THE SPIRIT’S SWORD

published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume IV, Number 42 December 24, 2000

Editor..................Joe R. Price


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 In this issue:


A Parent's Prayer

(Anonymous)

"Oh heavenly Father, help me to be a better parent. Help me to understand my children, to listen patiently to what they have to say and to understand all their questions kindly. Keep me from interrupting them, talking back to them and contradicting them. Make me as courteous to them as I would have them be to me. Give me the courage to confess my sins against my children and ask them forgiveness, when I know that I have done wrong.

"May I not vainly hurt the feelings of my children. Forbid that I should laugh at their mistakes, or resort to shame and ridicule as punishment. Let me not tempt a child to lie and steal. So guide me hour by hour that I may demonstrate by all I say and do that honesty produces happiness.

"Reduce, I pray, the meanness in me. May I cease to nag; and when I am out of sorts, help me, O Lord, to hold my tongue. Blind me to the little mistakes of my children and help me to see the good things that they do. Give me a ready word for honest praise.

"Help me to treat my children as those of their own age, but let me not exact of them the judgments and conventions of adults. Allow me not to rob them of the opportunity to wait upon themselves, to think, to choose, and to make their own decisions.

"Forbid that I should ever punish them for my selfish satisfaction. May I grant them all their wishes that are reasonable and have the courage always to withhold a privilege that I know will do them harm.

"Make me so fair and just, so considerate and companionable to my children that they will have genuine esteem for me. Fit me to be loved and imitated by my children. Oh God, do give me calm and poise and self-control." (edited, jrp)


Elitism
Steve Wallace

In many countries, a sign of an important state event is the presence of the elite guard. If we find that the doctor treating us is among the "elite" in his field it gives us great comfort. It is an honor for a student to be considered among the elite in his field of study. However, the word "elite" also has negative connotations. This is seen in the form of the word we consider herein.

"Elitism" is defined by Webster: "consciousness of being or belonging to an elite" (p. 404). "Elitist" is not found in either of the Webster's dictionaries in this writer's possession. Roget's Thesaurus (II) defines it, "Characteristic of or resembling a snob" (adj.) and "One who despises people or things he regards as inferior, esp. because of social or intellectual pretension" (p. 315). As we reflect on these definitions we can see that elitism would be a problem to most people. We consider herein some problems it can cause God's people.

1. It can lead one to trust in himself. Certainly the Pharisees were elitists among the Jews. In his parable in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus chose a Pharisee as an example of one who "trusted in themselves that they were righteous" (Lk. 18:9). Today, one can be tempted to this by thinking about how long he has been preaching, how many crises he has come through, how many meetings he holds, etc. When one starts trusting in himself he is cutting himself off from God and falling into a state about which all preachers have tried to warn demoninationalists (Prov. 16:25; Jer. 10:23).

2. It can cause one to look down on others. In the above mentioned parable Jesus says the Pharisee therein "despised others" (v. 9). The Pharisee in the parable looked down on "the rest of men" as "extortioners, unjust, adulterers" and especially on the just publican (Lk. 18:11). This can lead to other symptoms of elitism.

3. It can lead one to make harsh judgments of others. We see this in the Pharisees (Jno. 7:49; Lk. 18:11). If a group of men stand together for the truth of the Gospel elitism could lead one to call them a party. When it comes to handling given situations, the elitist can sit back and judge others as being "too harsh," "too soft," or generally not being able to conduct themselves on the high plain he has constructed in his own mind. Elitism can lead one to fail to allow for differences of opinion, personality, and ways of handling various matters. It can lead to a person rendering judgements while exempting himself from his own chosen standard of judgement (Matt. 23:2-4). Other manifestations of elitism can follow after this.

4. It can cause one to believe the best about unworthy men and the worst about worthy men. Again, the Pharisees provide an example of this, upholding their own and looking down others (Jno. 7:48-49; Lk. 18:11). In the current discussion on unity with error men who are clearly leading others to commit adultery are being lauded while those who would warn of such men are being falsely accused and demonized.

5. It can cause one to think his own way is always best. The Pharisees exemplify this (Jno. 7:48-49). They even reproved our Lord! (Matt. 12:2; 15:1). It is a sign of wisdom to hearken to counsel and of foolishness to despise instruction (Prov. 12:15; 15:22; 1:7). The elitist has no time for those whom he views as being "beneath" him, which can tend to another manifestation of elitism.

6. It can lead to stifling discussion. When the Pharisees heard views at variance to their own they blew them off (Jno. 7:45-52). It can be impossible to discuss differences with one who looks down on others, makes harsh judgments of them and/or is convinced his own way is above theirs. Those who offer discussion are simply not worth the elitist's time. (Brethren today who are refusing discussion of their views on the current issues need to hear this.) Thus, the elitist fails to learn from others and hears only from those with whom he agrees. This has consequences.

7. It can affect one's doctrinal position. The Pharisees made "void the word of God by [their] tradition" (Mk. 7:12), appealing not to the word of God but to opinions of learned men among them (Matt. 15:2; 19:3; Jno. 7:48). Today, elitism can lead brethren to appeal to what "the church has always done" or the convictions of some well known brother in place of clear teaching from the word of God. Some are doing this.

8. It can cause one to fail to do what he knows is right (Jno. 12:42-43). Who can not but fear similar occurrences among God's people today? Some brethren protest their "soundness" on a given issue (like MDR) -- and then justify one whom they believe to be teaching error (e.g., by saying they are not false teachers). We will let them and the Lord decide if they are elitists.

Conclusion
Elitism can be fostered by any number of things. It may come when brethren see themselves as members of an elite group (Isa. 65:5) or think of themselves "more highly than they ought to think" (Rom. 12:3). It may arise when we use others as a standard for measuring ourselves, rather than using Christ (2 Cor. 10:12) or ascend too far too fast (1 Tim. 3:6). However, all of us can see that it does not come from God and his word. Hence, we should not be surprised at the fruits of elitism. (2103 Rexford Rd., Montgomery, AL, 36116)


For the complete outline of this sermon please visit BIBLE ANSWERS:

http://www.bibleanswer.com/godworks.htm

GOD WORKS IN US

Scripture Reading: Philippians 2:12-18

 

God works in the faithful Christian. (Jno. 6:28-29; 15:4-5; Phil. 4:13; Eph. 2:10)

I. GOD WORKS IN US!
A. "The Power That Works In Us" - Eph. 3:20-21; Col. 1:9-11; Phil. 2:12-13; Heb. 13:20-21.

II. HOW DOES GOD WORK IN US?
A. Through The Gospel - Acts 2:37, 39; 16:13-15; Rom. 10:17 (1:16); Acts 10:34-35.
B. Through Human Agents - Acts 8:26ff; 16:9-10; 1 Cor. 3:9; Eph. 4:11-13.
C. Through Prayer - Matt. 7:7, 11; Jno.14:13-14; 15:7.

III. CAN YOU DO GOD'S WORK IN YOUR LIFE?
A. Not Only Can You…You Must! - Jno. 6:27-29; 9:4; Phil. 2:12-13.
B. False Notions We Must Carefully Avoid:
1. Any "work" is earning salvation (Eph. 2:9; Jas. 2:24).
2. Any "work" denies grace - (Acts 10:34-35).
3. Any "work" is of human origin - (Eph. 2:10).
4. Any "work" of man denies God's power (Phil. 2:12-13).


For the complete outline of this sermon please visit BIBLE ANSWERS:

http://www.bibleanswer.com/church 09.htm

(Part 9)

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST:

Congregational Cooperation (#2)

[Evangelism]

Scripture Reading:  Philippians 4:10-20

I. CHURCH COOPERATION IN EVANGELISM.
A. One Church Sent A Preacher To Another Church - Acts 11:20-24.
B. A Church Sent Several Preachers Out To Preach - Acts 13:2-4.
C. The Financial Support Of Preachers. (1 Cor. 9:14)
1. One church sent $ to preacher - Phil. 4:15-16 (4:18; 2:25).
2. Several churches sent $ to the same preacher- 2 Cor. 11:8-9 (Acts 18:3-5).

II. PRACTICAL PROBLEMS AMONG BRETHREN OVER CHURCH COOPERATION.
A. Confusing The Patterns For Benevolence & Evangelism Acts 11:29-30 (2 Tim. 2:15; 2 Pet. 3:16-17).
B. Some Say, "There Is No NT Pattern For Church Cooperation - Have Liberty To Choose."
C. Accusations Of "Anti-ism", "Sectarianism," "Phariseeism" & "Divisiveness" - 1 Jno. 2:19


NOTEWORTHY NEWS

(Current events in the light of Scripture)

 

Austrian Theologian Accepts Vatican Rebuke

VATICAN CITY - The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has rebuked an Austrian theologian for taking a line considered too close to Protestantism. The rebuke, reported Tuesday in the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano, followed a two-year investigation into the theology of the Rev. Reinhard Mesner of the University of Innsbruck. The congregation said that Father Mesner was convinced that every "authentic apostolic tradition is contained in Scripture and that, therefore, Scripture, as an indisputable norm, requires criticism of every later tradition." This, the congregation said, diminishes the intermediary role of the Roman Catholic Church between man and God and exposes interpretation of Scripture to the theological fashions of the moment. L'Osservatore Romano said that Father Mesner accepted the criticism and agreed to abide by the congregation's teaching.
(The Dallas Morning News Online, http://www.dallasnews.com/religion/233672_briefs_09rel.A.html)

 

BIBLE COMMENTARY

Joe R. Price

Shame on the Vatican! Their censure of Reinhard Mesner is more proof that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is officially honored and exalted above and before the divinely inspired scriptures.

The NT of Christ says: "Therefore, brethren, stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word or our epistle." (2 Thess. 2:15) That should settle any dispute over the source of divinely authorized tradition by which to test the traditions of men. Just when a man begins to study himself out of the maze and constrictions of Catholicism the Vatican spanks him, effectively saying, "The RCC is the standard for measuring man's faithfulness to God, not Scripture!"

The church is never portrayed in Scripture as an intermediary between man and God. There is one Mediator between man and God, Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5). By Him we have access to God the Father, His mercy and salvation (Heb. 2:17-18; 4:14-16). Every Christian is a priest unto God, offering up spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God - the RCC notwithstanding (1 Pet. 2:5).

We are commanded to "test the spirits, whether they are of God," not by the standard of the RCC, but by the standard of the apostles' doctrine (1 Jno. 4:1, 6; Acts 2:42). May there yet be Catholics who will not yield to the edicts of Rome, but to the clear and constant call of the gospel and its full authority over our lives (Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 14:37; 4:6; Gal. 1:8-9).


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

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