THE SPIRIT’S SWORD

published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume IV, Number 44 January 7, 2001

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


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 In this issue:


The "Star of Bethlehem"

Joe R. Price

 

The following was sent to me for comment. It is from a Website promoting the book, The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi by Michael Molnar:

     "Could the purchase of an ancient coin have led to an important clue about the Star of Bethlehem? The above illustration is a Roman coin from Antioch, Syria which shows the zodiacal sign, Aries the Ram. In trying to understand the meaning behind this coin, I found that Aries was the sign of the Jews. Realizing that this is where ancient stargazers would have watched for the Star of Bethlehem, I embarked on searching for the celestial event that signified the birth of the Messiah in Judea.
     "Superposed on the photograph of the coin is what I found: Jupiter underwent two occultations ("eclipses") by the Moon in Aries in 6 BC. Jupiter was the regal "star" that conferred kingships - a power that was amplified when Jupiter was in close conjunctions with the Moon. The second occultation on April 17 coincided precisely when Jupiter was "in the east," a condition mentioned twice in the biblical account about the Star of Bethlehem. In August of that year Jupiter became stationary and then "went before" through Aries where it became stationary again on December 19, 6 BC. This is when the regal planet "stood over." - a secondary royal portent also described in the Bible. In particular, there is confirmation from a Roman astrologer that the conditions of April 17, 6 BC were believed to herald the birth of a divine, immortal, and omnipotent person born under the sign of the Jews, which we now know was Aries the Ram. Furthermore, the coins of Antioch and ancient astrological documents show that there was indeed a Star of Bethlehem as reported in the biblical account of Matthew."

What we have here is a naturalistic attempt to explain a supernatural event (a miracle). (I believe the star was a miraculous appearance which cannot be traced by star charts, etc.) No matter how well-intentioned, these attempts undermine the miraculous nature of the divine pronouncement of the birth of the Son of God.

When we consult the scriptures there are several reasons to come to this conclusion.

1. The Magi no doubt consulted the astrological maps, etc. in search of their wisdom. Thus, while engaged in such inquiries they are shown "His star" by the Lord (Matt. 2:2). Question: Why would the appearance of ordinary celestial bodies (planets and stars) cause these men to "come to worship Him" as they did (Matt. 2:2)? They saw such heavenly bodies all the time. There was something uniquely different about this star which prompts their long journey, their urgent inquiry and their persistent search. It is more reasonable and Scripturally consistent to conclude the star was a miraculous appearance, not a naturally occurring astronomical occurrence.

2. Accepting the foregoing explanation of the star necessarily means one has bought into the notion that by "reading the stars" (stargazing) one may discover the plans and purposes for life. This approach to seeking wisdom and knowledge, however, was not endorsed by Jehovah. In fact, God strongly condemned such activities in the OT (Isa. 47:12-14; cf. Dan. 1:20; 2:2, 10, 20-22, 27-28). It is inconceivable that God would now use stargazing techniques to
announce to man the arrival of His Son.

3. Now, consider the scripture: "When they heard the king, they departed; and behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy." (Matt. 2:9-10) If the star was Jupiter (or some other naturally occurring celestial object), would it now have already been in the sky? Yet, the star "which they had seen" in the past once more appeared and "went before them." A miracle which had previously occurred now happens again. God had revealed the star to these men "in the East" and now once more uses the star to direct the men to the house where Jesus was so they could worship Him (Matt. 2:2, 11).

The wisdom of the world will not accept the wisdom of the word of God because to the world it is foolishness (1 Cor. 1:20-25). Therefore, human wisdom will continue to offer up naturalistic explanations for the miraculous works of God. Such efforts show their lack of faith in the word and power of God.

As Bible believers we must be careful not to be drawn in by any such attempts, since we believe in the power and accuracy of God and His word of truth.


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

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

THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH OF GOD

Scripture Reading: Proverbs 2:1-9

I. THE TRUTH OF GOD ABSOLUTELY EXISTS.
A. It Is Absolutely Inspired Of God - Jno. 17:17 (1:1-3, 14; 14:6; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
B. It Is Absolutely Revealed By God - Eph. 3:3-5; Jude 3.
C. It Is Absolutely Understandable By Man - Deut. 30:11-15 Rom. 10:6-8; Eph. 5:17; Jno. 8:31-32.
D. It Can & Must Be Absolutely Obeyed - 1 Pet. 1:22-23; Phil. 2:12; Matt. 7:21.

II. ABSOLUTE TRUTH & THOSE WHO CONTEND FOR IT ARE OFTEN VILLIFIED - Jno. 15:18-21; Jude 3.
A. As Intolerant - Gal. 1:8-10.
B. As Arrogant - 2 Cor. 10:1; Gal. 6:14.
C. As Self-righteous - Eph. 3:3-4.
D. As Judgmental - Matt. 23; Lk. 12:54-57.
E. As Evil - Gal. 4:16.

Conclusion
1. Rom. 3:4 - "Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar. As it is written: "That You may be justified in Your words, And may overcome when You are judged."
2. Eph. 5:17 - "Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is."


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

http://www.bibleanswer.com/church11.htm

(Part 11)

THE CHURCH OF CHRIST:

The Work of Benevolence

Scripture Reading:  Acts 2:44 - 3:6

I. THE WORK OF BENOVELENCE WAS NEVER USED TO INTRODUCE THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST.
A. Benevolence Is The Fruit Of Christianity, Not The Means Of Spreading It - Acts 4:32-35 (Rom. 15:28); Mk. 6:34; Jno. 6:25-27, 66, 44-45.
B. Yet, Brethren To This Day Make This Argument To Support & Defend General Benevolence! ( 2 Cor.9:13, 1, 12-14; Rom. 15:25-27, 30-31)

II. GOD HAS GIVEN CONSIDERABLE INSTRUCTIONS TO THE INDIVIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN IN BENEVOLENCE - 1 Tim. 6:17-18.
A. Passages Of Conflict: Individual Or Congregational Responsibility To All Men?
1. Gal. 6:10 - Individual action, church action, or both?
2. Jas. 1:27 - Individual action, church action, or both?
B. Issue Remains: Individual Action vs. Church Action. (1 Tim. 5:16).

III. GOD HAS RESTRICTED THE BENEVOLENT WORK OF THE LOCAL CHURCH FROM ITS COLLECTED FUNDS TO RELIEVING NEEDY SAINTS.
A. A Pattern Exists In The NT.
B. An Revealing Dilemma - Acts 3:1-6.

Conclusion
1. Acts 20:34-35 - In laboring, each Christian must help the weak.
2. 1 Tim.5:16 - The local church must meet its responsibility, too.


NOTEWORTHY NEWS

(Current events in the light of Scripture)

 

Salvation Army ousted from Moscow

(Religion Today: Current News Summary, Jan. 4, 2001)

The Salvation Army is homeless in Moscow. The ministry has been evicted from its church building and told to vacate its offices in another building, according to CNS, an Internet news service. Landlords took action immediately after the Dec. 31 deadline requiring religious groups to register with the government. Moscow officials had refused to register the Army, considering it a militaristic organization.

..."It was rather sad to have to tell people [at the Dec. 31 church service], 'This is our last day here, we don't know where we'll be next week,' " Col. Kenneth Baillee, head of the organization in Russia, told CNS. Workers are searching for new office space, Baillee said.

...A ministry to the needy has been shut down and as a result, "the seniors were just cut off," he said. Ministries to prisoners, drug and alcohol addicts, neglected children, and AIDS sufferers, might also be shut down.

..."We have entered a kind of legal 'Never-Never Land,' " Baillee said. The ministry will continue to exist until the city asks the courts to have it liquidated, which could take months, he said. Baillee said he hopes an application to register the Army nationally as a "centralized religious organization" will clear the way for work to resume in Moscow. The group successfully registered in St. Petersburg, Petrozavodsk, Volograd, Rostov-on-Don, and Vyborg, CNS reported.

http://www.religiontoday.com/CurrentNewsSummary/index.html#story2

 

BIBLE COMMENTARY

Joe R. Price

The Salvation Army is not a "militaristic organization." But it is a religious organization. If you doubt it, consider this statement from The Salvation Army Website Finder Page:

"The Salvation Army, an International movement, is an evangelical part of the universal Christian church. Its message is based on the Bible. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God. Its mission is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human need in His name without discrimination." (http://www.redshield.org/)

The Army's "Officers" are ordained ministers. Its members are called "Soldiers." The Salvation Army was organized in England in 1878 by William Booth, an itinerate Methodist preacher. "While the Army has a dual function of church and social agency, its first purpose is the salvation of people 'by the power of the Holy Spirit combined with the influence of human ingenuity and love.' To the Salvation Army, its social services are merely a means of putting the socially disinherited-the needy in both the physical and spiritual realm-into a condition to be physically and spiritually uplifted. In meeting the needs of the 'whole person,' the Army has established a widespread social welfare program." (Handbook of Denominations, Mead, 231-232)

The "Salvation Army" is a denomination, a man-made church. If Moscow is going to register churches, the Salvation Army should be included. That's what it is.


 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: ssword@bibleanswer.com