THE SPIRITS SWORD
Mt. Baker church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker Hwy · Bellingham, WA 98226
Volume V, Number 47 - February 17, 2002
Editor..................Joe R. Price
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In this issue:
Steven F. Deaton
Beyond dispute, the Bible teaches that man is saved in Christ, none other. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). Peter said, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). Paul wrote, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ...In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Eph. 1:3-7).
Those who claim to believe in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God cannot deny this truth without being a hypocrite. The one who says that Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and others can be saved outside of Christ, cannot truly believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Rather, they have accepted human philosophy which will cheat them out of their souls (Col. 2:8).
Since salvation can only be found in Christ, then the questions arises, "How do we get into Christ?" The Bible answers this question very plainly. "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Gal. 3:26-27). We are baptized, immersed in water, into Christ (cf. Rom. 6:3-4). This is not something authorized by man, but by heaven (cf. Matt. 21:25). In fact, Jesus said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19-20).
Further, the Bible declares that to be in Christ is to be in His body, the church (Eph. 1:22-23). "For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free--and have all been made to drink into one Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:12-13).
Friend, have you been saved in Christ? Have you believed in Him, turned from your sins, confessed Him, and been baptized into Him, where salvation is found? If not, then may we assist you? Contact us for a personal Bible study or visit during our regular services. We welcome you and yours.
J. S. Smith
Although the book we are studying is sometimes called "The Revelation of John," it by no means originated with or features the apostle of that name. This is a Revelation of and by Jesus the Christ. In verses 9-20 of the first chapter, John describes our Lord as he appeared to the man that day on Patmos. His glorified image is grander than anything that movies could produce and is intended to imply confidence into the souls of believing readers.
Until now, John has described himself in the third person, but here he becomes both the narrator and a participant in the Revelation of this Apocalyptic message, a message of signs and symbols. The aged apostle is not writing from the luxury of retirement or the ivory towers of theological theory; he writes from a sense of brotherhood and companionship in the tribulation that Christianity has cost its disciples. Jesus had warned his followers that it would be like this and his prediction did not fail; that so many had held their faith through it all does much to prove the validity of their trust. As ever-present as their distress was, John also quickly takes note that they share also in the kingdom and patience of their savior. The kingdom was in existence, much to the dismay of premillennialists who look for its establishment at this late date in the Revelation. John was a citizen in that kingdom (1:6), a present reality, not a future utopia.
As Ezekiel reported that the Spirit took him up and brought him in the visions of God to Jerusalem and beyond (Ezek. 8:3), so it seems John is experiencing something much more than just a proper frame of mind for ordinary worship. This is the Bible's only reference to the Lord's Day and John does not go further to identify exactly which day of the week it is, perhaps because it should be so obvious as the day of the week on which Christ was raised from the dead and the communion supper was to be observed forever to commemorate it. As his trance takes hold, John is disturbed by a loud voice, not a trumpet, but a voice like a trumpet. The speaker is Christ, the Alpha and Omega, just as his father was described; he is eternal as indicated by the use of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. John was instructed to write down the things that he would see, thus to render them as scripture that could be transmitted to persecuted saints in Asia Minor and preserved for future generations.
In the midst of seven golden lampstands stands our glorified and mighty Savior, clothed in a priest's robe with a royal sash. In his gospel, John described our Lord as the Word that had been with God, was God and came to walk among men. Although our feet today are pampered by comfortable shoes, the feet of Christ have been tried as in a furnace and polished by distress into a fine brass, able to march upon his enemies. He stands thus in the midst of seven golden lampstands and holds seven stars in his right hand as a sharp two-edged sword emerges from his mouth. Obviously, the sword is the word of God (cf. Eph. 6:17), double-edged for it offers grace to the submissive while also promising punishment to the rebellious.
John is told again to grab his quill and start writing down what he sees. While the Revelation John sees has initial and chief meaning to the first audience of Christians who read it, it continues to possess an element of encouragement to every succeeding generation that reads of God's promise and protection. The seven stars are identified as the angels, or messengers, of the seven churches of Asia Minor; they were closely united to the sword of his word in verse 16 and seem to be the men who would proclaim the message in each church as they received it.
Edition 63 | 20 January 2002
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERSPart 7
OVERCOMING WORLDLINESS: Alcohol and Drugs
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 23:29-35
1. Alcohol is a drug - a poison voluntarily introduced into the body.
2. "Wine" in Bible does not always & necessarily mean fermented drink - Isa. 16:10; 65:8.
3. Strong drink is condemned - Prov. 20:1.
I. THE SINFUL PROBLEMS OF ALCOHOL & DRUGS - 2 Pet. 2:19 (Rom.
A. The Problem Of Intoxication - Eph. 5:15-18.
-Soberness, Self-control, separation.
B. The Problem of Willfully Harming The Body - 1 Cor. 6:13-20.
C. The Problem Of A Damaged & Dangerous Influence - 1 Pet. 2:11-12.
D. The Problem Of Hurting Others (Whom We Are To Love) - Matt. 7:12; 22:39 (Prov. 31:5).
E. The Problem Of Sin - Matt. 16:26 Hos. 3:11; Rom. 6:23.
II. SOCIAL DRINKING & RECREATIONAL DRUG USE.
A. Logically, These Stand Or Fall Together.
B. Scripturally, They Both Fall - Prov. 23:29-35; 1 Pet. 4:3.
C. What About Smoking? 1 Cor. 6:20; Eph. 5:29
III. COMPROMISES & ACCOMODATIONS SOME CHRISTIANS MAKE WITH ALCOHOL
A. Some Try To Defend Social Drinking:
1. "The Bible approves the use of wine in places."
2. "Christ made wine at the wedding at Cana."
3. "Timothy was told to take wine" (1 Tim. 5:23).
4. "Rom. 14:21 allows the use of alcohol as long as it does not cause others to stumble."
5. "Wine is a natural creation of God, so He allows us to enjoy it."
6. "Recent studies show red wine is good for you."
7. "In some cultures it is polite to socially drink, we would offend our hosts by refusing to drink."
8. "What's wrong with one drink to take edge off?"
9. "There is simply no harm in drinking wine."
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Give Up Preaching For Lent?
Joe R. Price
A vicar in the Church of England is vowing to give up preaching in observance of Lent. "Reverend Richard Ames-Lewis says he'll miss giving his sermons but is pleased his congregation will have more time for praying," reports the Ananova News service (http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_521451.html).
Without trying to be a narrow-minded watchdog, may I suggest some things the word of God urges this man and others to give up (Jno. 7:24)? We encourage him and others to give up:
1. Every man-made church, including the Church of England. Jesus built one church, but men have built many others without His approval (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). (For example, the Church of England was built by King Henry VIII in the 16th century because the pope would not sanction his divorce.)
2. Every creed and confession which condones the existence of his denomination and other human innovations. The inspired word of the gospel which is recorded in the NT is sufficient to completely equip us to every good work (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Pet. 1:22-25). For those who put their faith in God and His word, that is enough.
3. All man-made religious holidays, including Lent and Easter. Man has set in place countless observances which are foreign to the simple and complete gospel of Christ (Col. 2:8, 16-23). These religiously observed holidays are not sanctioned by the word of God, but by the creeds and traditions of men. We should be more interested in giving up every religious invention of man while holding fast to the word and will of the Father (Matt. 15:1-14).
4. All man-made titles and positions which make distinctions and give forbidden honor and rank to men. The Scriptures do not construct a clerical hierarchy nor do they approve the use of religious titles to distinguish among the people of God (Matt. 23:6-12; 1 Cor. 12:25).
5. Preaching everything that is not authorized in the inspired word of God. Far from deciding not to preach, the gospel preacher is to "be ready in season and out of season" to preach the word of God(2 Tim. 4:2). Lent is not a season for silence but for sounding forth the word of God which reproves, rebukes and corrects the innovations of men. But, some do not want to hear this, so some preachers choose to remain silent (2 Tim. 4:3-5). Will we?
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