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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 36 - December 2, 2001

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


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 In this issue:


Predestination and Free-will

Joe R. Price

Many teach that man either has no free-will (fatalism), or limited amounts of it. The Bible teaches that every person with moral capacity has the freedom of will to decide whether or not to obey God.

Simply put, the Bible teaches that God elected (predestined or set in place) to save every soul who "fears God and works righteousness" (Acts 10:34-35). Before time eternal, God predestined that men would be saved "in Christ" (Eph. 1:3-4, 7-12). Thus, God predestined the plan of human redemption (cf. Eph. 3:10-11).

God also determined that man would have free-will, the ability and responsibility to choose whether or not he will obey Him (cf. Gen. 3:1-6; Josh. 24:15; Matt. 11:28).

God did not predestine or pre-select each specific person for salvation or damnation (which individual would be saved & lost), He predestined the plan (how men would be saved). The following passages affirm this truth: Acts 10:34-35; Eph. 1:3-12; Rom. 8:28-30; 10:9-17.

Some do not accept the above passages on predestination. They think if a person is not one of those predestinated, he is eternally damned -- he is just out of luck and there is nothing he can do about it. However, it is a particular group or class of people that God chose for salvation before the foundation of the world, not individuals. It is up to us to choose to be part of that class (of those "in Him") if we want to be numbered among "the chosen."

We can illustrate it this way: A school teacher on the first day of class tells his students that some will pass the course and some will fail. He then describes the things necessary for a student to be among those who pass. At the end of the school year, just as the teacher said, some passed and some failed. Since the teacher had predestinated the outcome before he began, does it mean that he pre-selected which individuals would pass and which would fail? Was there nothing they students could do to effect the outcome? Certainly there was! Each student decided, by whether or not he meet the course requirements, whether he would pass or fail. Likewise God, before He created the world, predetermined and chose who would be saved: those who are "in Christ" (Eph. 1:4-5). Now, it is up to us to choose to be "in Christ." By using our free-will we choose whether to be "in Christ" and thus saved (Gal. 3:26-27).

So, we see God's part (His gracious plan of human redemption which is accomplished through the death of Christ), and man's part (faith in Christ, Jas. 2:14-26; Matt. 7:21-23) combining to complete the equation of human redemption (Eph. 2:8-9).


The Holidays and Influence

Larry Ray Hafley

Obviously, we must always conduct ourselves so as to let our lives "adorn the doctrine of God...in all things" and be that which befits and becomes the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27; Titus 2:5, 10; 1 Pet. 3:16). However, as we often speak of "the sins of summer," particularly as they relate to immodest dress and the temptation to enjoy outdoor activities and forsake the assembling of ourselves together, so we must be careful, during the current holiday season, to "walk circumspectly" before God and men (Eph. 5:15).

Drinking alcohol destroys one's influence. Toward the end of the year, beginning around Thanksgiving through the new year, drinking alcoholic beverages becomes common. Even those who rarely drink will do so during the holidays. In fact, "the holidays" are used as an excuse to drink, to express conviviality, family love, and friendship. It is a lie. There is no justification for "strong drink" at any time, not even over the holidays (Prov. 20:1; 23:29-35)!

Immorality, especially with regard to sex, ruins one's influence. As the passages in Proverbs show, one may engage in immorality and speak "perverse" things when drinking. Certainly, this will destroy one's influence for the cause of Christ. Often, this is why men want women to drink. Alcohol loosens one's moral restraints. Beware of "festivities over the holidays" which lead many into shameful, sinful behavior (Heb. 13:4).

Intemperance can harm one's influence. Intemperance is not limited to eating and drinking. It may include excessive spending in socializing and gift giving which plunges individuals and families into severe debt and, perhaps, bankruptcy. Some spend so much to play the fool to the devil that they decide they do not have enough to give to the Lord. God will judge all such. A woman who looks well to the ways of her household will not be guilty of this sin (Prov. 31:10-31). A man who "provides for his own" will not fall prey to it.

Sober, sound judgment and discretion should characterize the child of God at all times (Titus 2:6). However, the pressures of the holidays may tempt some to spend exorbitantly. Not only is the debt incurred embarrassing and stressful, but it is also hurtful to one's influence, especially to his creditors.

Time taken away from the Lord can mar one's influence. Obligatory parties, family gatherings, and the "need" to decorate and entertain, leads many to forsake the work and worship of the Lord from the end of November until after the first of the year. Unbelievers see through such hypocrisy and iniquity. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2).

Conclusion: Let all sensibly enjoy life and special holidays. "It is the gift of God" (Eccl. 3:13). However, as we do so, let us resolve to maintain our character and not to diminish it before a watching world (Matt. 5:16).


For the complete text of this sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS

 

ALAS, SINFUL NATION!

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 1:1-9

Intro.
1. God had nourished & blessed Israel, yet she had rebelled - Isa. 1:2.
2. Having called Israel to reason with Him, God exposed her sin & calls the nation to repent or face destruction.
3. We must learn from Israel or we will surely follow in her sins & condemnation - 1 Cor. 10:11.

I. COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER ABOUT SIN - 1:2-15.
A. Israel Teaches Us About The Presence Of Sin - 1:2-10 (Deut. 32:5); Phil. 2:15; 1 Pet. 2:9-10; 2:5.
B. Israel Teaches Us About The Nature of Sin - Jas. 1:14-15; Hos. 4:11; Prov. 7:22-23; Rom. 6:16, 21, 23. (Put away evil - Isa. 1:16; Heb. 12:1)
C. Israel Teaches Us About The Effects Of Sin - Isa. 1:5-15; Heb. 3:12-13.

II. COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER ABOUT SALVATION - 1:18-20.
A. God Continues To Offer 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; Jas. 2:24; Heb. 5:9)
C. God's Plea: Be Cleansed From Your Sin By Repenting - 1:16-17, 21-23 (Col. 3:5, 9; Matt. 23:23; Lk. 3:8, 10-14; Acts 26:20).

Conclusion
   Isa. 1:20, 28-31 - Righteous judgment did (will) occur (Rom. 2:5).


For the complete text of this sermon, visit BIBLE ANSWERS

 

TRAITS OF HYPOCRISY

Scripture Reading: Romans 2:17-24

Intro.
1. "Hypocrisy is pretending to be something you are not & have no intention of being…Play-acting...pretense."
2. Please note: When a Christian sins it is not automatically & necessarily hypocrisy.
3. To avoid becoming hypocrites we must carefully consider ourselves in light of three basic traits of the hypocrite.

I. THE HYPOCRITE PAYS MORE ATTENTION TO HIS REPUTATION THAN TO HIS CHARACTER.
A. How Others Perceive Him Is His Preeminent Concern - Matt. 6:2, 5, 16; 23:5-7.
B. Hypocrisy Is Pretended Motives - Matt. 23:25-28 (Mk. 12:13-15; Gal. 2:11-13).

II. THE HYPOCRITE CAREFULLY PRACTICES RELIGIOUS ACTS WHILE HIS HEART REMAINS DISTANT FROM GOD - Matt. 23:23-24.
A. The Hypocrite Has Details Without Depth.
B. This Inevitably Leads To Elevating The Traditions Of Men Above The Commands Of God - Matt. 23:16-22 (16:6, 12); Lk. 13:10-17; Matt. 15:1-9; 23:13 (15:14).

III. THE HYPOCRITE EMPHASIZES HIS OWN VIRTUE AND OTHERS' SINS - Rom. 2:1-2, 17-24.
A. The Hypocrite Does Not Put Himself Under The Same Scrutiny With Which He Condemns Others - Matt.7:1-5 (Gal. 6:1; 2 Cor. 13:5; 1 Cor. 10:12).
B. Hypocrisy's Companion: Self-righteousness - Lk. 18:9-12. (Contrast: Jas. 3:13, 17-18)

Conclusion
   Hypocrisy hides itself in the crevices of human pride & conceit, but it exposes the soul to eternal damnation!


NOTEWORTHY NEWS

(Current events in the light of Scripture)

 

Cocaine Disguised as Baby Food

November 29, 2001 10:50 AM ET

ROME (Reuters) - Italian police said on Thursday they busted a Peruvian cocaine smuggling ring and seized six kg (13 pounds) of the drug disguised as powdered baby food at Rome's main airport.

Security officials at Fiumicino airport said they arrested two women and a man, believed to be the head of a gang which distributes cocaine in Italy. All three were Peruvian nationals.

The first to be arrested was a 27-year-old woman arriving on a flight from Lima who, officials alleged, had hidden almost six kg of the drug in 20 packets of powdered baby formula and inside little squares of marble.

Soon after, a 34-year-old woman waiting for her at the airport was also arrested.

Police said they then hunted down and arrested the man believed to be the head of the local distribution ring, a 45-year-old referred to as "Manolo."

Disguised as a bricklayer, "Manolo" was caught through a phone tapping operation after police discovered he repeatedly used phone boxes in northeastern Rome.

http://www.reuters.com/news_article.jhtml?type=humannews&StoryID=416237

 

BIBLE COMMENTARY
Joe R. Price

Poison can be made to appear harmless. The fact that cocaine can be disguised to appear like baby food does not lessen its true potency for destruction. The Italian officials who recognized the difference are to be commended.

Likewise, the poison of false doctrine can, upon casual glance, appear harmless. Error and its proponents are often effectively disguised (Matt. 7:15; 2 Cor. 11:13-15). It takes a discerning eye to distinguish what is healthy (sound doctrine) and what is harmful (false doctrine). "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ" (Phil. 1:9-10). If we do not develop the ability and desire to tell the difference, we will be deceived (2 Tim. 2:15-18; Jude 3-4).

The poisonous properties of worldliness and immorality are effectively camouflaged as entertainment, recreation, freedom of choice and the "good life" (Eph. 5:3-7; 1 Jno. 2:15-16).

We must constantly shine the light of truth upon error and sin lest we are poisoned by what is offered to us as safe and satisfying (Eph. 5:8-14).


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