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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
             1860 Mt. Baker HWY
             Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume III, Number 45 ∑ January 09, 2000
Editor..................Joe R. Price


Visit our Web Sites:

Mt. Baker church of Christ: http://www.bibleanswer.com/mtbaker
BIBLE ANSWERS: http://www.bibleanswer.com


In this issue:

   Is Religious Debate Dead Among Us?
  Emergency "Phone" Numbers For Christians
    Sermons:
  Things That Please God
  Abel: He Being Dead Still Speaks
Noteworthy News: Woman Awakes From 16-Year Catatonic State


IS RELIGIOUS DEBATE DEAD AMONG US?
Joe R. Price

When was the last time you attended a religious debate? Have you ever done so? There was a time when religious debate was viewed as honorable, even necessary, to the promotion of the gospel of Christ. Now, many, many Christians look disparagingly upon public religious discussion. It seems to be beneath their dignity and unworthy of their participation. This is a sad and sinful development, for whenever the truth of the gospel is set alongside the errors of men it lights the way out of the bondage into the freedom of truth and salvation (Jno. 8:31-32).

Religious debate were viewed as honorable and useful in the early days of the New Testament church. The book of Acts records a number of occasions when it was extremely helpful in teaching the gospel to the lost and to fellow-Christians.

Such religious "disputes" were approved by God inasmuch as He granted miracles to be worked by those who debated the truth with others: Stephen, Paul, Barnabas, Peter and others (read Acts 6:9; 9:29; 15:2, 7; 17:17; 19:8-9). Have we "advanced" beyond the methods and manners of the apostles of Christ to the point that we will not soil our hands with religious debate? Why are so many Christians unwilling to engage in the public defense of the truth or to support those who do so (1 Pet. 3:15)? Why do those who teach, practice and promote error reject offers to have public discussion so that fair-minded listeners, with open hearts and open Bibles, can judge for themselves "whether these things are so?" (Acts 17:11)

The apostles of Christ and early Christians did not disparage and reject religious debate as simply an exercise in "locking horns." They used it as an effective tool to convict and convert the lost. We should promote debate for the same reasons today.

Are brethren incapable of honorable debate? While some think so, believing that debates only "draw lines" and "line up sides," the scriptures teach us otherwise (see above). The lines of truth and error exist before any such debate occurs! Why then is it so difficult to arrange such discussions, even among brethren, so that truth can be learned and error corrected? Without judging motives we can confidently say that error always hides from the exposure of truth (Jno. 3:19-21). Public debate exposes error and only those who desire truth regardless of the cost will allow their teachings and practices to be so scrutinized. Could it be that the refusal to enter public debate over controversial Bible subjects reveals such a hesitation?

We should not vilify honest efforts to have public discussion of topics which divide brethren. Whether it is the plan of salvation, the organization and work of the church, divorce and remarriage, fellowship, the deity of Christ, et al., God's people must be bold as a lion with the truth of the gospel (Prov. 28:1; Phil. 1:28). Public religious debate is one way combating error with truth.


EMERGENCY "PHONE" NUMBERS FOR CHRISTIANS
(Author Unknown)

When in sorrow, call............................................John 14
When men fail you, call........................................Psalm 27
If you want to be fruitful, call................................John 15
When you have sinned, call.................................... Psalm 51
When you worry, call....................................Matthew 6:19-34
When you are in danger, call...................................Psalm 91
When God seems far away, call.................................Psalm 139
When your faith needs stirring, call.........................Hebrews 11
When you are lonely and fearful, call .........................Psalm 23
When you grow bitter and critical, call................I Corinthians 13
For Paul's secret to happiness, call ................Colossians 3:12-17
For understanding of Christianity, call .........II Corinthians 5:15-19
When you feel down and out, call............................Romans 8:31
When you want peace and rest call......................Matthew 11:25-30
When the world seems bigger than God, call.....................Psalm 90
When you want Christian assurance, call ..................Romans 8:1-30
When you leave home for labor or travel, call.................Psalm 121
When your prayers grow narrow or selfish, call.................Psalm 67
For a great invention/opportunity, call.......................Isaiah 55
When you want courage for a task, call.........................Joshua 1
For how to get along with fellow men, call....................Romans 12
When you think of investments and returns, call.................Mark 10
If you are depressed, call.....................................Psalm 27
If your pocketbook is empty, call .............................Psalm 37
If you are losing confidence in people, call ..........I Corinthians 13
If people seem unkind, call ................................... John 15
If discouraged about your work, call .........................Psalm 126
If you find the world growing small & yourself great, call.....Psalm 19
Alternate numbers:
For dealing with fear, ........................... call Psalm 34:4-7
For security, ..................................... call Psalm 121:3
For assurance, ...................................... call Mark 8:35
For reassurance, ................................. call Psalm 145:18


Emergency Numbers may be dialed direct. No operator assistance is necessary.

All lines to Heaven are open 24 hours a day! (Heb. 4:15-16)

Feed your faith, and doubt will starve to death! (James 1:2-8)


For the complete text of the following sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS at: http://www.bibleanswer.com/lpleaseGod.htm

THINGS THAT PLEASE GOD
Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 5:7-11

I. FAITH PLEASES GOD - Heb. 11:5-6.
A. Faith That Obeys The Word Of God - Jno. 8:55 (29); 1 Jno. 3:22.
B. Faith That Endures (patient, steadfast) - Heb. 10:36-39.
C. Faith That Worships God - Jno. 8:23-24. (God's way, not man's.)

II. LIVING IN THE SPIRIT PLEASES GOD - Rom. 8:8.
A. Be Spiritually Minded In Our Lives - Rom. 8:5-7; Col. 3:1-17; Gal. 5:22-26.

III. GOSPEL PREACHING PLEASES GOD - 1 Cor. 1:21.
A. The Message (Not The Messenger) Is The Point Of Focus - 1:23; 2:1-5.

IV. BEING FRUITFUL IN EVERY GOOD WORK PLEASES GOD - Col. 1:9-12 (Heb. 13:21).
A. Requires A Knowledge Of His Will - Col. 1:9 (cf. 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
B. Requires Wisdom (spiritual understanding) - Col. 1:9 (Jas. 3:13; 1:5).
C. Requires Strength, Patience, Longsuffering (w/ joy), Thankfulness - Col. 1:11-12.

V. FOR CHILDREN TO OBEY THEIR PARENTS PLEASES GOD - Col. 3:20.
A. The Role Of Discipline In Helping To Accomplish This Respect - Heb. 12:9-11.

VI. OUR SINGULAR DEVOTION PLEASES GOD - 1 Cor. 7:32-33 (2 Tim. 2:4).
A. In Holiness - 1 Cor. 7:34 (1 Pet. 1:14-16).
B. In Setting Priorities - Matt. 6:33 (26:39 - "...not as I will, but as You will").
C. In Love & Allegiance - Matt. 22:37; Lk. 14:26.


For the complete text of the following sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS at: http://www.bibleanswer.com/abel.htm

ABEL: HE BEING DEAD STILL SPEAKS
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:1-4

I. FAITHFUL ABEL - Heb. 11:4.
A. He Worshiped In Faith - Gen. 4:3-4; Jno. 4:23-24; Lev. 10:1-2 (Psa. 51:15-17).
B. He Obeyed God In Faith - Heb. 11:4; Rom. 10:17; LK. 6:46; Jno. 14:15; Heb. 5:9.
C. He Endured In Faith - Gen. 4:8; 1 Cor. 15:33; Eph. 5:6-7, 11.

II. RIGHTEOUS ABEL - Matt. 23:34-35 (Heb. 11:4; 1 Jno. 3:12).
A. His Faith & Works (Of Faith) Bore Witness To His Righteousness - Heb. 11:4; 1 Jno. 3:12.
- Rom. 1:16-17; 3:21-22; Jas. 2:14-26 (Rom. 8:33).
B. God Bore Witness To His Righteousness - Heb. 11:4; Gen. 4:4; Rom. 4:3-5.

III. PERSECUTED ABEL.
A. Abel Suffered Because Of His Righteousness - Gen. 4:8, 10; Matt. 5:10-12.
B. The Blood Of Christ Is Better Than The Blood Of Abel - Heb. 12:24.
1. Abel's blood was violently taken; Christ's was willingly offered.
2. Abel's blood cried for vengeance; Christ's pleads for mercy.
3. Abel's blood did not cleanse his sin; Christ's blood purifies the soul - Heb. 9:14-15. Application: Rom. 6:3; Acts 22:16


Noteworthy News
(Current events in the light of Scripture)

WOMAN AWAKES FROM 16-YEAR CATATONIC STATE

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- For 16 years, Patricia White Bull was unresponsive to the world -unable to speak, swallow or move much. On Christmas Eve, she suddenly snapped back to consciousness.

"Don't do that," she blurted out when nurses were trying to fix her nursing home bed Dec. 24. Doctors cannot explain why Ms. White Bull, 42, awakened from the catatonic state she slipped into while delivering her fourth child. Her mother, Snowflake Flower, said it was a Christmas miracle from God.

Since then, Ms. White Bull -- known as "Happi" -- has been speaking her children's names, catching up on family developments and spending a lot of time just watching her children and smiling.

"I just went up to her and gave her a hug, and she gave me a hug back," said her oldest child, Cindi, a 26-year-old senior at the University of North Carolina. "It was the first time she had ever hugged back. It was scary at first. It was overwhelming emotionally."

Ms. White Bull's speech is clear but still limited. She has talked very little but listened a lot. Her hands, which had been clenched tightly for 16 years, have loosened. (The Detroit News, 4Jan2000)

COMMENTARY
Joe R. Price

We share in the joy of this family as their mother has awakened after 16 years of silence -- a truly incredible event! But a "miracle from God"? Bible miracles have ceased (Mk. 16:17-20; Acts 8:14-20; 1 Cor. 13:8-10). God certainly continues to work in His world but not by direct intervention via human agents as He did in the days of Christ and His apostles (cf. Acts 5:12-16; 19:11-12; 14:8-11).

This event reminds us of our need to awake out of the sleep of spiritual lethargy and sin (Eph. 5:14). The gospel teaches us how to do this in Romans 13:11-14: (1) Remember our mortality and the salvation we have received - v. 11. (2) Clean up our lives by casting off sin and clothing ourselves with the armor of light - v. 12-13. That is, repent of our sins and live in the holiness of truth (2 Cor. 7:1, 10). (3) Grow to spiritual maturity by "putting on the Lord Jesus Christ" and do not make provisions for sin to return to your life - v. 14. We must know the urgency of being spiritually awake, fervent and active in living for Jesus! Otherwise, the sleep of sin will surely overtake us and cause our eternal death! "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light." (Eph. 5:14)


The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
Send all questions, comments and subscriptions to the editor at: ssword@bibleanswer.com