THE SPIRITíS 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:
BY FAITH JACOB WORSHIPPED A Series on Hebrews
11 (Part 9)
The Hebrew writer turns his attention to the end of Jacob's life. His early life was marked by a series of spiritual ups and downs. Gradually, he grew stronger in faith.
When Joseph heard that his father was sick, he brought his two sons to visit Jacob. Though death was at the doorstep, Jacob could not retire from the service of God. Some very important duties remained. When he heard that Joseph was coming, "Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed" (Gen. 48:2). Jacob made a special effort to serve God that day. He didn't feel so good anymore, but it was a day for worship, thanksgiving, and blessing.
When Joseph arrived, Jacob began to discuss the blessings he had received from God throughout his life. Afterward, he instructed Joseph to bring his children to him. "Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn" (Gn. 48:14). When Joseph saw that his father intended to give the greater blessing to the younger son, he objected. Jacob assured Joseph there was no mistake. Just as Jacob had received a greater blessing than Esau, Ephraim would receive a greater blessing than Manasseh. Jacob did not have to learn Isaac's lesson the hard way. The last days of Jacob's life were full of prophecy. At the end he was very close to God and very comfortable with God's will for the future.
Jacob is a great example of faith at the end of our lives. The Hebrew writer also discusses the faith of youth, but sometimes it is the elderly who drift away from God. How tragic it is to depart from a life of service to God just before receiving the reward. What kind of an elderly Christian will you be? It is never too early to consider Jacob, an old man who made a special effort to serve the Lord.
FELLOWSHIPPING OR COMBATING ERROR?
Joe R. Price
J. W. McGarvey is recognized as one of the outstanding Bible scholars of the restoration movement of the 1800's. He was in the prime of his life (1829-1912) when the controversy over the use of instrumental music in church worship divided brethren in this country. While McGarvey personally opposed instrumental music in church worship, history tells us that he tried to combat it by tolerating its practice. Nearing the end of his life, he gave the following assessment of this approach to dealing with error among brethren to a young preacher. It is worth repeating:
"You are on the right road, and whatever you do, don't let anyone persuade you that you can successfully combat error by fellowshipping it and going along with it. I have tried. I believed at the start that was the only way to do it. I've never held membership in a congregation that used instrumental music. I have, however, accepted invitations to preach without distinctions between churches that used it and churches that didn't. I've gone along with their papers and magazines and things of that sort. During all these years I have taught the truth as the New Testament teaches it to every young preacher who passed through the College of the Bible. Yet, I do not know of more than six of them who are preaching the truth today. It won't work."
The New Testament also teaches us "it won't work." Accommodation with error does not promote unity (Eph. 4:3-6). It promotes compromise, corrupting those who attempt to fellowship error (2 Cor. 6:14-18; 11:2-4). It produces the loss of fellowship with God as it causes one to partake in error (2 Jno. 9-11). Yet, brethren still try to use this approach with error today - the social gospel, divorce and remarriage, evolution, denominationalism and many more. It won't work today, either. Do not bury your head in the sand! Error will not go away! It must be opposed for the sake of truth and the salvation of our souls (Jude 3-4; Gal. 2:4-5)!
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THE AUTONOMY OF THE LOCAL CHURCH
(Scripture Reading: 1 Cor. 4:14-21)
I. CHURCHES IN THE NT WERE AUTONOMOUS.
-(Autonomy: "self-law", hence, self-governing...the right of self-government...a self-governing community.)
A. Each Local Church Is A Complete Organization Within Itself - Acts 14:23; 20:28; Phil. 1:1.
B. Each Local Church Is Independent In Its Organization & Work - Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2-3; 1 Cor. 16:1-3; 2 Cor. 11:8; Acts 13:1.
C. Each Local Church Has Its Own Rulers (Elders) To Whom Its Members Are Subject - Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:2-3; 1 Ths. 5:12-14.
D. Congregational Autonomy Provides A Safeguard For The Spiritual Well-being Of The Saints - 1 Pet. 5:2-3; Heb. 13:17.
II. AUTONOMY DOES NOT MEAN:
A. That Each Church Decides For Itself What Is True Doctrine - 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 4:17.
-The case of the Jerusalem church - Acts 15:22-29; cf. Rev. 2:15.
B. Each Church Is Immune From "Outside" Teaching, Reproof, Rebuke & Correction - 2 Tim. 3:16-4:5; Col. 4:16; 1 Ths. 5:27; Rev. 2:14-16; 1 Cor. 1:11; 5:1; Col. 2:1-8; 1 Cor. 4:16-17; 11:1.
C. That It Is Impossible To Have Unity In Teaching & Practice - Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 4:17; Eph. 4:4-6.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
HOMING PIGEON SCHEME TRAPS BLACKMAILER
(Updated 5:20 PM ET September 23, 1999)
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A man who tried to blackmail a German unit of Swiss food giant Nestle by lacing some of its products with poison was sent to jail Thursday after his hand-over ploy -- homing-pigeons -- led to his capture.
Alexandru Nemeth, 43, a Romanian-born German metal worker, admitted that he had demanded 25 million marks ($14 million) worth of diamonds, which were to be placed in small pouches hung around the necks of pigeons trained to find their way home.
The police eventually got Nemeth after two years of investigation when a pigeon called "Charly" led them to his rented lot.
Nemeth, whose hobby was breeding homing pigeons, said he thought he had found a perfect way to blackmail but had since realized his mistake.
A Frankfurt regional court found him guilty of three counts of extortion and six counts of poisoning food products provided to supermarkets by Thomy, a unit of Nestle. It sentenced him to 11 years in jail.
Joe R. Price
Men consistently live as if we have no one to answer to but ourselves. Lust, greed and covetousness drive many to elaborate schemes to be happy at another's expense. Sometimes the criminal gets away with his crime here on earth. But be assured, nobody will escape the all-seeing eye of God and His righteous judgment (Rom. 2:2-3). "...be sure your sin will find you out." (Num. 32:23)
Teenagers sneak around their parents' back to do drugs, drink alcohol and engage in pre-marital sex. They see it as "having fun" or being "grown up," when in reality it displays gross immaturity and irresponsibility. Hurting themselves and others, they forget that sin comes at a high cost (Prov. 13:15; Rom. 6:23). Unwanted pregnancy, drug dependency and alcoholism - not to mention the loss of their souls (Matt. 16:26). "...be sure your sin will find you out."
Husbands and wives cheat on their spouses, thinking they will never be found out. Giving their bodies and affections to another, they end up giving away far more - their dignity, their self-respect and the trust of their mate (Heb. 13:4). "...be sure your sin will find you out."
People who know the gospel choose not to obey it. They will do it some day. They will have plenty of time later. Only, tomorrow never comes. The heart becomes hard, the senses dulled to truth, and the soul remains lost. Then, comes death and judgment (Heb. 9:27). Will you wait too long to do the right thing? "...be sure your sin will find you out."
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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