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THE SPIRITíS SWORD

published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy ∑ Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume V, Number 51 - March 17, 2002

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


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 In this issue:


Why Were You Baptized?

Joe R. Price

The fact is, most who consider themselves Christians have experienced some form of "baptism" - whether or not in form it actually conformed to the NT pattern of a "burial" in water (Acts 8:38; Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12).

Even more varied than the unscriptural forms of water baptism are the reasons which are offered for why a person should be baptized. Why were you baptized?

If it was to remove the guilt of original sin when you were a baby, it was not Bible baptism. Jesus commands baptism of those who can "believe" (Mk. 16:16). Babies cannot do this. Baptism washes away one's sins (Acts 22:16). But babies are innocent of sin (Matt. 18:3; 19:14). Sin's guilt comes when we commit sin (Rom. 5:12). Sin is not inherited (Ezek. 18:4). Infant baptism is not from Christ.

If you were baptized because you thought you were already saved, you did not experience Bible baptism. "He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Not, "he who believes is saved and will be baptized"! If you were baptized believing you already had a relationship with Christ as your Savior, you are mistaken.

If you were baptized thinking that it was an outward sign of an inward grace, you did not experience Bible baptism. According to Titus 3:5, the grace of God is not applied to the sinner until "the washing of regeneration" occurs. This can be nothing less than the "washing of water" or new birth of water - baptism (Eph. 5:26; Jno. 3:5). Grace is received when faith obeys the Lord's commandment to "arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins" - not before (Acts 22:16).

You see my friend; we cannot be taught wrong about baptism and then be baptized right! There is "one baptism" not several (Eph. 4:5). We must each be careful and certain that we are baptized in full compliance with the authority of the Son of God as applied in His word and not by the authority of man. We beseech you: be baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of your sins.


Making Excuses

Joe R. Price

Excuses are curious things. From an early age we learn how to make them. Children can come up with some real winners! And, our excuse-making capabilities do not diminish with age. Adults often make many excuses for their behavior. I have observed two basic reasons for making excuses.

First, to hide what is really going on. That is, excuses are sometimes pretexts for a hidden agenda. In 1 Thessalonians 2:5, the word "excuse" is translated "cloak." So, an excuse can be a cloak, disguising our true motives, intentions and conduct. This type of excuse is nothing less than a lie.

Secondly, excuses are made to avoid personal responsibility for not doing what ought to be done. Sometimes we offer excuses which are designed to get us "off the hook."

In Luke 14:18-20, excuses were offered by people who were invited to a great feast, but who declined the invitation. The gospel invitation is in view, and the way people react to it (often rejecting it) is under consideration.

"I have bought a field, and I must needs go out and see it; I pray thee have me excused" (v. 18). Thus, the excuse of necessity is offered for not obeying the gospel and entering the kingdom of God (v. 15). Some people place a higher value upon the cares of this life (Lk. 8:14) than they do upon answering Jesus' call of salvation. The value and possession of earthly things simply cannot be offered as a legitimate reason for not obeying the gospel of Christ.

"I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused" (v. 19). The excuse of other obligations continues to be offered in the belief that since we have other things which "must be done," we are somehow exempt from putting the kingdom of God first in our lives. Haven't we all given this excuse to Christ at some point? In doing so, have we not failed to fulfill our responsibility toward Him? If so, let us repent of such shallow commitment to the will of God.

"I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come" (v. 20). The excuse that somehow family responsibilities outweigh our obedience to Christ continues to keep lost souls out of the kingdom of God! God does not tell us to abandon our spouse, our children, or our parents when we obey the gospel, but He does call upon us to love Him more (Lk. 14:26). Do we really believe Christ will accept our excuse that making our family happy is more important than making Him happy? Let's stop deceiving ourselves with such excuses for our disobedience!

We must stop making excuses when we disobey Christ. Instead, let us take responsibility for our failure, confess our sin to the Lord, and He will forgive us (1 Jno. 1:9). Then, we will enjoy the blessings of the kingdom of God (Lk. 14:15).

"But they all with one accord began to make excuses." - Luke 14:18


Let No One Deceive You

Scripture Reading:  2 Corinthians 11:1-4

Intro.
1. Human experience teaches us that we can be & often are misled, if not deceived - Prv. 14:12.
2. We have all been deceived! - Titus 3:3

I. YOU CAN BE DECEIVED! - 2 Cor. 11:3
  A. Satan's Craftiness Causes Corruption.
  B. Satan's Deceptions Can Be Withstood - 2 Ths. 2:3; 1 Pet. 5:8 (Jas. 4:7)

II. THINGS WHICH CAN DECEIVE YOU.
  A. The Power & Influence of Sin - Rom. 7:11; 2 Pet. 2:19; 1 Jno. 2:16; Jas. 1:14-15; 1 Cor. 5:6; 15:33; Col. 3:5-9, 12-13; 1 Jno. 2:15. 
  B. Yourself (self-deception) - 1 Cor. 3:18; cf. Deut. 11:16; Lk. 18:9-12; Prov. 16:18; 1 Cor. 3:18; Lk. 18:14; Rom. 12:3; 1 Jno. 1:8.
  C. Evil People Who Cause Division - Rom. 16:17-18; Col. 2:4; 2 Pet. 2:3; Rom. 16:17; Tit. 3:10-11.
  D. Deceitful Teachers - 2 Ths. 2:3; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; 2:1-2; 1 Cor. 14:37; Eph. 5:6; 2 Ths. 2:15 (1 Ths. 2:13).

III. GOD WILL NEVER DECEIVE YOU
- Heb. 13:5.
  A. God Is Faithful - Rom. 3:4; 1 Cor. 10:13; Psa. 43:1; Psa. 55:22-23.
  B. God's Word Is Sound (not deceptive) 1 Tim. 6:3; 1 Pet. 2:23.
  C. Jesus Will Never Lead You Astray - Jno. 14:6; 8:31-32.


Shopping For the "Church of Me"

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 19:23-30

Intro.
1. A Christian loses "self" in Christ (Lk. 9:23; 14:25-27; Gal. 2:20). Why? - Matt. 19:23-30
2. Some are shopping - 2 Tim. 4:1-5.

I. THE "CHURCH OF ME" SHOPPER IS NOT SATISFIED WITH SOUND DOCTRINE - 1 Tim. 6:3.
  A. Where People Quickly Tire of Gospel Preaching - 2 Tim. 4:2-3; Isa. 30:8-11.
  B. Where Respect For Bible Authority Has Become Foreign - Col. 3:17 (Lk. 6:46).
  C. Where People Have A Form of Godliness But Have Denied Its Power - 2 Tim. 3:1-5.
  D. Are You Shopping For Doctrine?
    1. Social gospel (1 Cor. 11:22, 34).
    2. Plan of salvation (Eph. 4:4-6).
    3. MDR (Gal. 1:8-9).
    4. Unity in doctrinal diversity (2 Jno. 9-11).

II. THE "CHURCH OF ME" SHOPPER IS NOT SATISFIED WITH THE MORAL PURITY THE GOSPEL DEMANDS - 2 Tim. 2:22; Tit. 2:11-12; 1 Jno. 2:15-17.
  A. Where People Are Deceived - 1 Cor. 15:33.
  B. Where People See Little Need For Separation From The World - 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 1 Ths. 4:7-8.
  C. Are You Shopping For Morality?
    1. Profane language/ angry exchanges - Eph. 4:29-32
    2. Immodest dress - 1 Tim. 2:9-10.
    3. Dancing - 1 Pet. 4:3.
    4. Sinful entertainment - Eph. 5:3-4.

III. THE "CHURCH OF ME" SHOPPER IS LOOKING FOR A CHURCH RULED BY COMFORT & CONVENIENCE - Lk. 9:57-62.
  A. Where Attendance At Worship Services Is Optional & Occasional - Heb. 10:24-25.
  B. Where There Is Little Personal Responsibility Toward Fellow-Christians -Gal. 6:2; 1 Ths. 5:14.
  C. Where Personal Accountability For Right & Wrong Is Not Expected - Gal. 6:5.
  D. Are You Shopping For Comfort? -Acts 24:25


NOTEWORTHY NEWS

(Current events in the light of Scripture)

The Statue Wasn't Crying After All!
Joe R. Price

Earlier this month in Messina, Sicily, it was reported (and believed by many Roman Catholics) that a statue in a square outside a local church was crying tears of blood! "Many faithful, believing the statue was shedding tears of blood, prayed and wept before it" according to Ananova News Service.

Well, now we know the statue was not weeping drops of blood. Messina Archbishop Giovanni Marra asked the local police to test the substance. It was indeed human blood. But, it did not come from the statue. "A woman told a local TV station that her son, a drug addict, had used a syringe to squirt some of his own blood on to the statue in a prank" (Ananova News Service, 3/12/02).

All of this reminds us of 2 Thessalonians 2:11: "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie" (see 2:9-12). When people "want" to believe something in spite of what the Bible teaches you can be sure they will. In such a mindset they will not be persuaded of the truth "though one rise from the dead", to coin Abraham's warning of Luke 16:31.

Those who do not retain God in their knowledge well be deceived by sin and error (Rom. 1:28, 21-23). One who does not love truth above all else will surely be deceived by error (2 Ths. 2:10).

Men deceive others, and some are willingly deceived in their sin and error. Let us not join them there. "Buy the truth and do not sell it" (Prov. 23:23). Love and live in the truth of God - not the darkness and ignorance of man (Eph. 4:17-24).


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

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