THE SPIRITS SWORD
Mt. Baker church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker Hwy· Bellingham, WA 98226
Volume IV, Number 28· September 17, 2000
Editor..................Joe R. Price
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In this issue:
Horses And WivesDavid Baker
In the last issue of Arizona Highways there is this story of an honest cowboy. It seems the fellow was found forking the saddle of someone else's horse, without permission, course. When brought to trial the man was asked by the judge if he was the defendant or plaintiff in the case. The cowboy looked up at the judge with a puzzled expression and answered, "Judge, I'm the one who stole the horse."
It seems a lawyer overheard the exchange and figured this cowboy needed some first class defending. But if he was to have a chance at all, the facts of the case must be ignored. So he brought in the widowed mother of the man, his wife and children, put his arm around our hero and asked, "Does this look like the kind of man who'd steal a horse?"
That was too much for the jury who instantly brought a verdict of "innocent." The judge asked the cowboy if he had anything to say and the cowboy sort of grinned and asked, "Judge, does this mean I get to keep the horse?"
Later on a friend asked him, "Did you or did you not steal that horse?" The cowboy said, "Well, I thought I did, but after listening to that there lawyer, now I ain't so sure."
I kind of like that story. It's funny and full of the sort of stuff that makes Arizona lore what it is. But it has a tragic parallel in the spiritual world.
The word of God puts us on trial every time we read it. So much of it is so easy to understand that we need help to misunderstand. Invariably, people who have no ax to grind and are not already tainted by party doctrine on divorce and remarriage understand what Jesus had to say on that subject in Matt. 19:9: "And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her when she is put away committeth adultery." Like the cowboy, they know very well from the beginning that they "stole the horse" when they read what Jesus said.
Enter the brotherhood lawyer appealing to the emotional consequence of doing the right thing. He reminds the man of his present wife and children and the sorrow separation will cause the family and has him pronounced "innocent" by a jury of his peers (God's judgment notwithstanding). Enlightened against and unburdened from the Scriptures and the truth he speculates that he may keep his adulterous mate. He is defended in his action by those who have encouraged it, as they rail against those who plead for the truth as being too narrow minded and insensitive.
Suddenly what was clear is not so clear. A simple passage has been brutalized of its simplicity. "I thought I understood that passage, but now that Brother So and So has explained it to me, I'm quite sure that I don't." And so it goes. Our lawyers have done such a good job tickling ears that its mighty near impossible to distinguish truth from error. And souls are lost.
Isa. 5:18-21: "Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of falsehood, and sin as it were with a cart rope; that say, Let him make speed, let him hasten his work, that we may see it; and let the counsel of the Holy One of Israel draw nigh and come, that we may know it! Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!"
Do You Know God?
Watching some drivel on TV while waiting for the ballgame to begin, I was amused by the drama (?) of some program I dont remember the name of. Anyway, there was some dialogue between a man and a woman, a husband and wife, and she said to him in one of those "uh-oh" voices, "You dont know me, really. You know who I am, but you dont know me."
Now if I had been there to advise the character, I would have told him to get down on his knees and beg for mercy, because he is not going to win this one. Not with his charming wit, his greater brain power, not with a bazooka or an atom bomb.
I know it was just a TV program, and it was not important at all in the great scheme of things, but listen to what the woman said. "You know who I am, but you dont know me."
In the book of Hebrews, Jeremiah is quoted as God speaks to the prophet: "And they shall not teach every man his fellow-citizen, And every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: For all shall know me, From the least to the greatest of them" (Heb. 8:11). There is a difference between knowing who somebody is, that they exist and a little something about them, and knowing them. In our passage, the "knowing" is the latter.
Knowing God is a part of being in the kingdom. Indeed it is through a knowledge of God that we enter the covenant with him. Of course we come to know God by learning what the Scriptures say about him. But there are those who know the Scriptures and all that they say about God, and still dont know him. They know all about him, but they dont know him.
Knowing God has to do with the intimacy of the relationship with him afforded us by the process of reconciliation. Jesus died on the cross for our sins that we might be reconciled unto God. "But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-19). It is said by Peter that we become partakers with him of his divine nature when our sins are taken away (2 Pet. 1:4). John goes so far as to describe that relationship as a Father-child relationship in 1 John 3:1: "Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this cause the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not." As Gods children we can expect all the blessings that come with that, and we may approach God as a loving Father for the things that we need (Matt. 7:7-11), and for the forgiveness vital to our souls salvation. "Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace to help us in time of need" (Heb. 4:16). "If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in the darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:6-7). With God as our Father, we have the hope of an inheritance that is indescribable (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
Now this relationship belongs to the children of God. They are his because they know him, not just about him, even all about him. They have a relationship with him, an intimacy, a fellowship. When is it that one who knows all about God finally comes to know him? "And hereby we know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoso keepeth his word, in him verily hath the love of God been perfected. Hereby we know that we are in him: he that saith he abideth in him ought himself also to walk even as he walked" (1 John 2:3-6).
Our relationship to God depends on our obedience to his word. There are many who know more about God and Jesus than I ever will. But they dont know them at all. John stresses then necessity of obedience, of walking in the light as he is in the light. To not obey, or to teach that obedience is not necessary is a result of not knowing him.As we know God, and as we seek to do his will, we speak to him in prayer, and we listen to him speak to us in his word. Otherwise we would not know what was obedience and what was not. Do you know God? Have you obeyed his will as expressed in the New Testament? Do you know about God?
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
VATICAN REJECTS EQUALITY OF RELIGIONS
Joe R. PriceIt seems the Roman Catholic Church isn't too comfortable with ecumenism (unity in diversity)after all. A September 5, 2000 AP story appearing in USA Today reported that "The Vatican rejected Tuesday what it said are growing attempts to depict all religions as equal, accusing some Catholic theologians of manipulating fundamental truths of the church."
The idea that ''one religion is as good as another'' endangers the church's missionary message, according to a document produced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the guardian of RCC orthodoxy. The document had not been released as of September 5.
Now, see just how inconsistent ecumenism really is. On the one hand, the RCC document says, ''If it is true that the followers of other religions can receive divine grace, it is also certain that objectively speaking they are in a gravely deficient situation in comparison with those who, in the church, have the fullness of the means of salvation." It goes on to say ''there exists a single church of Christ, which subsists in the Catholic church, governed by the successor of Peter and by the bishops in communion with him.'' Then it said ''baptism'' in other denominations ''tends per se toward the full development of life in Christ.''
Now, which is it? If all except Catholics are "gravely deficient" respecting salvation they cannot arrive at "the full development of life in Christ"! The absurdity of "religious relativism" is manifest!Jesus has only one church, but it is not the Roman Catholic Church (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 4:4; 1:22-23; 1 Tim. 4:1-3). It is to unity upon His truth, not the doctrines and creeds of men (Jno. 17:17, 20-21). Nor is it "governed by the successor of Peter " but by its Head, Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18). May we shun the wisdom of men which divides and unity upon God's truth.
The Spirit's Sword is a weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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