THE SPIRITS SWORD
Mt. Baker church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker Hwy · Bellingham, WA 98226
Volume IV, Number 51 · February 25, 2001
Editor..................Joe R. Price
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In this issue:
ASK THE PREACHER
Time was when you could ask a preacher what he believed and you would get an answer from the Bible. Even preachers in the denominations used to go to the Bible to defend and promote what they taught and practiced. But, the simple fact is that fewer and fewer denominational preachers appeal to the Bible for why they believe, teach and practice what they believe, teach and practice.
Preachers among us often follow a similar course. When asked specific questions about what they believe and teach on a controversial subject they can be heard to reply, "I believe what Jesus taught...." Well, that is nice. But let's see how that holds up.
When we ask a Baptist preacher what he teaches about water baptism he replies "I believe and teach what Jesus taught in Mark 16:16." But does he, really? The proof is in the pudding. In practice the Baptist denies Mark 16:16 by teaching a person is saved before and without water baptism. He says he believes Mark 16:16 but his teaching and practice deny it. He does not teach what Jesus taught.
When we ask a gospel preacher what he teaches about divorce and remarriage he replies "I believe and teach what Jesus taught in Matthew 19." But does he really? The proof is in the pudding. In practice he denies Matthew 19 by teaching that a person who is not a Christian is not under the authority of what Jesus taught here. Although Jesus applied His statement to "whoever" enters marriage, this preacher convinces people they are not under the authority of Christ's law on marriage until they become Christians. Instead of being taught to cease an adulterous relationship they are comforted to continue in it. The preacher says he believes Matthew 19 but his teaching and practice deny it. He does not teach what Jesus taught.
We could hope that when a preacher is asked a direct question about what he believes, teaches and practices he would give a direct answer. Sidestepping the issue with trite generalities does not help anyone discover what the Scriptures teach (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15).
Why won't a preacher be open about what they teach instead of refusing to commit himself until he "tests the waters"? We have even had preachers tell us they do not want what they teach recorded or distributed. Imagine that, a gospel preacher who does not want his preaching heard by others (Mk. 16:15)! "Oh, but that is because I will be misrepresented!" (They wouldn't be judging another brother's heart, would they?!) Nobody should knowingly misrepresent another person. But, could it be true that such preachers may be perfectly understood and do not want to openly deal with what they teach? Let us hope not! Truth has nothing to fear from honest, open study and investigation. "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord" (Isa. 1:18).
Now and then someone will complain that they cannot believe in a God who allows suffering to exist in the world, or, the presence of such suffering proves that there is no God, for a God who was all-powerful and good would immediately put an end to all suffering. Allow me to offer the following thoughts:
1. Such a complaint ignorantly assumes that God is apathetic to man's suffering. The truth of the matter is that God is far more concerned about human suffering than man is. God is intensely grieved by man's rebellion and the suffering that he brings upon himself and others (Genesis 6:5-6,11; Luke 19:41-44). The example of Jesus in John 11:35 proves that God is very concerned about the terrible things that happen in this life.
2. Many people complain about human suffering, but they do not do anything about it. God has actually done something! God sent His Son to this world, allowed His Son to be mistreated, tortured and nailed to a cross so that man could have the hope of eternal life (John 3:16). In becoming a Christian, one not only gains a hope that enables him or her to place all earthly sufferings in their proper perspective (Romans 8:18), but they are also given a lifestyle which enables them to stop hurting others. Being a Christian will remove some of the needless suffering that happens to non-Christians (1 Peter 3:10-11). To the person who complains about suffering, my question would be, "What are you willing to do about it?" "Are you willing to do your part?" That is, are they willing to stop the sin in their lives that is causing others to suffer?
3. There is also the issue of consistency. How can I take someone seriously who is complaining about the suffering in this world, who has rebelled against their parents and caused their mother and father to suffer? Someone who has left their husband or wife and dealt treacherously (Malachi 2:14-16). I will start taking a person's concerns about suffering far more seriously when I start seeing them live a life that places others first (Philippians 2:3-6; Matthew 7:12).
4. How can anyone complain that God and suffering are contradictions, when God Himself came to this world and suffered so that we might be saved? (John 1:1,14; Isaiah 53). God has even allowed His own servants (the prophets, the apostles and the early Christians) to suffer tremendously so that others could hear the gospel message (2 Corinthians 11:23-33; Hebrews 11).
5. I am impressed that faithful people in the Bible suffered and many of them suffered far more than people are suffering today. Yet, they did not complain that such suffering proved that either God did not care or that God did not exist. Rather, the writer of Psalm 119 said, "It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes" (119:71). In fact, the writer also notes, "Before I was afflicted I went astray" (119:67). Suffering will move a good heart towards God and not away from Him. When someone who is not a Christian complains about their trials, I feel like saying, "Well, I guess you have not suffered enough seeing that you are still refusing to come to God for comfort".
6. Removing God from the picture does not solve the issue of suffering. If God exists, then suffering can be useful and meaningful (Romans 5:3-5; James 1:2-4; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). But if God does not exist, then people still suffering, but now they suffer for no good reason. Boy, that makes me feel better!?
I am thankful for suffering because such reminds me: The world is not my final home and that's all right with me. There are many wonderful things and experiences in this life, but there are enough bad things and that helps me long for a better place (Hebrews 11:16). Death does not seem so tragic when I realize that death will realize me from earthly sorrows and pains. If this life were perfect, who would ever want to leave? I am a better Christian when life is more difficult, for suffering and hardship have a wonderful knack of getting one's priorities in line (Matthew 6:33). Suffering also have a way, when I cooperate with it, to make me a better person (Romans 5:3-5). Patience, kindness, love, faith and other qualities are meaningless unless they are truly genuine and the only way to test their reality is to have them tested by trials (1 Peter 1:6-8). The sufferings of this life enable me to see where I am spiritually. Is my faith genuine? Do I really love God more than anything else? Anyone can look loving and kind when life is smooth, and how many of us thought we were really patient until we had children?
-What's Happening? (Feb. 21, 2001)
HOW DO WE TREAT THE
The church at Corinth (1 Cor. 5) was rebuked because it had not removed the wicked one from it's midst (1 Cor. 5:1-2). Verse 4 sets up the principle for removing the sinner from the assembly. When you are gathered together, deliver, remove, clean out the (little) leaven before it leavens the whole lump. Leaven (sin in this context) permeates, and affects the whole. We are to be unleavened (v. 7). We are to cut off all social contact with such a person (v. 11). Does that mean we do not ever talk with this person again? 2 Thessalonians 3:6 says to "keep aloof (avoid, withdraw oneself from) from every brother who leads an unruly life." Verse 15 says we are "not to associate with one disobedient to the instruction of the letter so they will be put to shame", but verse 16 says "not to treat them as an enemy, but admonish (ongoing teaching, instructing, warning) them as a brother." Yes, we can admonish the withdrawn member to repent of sin. It is a punishment dealt to the sinner to hopefully cause that one to see their error and repent. This was the case in Corinth. In 2 Corinthians 2:5-9 we read that "what the whole had done was sufficient to cause sorrow to the one who had sinned." Now Paul told them to "forgive and comfort him, reaffirm their love for him...," he had repented, welcome him back to the fold. When we follow the pattern laid down by Christ...we are obedient followers (v. 9).
For the complete text of this sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS
QUESTIONS OF LIFE
Scripture Reading: Acts 17:22-31
I. WHERE DID I COME FROM? (cf. Jesus, Jno. 8:14)
A. The Mind & Will Of God - Gen. 1:26.
B. Origin Of Mankind: Creative Act Of God - Gen. 1:1, 26-27; 2:7 (cf. Job 33:4); 3:19; 5:1; Jno. 4:24; Zech. 12:1; Eccl. 12:7.
C. This Creative Act Should Produce:
1. Humility to acknowledge God - Psa. 8:3-4.
2. Submission to obey God - Psa. 33:8-9.
3. Honor leading to worship of God - Psa. 148:5.
II. WHY AM I HERE? (cf. Jesus, Jno. 8:23-30).
A. To Seek After God - Acts 17:27-30; Gen. 2-3.
1. Gen. 2-3 - Man's highest purpose / motive was to walk with God (cf. 3:8; 2:15).
2. We all have this purpose in life - Jas. 4:15.
3. Results in communion with God - 1 Jno. 2:3-6.
B. To Have Dominion Over God's Creation (Earth) - Gen. 1:26-30; Psa. 8:4-9.
III. WHERE AM I GOING? (cf. Jesus-Jno.10:17-18)
A. The Body Will Die - Heb. 9:27; Jas. 2:26; Eccl. 12:7; Lk. 16:22.
B. From There, Where I Go Depends Upon How We Lived On Earth (Rom. 2:6, 11); Lk. 16: 23-26.
1. Resurrection of body - Job 14:14; Jno. 5:28-29.
2. Judgment day: 2 Ths. 1:6-10; Rom. 2:7-10.
-Hell (Matt. 25:41, 46; 5:29), Heaven (Matt. 25:34, 46)
C. Your Future Depends On You!
For the complete text of this sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS
BIBLE QUESTION BOX
Scripture Reading: Acts 17:10-15
(Bible questions submitted each month by members of the Mt. Baker church of Christ.)
#1 - WHERE DID THE EGYPTIAN MAGICIANS GET THEIR WATER? (Exo. 7:14-25)
1. Several possibilities:
2. The magicians were deceivers - Exo. 7:22; 2 Tim. 3:8-9.
#2 - THE MEANING OF HEBREWS 6:4-6.
1. Context is moving unto spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:11-6:8).
2. The condition of Christians who falls away and continue that course of rebellion.
#3 - KEEPING THE LAW AND FOLLOWING COMMANDMENTS.
1. All of Christ's laws are important - Matt. 7:21-27.
2. Law-keeping cannot save, for we have all sinned (Rom. 3:23).
3. But, we are to keep the commands of God with a pure heart - Matt. 5:17-20; Jno. 14:15; Rom. 6:17; 1 Jno. 2:3.
#4 - THE MEANING OF "GOOD" IN JAMES 4:17.
1. Text: "Good" is the stated will of God (1 Jno. 3:4).
2. Context: Passage condemns failing to act on our knowledge of God's truth (Jas. 4:1-17).
3. Concerning expedients - 1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23; Phil. 2:1-5; Eph. 5:21; 1 Cor. 16:14.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Agent Charged With Spying
By Kevin Johnson and Richard Willing, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON - A senior FBI agent was charged Tuesday with spying for Moscow for the past 15 years and committing what FBI director Louis Freeh called the "most traitorous acts imaginable" against the United States in return for cash and diamonds.
Robert Philip Hanssen, 56, a counterintelligence specialist and 25-year FBI veteran from Vienna, Va., betrayed U.S. intelligence methods and set up two Russian agents secretly working for the United States for execution by the KGB, according to a Justice Department complaint charging him with espionage. He could be sentenced to death if convicted.
The complaint says Hanssen was paid more than $600,000 in cash and diamonds and promised an additional $800,000 in a Moscow account. But money, the complaint shows, may not have been the motive. He wrote that his boyhood hero was Kim Philby, a British agent who spied for the Soviets in the 1950s. (c) Copyright 2001 USA TODAY
Joe R. Price
Espionage does great damage to a nation's safety and security. How much more, then, does the stealth of false teachers and their false doctrines harm the people of God?
1. Just as spies seek to weaken and topple nations, so also false teachers bring in false teachings which damage the kingdom of God: "And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage)," - Galatians 2:4.
2. Just as spies "plant" false information to destroy a nation, so also false teachers introduce false doctrine which destroys all who believe it: "But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed" - 2 Peter 2:1-2.
3. Just as nations oppose spies, we must oppose false teachers who corrupt the gospel: "Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" - Jude 3-4.
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