Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 19 Number 7 July 2017
Page 2

Editorial

Soul Conscious

Louis Rushmore“Male pattern blindness” is a phrase that I have heard on occasion being muttered by some woman, maybe even my wife, regarding men and perhaps me in particular. That expression is likely to occur, for instance, if I were unable to find something in the refrigerator, although whatever for which I was searching was plainly in view. (I tend to think, however, if there is such a thing as “male pattern blindness,” there must also exist sometimes “female pattern blindness.”) Someone else might utter another idiom when something obviously visible cannot be discovered, such as, “If it were a snake, it would’ve bitten you!” All of us, I suppose, on occasion are oblivious to what should be obvious to us. Most of the time, though, our “blindness” when trying to locate something is relatively unimportant and pertains to mundane matters associated with daily life.

Yet, it is a serious human failing when we appear to be blinded to spiritual matters, which pertain to one’s eternal life. It is alarming when the children of God seem to have little concern for their own spiritual wellbeing and even less interest in the spiritual welfare of other people. The priority of seeking spiritual pursuits ahead of material needs was clearly stated by our Lord Jesus Christ. “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33 NKJV). Nevertheless, the children of God have a long history of being blinded to spiritual things. “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, And seeing you will see and not perceive; For the hearts of this people have grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, And their eyes they have closed, Lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them’” (Matthew 13:14-15; Isaiah 6:9-10).

Is it any wonder that our Lord called upon His disciples to look beyond the material world in which they lived? Jesus Christ challenged His followers to be soul conscious when He said, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” (John 4:35).  Jesus was not talking about farming and harvesting a physical crop at the conclusion of a growing season. Rather, He used an example from agriculture to emphasize the requirement for His disciples to participate in His ministry “to seek and to save that which is lost” (Luke 19:10). This is consistent with our Lord’s parting words to His apostles immediately preceding His Ascension. “…Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved…” (Mark 16:15).

Individual Christians need to be soul conscious. We must realize that our own bodies are merely vehicles that house our respective souls. The soul within an individual is comparable to a person riding inside of a vehicle such as an automobile. The car is not the person, but the person is in the car; the car and the rider inside it are separate. Eventually, the vehicle’s passenger will leave it, and ultimately, one’s soul will leave his body (James 2:26), unless the Second Coming occurs in one’s lifetime (1 Thessalonians 4:15).

We must develop the disposition of identifying ourselves first and primarily as souls while secondarily identifying with the bodies that house our respective souls. Christians need to look at family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, classmates and people in general differently from the way in which we typically view them. Purpose to look at them from the inside out—visualizing them as souls before we identify and classify them respecting their bodily characteristics (e.g., faces, stature, gender and race). Everyone is foremost a precious soul, each soul by itself more valuable than all of this world’s wealth were it amassed together (Matthew 16:26). Christians must be soul conscious.

The churches of Christ need to be soul conscious. Individual congregations and collectively the congregations that comprise the brotherhood or universal church need to view humanity on the basis of their souls. The soul conscious church will view itself first as an assembly of souls and only secondarily think of itself along the lines of a collection of physical bodies. Instead of focusing primarily on gender, generations and race, think first and primarily of the souls within the children of God. Looking beyond the confines of congregational membership, see the world for what it is spiritually—billions of precious souls that happen to be housed presently in mortal bodies.

(Of course, faithful Christians must be aware of gender specific roles assigned by Scripture to men and to women. The emphasis herein is only to look to the spiritual nature of humankind to promote spiritually healthy behavior and improve evangelistic outreach to non-Christians and unfaithful Christians.)

Parents, your children are souls abiding in temporary dwellings—bodies. Brethren, your family members are souls wrapped in flesh. Souls are everywhere around us wherever we see anyone. Every person on planet earth is a soul in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the salvation that it offers and the eternal life it promises. Truly, with souls around every one of us, the spiritual fields are white unto harvest.

Be soul conscious! See souls through spiritual glasses. Our own salvation and the redemption of the souls of others is dependent upon you as well as the Lord’s church being soul conscious. What do you see when you view the persons with whom you interact?


Editorial

“I Beseech Thee”

Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor

Throughout God’s Holy Word, the word “beseech” is used many times. In fact, there are some 64 occurrences of this word in the KJV Bible. The word is sometimes translated from a compound verb that means to “call to one’s side.” It carries with it the idea of an admonition or a serious entreating. It is as if the writer is coming to another’s side to plead and beg for a response. The apostle Paul used this phrase many times throughout his inspired letters. He loved his brethren (2 Corinthians 2:4), and Paul wanted them to heed God’s admonitions to grow and become stronger in their spiritual walk. Let’s consider three of those occasions.

Firstly, Paul beseeched the brethren to serve. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Although people can do a multitude of things with their lives, everything pales in comparison to serving the living God. Paul would also remind the brethren at Corinth that even their very bodies belonged to God and should be used in service to Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-21). He later exhorted the same brethren to “be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord…” Still today, Paul, through the inspired text, continues to beseech men to be busy serving.

Secondly, Paul beseeched the brethren to segregate. When we think of Christianity, we often think of unity. While among faithful brethren that is certainly true, there are some about whom the Bible admonishes us not to be in unison with them. “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Romans 16:17). The word “mark” literally means to “fix your eyes upon.” Just like a farmer keeps his eye on an ornery bull, their eyes were to be fixed upon false teachers. Paul knew that false teachers were deceptive and crafty in leading men astray (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). Simply because a man claims to be a brother in Christ, such may not be true (1 John 4:1). Paul, through the inspired text, continues to beseech the faithful to segregate themselves from false teachers!

Thirdly, Paul beseeched the brethren to supplicate. The idea of supplication means to plead earnestly. “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together with me in your prayers to God for me; That I may be delivered from them that do not believe in Judaea; and that my service which I have for Jerusalem may be accepted of the saints; That I may come unto you with joy by the will of God, and may with you be refreshed” (Romans 15:30-32). Paul understood the power that can be unleashed by faithful brethren praying diligently. God is “…able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20). Paul pleads with us today to supplicate to the Father above.

Paul was never ashamed to plead with Christians to do the right thing. He realized that eternity weighed in the balances. So it is with Christians today. Paul is still beseeching; are we listening?


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