THE SPIRITS SWORD
Mt. Baker church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker Hwy· Bellingham, WA 98226
Volume IV, Number 41· December 17, 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:
Please Don't Feed The Ants!
Joe R. Price
The following announcement appeared in a recent bulletin of
the Salt Lake Valley Church of Christ:
“PLEASE DON’T FEED THE ANTS: Anyone who brings food into the building is asked to be mindful of the fact that we have a severe ant problem. Please be sure to clean up the area in which food is served and make sure any to be left is sealed in air-tight containers.” (THE SALT LAKE MESSENGER, from the Salt Lake Valley Church of Christ, May 30, 1993).
I am sorry to hear about the ant problem. Ants are pesky things. And diligent. “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, Which, having no captain, Overseer or ruler, Provides her supplies in the summer, And gathers her food in the harvest” (Prov. 6:6-8). It seems the ants have been harvesting their “bread” at the Salt Lake Valley Church of Christ with a good deal of success.
The suggested remedy for this ant problem is to clean up the food-serving areas and make sure the food left behind is tightly sealed. We all know this helps reduce the chances of ants getting to their next meal, but someone is sure to forget, and as soon as they do those tireless creatures will once again make their presence known. Therefore, I would like to propose to these brethren a remedy which, if observed, will greatly reduce their ant problem. In fact, if this precautions is taken, in all likelihood the ants will soon go looking for their “bread” somewhere else. The solution is found in 1 Corinthians 11:22, 34. “What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you…. But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment.”
You see, there is a greater problem here than not feeding the ants. It is that of feeding the people! It is a foregone conclusion in the denominations around us that a part of the work of a church is to provide social gatherings for its members and the community. Indeed, to suggest that it is not the work of the local church to plan, promote and provide social and recreational activities is viewed as narrow-minded by some and blasphemous by others. However, we are content to let the Bible answer the issue for us. And, we plead with brethren in Salt Lake and elsewhere to respect what the Bible teaches on this important subject.
The local church has God-given work it is to do. Briefly stated, its work is evangelism to the lost (1 Ths. 1:8; Phil. 1:5), edification of its members (Acts 2:42; Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11-16) and benevolence to needy saints (Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; 1 Tim. 5:16). This is the sum of the work authorized in the New Testament by Jesus for the local church. Since we are to function under His authority, we are content to do only the work He has charged us with in our congregational capacity (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:24; Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 4:17).
But, for a variety of reasons, brethren have had trouble being content with the simplicity of the gospel as it relates to the work of the church. Whether it is to “be like the nations around them” or to draw people together in the hope of teaching them the gospel and/or fostering improved relationships ((1 Sam. 8: 5, 20); Jno. 6:26-27, 44-45), the result is the same. Additions to the work of the church are being made and accepted. Disobedience of 1 Corinthians 11:22, 34 occurs. Good motives for church-sponsored and promoted dinners, get-togethers and “fellowship meals” do not change these facts. The end does not justify the means (Rom. 3:8). We must do God’s work in the God-revealed way, not our own (Eph. 2:10).
One common response to the foregoing position of no church-sponsored social functions is thus stated: “You are misapplying 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. The Corinthians’ problem was that they were abusing the Lord’s Supper by introducing their common meals into the assembly. The church can promote ‘fellowship meals’ and such as long as these activities are kept separate from the assembly.” It is true that the Corinthians were abusing the Lord’s Supper (v. 20-21). Nobody denies that. But please look carefully at the remedy the apostle prescribes. He did NOT say “separate your church-sponsored meals from the assembly.” He DID say you have houses to eat and drink in (v. 22). He DID say let the hungry man eat at home (not at the “fellowship meal” in the “fellowship hall” after services). The remedy was to remove all common meals from their “coming together” (v. 33-34). The work of the local church is to feed the soul, not the flesh. Let the home supervise common meals. Let the church “come together” to worthily partake of the Lord’s supper (v. 20, 33-34).
Another oft stated defense intended to legitimize church-endorsed social gatherings is this: “Only individuals are providing the food. The local church is not involved since none of its money is being used to provide the event.” Honestly now, were not individuals the ones who were providing the food in 1 Corinthians 11? “...for in your eating each one taketh before other his own supper....” (v. 21). Furthermore, the church is using its money when its building and facilities are used for the separate activity of pot-luck dinners, etc. Since the building is an expedient, its use must first be an authorized (lawful) activity for the local church to conduct (1 Cor. 6:12). The building expedites (aids) the church in evangelism, edification and benevolence (the authorized works of the local church). Authority for church-promoted social activities is lacks scriptural support (Col. 3:17). Therefore, to use the building for such activities is to use it to aid an unauthorized work.
Other defenses are offered, but when all are heard, the simple truth of 1 Corinthians 11:22, 34 remains. It is clear, decisive and compelling. Let the local church be about the spiritual business of honoring the Lord’s death and promoting gospel preaching and teaching (1 Cor. 14:26). Let the home be about the business of feeding the stomach and arranging social gatherings. God’s way works. We need not tamper with it. We ask our brethren in Salt Lake and elsewhere to come back to the Bible way and stop adding to God’s word and work (Jer. 6:16). When we follow God’s way we will not have to worry about feeding the ants. The church’s full attention can be given to feeding the word of God to the souls of men and women. (Acts 20:28; Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:2)
For the complete outline of this sermon please visit BIBLE ANSWERS:
http://www.bibleanswer.com/crosspwr.htmPOWER OF THE CROSS
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:17-25
1. The cross of Christ is both a most horrible symbol of hate and injustice, and
of hope and love.
2. With the apostle, it is our aim to glory only in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (Gal. 6:14).
3. So, let us "boast" in the power of the cross!
I. DRAWS SINNERS - Jno. 12:31-33 (1 Cor. 1:17-18; Rom. 1:16).
II. BRINGS US TO GOD - 1 Pet. 3:18; 1 Jno. 4:7-10 (Rom. 5:8).
III. RECONCILES US TO GOD - Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:20-21.
IV. UNITES US IN CHRIST - Eph. 2:14-18 (1 Cor. 1:10, 19-31).
V. BRINGS PEACE TO THE SOUL - Col. 1:19-23 (Matt. 11:28-30).
VI. PROMOTES ZEAL - 2 Cor. 5:14-15 (Rom. 12:11; Gal. 2:20).
VII. CRUCIFIES THE WORLD TO US - Gal. 6:14 (1 Pet. 4:1-2; Rom. 6:2-5).
http://www.bibleanswer.com/church 08.htm(Part 8) THE CHURCH OF CHRIST:
Scripture Reading: Acts 11:27-30
1. It is periodically charged that we are opposed to church cooperation
("antis"). Is that a fair & accurate description? What does NT teach?
2. Cooperation - "Act of cooperating; joint operation; concurrent effort or labor."
3. Scriptural cooperation between churches: Did they act (cooperate) jointly or concurrently?!
a. Did 2 or more churches combine funds & cen-tralize control through one common agency (sponsoring church) in order to co-operate?
b. Or, did they act independently (yet concurrent with each other) to meet their goals & responsibilities?
IN THE WORK OF BENEVOLENCE:
I. ONE CHURCH HELPED OTHER CHURCHES IN TIME OF MATERIAL NEED - Acts
-By contributing and sending relief to the brethren in need.
-Was Jerusalem was "sponsoring church"? No! - Acts 11:30; 12:25 (cf. Acts 26:20; Gal. 1:17-18; Acts 9:26-30).
II. SEVERAL CHURCHES SENT MATERIAL RELIEF TO ONE CHURCH.
-(Concurrent Cooperation of Churches).
1. Separate requests to help - 2 Cor. 8:10; 8:4 (Rom. 15:25-26).
2. Separate collection of funds - l Cor. 16:1-2.
3. Separate identity of funds - 1 Cor. 16:3.
4. Separate decisions (by each church) of amount sent - 2 Cor. 8:3, 10-11.
5. Independent selection (by churches) of their messengers - 1 Cor. 16:3-4.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Lie-Detecting Phone Goes On SaleFriday, December 15, 2000 IZMIR, Turkey (Reuters) - Washing your hair, working late, flooded kitchen -- all these excuses may be a thing of the past if a lie-detecting telephone on sale in Turkey takes off.
BIBLE COMMENTARY Joe R. Price
The telephone is one of the devil's effective tools for facilitating lying, not to mention gossip, backbiting, evil surmising, flattery and other sins of the tongue. I wonder just how big a market there will be for this "fib phone" - if it really works?!
Honesty is a trait of the Christian's heart, displayed in words and deeds (Eph. 4:25-32). We do not need a "fib phone" to tell us to speak the truth. The Lord expects that of us. To speak less than the truth is to be a less than truthful person. "All liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Rev. 21:8)So, when you pick up the telephone, speak the truth. When you address your family members, speak the truth. When you converse with brethren, speak the truth. When you discuss problems, resolve them honorably by speaking the truth. Oh, and by the way, remember to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
What color of light would flash if you spoke to your neighbor using a "fib-phone?"
The Spirit's Sword is a weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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