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THE SPIRIT’S SWORD

published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume V, Number 34 - November 18, 2001

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


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 In this issue:


Dumping Anthrax On His Head

David Baker

Jesus would have us to love, not just our friends, but our enemies as well. He tells us, "Ye have heard that it was said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy: but I say unto you, love your enemies, and pray for them that persecute you" (Matt. 5:43-44). But he would have us do more than just feel affection, for Jesus taught that we must act on that love. In this passage he tells us to pray for them, too.

I was teaching a Bible class of 13 year olds, and we were discussing this passage. I asked one of the girls after reading the verse and making the point, "What would you do if you found out your best friend was trying to steal your boyfriend?" [Never mind that 13 is too young to have a boyfriend!] One of the more vocal young ladies said that she would punch her friend in the nose. So we read the passage and made the application again. This time the young lady reluctantly allowed that she would have to pray for her unfaithful friend. So I asked her, "And what would you pray for her?" The answer, "That she get run over by a beer truck."

That, of course, is not the right answer. Jesus would have us to bless not only those who love us, but those who hate us as well. "Finally, be ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded: not rendering evil for evil, or reviling for reviling; but contrariwise blessing; for hereunto were ye called, that ye should inherit a blessing" (1 Pet. 3:8-9). This is the example that Jesus left us -"For hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: who his own self bare our sins in his body upon the tree, that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed" (1 Pet. 2:21-24).

When Jesus was on the cross, what did HE pray? "Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34).

It is true that what we desire doesn't always occur. Our desire in treating our enemies well is that they should stop being our enemies. Just because we treat someone with kindness doesn't mean that the kindness will be returned. It is true that what we desire doesn't always occur. Our desire in treating our enemies well is that they should stop being our enemies. Just because we treat someone with kindness doesn't mean that the kindness will be returned. I read a story in the newspaper years ago about the man who cut a buck deer free from a barbed wire fence, only to have the deer turn on him and kill him with his antlers. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that acts of kindness will be requited with kindness. So that should not be our primary concern. Our primary concern should be pleasing God. Then we are free to do good things to our enemies without worry whether or not they will be our friends. Through his Son, he tells us to love our enemies, and do good to them (Luke 6:27-28).

Our doing good to our enemies will accomplish two things if they don't change. Both are suggested by Romans 12:20. "But if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him to drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head." Some have suggested that what Paul is saying here is that treating one who has abused you well will make him ashamed of what he has done. The shame will be as coals of fire. Others argue that your treating your enemy well will set a standard for behavior that he will not acknowledge, therefore God's judgment will be as coals of fire.

In the context of Romans 12, I believe that there is reason to accept both meanings. In the next verse, Paul tells us, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. 12:21). This exhortation comes also on the heels of verses 17-18: "Render to no man evil for evil. Take thought for things honorable in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as in you lieth, be at peace with all men." Satisfaction for the godly man comes not in the destruction of the persecutor, but in his salvation. To desire his destruction rather than his repentance is not in keeping with the rest of the chapter, or the teachings of Jesus.

On the other hand, there are those who will not repent. They will die in there sins, and it is the belief of some that the fiery coals of their shameful behavior will aggravate the agony of their condemnation. The reason that some believe this is also in the context of Romans 12. In verse 19 Paul says, "Avenge not yourselves, beloved, but give place unto the wrath of God: for it is written, Vengeance belongeth unto me; I will recompense, saith the Lord." Vengeance heaped upon the persecutor is as much a part of God's promise as is deliverance and comfort to the persecuted. "And to you that are afflicted rest with us, at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with the angels of his power in flaming fire, rendering vengeance to them that know not God, and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, (even) eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Thess. 1:7-9). In the Revelation of John, we find the promise of God to the righteous for vengeance upon those who put them to death: "And when he opened the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of them that had been slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: and they cried with a great voice, saying, How long, O Master, the holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?" (Rev. 6:9-10).

It could be that the difference is not the point. Coals of fire equal the agony of shame. For those who are of a good heart, the shame works repentance (2 Cor. 7:10; Rom. 6:21). For those who are not of a good heart, further, and more agonizing condemnation.

It is interesting, the word that is translated "coals" in Romans 12:20 is anthrax. When we treat our enemy well, it is like dumping anthrax on him. The bacteria gets its name from the burn-like lesions left upon the skin of one who has cutaneous (sic) anthrax. There is also the high fever that most often is fatal. [Anthracite is a hot burning type of coal.]

In the light of today's current events, I find this especially interesting. I can imagine the glee with which my 13 year old student might anticipate "dumping a load of anthrax" on her classmate. But that is missing the point altogether, isn't it?

Sometimes it seems just too hard to do what Jesus bids. "But I say unto you that hear, love your enemies, do good to them that hate you, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you" (Luke 6:27-28). But what the Lord commands, that we must do.

-The Desert Companion, Nov. 4, 2001; www.sonnybaker.com


For the complete text of this sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS

 

COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 1:10-20

Intro.
1. Isa. 1:18 - Israel is urged by God to take a walk with Him & reason together about their state of sin & His provisions of salvation.
2. God reasoned with His people about sin & salvation.

I. COME, LET US REASON FROM THE SCRIPTURES - Isa. 1:2, 10; cf. Heb. 12:5 (25).
  A. God's Truth Is Revealed In Them - Jno. 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17. Only the Bible establishes truth.
  B. God's Grace Is Provided By Them - Acts 20:24, 32; Tit. 2:11-12; Jno. 1:14, 18.
  C. God's Fellowship Is Secured With Them - 1 Jno. 1:1-4, 5-7; 2:3-6; 2 Jno. 9.
  D. Apostolic Practice Should Be Followed In Reasoning Together (1 Cor. 11:1). [*dialegomai] {Using the scriptures - 1 Pet. 3:15}
    1. Acts 17:2-4* - "to set before (one) in teaching."
    2. Acts 17:17* - To try to save them!
    3. Acts 18:4* - To persuade the lost unto salvation!
    4. Acts 18:19* - With the Jews (attempt to convert).
    5. Acts 19:8, 9* - Daily dispute using scriptures.
    6. Acts 19:9* - Daily activity of the apostle.
    7. Acts 20:7* - "Discoursed" - Reasoning! (v. 9*)
    8. Acts 24:25* - Convict of sin, repentance, salvation.

II. COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER ABOUT SIN - 1:2-15.
  A. The Nature of Sin - 1:2-15; Rom. 3:9-12.
  B. Its Cleansing Through Repentance - 1:16-17; Col. 3:5, 9; Isa. 1:21-23; Lk. 3:8, 10-14; Acts 26:20.

III. COME, LET US REASON ABOUT SALVATION - 1:18-20.
  A. God Still Offers His Mercy & Grace To Sinners - 1:9, 18; 1:24-27; Eph. 2:4-7; Tit. 3:5-7; Rom. 5:8-9.
  B. Man's Faith - 1:19; Eph. 2:8; Heb. 5:9.

Conclusion
Isa. 1:20, 28-31 - Righteous judgment did (will) occur (Rom. 2:5). Accept the Lord's reasoning from the Bible now to escape sin & death!


For the complete text of this sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS

 

THE CHRISTIAN'S GIVING

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9

Intro.
1. 1 Tim. 6:17- 19 - Rich charged to set his mind on God - Be ready & willing to share.
2. Matt. 6: 19-21 - We lay up treasure in heaven whenever we obey Christ from the heart.

I. GOD-APPROVED GIVING BEGINS IN THE HEART.
  A. Must First Be Given To The Lord - 2 Cor. 8:1-5, 7-8, 10-12.
  B. A Heart That Is Given To The Lord's Work - 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:12.
  C. A Christ-Like Heart Is Vital - 2 Cor. 8:9.
  D. Our Giving Must Express Our Complete Dependency Upon (Faith In) God - Mk. 12:41-44.

II. GOD-APPROVED GIVING REQUIRES:
  A. A Regular Collection In The Worship Assembly - 1 Cor. 16:1-2.
  B. Personal, Individual Responsibility - 16:2.
    -"Let each one of you...."
  C. As Each One Has Prospered - 1 Cor. 16:2.
    1. The basis for determining how much to give.
    2. Not a tithe (tenth) of all earned, but in proportion to prosperity.
  D. With Purpose Of Heart - 2 Cor. 9:7.
  E. Cheerfully - 2 Cor. 9:7 (cf. 8:2). -God's pleasure is obtained.
  F. With Liberality - Rom. 12:8; 2 Cor. 8:2, 10-12; Prov. 11:24-26.

III. GOD WILL NOT APPROVE FROM WRONG ATTITUDES.
  A. Grudgingly Or From Necessity - 2 Cor. 9:7; 1 Jno. 5:3.
  B. For The Sake Of Appearance Or Praise - Acts 5:3-4, 8; Matt. 6:1.
  C. To "Pay The Bills" Or "Make Ends Meet" - 2 Cor. 9:6. Cf. Mal. 3:8-10; Neh. 10:37; 13:10-13.

We have received so much! But it is more blessed to give than receive!  Acts 20:35


NOTEWORTHY NEWS

(Current events in the light of Scripture)

 

Jar Fetches 'Staggering' Price in Auction

Thursday, November 15, 2001 8:04 a.m. EST

LONDON (Reuters) - A London art dealer paid 751 ($1 million) Wednesday for a unique Chinese jar which had been bought for 100 pounds ($143) at a small antiques shop.

"For a collector or a museum it's the jewel in the crown really," said Daniel Eskenazi of dealers Eskenazi Ltd, who bought the vase in a tense seven-minute auction at Sotheby's.

"The enamels are very bright and colorful and it's of a period that is regarded as the best in Chinese ceramics," he said.

Sotheby's Chinese ceramics specialist Julian King said: "This is indeed a lost treasure from the Ming dynasty. When it turned up it seemed to be too good to be true."

The previous owner, who has declined to be named, said her ceramics aficionado father bought the brightly colored jar, dating from 1465 to 1487, suspecting it was Ming, but she had no idea it would fetch such a high price.

Full story: http://news.lycos.com/news/story.asp?n_1.5=1&section=MyLycos&pitem=ODD%2DVASE%2DDC&rev=20011115&pub_tag=REUTG

 

BIBLE COMMENTARY
Joe R. Price

The value of a Ming Dynasty jar is as nothing in comparison to spiritual commodities. We must constantly remember and hold true to the exceedingly great value of the kingdom of heaven.

"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." (Matt. 13:44) The antique shop which sold the Ming jar did not know its value or it would have never sold it for $143! We tell ourselves, "we would never do such a thing!" Or would we??

We know the value of the kingdom of heaven yet many "sell it" for things of far less value - things like (a) Materialism, Lk. 12:13-21; (b) Anxiety, Matt. 6:24-34; (c) Spiritual apathy and neglect, Heb. 5:12-14; Jas. 4:17; (d) The praise of men, Jno. 12:42-43; (e) The religious traditions of men, Mk. 7:1-13); and (f) False doctrines, 2 Tim. 4:3-4.

Then there are those who recognize value when they see it. "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it." (Matt. 13:44-46) The previous owner who invested $143 in an old jar made a fortune, just like the pearl-seeker in the parable. But the truly rich person is he who invests himself in living by faith each day (2 Cor. 5:7). He obeys the Lord implicitly (Lk. 17:10). He denies himself fully and completely to serve Christ (Lk. 9:23). This person will have riches in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Pet. 1:3-5).


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

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