"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
sets one free from bondage to the
sins of the past. It sets
one free to live a full life in
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
for Gold Feature
Christ are not Optional
By Edd Sterchi
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
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
it is he who loves Me."
* John 15:10, "If you
keep My commandments, you will abide
* John 15:14, "You are
My friends if you do whatever I
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.
The God Who Supplies All
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
2. An old friend who once saved
3. The perfect man (or woman) you
have been dreaming about.
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.
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.
before you continue reading.....
candidate who was hired (out of
200 applicants) had no trouble
coming up with his answer.
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
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!
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
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
Christ in White
House, TN, may be contacted at alansmith.servant@
The Beauty of
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
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
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
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
-- David R. Ferguson preaches for
the Lakeland Church of Christ in
Mattoon, IL. He may be
contacted at davidferguson61@
Significance of Christ's
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
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.
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;
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
-- 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.
org. or via the congregation'
s website: www.mathiscofc.
Who Is Jesus?
By Travis L.
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
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
- Travis L. Quertermous preaches for
the church of Christ at Foristell,
MO. He may be contacted at churchofchristatfor
Who Is On The
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
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
"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." -
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
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
Quick Riches -
misc. goodies this issue
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.
Did Jesus Use
a Modem at the Sermon on the Mount?
Did Jesus use a
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
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
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
To play on your PC?
Did Jesus really die for us,
One day upon a tree?
Have the wonders of this modern
Made you question what is true?
How a single man, in a simple
Could offer life anew?
How a sinless life, a cruel
Then a glorious life again,
Could offer more to a desperate
Than all the inventions of man?
If in your life, the voice of
Is sometimes hard to hear.
With other voices calling,
His doesn't touch your ear.
Then set aside your laptop and
And all your fancy gear.
And open your Bible, open your
And let your Father draw near.
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
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
-- 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 -
Hearts of Gold -
poetry this issue
I'd Rather Be
a Bible Teacher
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
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
To speak a word of cheer,
No time to speak of Christ to
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
Suppose He looks into that
And says, "Your name I
I once was going to write it
But never found the time."
- Selected and Submitted;
via The Encourager, Dongola church
of Christ, Dongola, IL.
From day to day,
and trials encountered
Along the way,
For the opportunity to go
To Him in prayer
To relieve your burdens
Toils and care,
For grace bestowed
And blessings received,
For forgiveness of sins
And heartaches relieved
crown of life
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.
org. or via the
---- quotes & sayings for
bulletins and signs this issue
The absent are like
children, helpless to defend
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
there be enough evidence to
-- Harrisburg church of
Christ, Harrisburg, IL.
Humor is the chocolate chips in
the ice cream of life.
-- Via The Bible Says, visit
their website at: http://biblesays.
Someone asked C.S. Lewis, "Why do
the righteous suffer?" "Why not?"
he replied. "They're the only ones
who can take it."