THE SPIRITíS SWORD
Mt. Baker church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker Hwy ∑ Bellingham, WA 98226
Volume V, Number 49 - March 03, 2002
Editor..................Joe R. Price
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In this issue:
HARDEN NOT YOUR HEART
Joe R. Price
The church is God's house or family (Heb. 3:6; 1
Tim. 3:15). What a blessing that is! But, as God's house, we bear a
responsibility of service. Hebrews 3:6 continues by saying that we are God's
house "if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope
firm to the end." Christians need to continue in steadfast
faithfulness to God in order to be finally blessed. To emphasize this, the
writer used Israel in the wilderness to teach us about maintaining a diligent
faith (Heb. 3:7-19). He taught us how to avoid hardening our hearts against God.
Otherwise, we are in danger of falling away from God! Consider four things which
will harden our hearts:
Delay (v. 7-8). "Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion...." Israel was slow to trust and obey God. Over and over, Israel made trial of God by failing to trust in His power to save and sustain them. They said, "is the Lord among us or not?" (Exo. 17:7). Shall we also harden ourselves against God by failing to see the power and presence of God within His house, the church (cf. Eph. 3:14-21)? Let us seize the moment to yield our stubborn will to His. Otherwise, our heart will surely grow tired of the call to faithfulness, and we will be lost. God is always present to save.
Doubt (v. 8-9). Israel doubted God's power in the wilderness (Heb. 3:8-9). They had seen it in Egypt and in their flight from the Egyptians, yet they hesitated to fully trust Him. Their hearts became unresponsive to God's call of obedience and faith. We need not doubt God - neither His love, His power, His truth, nor anything else which emanates from Him. Build your faith upon the knowledge of God's unfailing faithfulness (cf. Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:1).
Deceitfulness of sin (v. 13). Sin promises so much, but delivers nothing but pain. Israel thought the golden calf would help them and that going back to Egypt would be a blessing. We can also be deceived into thinking the world holds much better things than Christ has to offer. It is a lie. Do not believe it. Sin will not lead you to the promised land!
Disobedience (v. 15-19). Hearing and knowing God's word does us no good unless we obey it. In fact, when we hear and know the truth, yet persistently refuse to obey it, we are guilty of provoking God. And, we making it harder on ourselves to obey Him in the future. That is the seriousness of hardening our hearts. We can come to a point where we are no longer reached by God and His word (Heb. 6:4-6). Remember, God has promised us rest. Harden not your heart!
Paul C. Keller
"Let no corrupt speech proceed out of
your mouth, but that which is good for edifying, that it may minister grace unto
the hearers." (Ephesians 4:29)
Our God has always demanded respect for His name. His name is not to be lightly regarded nor carelessly spoken. In giving the law to Israel, at Sinai, Jehovah said, "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). In Leviticus 19:12 they were warned: "And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the Lord." Of Him the Psalmist said, "...holy and reverend is his name" (Psalms 111:9).
God's name is no less holy and reverend now than it was then. We are no more at liberty to take His name in vain now than were the Israelites under the law of Moses. "Profane and vain babblings" are to be avoided - shunned (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 2:16). The Christian is to put off "...filthy communication out of your mouth" (Col. 3:8). "Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking..." are to be "once named among you" (Eph. 5:3, 4). God's name is to be respected. It must not be used in any disrespectful, irreverent, flippant manner.
It is sad to learn of professed Christians who are given to profanity. One who claims to be the Lord's disciple should know better - and certainly should do better. Yet the report goes out from time to time that brother so-and-so -- a brother who takes an active part in the assemblies, teaches a Bible class, prays most piously, endeavors to serve as an elder, or even sometimes preaches -- yes, it is sometimes reported that such men are frequently guilty of vulgar, corrupt, profane speech. What a shame! It is shameful that any one should profane the name of our Creator. It is unthinkable that one who claims to be in His family, redeemed by the blood of Christ, professing to serve Him and honor Him should be guilty of taking His name in vain.
Profane speech is useless. There are about 400,000 words in the English language. What a reflection upon one's intelligence that he cannot choose enough of these to express himself without cursing!
Those members of the church who are guilty of profanity should repent. Those who have sinned publicly should want to, as far as possible, counteract their evil influence - and hence, upon repenting should want all to know of their repentance. They should confess their sins, make known their repentance and ask their brethren to pray with them and for them, that they may be forgiven.
Those guilty of profanity should reform. The practice should be ceased. Repentance should be followed by reformation.
Let us all be careful of our speech. "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man" (Col. 4:6). Let us heed such teaching - that we may please our God and wield a better influence on those about us.
Religion Is Not The Problem
Larry Ray Hafley
Skepticism scoffs at faith and lays the ills of
the world at the feet of religion. The scoffing, scorning skeptic says that most
of the world's wars are created by "religious" people contending for
their god. Do away with the false concept of a divine being, rid people's minds
of such ignorance, superstition, and blind devotion, and the world will be a
safer, less volatile place.
For once, I agree, at least in part, with the skeptics! No, of course, we cannot deny the Creator of heaven and earth. However, false religion and false rituals, in the name of false gods, have created havoc and heartache. What about "the Crusades"? Weren't they fought by "Christians," by the authority of Christ? No, for Jesus said, "My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here" (Jn. 18:36). Did the religion of Christ create the cruelty of the Crusades? No, "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal" (2 Cor. 10:3, 4).
False priests, preachers, and prophets may have started wars and created human misery, but to condemn all religion because of impostures is parallel to the man who refuses all medical treatment because a "quack" doctor made him feel worse. A crooked lawyer must not be used to define the usefulness of worthy counsel.
True faith is not the problem. It is the solution, the only solution. The frightening belligerence of barbaric, religious men does not discredit God and godliness. Rather, it shows the need for truth and righteousness. A denial of God and his word does not solve the problems of this world. If God were eliminated from all faith and all Bibles were burned, there is not a single sordid, sinful thing that would be abolished. The darkness would only deepen. (And, if it did, why would it matter? If there be no God, there are no rules. So, why gripe and grumble? Why is it wrong to kill and to pillage and plunder if there be no God? If there is no God, I may kill you with as little concern as I would swat a mosquito.)
What these present, perilous times reveal is that we need more, not less, of "the words of truth and soberness." Yes, false religion has brought us mayhem, murder and massacre. But, beneath the blood stained banner of the Prince of Peace, it is his pure religion that alone can give us hope for our hearts and rest unto our souls.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
HOW MUCH DO YOU WANT TO GO TO HEAVEN?
Scripture Reading: Matt. 16:21-27
1. Matt. 16:21-27 - Peter's reaction reflects human efforts (intentional or not) to remake the plan & will of God to satisfy ourselves while still thinking to receive divine blessings.
2. Human adaptation of the divine will violates God's will & invalidates God's blessings! - v. 23 - Devise of Satan! (cf. Gal. 1:6-10)
3. v. 24-26 - Self-denial the proper response.
4. How much do you want to go to heaven?
I. ENOUGH TO NOT MAKE THIS WORLD YOUR HOME? - Heb. 11:9-10, 13-16
A. Materialism - Matt. 16:26; Lk. 12:13-21; Jas. 5:1-6; Lk. 12:13-21 (cf. Matt. 19:22)!
B. Lusts Of The World - 1 Jno. 2:15-17; Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Ths. 4:3-8;Matt. 6:22-24;Lk. 18:9-12 (Gen. 3:6).
C. Pursuit Of Pleasure - cf. Lk. 12:19; Eccl. 9:7-10; Eccl. 2:1-2; Lk. 12:20 (Phil. 4:4; Matt. 6:19-21)
II. ENOUGH TO BE A LIVING SACRIFICE? - Rom.12:1-2
A. Being A Spiritual Sacrifice Includes:
1. Worship - Jno. 4:23-24.
2. Bible study & obedience - 2 Tim. 2:15.
3. Every type of service - 1 Pet. 5:5 (Gal. 6:10).
B. Using Our Body As A Sacrifice - 1 Cor. 6:19-20.
C. Give Your Life? - Heb.11:32-40
III. ENOUGH TO REMAIN LOYAL TO TRUTH? - Jno. 6:67-68
A. Religious Compromise Is In The Air (Rev. 2:14-16); Gal. 2:3-5; 2 Tim. 4:2-4 (1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Pet. 5:8-9; 1 Jno. 5:4).
B. Self-Inspection Must Be Constant - 2 Cor. 13:5 (Matt. 7:21-27; Heb. 5:8-9).
WHERE WOULD YOU FIT IN?
Scripture Reading: Acts 13:44-52
1. Everyone looks for a church where they "fit in."
2. Should carefully consider the criteria we use for such assessments, which includes assessing congregation (Rev. 2-3) & ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5).
3. Paul's 2nd journey (Acts 15:40-18:22): Reactions to gospel in every city. Where would you fit in?
I. PHILIPPI? "Then the multitude rose up together against them..." - Acts 16:22
A. The Charge: "These men...do exceedingly trouble our city...." - 16:20-21.
B. Opponents Of The Truth Will Rise Up Against It & Its Followers Today - Phil. 1:15-16, 27-30.
II. THESSALONICA? "But the Jews who were not persuaded, becoming envious...(and) set all the city in an uproar..." - 17:5
A. The Jews Boiled With Jealousy, Hatred & Anger - 17:4 (13:45); 17:3, 5-6; Eccl. 4:4; 1 Pet. 2:1-2; Prov. 14:30; Tit. 3:3-5 (Jas. 4:5).
III. BEREA? "...they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day..." - 17:11-12
A. Their Noble Character Seen In Their Approach To The Gospel - Jas. 1:21; 2 Cor. 5:9; Psa. 34:1-2; Jno. 5:39-40; 2 Tim. 2:15.
IV. ATHENS? "For all the Athenians...spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing." - 17:21
A. A Humanistic Desire - 17:18-20, 32.
V. CORINTH? "...for I have many people in this city." - 18:10
A. People Who Would Stand For God & With The Servants Of God - cf. Rom. 11:4-5.
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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