin of this term is uncertain, though it is commonly thought to derive from Eastre, the name of a Teutonic spring goddess. The term "Easter," in the King James Version of the Bible (Acts 12:4), is a mistranslation. The Greek word is pascha, correctly rendered "Passover" in later translations. In fact, though pascha is found twenty-nine times in the Greek New Testament, it is only rendered "Easter" once, even in the KJV.
Christians are not authorized to celebrate "Easter" as a special annual event acknowledging the resurrection of Christ. Faithful children of God reflect upon the Savior's resurrection every Sunday (the resurrection day - cf. Jn. 20:1ff) as they gather to worship God in the regular assembly of the church (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).
We ought to be glad, however, that multitudes - usually caught up in pursuits wholly materialistic - will take at least some time for reflection upon the event of the Savior's resurrection. It is entirely appropriate that Christians take advantage of this circumstance; we should be both willing and able to explain to our friends - at least those who have some reverence for Christianity - the significance of the Lord's resurrection.
The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the foundation of the Christian system (cf. 1 Cor. 15:14ff). If there was no resurrection, Christianity is a hoax, and we are wasting our time. But the truth is, the event of Jesus's resurrection is incontrovertible. Professor Thomas Arnold of Rugby, a world-renowned historian, once said that Christ's resurrection
from the dead is the "best-attested fact in human history" (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, IV, p. 2569). This being the case, just what is the significance of Jesus' resurrection? Think about these matters.

First, the resurrection is one of the major evidences that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Paul affirmed that Christ is "declared to be the Son of God with power. . . by the resurrection from the dead" Rom. 1:4).
Second, Jesus' resurrection represents an assurance that we can have forgiveness from our sins. Paul contended: ". . . if Christ hath not been raised, our faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins" (1 Cor. 15:17). The reverse of the apostle's affirmation would be this: If Jesus was raised, sins will be forgiven when we obey the gospel - Acts 2:38; 22:16.
Third, the resurrection tells the world that the kingdom of God is ruled by a living sovereign. The founder of Islam is dead and his bones lie dormant in the earth. But the founder of Christianity - sixty years after His death - appeared to John on the island of Patmos and said: "I am the first and the last, and the Living one. . . I was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore. . . " (Rev. 1:17-18).
Fourth, Jesus' resurrection proves that physical death is not the termination of human existence. God, who is the giver of life (1 Tim. 6:13), has the power to reanimate the human body. Christ's triumph over the grave is Heaven's pledge to us that we too shall be raised. This is why Jesus is referred to as the "firstfruits of them that are asleep" (1 Cor. 15:20,23).
Fifth, the Lord's resurrection previewed the ultimate victory of Christianity over all its enemies. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is depicted as a lamb that had been slain, but was standing again (5:6). This same Lord was "the lion of the tribe of Judah" that had overcome His foes (5:5). Christians too will overcome as a result of the Lamb's sacrifice and victory over death (cf. Rev. 12:11).
The resurrection of the Son of God should be a constant reminder to us of these wonderful biblical truths. We honor our Master's victory over death - not once-a-year, but every week!
-- via the Mathis Messenger, the weekly bulletin of the church of Chirst in Mathis, TX.  Kyle Moses preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted at MathisCofC@stx. rr.comwww. mathiscofc. org. or via the congregation' s website:  www.mathiscofc. org

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Who Is Jesus?
By Travis L. Quertermous

This is a question about which debate has raged for centuries. In fact, it was a question that folks were asking even in Jesus' lifetime. In Matthew 16:13, Christ asked His disciples a question as they were in the region of Caesarea Philippi, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" The apostles responded by saying that there were several answers men were giving to that question. Many believed Jesus to be one of God's prophets returned from the dead (Matt. 16:14).
Then Jesus wanted to know what they thought: "But who do you say that I am?" (Matt. 16:15). Peter immediately replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). The Lord told Peter he had answered correctly because that was exactly what God had revealed to him (Matt. 16:17).
So who is Jesus? Not just a wise teacher, not just another prophet, and not just a man.  He is the Son of God. He is deity in the flesh (Isa. 9:6-7; John 1:1, 14; Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:8). He is the promised Savior of the world, Lord over all, and the head of the church (Matt. 16:18-19; Acts 2:36; Col. 1:18). Is He your Lord and Savior? Why not visit with us today and let us help you find the answer?
- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for the church of Christ at Foristell, MO.  He may be contacted at churchofchristatfor istell@centuryte l.net

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Who Is On The Cross?
By Rick Woodall

What does the cross mean to you?  Fortunes have come to many who have marketed its symbolism. The sacredness of the cross does not rest in its design or substance. The method of capital punishment used by the Romans of Jesus day was not a fixation of beauty. The cross is an emblem of agony and indignity. We are not focusing on just any cross but one specific cross. The reason for this focal point is to remember who is nailed to that certain cross. This cross is draped with the body and blood of my precious and sanctified redeemer. We are captivated by the thought that one would love us so much that He would be willing to leave the riches of heaven to offer hope to the human race.
The cross that we center our attention on is not covered with material success or physical coverings such as silver and gold. No single person who will live after this event will ever be able to reproduce the phenomenal splendor of this once in a lifetime sacrifice. Replicas of this historic experience will be reproduced by the craftiness of individuals for various purposes. Yet, my gift reminds me that these reproductions illustrate mere nothingness. Here is why.
"And it is by God's will that we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."- Heb 10:10
"For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit"  - 1 Pet 3:18
The only true way that we can connect to this cross and be partakers of its true intention is not with a necklace or stately statue. It is with a divinely appointed reenactment.
"Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his." -  Romans 6:3-5
Some see a cross today. What You really need to see is who is on the cross. You need to see the one who was taken off the cross and laid in a borrowed tomb.  Three days later He came out of that grave never to die again. Everlasting life is not found in personal success or material passions. It's found in being united with Christ through baptism.
That my friend is the most important decision you will ever make. At the end it will be the most important item on your spiritual resume'.  Please make it while there is time.
Have a great week.

- Rick Woodall is the minister for the Milan church of Christ in Milan, Michigan. His weekly devotional message, Life Thoughts, can be heard on the World Wide Web at this address: http://www.milanchu rchofchrist. org/page3

Nuggets and Quick Riches - 
misc. goodies this issue

Possessions of Jesus

   In the lifetime of Jesus we do not hear Him speak of "my house," "my land," "my farm," "my books," "my business," or "my money."  We do, however, hear Him speak of "my Father" (Matt. 10:33), "my friends" (John 15:14), "my disciples" (john 15:8), "my church" (Matthew 16:18), "my name" (Matthew 18:20), "my words" (Mark 8:38), "my sheep" (John 10:27), and "my joy" (John 17:13).  It is significant that our Example thought more of spiritual possessions than of material ones.

- Author unknown ; via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ, Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo. com

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Did Jesus Use a Modem at the Sermon on the Mount?
(Author Unknown)

Did Jesus use a modem,
At the Sermon on the Mount?
Did He ever try a broadcast fax,
To send His message out?
Did the disciples carry beepers,
As they went about their route?
Did Jesus use a modem,
At the Sermon on the Mount?

Did Paul use a Laptop,
With lots of RAM and ROM?
Were his letters posted on a BBS,
At Paul.Rome.Com?
Did the man from Macedonia
Send an E-Mail saying "Come?"
Did Paul use a Laptop,
With lots of RAM and ROM?

Did Moses use a joystick,
At the parting of the Sea?
And a Satellite Guidance Tracking System,
To show him where to be?
Did he write the law on tablets,
Or are they really on CD?
Did Moses use a joystick,
At the parting of the Sea?

Did Jesus really die for us,
One day upon a tree?
Or was it just a Hologram,
Or Technical Wizardry?
Can you download the Live Action Video Clip,
To play on your PC?
Did Jesus really die for us,
One day upon a tree?

Have the wonders of this modern age,
Made you question what is true?
How a single man, in a simple time,
Could offer life anew?
How a sinless life, a cruel death,
Then a glorious life again,
Could offer more to a desperate world,
Than all the inventions of man?

If in your life, the voice of God,
Is sometimes hard to hear.
With other voices calling,
His doesn't touch your ear.
Then set aside your laptop and modem,
And all your fancy gear.
And open your Bible, open your heart,
And let your Father draw near.

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 Christ Died in our Stead

   During the Civil War a man by the name of George Wyatt was drawn by lot to go to the front.  He had a wife and six children.  A young man named Richard Pratt offered to go in his stead.  He was accepted and joined the ranks, bearing the name and number of George Wyatt.  Before long Pratt was killed in action.  The authorities later sought again to draft George Wyatt into service.  He protested, entering the plea that he had died in the person of Pratt.  He insisted that the authorities consult their own records as to the fact of his having died in identification with Pratt, his substitute.  Wyatt was thereby exempted as beyond the claims of the law and further service.  He had died in the person of his representative.
Born Crucified, p. 13

Smile A While

A Sunday school teacher began her lesson with a question, "Boys and girls, what do we know about God?" A hand shot up in the air. "He is an artist!" said the kindergarten boy. "Really? How do you know?" the teacher asked.  "You know-'Our Father, who does art in Heaven..'"
-- The two items above are included via THE SOWER, a weekly publication of the Arthur church of Christ,Arthur, IL. Ron Bartanen, who serves as minister and editor, may be contacted at - ron33dor@yahoo. com

Hearts of Gold - poetry this issue

I'd Rather Be a Bible Teacher

I'd rather be a Bible teacher than anything I could be.
And mingle with the boys and girls as their love inspires me.
I'd rather hear the excitement when the children's voices ring;
Than travel all around the world and visit kings and queens.
I'd rather hug their tearful faces with worried anxious eyes;
Than be president of these great states and mingle with the wise.
I'd rather be a Bible teacher than anything I know.
Planting the seed of God's word and helping it to grow.

- via The Voice of Truth International, as it appeared in The Encourager, the weekly bulletin for the Calvert City church of Christ in Calvert City, KY.  Lance Cordle serves the congregation as minister.  He may be contacted at office@calvertchurc hofchrist. com

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I knelt to pray, but not for long;
I had too much to do.
Must hurry off and get to work,
For bills would soon be due.
And so I said a hurried prayer
And jumped up from my knees;
My Christian duty now was done,
My soul could be at ease.
All through the day I had no time
To speak a word of cheer,
No time to speak of Christ to friends;
They'd laugh at me I feared.
No time, no time, too much to do -
That was my constant cry.
No time to give to those in need .
But there'll be time to die.
And when I come before the Lord
And stand with downcast eyes,

Within His hands He'll hold a book
That's called The Book of Life.
Suppose He looks into that Book
And says, "Your name I cannot find.
I once was going to write it down,
But never found the time."

- Selected and Submitted; via The Encourager, Dongola church of Christ, Dongola,  IL.

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Praise Him
By Janice George

For temptations met
From day to day,
and trials encountered
Along the way,
Praise Him!
For the opportunity to go
To Him in prayer
To relieve your burdens
Toils and care,
Praise Him!
For grace bestowed
And blessings received,
For forgiveness of sins
And heartaches relieved
Praise Him!
the refreshing rain
And the evening's sun,
For a crown of life
When our tasks here are done

-- Janice George; via the Mathis Messenger, the weekly bulletin of the church of Chirst in Mathis, TX.  Kyle Moses preaches for the congregation.  He may be contacted at MathisCofC@stx. rr.comwww. mathiscofc. org. or via the congregation' s website:  www.mathiscofc. org

Gold Mines 
---- quotes & sayings for bulletins and signs this issue

The absent are like children, helpless to defend themselves.

We don't change God's message, It's message changes us!

In the sentence of life, the devil may be a comma but never let him be the period.

-- All of the above were taken from The Lantern, the weekly bulletin for the Highway church of Christ, Sullivan, IL.

If you were on trial for being a Christian...
            ...would there be enough evidence to convict you?

-- Harrisburg church of Christ, Harrisburg, IL.

Humor is the chocolate chips in the ice cream of life.

-- -Barbara Johnson, via Kevin Rayner's Parables group.  Kevin preaches for the Highland church of Christ in Tecumseh, OK.  To join the group send an e-mail to parable-2006@ yahoogroups. com.  You can contact Kevin at otchurch@hotmail. com

Someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do the righteous suffer?" "Why not?" he replied. "They're the only ones who can take it."

-- Via The Bible Says, visit their website at: http://biblesays. faithsite. com