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THE SPIRITíS SWORD
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)

                        published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ
                  Bellingham, WA
Volume III, Number 32 ∑ September 26, 1999
Editor..................Joe R. Price


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 In this issue:

-- By Faith Isaac Blessed (Jeff Herrin) -- A series on Hebrews 11: Part 8
-- Revisionism - 1999 (Sherrel A. Mercer, elder in the Edna, TX church)
-- Noteworthy News: Kansas' creationist beliefs evolve into controversy


BY FAITH ISAAC BLESSED  A Series on Hebrews 11 (Part 8)

Jeff Herrin

The incident recorded in Isaac's life to illustrate faith may not have occurred to us as a great example. Isaac and Rebekah had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was the firstborn and Isaac's favorite. Even though Esau had already sold his birthright to Jacob, Isaac anticipated giving the blessing to him. Isaac had some preconceived notions; there were dreams for Esau which were dear to his heart.

In Genesis 27, we see Rebekah's plan for Jacob to deceive his blind father. Jacob convinced Isaac he was Esau and received the blessing. Moments later Esau arrived and when Jacob's deception was revealed, "Isaac trembled exceedingly" (Gn. 27:33). No doubt he felt terribly betrayed. Isaac was old, blind, and heartbroken. Some cherished religious expectations (the blessing concerned God's promises to Abraham) would never be realized. In the midst of his disappointment the Hebrew writer notes a moment of shining faith.

Isaac could have rebelled. Like Balaam he could have tried to bless or curse in accordance with his own desires. His favorite son begged in tears for just such a blessing. Instead, Isaac recognized that concerning Jacob, "I have blessed him--and indeed he shall be blessed" (Gen. 27:33). Isaac's realized his dream was not in accordance with God's will. God intended to bless Jacob and Isaac was now certain he would be blessed. Like Jesus in Gethsemane, he humbled himself to submit to the will of God.

Now we need to consider the rest of the story, because the Hebrew writer points out that Isaac blessed both Jacob and Esau (Heb. 11:20). When Esau could not convince Isaac to renounce his blessing upon Jacob, "Esau said to his father, 'Have you only one blessing, my father? Bless me--me also, O my father!'" (Gn. 27:38). Isaac had originally intended to bestow a single blessing, but was there nothing more to offer? He proceeded to bless Esau. It was not the blessing Isaac had originally planned, but this blessing was in accordance with the plan of God for Esau and his descendants. By faith, he blessed them both concerning things to come, confident that God would fulfill His word.

Sometimes Christians expect to get things out of religion that God never promised. Maybe they feel let down by the church, or the preacher doesn't live up to their expectations. Does our service to God suffer when we are disappointed? If we fail to receive one blessing, do we doubt God's ability to bestow a multitude of others? Immediately on the heels of betrayal and disappointment, Isaac had the faith to make a second blessing.


REVISIONISM - 1999

Sherrel A. Mercer 1408 Alba - Edna, Texas 77957
September 6, 1999

Revisionism was once a recognized characteristic of the propaganda machine of the international Communist Party. One only needed to read or hear a few sentences to know that the facts of history were changed, twisted, and restated to further the peculiar political aim of the Party. It was very common to read descriptions of the United States as a colonial, imperialist power, bent on gathering any and every foreign possession under its flag. Never mind that the quest for freedom for the oppressed dictated much of American foreign policy the last two hundred years. It was also very common for a ruler in Soviet Russia, for example to be so disgraced that his name was removed from streets, buildings, and cities, as if he never existed!

The Lord's church has a fight on its hands now with revisionists. The list of subjects is growing; we could consider marriage/divorce as a bellwether, with error of every kind being found on every front. That which was once sacred has been redefined in terms to better suit the ear, the audience, or the untrained conscience. A sermon today on marriage, from some revisionist preachers, does not even sound like a sermon on the same subject from the same scriptures preached thirty or forty years ago.

A common denominator of the revisionist preaching today is an individual spokesman who is personally affected or afflicted by the plain truth on a specific subject. Matthew 19:9 is suddenly rethought and retaught in the light of the son, daughter, brother, sister, or whomever, that is disciplined by the plain truth of that scripture. The fact that the plain truth condemns an action causes the truth to be redefined in a way so as to soften its effect.

The apostle Paul was once chastised by Festus, who told Paul, "Much learning doth make thee mad." (Acts 26:24) Much learning did not make Paul mad, but it seems to make preachers revisionists today. There are those who value learning and education so much that any pronouncement from any scholarly source becomes truth, without the need for any scrutiny. And if the scholarly pronouncement conflicts with the revelation of scripture, the revisionist rewrites the scripture, instead of demanding the proof of the pronouncement.

The Biblical account of creation is a good example. There is absolutely no reason to doubt that God could and did create the world, including man, in six days. There is absolutely no reason to require periods of billions of years for any thing that is made to have been made. And there is absolutely no reason to place blind faith in evolution or the big-bang theory, simply because that modern learning teaches it dogmatically for the truth. Any time evolution has to stand the test of scientific scrutiny by minds that are intellectually honest, evolution fails miserably to explain the origin of the world we know.

Some Christians want to revise Genesis 1 and 2 to fit evolution, and they end up as theistic evolutionists. But they can find very little comfort from scripture for such a position. Others simply must have long periods of time for God to do his creative work. Such a requirement destroys the step-by-step relationships defined from day one to day six of the creation week. It simply limits God. Others try to find a fit by saying that the living part of this world was an instantaneous product of divine creation, after several eons of time had transpired with nothing alive plant or animal--occupying the earth. This position claims "inorganic evolution" as dogma, and allows God a last-minute presence. Somehow, I cannot relegate God to a last-minute bit part.

I am saddened greatly by the posture taken by informed Bible teachers when confronted with the modern-day scientific learning of their children. If the parent is not to be considered hopelessly out of touch with current ideas, or if the parent does not want to be relegated to less than usefulness by the children, the parent becomes a revisionist and begins to teach something other than Genesis 1 and 2 as the authoritative answer to the origin of the world.

One of the preachers we supported has become a revisionist about creation. Whatever the reason, he is not teaching what he taught before, and he is not teaching the simple truth of Genesis. He no longer sounds the clear teaching of creation in six twenty-four hour days. Please do not misunderstand me: a revisionist can be taught, and he can be returned to the simplicity of the scripture. Much effort has been made to try to right his ship. But it is often difficult to restore such a one, especially if (1) he begins to blame others for his obvious doctrinal predicaments, (2) he begins to attack the messengers of truth, and (3) begins to defend himself or his own position instead of defending the truth. Having determined to our own satisfaction that the mentioned preacher had fallen into all three of these weaknesses, we elders had no choice but to suspend our support for that preacher.

Our position as elders has always been to support preaching, not preachers. There is a great difference. Our responsibility, locally or afar with the men we support, is to know the individual well enough to know if we are supporting truth or supporting a man. If we are simply supporting a man, we have missed the point of the scriptural pattern.

We strongly believe that Godly men everywhere, serving as elders, need to reinforce their responsibilities toward the defense of truth. After all, the church is the pillar and ground of the truth. But if local leadership acquiesces in the idea that a preacher is the spiritual leader of the congregation, or in the idea that a preacher has the benefit of the most learning and must therefore lead the elders, then the divine pattern is destroyed.

Is there any wonder why there is trouble in Judah?


Noteworthy News
(Current events in the light of Scripture)

KANSAS' CREATIONIST BELIEFS EVOLVE INTO CONTROVERSY
By Stephanie Simon/Los Angeles Times

DOUGLASS, Kan. -- If they know anything, person after person here declares, they know this: God created them. Created all mankind. As for the talk about man evolving from tree-swinging apes? A hoax, they scoff -- and a cruel one, at that.

The biblical creation story is bedrock belief for many in this blue-collar prairie town.

Yet, even as they call evolution a fraud, residents by and large say they do not object to their children studying it in school. Sure, there are caveats. Some think parents should be able to take their kids out of class when the subject comes up. Others insist evolution be labeled a tenuous theory. Still, they grudgingly acknowledge that their children should be exposed to it, if only because it's so widely accepted.

The complex views expressed and debated here reflect the confusion roiling communities across Kansas since the state Board of Education last month voted to delete evolution from the mandatory science curriculum.

Teachers in Kansas still are free to present evolution, the theory that all life on Earth shares a common ancestor nearly 4 billion years old. And no one is required to teach creation, the biblical view that God created all species over the course of six days.

But the board's decision is far-reaching nonetheless.

It's now up to Kansas' 304 school districts to decide whether to spend class time on a topic that's not required and will not be tested on statewide assessment exams. -(Excerpt from THE DETROIT NEWS website, 9.22.99)


COMMENTARY
 Joe R. Price

Although Kansas' Republican Gov. Bill Graves, has condemned this new curriculum as an "embarrassment" for his state, we applaud the Kansas State Board of Education. The greater embarrassment is to foist macro-evolution upon the minds of our children as if it is fact!

Are some of our brethren embarrassed over the Genesis account of creation? We are aware of several preachers and teachers who are teaching young people (and whoever else will listen) that the creative days of Genesis 1 are not 24 hour days ("the evening and the morning were the first day," Gen. 1:5). The six days of creation, these brethren say, are in fact billions of years.

Moses believed it took six days to create the heavens and the earth (Exo. 20:11). One should remember that God Himself spoke Exodus 20:11 from Mt. Sinai in the hearing of Israel. So, God believes He created the world in six days, too! Someone needs to tell our brethren to come back to faith in the word of God, not the science of men (1 Tim. 6:20-21).


 The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA

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