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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 36 ∑ October 24, 1999
Editor..................Joe R. Price


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 In this issue:

-- By Faith Moses Refused  (Jeff Herrin) -- A series on Hebrews 11: Part 12
-- Where Are We Headed? (Joe R. Price)
--Noteworthy News: Science or No Science, the Sick Keep Taking the Waters


BY FAITH MOSES REFUSED  A Series on Hebrews 11 (Part 12)

Jeff Herrin

Throughout this series, I've simply looked at the strong verbs (action words) which are used in Hebrews 11. There are several actions which Hebrews 11 says that Moses performed by faith. Because of his faith he:
1. Refused (vs. 24);
2. Chose (vs. 25);
3. Esteemed (vs. 26);
4. Forsook (vs. 27).
Moses' life was dramatically changed by his faith. In his early years, many probably thought he was giving everything up and receiving nothing in return. Instead, a life of faith made Moses a far greater figure in history than the pharaoh he confronted.

By faith Moses refused to be identified with the royal family of Egypt. We enjoy many blessings in life, but Christians need to learn when to say "No". Moses could have rationalized trying harder to blend a life of royalty with the life of a faithful Israelite. Surely he could have done God's people a lot of good with the wealth and political power Egypt offered, but this isn't a faithful rationalization. We need to examine our hearts to make sure we are not trying to serve two masters (Mt. 6:24). Sometimes faith demands that we refuse something.

By faith Moses chose to identify himself with God's people and to suffer with them. Unfortunately, some Christians seem embarrassed to be identified with the church. The Israelites were far from perfect, but they were God's people. Faith requires a strong loyalty to God's people. Consider the depth of Moses' commitment to the Israelites, and then evaluate your own commitment to the members of the Lord's church.

By faith Moses esteemed "the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward" (Heb. 11:26). Nothing can change your priorities like faith. Above all else, Moses depended on God for his reward. We depend on ourselves to get a raise, to pay off the house, and to save enough for retirement. We even have a tendency to depend on ourselves to make a "good church". However, it is so hard to keep our priorities straight and to esteem heaven as we should when we forget to remember just how much we depend upon God. We need to diligently look to the reward.

By faith Moses forsook Egypt. This is likely a reference to the departure for the promised land because the scriptures tell us that he did "fear the king" when he first left for Midian (Ex. 2:14-15). Many of the Israelites would yearn for Egypt during the difficult trials of the wilderness, but not Moses. When he left Egypt, he left it behind for good. Jesus admonished, "No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Lk. 9:62). By faith Moses learned not to love Egypt, and we need to learn not to love the world (I Jn. 2:15).


WHERE ARE WE HEADED?

 Joe R. Price

(Reprint, The Kaysville Herald, August 28, 1994)

The following observation deserves our serious attention:

"Efforts are being made to change our preaching, remodel the gospel and modernize he church. I was in the audience when a young man spoke disparagingly of those who would preach on such things as 'adultery, instrumental music and institutionalism.' This young man stated that 'these things are not relevant to salvation anyway.' Others have stated 'that God does not expect us to be completely, doctrinally correct.'" (Mickey Galloway, "Are We Taking the Backbone Out of the Church of Christ?," Guardian of Truth, 8/18/94, p. 8).

This report is shocking, to say the least. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of brother Galloway's report. I believe his assessment is correct. I have personally discussed with some who adhere to the belief that "100% doctrinally conformity" is not necessary for our approval before God (it is my conclusion that this view has evolved in part as a continuing effort to accommodate error on marriage, divorce and remarriage, and fellowship.) Whether intentionally or otherwise, a movement has been on for some time which does indeed take the backbone out of the church. Let me be clear. The church of our Lord Jesus Christ does not need to be "modernized." Our preaching does not need to change when that change means compromising with the doctrines and philosophies of men (Col. 2:8; 2 Tim. 4:2-4).

More and more Christians are no longer interested in contending for the faith (Jude 3). Yet, that is the very thing needed if we are to address the growing problem of minimizing the doctrine of Christ on such subjects as "adultery, instrumental music and institutionalism."

Unfortunately, some simply do not have the stomach for it. They may voice their opposition to the "peace at all cost" approach to unity, but their actions betray them. It is easier to look the other way, to turn a deaf ear to error than it is to withstand it to the face (Gal. 2:11-14).

For others, it may be that they are unfamiliar with the Bible subject under question. They have been Christians for years, and "have intended to study that sometime," but they never seem to get around to it. So, when the truth needs defending they can be found sitting on the sidelines. (cf. Phil. 1:17)

Then there are brethren who, out of an appeal for "open-mindedness," cast doubt upon anyone who has the audacity to think and teach that the Bible can be understood, that its teachings are definitive, and that we are obligated to conform strictly to it. They cannot tolerate boldness in preaching. To them, defending the truth is out of vogue (Acts 4:13; 2 Tim. 1:7; Phil. 1:16).

Then there is another group which has an aversion to contending for the faith. These want their itching ears scratched with the latest trend, the newest speculation, the comfortable path (2 Tim. 4:3-4). They are enemies of truth, though often disguised as ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:14-15; Phil. 3:18-19). They follow their "own lusts" rather than the way of truth.

Where God's people are headed depends upon you, me, and every other Christian. After all, we are the church (Acts 2:47). The Lord wants Christians who will study to show themselves approved unto God, properly handling His word (2 Tim. 2:15). Brave Christians with the courage and faith to engage the errors of false doctrine with the sword of the Spirit (Eph. 6:11-17). Christians who love truth and the souls of men more than themselves. More than the comfort of saying nothing, or saying only what others what to hear (2 Tim. 4:2-5). The Lord wants Christians who will live their convictions, not simply speak them. Then, the church will not be looking to "modernize" - it will be walking in the "old paths" of truth (Jer. 6:16).

So, perhaps an equally important question is, "Where are you headed?"


Noteworthy News
(Current events in the light of Scripture)

SCIENCE OR NO SCIENCE, THE SICK KEEP TAKING THE WATERS
Laird Harrison

Mary Bolton is traveling a lot these days to places like Versailles and Nice, France, where she stays in beautiful hotels and spends hours soaking in hot baths. But no one who knows her is envious. Six years ago, the Hyannis, Massachusetts, resident came down with an excruciatingly painful disease that has crippled her with swelling and pain.

Doctors don't know the cause of her condition. No matter what drugs they give her, she can barely walk. So instead, Bolton travels thousands of miles every year for a type of therapy that dates back to ancient times: spa bathing. "It's just wonderful," says Bolton, a retired government worker. "I feel a lot better."

More and more Americans are turning to an increasing variety of spa treatments, from massage to bone-density scans, spa owners say. At the core of the spa business -- what distinguishes spa treatment from massage therapy or standard medicine -- remain the baths.

But while patients have "taken the cure" in hot springs for thousands of years, scientists are only beginning to sort out which ailments can truly be treated with water and which cannot. In the Sept. 16, 1999 New England Journal of Medicine, for example, researchers reported the first small study using hot tubs to help treat diabetes.

(MSN Health channel: http://content.health.msn.com/focus_column/531370?focus_doi=alt)


COMMENTARY
 Joe R. Price

Like the residents of Jerusalem many years ago, a host of modern-day health-seekers rush to find healing waters (cf. Jno. 5:1-7). This is in no way a criticism of searching for remedies to illnesses. It is right and good to seek and obtain the cures which exist for temporal ailments (1 Tim. 5:23).

The tragedy is that so few rush to Jesus for the living water which heals the soul (Jno. 4:10-14; 7:37-39). The living water, salvation and eternal life, is freely offered to those who will come and drink (Isa. 55:1; Rev. 22:17).

Until one understands the blight of sin he will not pursue the cure which only Jesus gives (Acts 2:37). Therefore, we must come to know the destructive nature of sin upon our lives, both now and in the future (Rom. 3:9-18). Only then will we rush to the waters of salvation and "take the cure" for sin (Acts 4:12; 22:16).

Come to Jesus in faith. Obey His word to repent of your sins, confess your faith before men, and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:38; Rom. 10:9-10). The cure is ready. Will you be healed? Come to Jesus now.


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

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