THE SPIRITS SWORDpublished by The Mt. Baker church of Christ Bellingham, WA
April 16, 2000 -- Volume IV Number 07
Editor: Joe R. Price
Visit our Web Sites:
Mt. Baker church of Christ: http://www.bibleanswer.com/mtbaker
BIBLE ANSWERS: http://www.bibleanswer.com
--The Day Of Small Things (Mark Mayberry)
----Preach The Man AND His Plan!
----Why We Believe The Bible Is The Word Of God (Lesson 3):The Unusual Style Of The Bible
--Noteworthy News: Cost Of Meeting Your Maker: $132,000?
THE DAY OF SMALL THINGS
By Mark Mayberry
The prophet Zechariah asked, "For who has despised the day of small things?" (Zechariah 4:10). Man thinks BIG! GIGANTIC! IMPRESSIVE! God often operates on a different level (Isaiah 55:8-9; Matthew 11:25).
One area of application of this principle can be seen in the animal kingdom. Small creatures can teach valuable lessons (Proverbs 30:24-28). Ants teach diligence to the sluggard (Proverbs 6:6-11). Birds teach contentment to the fretful (Matthew 6:25-26). All of God's creation testifies to the Father's wondrous handiwork (Job 12:7-10).
In this lesson, let us consider the Lord's temple, his kingdom, the walls that defend his people, and the gate that leads to heaven. In contrast with the ways of men, God's approach often emphasizes small things. His priorities and procedures are distinct from those employed by man. An open-minded, honest consideration of things will cause us to exclaim, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways" (Romans 11:33)
The second Temple, built in the days of Ezra, Joshua and Zerubbabel, was noticeably inferior to the original temple of Solomon (Ezra 3:10-13). While the latter seemed like nothing in comparison to the former, yet it would adequately serve God's purposes (Haggai 2:1-7). The statement, "For who has despised the day of small things?" was made in this context, and affirms that Zerubbabel's rebuilding efforts would be successful (Zechariah 4:6-10).
It is interesting to note that the temple, at least the perceived need for such a building, was more David's idea than God's (2 Samuel 7:1-7). Nevertheless, the Lord granted permission for the project, and provided David with the plans for his house in Jerusalem (1 Chronicles 28:11-12, 19). Accordingly, the king gathered materials for its construction, and entrusted the building of the temple to his son, Solomon (2 Samuel 7:12-13).
Later, in New Testament times, many were impressed with the splendor of Herod's temple, but Jesus did not share their enthusiasm for such impressive physical facilities (Matthew 24:1-2; Mark 13:1-2; Luke 21:5-6).
Today, the temple of God is not made of stone and wood; rather it is a living organism, the church of Jesus Christ. Worship is judged acceptable, not based on the physical location of the temple, but rather on the attitude and actions of those who would approach God (John 4:19-24). Since they collectively compose the temple of God, saints are obligated to preserve the holiness of God's habitation (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:19-22). Each Christian is a living stone in God's spiritual house, duty-bound to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 2:5).
Many New Testament congregations were small house churches (1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1-2). Man might scoff at such insignificant groups, but Jesus said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst" (Matthew 18:20). The strength of God's people is never measured by mere numbers. Many mistakenly view large congregations as models, and would recast the body of Christ in the mold of the mega-churches. However, more often than not, large, affluent congregations are filled with weak and worldly members who demand a positive, soothing, and inspirational message. With no appetite for that which is distinctive and doctrinal, they prefer that which is sappy, sentimental, shallow, and most importantly, short. Such flaccid memberships may have a name that they live, but they are dead (Revelation 3:1-3). If the church is small because it is committed to the old paths, the good way, rejoice! If certain members depart because they have no stomach for sound doctrine, do not be discouraged. If the bold proclamation of truth drives away the worldly, the wicked, the wayward, realize that God's word has accomplished its purpose (Isaiah 55:11). Therefore, let us not despise the day of small things!
In Nebuchadnezzar's vision, a stone struck the awesome statue on its feet, causing it to collapse into rubble. This self-same stone then became a great mountain and filled the whole earth (Daniel 2:31-35). Daniel interpreted the stone as a symbolic foreshadowing of the establishment of God's Kingdom (Daniel 2:44-45).
Jesus had a great deal to say about the nature of the kingdom. On one occasion, he likened the kingdom of heaven to mustard seed -- a small, insignificant seed that produces a large, impressive plant (Matthew 13:31-32). On another occasion, he emphasized the spiritual nature of God's kingdom, by saying, "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you" (Luke 17:20-21).
Standing before Pilate, Jesus affirmed, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:33-36). In other words, the kingdom of God has no earthly king, physical territory, carnal constitution, or global headquarters. Its might cannot be measured in material ways. Therefore, receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear (Hebrews 12:28-29). Diligent service will provide entrance into Christ's eternal kingdom (2 Peter 1:10-11). Therefore, let us not despise the day of small things!
When Nehemiah sought to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, the enemies of God's people mocked his efforts as feeble and futile (Nehemiah 4:1-6). Nevertheless, the work was completed in a mere 52 days because God was with them (Nehemiah 6:15-16).
Walls symbolize the security and protection that God affords his people (Psalms 51:18). Zechariah envisioned Jerusalem as a city inhabited without walls: "For I," declares the LORD, "will be a wall of fire around her" (Zechariah 2:1-5). Once those defensive walls were physical; today they are spiritual.
The Lord God has made continued provision for his people's protection: Watchmen of the Lord provide a sure defense for the house of Israel (Isaiah 62:6-7). Elders and evangelists who fulfill their divine mandate will be alert to danger (Acts 20:26-32). Disciples must be obedient and submissive to their spiritual leaders, because they watch in behalf of their souls (Hebrews 13:7, 17, 24). The simple, God ordained organization of the church might not be impressive to the eyes of men, but it is effective to the salvation of our souls. Therefore, let us not despise the day of small things!
The road to hell is broad and its gate opens wide, but the pathway to eternal life is narrow and its entry gate small (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:24). Christ Jesus is both the exclusive door to salvation (John 10:9), and the only way to God (John 14:6). No fool, wicked person or unclean man can travel this road, but only those who partake of God's character and holiness (Isaiah 35:7-8).
This approach is radically out of step with the thinking of modern man. Many today would accommodate, excuse and ignore error. However, true fellowship with God and like-minded believers is based upon our mutual willingness to walk in the light (1 John 1:6-7). If we follow this pattern, our circle of fellowship must of necessity be smaller than the one advocated by Compromisers with an expansive, broadminded, big-tent philosophy. However, there is no tent big enough to accommodate both God and error. The Scriptures offer a scathing rebuke against those who would extend the right hand of fellowship to the practitioners and promoters of sin (1 Corinthians 5:6-13; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18; Ephesians 5:3-12). Therefore, let us stand with God, and remain faithful to his word, even though few others share a similar commitment.
Some would say, "If you follow that approach, you won't have to worry about church buildings: you all can meet in a phone booth." Those who make such derisive comments forget that the faithful remnant has always been small: Only eight souls were saved in the ark (1 Peter 3:20); only two adults who left Egypt entered Canaan (Numbers 26:65). If those who remain faithful can fit in a phone booth, so be it! However, in the darkest days of idolatry, seven thousand had not bowed the knee to Baal (1 Kings 19:14-18). Even though the number of faithful disciples might be inconsequential in the eyes of men, I am persuaded there are still many who are committed to the ancient paths. The surviving remnant of the house of Judah will again take root downward and bear fruit upward (Isaiah 37:31). Even at this present time, there remains a remnant according to the election of grace (Romans 11:5). Therefore, let us not despise the day of small things!
Thus we have seen the Biblical pattern for God's temple, kingdom, walls and the gate that leads to heaven. From an earthly standpoint, Christians are a small and struggling band, but from heavens viewpoint, those who keep God's word are counted as strong in faith (Revelation 3:8-10). God has always accomplished his purposes in ways that confound the wisdom of men (1 Corinthians 1:26-28). Thirty-two thousand men stood with Gideon, but God defeated the Midianites with only three hundred, so that Israel might not trust in themselves, but in God (Judges 7:1-7). Therefore, let us not despise the day of small things!
-THE EXHORTER, April 13, 2000
For the complete text of this sermon visit BIBLE ANSWERS at:http://www.bibleanswer.com/topical/man_plan.htm
PREACH THE MAN AND HIS PLAN!
Scripture Reading: Acts 8:30-38
We cannot preach Jesus without preaching His plan (His commands, pattern) - 1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13; Rom. 6:17.
I. TO PREACH & RECEIVE JESUS CHRIST IS TO PREACH & RECEIVE THE WORD OF CHRIST - Col. 2:6-7; 1 Ths. 2:13.
A. Some Want To Accept Jesus But Reject His Apostles. - 1 Cor. 14:37; Jno. 13:20.
B. Life In The Son Is Found In The Word Of The Son - Jno. 14:6; 12:48-50; 8:30-36.
II. TO PREACH CHRIST IS TO PREACH WATER BAPTISM - Acts 8:30-38.
A. Philip "Preached Jesus" To The Man - 8:35. (Mk. 16:15-16)
B. The Man Heard About & Wanted Water Baptism - 8:36-37.
C. Inescapable Conclusion: Preaching Jesus Includes Preaching Water Baptism - cf. Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12.
III. TO PREACH CHRIST IS TO PREACH THE CHURCH OF CHRIST - Matt. 16:18.
A. The Value Of The Church Is Seen In:
1. Who built it - Matt. 16:18 (Heb. 3:3).
2. What it cost to purchase - Acts 20:28.
3. Who rules over it - Col. 1:18.
4. It's relationship to Christ - Eph. 1:22-23
B. To Preach Christ Is To Preach His Church - Acts 8:5-13.
IV. TO PREACH GOD'S GRACE IS TO PREACH THE WORD OF HIS GRACE - Acts 20:24, 32.
A. Christ Brought Grace & Truth To The World - Jno. 1:14-17.
B. God's Grace Brings Salvation & Teaches Us How To Be Saved (1 Pet. 5:12):
-Titus 3:4-6; 1 Pet. 3:21. [A plan of salvation!]
-Titus 2:11-12 [A plan for living!]
For the complete text of this sermon visit BIBLE ANSWERS at:http://www.bibleanswer.com/topical/evidenc3.htm
WHY WE BELIEVE THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD (# 3)
THE UNUSUAL STYLE OF THE BIBLE
Scripture Reading: Ecclesiastes 12:9-14
1. How the Bible has been written shows evidence of its supernatural origin (that its writers were guided by the Holy Spirit).
2. At least 4 areas in which the style of the Scriptures is impressive: Its brevity, its omissions, its impartiality & its calm simplicity.
I. THE BREVITY OF THE BIBLE.
A. Brevity Of Books (cf. Eccl. 12:12; Eph. 3:3).
B. Brevity Of Bible Events.
1. Fall of man - Gen. 3:1-24.
2. Flood - 3 chapters.
3. Life of Jesus - Jno. 21:25.
4. Saul's persecutions & conversion - (3 chap.)
5. 1st apostle martyred - 11 words! (Acts 12:2)
II. THE OMISSIONS OF THE SCRIPTURES - Jno. 20:30-31; 21:25.
A. The Life of Christ. (Events of only 31-34 days!
B. Omission Of The Events Of Most Of Apostles - Acts. (Peter & Paul).
C. Omission Of Details About Personal Trials & Triumphs - cf. 2 Cor. 11:23-27.
III. THE IMPARTIALITY OF THE BIBLE.
A. Sets Forth Both The Virtues & Follies Of Its Characters With Equal Frankness & Forthrightness.
1. Abraham - Gen. 12:10-20; 20:1-12; Jas. 2:23!
2. David - 2 Sam. 11-12; Acts 13:22.
3. Peter - Matt. 26:69-75; Gal. 2:11-14; Matt. 16:16-17 [cf. 16:21-23].
B. Facts, Not Editorials.
IV. THE CALM SIMPLICITY OF THE BIBLE.
A. Magnificent & Commonplace Described Alike.
1. Buying food & feeding 5000 - Mk. 6:35-44.
2. Boat ride & walking on water - Mk. 6:45, 48.
B. Absence Of Human Tendencies, i.e. Anger, Vanity, Egotism, Ambition.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
COMMENTARY ON THE NEWS
Joe R. Price
Cost Of Meeting Your Maker: $132,000?
The Senate's Special Committee on Aging held two days of hearing last week on abuses in the death-care industry and government's failure to protect the rights of consumers. Some in the funeral business are scamming customers who purchase "pre-need" packages from funeral arrangement companies. (See: Widespread Abuses In Death-care Industry, Edward T. Pounds, USA TODAY, April 10, 2000: www.usatoday.com/news/washdc/ncsmon04.htm)
In 1995, Lyndall Carriere of Auburndale, Florida was charged $132,000 for a pre-arranged funeral. Her bill included $39,785 for a casket and $52,738 for mausoleum space. Her lawsuit, which was settled out of court, alleged that she was repeatedly pressured to upgrade her arrangements. The cost of a funeral in America now averages $7,250.
We deplore all dishonest business practices which rob people of their money and their peace of mind. Such dishonesty should be exposed and punished.
An even worse abuse concerning death and the dying occurs every day throughout this nation and the world. False religious doctrine which comforts a lost soul in his sin, offering peace of mind for the present and for eternity, is more insidious and injurious than the most unscrupulous funeral arrangement practices.
Christianity addresses one's "pre-needs" for eternity (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11). The gospel tells us what we must believe and how we must live in order to be ready for death and eternity (Heb. 9:27; Rom. 1:16-17; 2 Cor. 4:16-5:8). This is one of the reasons we must demand sound preaching (cf. 2 Tim. 4:1-4, 7-8). False teaching does not prepare us to meet our Maker! (cf. Jno. 12:48)
When we believe and follow false teaching we are being "sold a bill of goods" which will not rob us of eternal life! (Matt. 7:21-23; 15:7-9)
Premillennialism, which gives false hope of a future reign of Christ on the earth, is one such scam. Its errors comfort millions, convincing them of a happy reward which will never occur! It must be exposed as the error it is! (1 Cor. 15:20-24; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Pet. 3:1-13).
Salvation by faith only is another culprit. Its false assurance of salvation gives a false peace of mind to those deceived by it (Jas. 2:24). Any doctrine which denies that man's active faith effects his salvation is wrong (cf. Heb. 11:7; Jas. 2:20-26).
Every doctrine which departs from the "pattern of sound words" has eternal repercussions (2 Tim. 1:13; Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Thess. 1:8-9). We must continue to expose error and hold to the truth so that souls are prepared the meet their Maker. To do less than this will cost far more than $132,000!
The Spirit's Sword is a weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
Send all questions/comments to the editor at: firstname.lastname@example.org