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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 52 ∑ February 27, 2000
Editor..................Joe R. Price


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Mt. Baker church of Christ: http://www.bibleanswer.com/mtbaker
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  In this issue:

 


THE FOOLISH SON
(Prov. 17:25)

Jonathan L. Perz

The wise man wrote, "A foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him" (Prov. 17:25). Indeed, there is no more poignant truth in the entire world for a parent than this. Time and again, I have witnessed the great pain a son who behaves foolishly has brought to his parents. Sometimes, a selfish teenage boy is responsible for such pain. Other times, it is the behavior of a full-grown man. Regardless, every parent and son should take these words of wisdom to heart.

You see, I have personally seen a man cry for his son as he prayed that my own son would never bring the pain his has. I have heard a man mournfully speak of a child who has departed from God's way. I have listened as faithful parents ask themselves where they have gone wrong. I have watched as parents argue with a son who will not heed wisdom or receive instruction. I have witnessed parents unwittingly rescue a son as he lied to avoid trouble. I have felt the pain a parent feels when their child does wrong. I know what it is to be the foolish son. Indeed, a foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him.

Nevertheless, even more painful to witness is the son who does not realize the grief and bitterness he burdens his parents with, or who just doesn't seem to care. If only the foolish son could hear the ardent prayers of his desperate parents as they ask for wisdom to help him. If only the foolish son could see every tear shed on account of his actions. If only the foolish son could feel the pain he brings to his parents in his very own heart. If only the foolish son knew what his parents would give to see him on the straight and narrow path. Indeed, a foolish son is a grief to his father, and bitterness to her who bore him.

Hopefully, these words will help some foolish son to realize that with every passing sinful pleasure you engage in, you bring grief to your father and bitterness to your mother. Are drinking, alcoholism, drug abuse, homosexuality, stealing, lying, or gambling worth the price your parent's pay? Though you may not realize it, every time you play the fool, your parent's pay the price! Thus, rather than hurt your father and mother, honor them. This "is the first commandment with promise: that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth" (Eph. 6:2b-3).


CORNELIUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
Joe R. Price

We recently received a Bible question about Cornelius and his house receiving the Holy Spirit before they were baptized in water (Acts 10:44-48). Here is the reply we offered.

The members of Cornelius' household were not saved from their sins any differently than the people on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-41), the Ethiopian (Acts 8:35-39), Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:16) or anybody else in the NT. The issue to remember in considering Cornelius' house receiving the Holy Spirit is why did it occur?

Clearly, it was not to save them from their sins, for Peter commanded water baptism of them just as he had of the people on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-38, 41).

Also, the miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit on that occasion was not a fulfillment of the promise given in Acts 2:38, for the "gift of the Holy Spirit" in that passage comes after water baptism (cf. Acts 3:19). The presence of the Holy Spirit in Acts 10 occurred before water baptism (10:44-48).

In addition, Acts 15:9 tells us that their hearts were purified by faith, not by a direct operation of the Holy Spirit.

The answer to our basic question, "Why did the Holy Spirit fall upon the household of Cornelius?" is answered for us in Acts 11:14-18 and 15:7-9. Let's start with Acts 11.

After the events of Acts 10 (at a gentile's house), Peter is questioned about his contact with Gentiles by his brethren in Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-3). In order, Peter examples what happened which caused him to be there, preaching the gospel to them (Acts 11:4-14).

Peter's assessment of why the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius and company is stated in Acts 11:17: "If therefore God gave them the same gift (the Holy Spirit, JRP) as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God?" So, the presence of the Holy Spirit was assessed by Peter as divine evidence (in a series of evidences, cf. 11:5-14; 10:1-35, esp. v. 34-35) that God accepted Gentiles as worthy to hear and be saved by the gospel.

This is also the reason his Jewish brethren gathered from the event according to Acts 11:18: "When they heard these things they became silent; and they glorified God, saying, 'Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.'"

So, Acts 11:14-18 teaches the reason for the Holy Spirit falling upon Cornelius was to convince the Jews (cf. 10:45 and the astonishment of the Jews who were present) that the gospel was to go to Gentiles, too.

Now, Acts 15:7-9. Again, Peter defends his presence and preaching among Gentiles (v. 7). Peter's assessment of the Holy Spirit event on that occasion is unambiguous: "So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (v. 8-9). God bore witness or provided testimony that He is no respecter of persons by sending the Holy Spirit upon those Gentiles on that one occasion (Acts 10:34-35).

The miraculous presence of the Holy Spirit did not save Cornelius. His faith in Christ and obedience to the word of Christ did that (Acts 10:34-35, 47-48; 11:14; 15:7-9).

This event did not repeat itself. One such event was (and continues to be) sufficient proof that God approved of taking the gospel to the Gentiles. No other similar event is subsequently recorded in the New Testament.

Our faith is assured and comforted to know that God, in this astonishing event, bore powerful witness that the gospel is for all mankind (Acts 10:45; Rom. 1:16).


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

WHY BRING JESUS BACK TO EARTH?
(Adapted from: God's Prophetic Word, Wallace, pp.193-199)

Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 15:23-28

What would Jesus do, which He has not done, if He should return to dwell on the earth again?

I. HIS MISSION OF REDEMPTION IS COMPLETE - Eph. 1:7-10.
A. Forgiveness / Redemption Now Available In Christ - Col. 1:13-14.
B. All Things Pertaining To Our Salvation Have Been "Summed Up" In Christ - v. 10.

II. HIS REVELATION IS COMPLETE - Jude 3.
A. God's Scheme Of Redemption Reached Its Completion In Christ - Eph. 1:9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17.

III. HIS AUTHORITY IS COMPLETE - Matt. 28: 18-20.
A. All Authority Implies Completeness - Col. 1:13.
B. Christ Has Preeminence Now - Col. 1:16-19.

IV. HIS NAME IS COMPLETE - Eph. 1:20-21 (Dan. 7:13-14).
A. Jesus Christ Is Above All Rule & Authority & Power - v. 21; Heb. 1:3-4; Isa. 66:1
B. He Is Above All Dominion - v. 21; Psa. 2:7-8; Acts 13:33; 1 Tim. 6:15.

V. HIS GLORY IS COMPLETE - Jno. 17:5, 10.
A. His Glory Is Received In His Kingdom - Matt. 20:20-21; Mk. 10:37.
B. Jesus Entered His Glory When He Was Raised & Ascended To Heaven - Lk. 24:25-26; 1 Pet. 1:21.

VI. HIS CHURCH IS COMPLETE - Eph. 1:22-23.
A. The Church Is The Fullness Of Christ - v. 23.

VII. CHRIST'S CONQUEST OVER SATAN & SIN IS COMPLETE - Heb. 2:14-15.
A. Jesus Entered The Strong Man's House & Bound Him - Matt. 12:29.


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

ABRAHAM: FATHER OF A MULTITUDE

Scripture Reading: Romans 4:13-25

1. God called Abraham His "friend" - Isa. 41:8 (Jas. 2:23).
2. God called Abraham the "father of the faithful" - Rom. 4:11, 16.
3. Christians are "sons of Abraham" - Gal. 3:7, 29.
4. Jno. 8:39 - Jesus said Abraham's children do the works of Abraham.

I. ABRAHAM: THE GROWTH OF FAITH.
A. Fearing Men: Abraham Told Half-truths - Gen. 20:13; 12:10-20; 20:1ff; Matt. 10:28; Eph. 4:25.
B. Out-thinking God: Hagar & Ishmael - Gen. 15:1-4; 16:1-4; Isa. 40:27-31; Gal. 1:6-9.
C. Praying To God: Intercession For The Righteous - Gen. 18:23-33; Jas. 5:16; 1 Jno. 5:14-15.
D. Fearing God: Offering Isaac - Gen. 22:1-14 (Heb. 11:17-19); Phil. 4:13.

II. ABRAHAM: THE CHARACTER OF FAITH.
A. His Faith Was Obedient - Heb. 11:8 (Gen. 26:5); Jas. 2:21-22.
-Our faith: Jno. 12:42-43; Lk. 6:46; Heb. 5:8-9.
B. His Faith Became Courageous.
  1. Courage to fight to rescue Lot - Gen. 14:12-17. Jas. 5:19-20
  2. Courage to be different (circumcision) - Gen. 17:9-11, 23. - 2 Cor. 6:17-7:1
C. His Faith Was Humble - Gen. 14:18-20; Lk. 17:10
D. His Faith Was Unwavering - Rom. 4:17-25; Heb. 6:10-12.

III. ABRAHAM: THE RESULT & REWARD OF FAITH.
A. His Faith Was Counted For Righteousness - Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-3; Jas. 2:20-24.
B. God's Assurance Of Eternal Blessing - Gen. 22:15-18; Heb. 6:13-15, 16-20. Jno. 8:56
- Abraham "saw" the day of the Savior & rejoiced! Will your faith allow you to "see" His salvation?


Noteworthy News
(Current events in the light of Scripture)

FACE OF JESUS APPEARS ON CHURCH WALL?

LONDON (Reuters) - An image resembling the face of Jesus Christ has appeared on the wall of a church in northern England, the church's vicar said Friday.

The image was discovered by a 60-year-old Salvation Army woman sheltering from the rain. "It is clearly the face of Jesus Christ," said the woman, Marion Hoggard.

Believers say the eyes, nose and mouth of Jesus and the crown of thorns can clearly be made out on a wall of the Church of England's All Saints at Great Driffield, East Yorkshire.

Hoggard was drying out in the church after a Christian march when she heard a dove cooing in the rafters, looked up and noticed the image on the wall.

"The face is there for everybody to see. It was such a moving experience for me, I was reduced to tears," Hoggard said.

The Vicar of Driffield, Reverend Richard Carlill, was more cautious. "The marks have there for years, it's not a new image," he told Reuters. "But people are looking more closely at the marks on the wall now and saying, 'Oh Yes."


COMMENTARY
Joe R. Price

We hear such incredible tales on a regular basis. Is it coincidence that we are approaching the time of year when millions celebrate Easter and other man-made holidays? Call me a doubting Thomas, but I don't believe the face of Jesus suddenly appeared on the wall. The evidence does not support it. How can we be sure whether this lady saw the actual image of Christ?

First, if there is really an image on the wall, how would anyone authenticate it as the image of Christ? Kodak wasn't in business in 30 AD! There are no reliable engravings of Christ's appearance, and with good reason. Men are tempted to adore icons and images. For this reason God did not show Israel His form at Sinai, lest they carve an image and worship it (Deut. 4:15-18). Artists have depicted Christ through the centuries, but that is all they are. Artistic impressions without divine authentication.

Second, the very words of the Vicar of Driffield confirms that the markings are not new - they have been there for a long time. Faith has to be built upon evidence (Heb. 11:1; Rom. 10:17). In the absence of evidence we cannot have faith that the actual face of Jesus has appeared on a wall.

Once more we see the superstitions and earnest desires of men being accepted as truth (Prov. 14:12). The Athenians did (Acts 17:22-23). Many Ephesians did (Acts 19:18-20). The Colossians were warned against doing so (Col. 2:8, 20-23). Build your faith on truth, not tales and evidence, not emotions.


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