THE SPIRIT’S SWORD
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
Mt. Baker church of Christ
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In this issue:
A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day as a small opening appeared, he
sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its
body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It
appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could and could go no farther. Then
the man decided to help the butterfly, so he took a pair of scissors and snipped
off the remaining bit of the cocoon.
The butterfly then emerged easily, but it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.
The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that at any moment the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time. Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It was never able to fly.
What the man in his kindness and haste did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were God's way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon. Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our life. If God allowed us to go through our life without obstacles, it would cripple us. We would not be as strong as what we could have been, and we could never fly.
An Ancient Description Of Christians
by Bill Crews
The following quotation is from a letter written by a Christian who lived sometime in the second or third centuries:
“For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvelous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like all other men and beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have their meals in common, but not their wives. They find themselves in the flesh, and yet live not after the flesh. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in begarry, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonored, and yet they are glorified in their dishonor. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened to life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason for their hostility.”
This quotation is taken from “The Epistle to Diognetus,” paragraph 5. It is accepted as authentic, and its author is classified as a Christian. From it it is obvious that it was not easy to be a Christian in his day. Count your blessings, and daily ask yourself if you are really being a Christian.
-PARK FOREST PROCLAIMER, pp. 6-7, 10/91
on the Other Side of the Water!
(Scripture Reading: Psalms 106:1-12)
I. NOAH AND THE FLOOD.
God’s Grace - Gen. 6:5-8; Noah’s Faith - v. 13-21.
B. Noah’s Obedient Faith Was The Means Of God’s Grace - Heb. 11:7; 1 Pet. 3:20
II. ISRAEL AT THE RED SEA - Exo. 14:10-14.
God’s Grace - v. 30; Psa. 106:6-12; Israel’s Faith - Exo. 14:15-16, 26.
B. Israel’s Obedient Faith Was The Means Of God’s Grace - Heb. 11:29
III. NAAMAN AND HIS LEPROSY - 2 Kgs. 5:1-14.
God’s Grace - cf. Lk. 4:27; 2 Kgs. 5:15; Naaman’s Faith - 5:9-14.
B. Naaman’s Obedient Faith Was The Means Of God’s Grace - v. 10, 14
IV. THE MAN BORN BLIND - Jno. 9:1-7.
A. God’s Grace - v. 3-4,
14, 17, 21, 26, 30; Man’s Faith - 9:7.
B. Man’s Obedient Faith Was The Means Of God’s Grace - cf. v. 25
V. THE SINNER AND SALVATION - Rom. 3:23-26.
A. God’s Grace - Eph.
2:5, 8; Our Faith - Eph. 2:8; Heb. 5:9; Matt. 7:21.
B. Our Obedient Faith Is The Means Of Receiving God’s Grace.
- Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21
Show Yourself Friendly
(Scripture Reading: Jas. 2:1-10)
1. Evaluate how we
greet each other & our visitors at worship services.
2. Are we missing opportunities to encourage & save because we are not very friendly to visitors & newcomers?
I. “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF” - Matt. 22:39.
We Must Not Show Partiality When We Assemble - Jas. 2:1-10; Matt. 5:46-48.
B. We Must Be Kind & Hospitable To All - 1 Pet. 4:8-9.
1. In greeting our brethren - cf. 1 Pet. 5:14; 1 Cor. 16:20 (Acts 2:44, 46).
2. In greeting visitors - Heb. 13:1-2; Jas. 2:4. (Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:19).
II. THE WISDOM OF FRIENDLINESS TOWARD OUR VISITORS.
It Helps To Establish Contact With The Lost - Matt. 9:10-13.
B. Seize Our Opportunity To Help/Serve Them - Col. 4:5-6; Jno. 4:35 (30).
C. Help The Visitor Want To Return - Acts 2:46-47; Eccl. 11:1.
III. THE FOLLY OF UNFRIENDLINESS.
We Become A Stumbling block - Matt. 18:5-7, 10-14; 5:14-16.
B. We Miss Opportunities To Serve Others - cf. 1 Tim. 5:9-10 (Acts 20:35).
C. We Won’t Have Many Friends - Prov. 18:24; Matt. 5:47 (Jas. 4:17).
-How we treat people at our services reflects on how we generally treat people everywhere else!
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
HEADLINES REVEAL CURRENT TREND WITHIN DENOMINATIONS......
is first to test Methodist ban on same-sex marriages
The Nando Times News (March 26, 1999)
possible split on gay issue
The Bellingham Herald, A5 (March 21, 1999)
challenge views on homosexuality
They argue biblical stance on sexual orientation is matter of interpretation. Mainline churches insist it is sin
The Salt Lake Tribune (March 20, 1999)
by: Joe R. Price
Recent headlines indicate that the effort to bring homosexuality into mainstream America is far from dead. Protestant denominations are in turmoil over it. “Church law” is being challenged in the United Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church is headed for a formal division over gay rights and same-sex marriages, and nearly every other denomination is being confronted with what do to about homosexuals members.
The Bible has been manipulated by liberal theologians and gay-rights advocates to the point that more and more people think it actually blesses homosexual conduct. Of course, it does not (Genesis 19; Lev. 18:22; 20:13; Rom. 1:24-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Heb. 13:4).
What shall churches of Christ do? The Bible is clear: Sin in every form (including homosexuality) will cause souls to be lost (Rom. 6:23; Gal. 5:19-21). By preaching the whole counsel of God we must try to save homosexuals from eternal death (Acts 20:26-27; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; Jude 22-23). Churches must resist the call to compromise, tolerate and accept sinners who are still in their sin (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 2 Jno. 9-11). Churches must have the strength of faith to apply congregational discipline against members who will not repent of sin (1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:6). Failure to do so will surely jeopardize whole churches and the purity of God’s people (1 Cor. 5:6-7; Eph. 5:3-12).
Present trends within the denominations ought to get our attention and cause us to be on guard against similar things occurring among us. History shows that what the denominations accept eventually finds its way into churches of Christ (cf. instrumental music in worship, the social gospel, unity in diversity, etc.). Some “churches of Christ” already include homosexuals in their fellowship.
Don’t forget, some churches of Christ already receive adulterers into their fellowship due to erroneous teaching on divorce and remarriage (Matt. 19:3-12; Rom. 7:1-4; 1 Cor. 7:10-15). Can homosexuality be far behind?!
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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