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THE SPIRITíS SWORD

published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy ∑ Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume V, Number 52 - March 24, 2002

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


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 In this issue:


Abiding With Christ

Joe R. Price

To "abide" means to remain, dwell, stay or continue, and suggests a place of residence where one tarries. One may abide in a particular location: "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved" (Acts 27:31); or one may abide in a particular relationship to a person or thing: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me" (Jno. 15:4). Consider these relationships in which we are to abide as disciples of Jesus.

We must abide in Christ: "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me" (Jno. 15:4). If you are not "in" relationship with Christ you cannot abide in Him. We enter a saved relationship with Christ when by faith we are baptized into Him (Gal. 3:26-27). But that is only the beginning. The Christian must remain in Christ or in his barrenness he is cast off like so much withered branches destined to be burned (Jno. 15:2, 6). Be fruitful in every good work (Col. 1:10; Gal. 5:22-23).

We abide in Christ as His words abide in us: "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (Jno. 15:7). If Christ's words do not dwell in us, then we do not dwell in Christ! "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Col. 3:16). We must maintain a relationship of submissive obedience to the word of Christ or we do not have a relationship with Christ. How sad to see people convince themselves they have a relationship with Christ while they are not obeying His word! (Lk. 6:46)

We must abide in the doctrine of Christ: "Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son" (2 Jno. 9). Those who object to "doctrine of Christ" meaning the teaching that belongs to Christ should take a close look at John 15:7 (see above). The words of Christ are His doctrine, and we must be in His doctrine and His words in us or we are out of relationship with Him.

We must abide in His love: "If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love" (Jno. 15:10). It is true that Jesus loves all men. It is equally true that we do not love Jesus if we are not keeping His commandments: "If you love Me, keep My commandments...He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves me...If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word;" (Jno. 14:15, 21, 23). We do not truly love Jesus if we do not obey Him. And, without loving Him we will not be saved, for it is those who have "loved His appearing" who will be crowned on the day of judgment (2 Tim. 4:8).


No Social Stigma Attached

Larry Ray Hafley

Scripture says that righteousness exalts a nation (Prov. 14:34). A nation's power is not in its military might, its munitions and missiles, but in its righteous character (Prov. 16:12). No country should fear when principles of truth and righteousness light its way in the world. No matter how great the threat, no nation will be overturned if it rests upon the rule of merciful justice and moral judgment (Cf. Gen. 19; Jonah 3:5-10; Isa. 5:7, 24, 25; Jer. 6:16, 17).

Wickedness is a moth to the fabric of a nation's principles. Injustice and iniquity are termites to the inner structure of a country's character. Neither nuclear bombs flown and flung from afar nor horrific mass murder from within will destroy a nation. While those items may be the final, external cause, they alone do not destroy a nation.

I fear for our country. Why? Because, like Israel in Jeremiah's day, our nation has very little "social stigma" left. It used to be that many were restrained from gross immorality and from heinous sin by the taint and stain of society's indignant reaction against such actions. Now, though, many dark deeds, which once brought certain community condemnation, are now approved and applauded. The approval and glorification of sexual sins--homosexuality, fornication (unwed couples living together), adultery, leaving one's mate for another and expecting and receiving the acceptance of one's community of friends--these were once unthinkable choices. Yes, they occurred, but those who committed such sins suffered the social stigma that went with such decisions. No longer.

"Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall: at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith the Lord" (Jer. 6:15).

Today, our society will not punish brash and brazen whoredom. Rather, it rewards and praises those "Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things" (Phil. 3:19). From Rock Hudson to Elizabeth Taylor; from Elton John to Michael Jackson, from Ellen DeGeneres to Rosie O'Donnell, the filth and off scouring of the world are honored as they delight in their debauchery.

A "virgin" is a taunting word of shame, hurled at junior high girls and boys with contempt. Immodest, indecent, alluring dress, designed to be sexually attractive, is regarded as "fashion," not as a contributing factor to sins of passion. Toleration and "respect" for the "rights" of others to indulge their sins is to be granted without protest. We must allow "gay rights" advocates to state their case in school auditoriums and education classes, but we must not permit anyone to say that such behavior is perverse, nor permit a posting of the ten commandments. We may pass out condoms to students and show them how to use them in sex education courses, but we must not tell them that sexual relations before marriage is wrong and sinful.

Smoking today is suffering "social stigma." It is no longer "cool" or "mature and adult" to be posed as a smoker. The same used to be true of many actions. Fewer and fewer sinful things cause one to suffer the shame of societal rejection. One hundred years ago, Oscar Wilde, an English writer, was stigmatized when it was discovered that he was homosexual. For the next fifty years, very few English boys were named, "Oscar." Such was the effect, the social stigma attached to such sin. Sadly, this is not the case today.

We cannot rely on the power of social disapproval. At times, we are socially marked and stigmatized for standing for righteous principles. This is not a new thing. The apostles suffered it (1 Cor. 4:9-13). They warned that by living godly lives and rebuking ungodliness that we would be seen as "strange" (1 Pet. 4:4).

Ultimately, however, the stigma of heaven will be pronounced upon all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men in eternal judgment and destruction. At that same time, those who were seen as "weird" in their righteousness will "be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ" (1 Pet. 1:7).
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The Sacrifice of Jesus

Scripture Reading:  1 Peter 2:18-25

Intro.
1. Sacrifice of Jesus supreme example of acting under "conscience toward God" (1 Pet. 2:19).
2. 1 Pet. 2:18-24: Requirements of such faith.
3. 1 Pet. 2:21 - Jesus' sacrifice is our example.
4. What did Jesus sacrifice for us? What are we to sacrifice for Him?

I. JESUS SACRIFICED HEAVEN'S GLORY.
 A. He Emptied Himself Of The Glory, Honor & Majesty of Deity - Phil. 2:6-8; Jno. 17:5; Isa. 6:1-5; Jno. 12:37-41; Matt. 17:2; 2 Pet. 1:16-18.
 B. Christians Are To Sacrifice Glory & Honor For His Sake - Jno. 12:42-43; 17:1, 4; Phil. 2:5, 8.

II. JESUS SACRIFICED COMFORT - 2 Cor. 8:9.
 
A. The Life of Jesus Was Difficult, Demanding & Dependent Upon Others.
  1. His birth & first years - Lk. 2:7; Matt. 2:14-15.
  2. A carpenter by trade - Mk. 6:3.
  3. His years of ministry - Lk. 9:58.
  4. Rejected by his brothers - Mk. 3:21; Jno. 7:5.
  5. Sustained by the charity of others - Lk. 8:1-3.
B. Christians Are To Sacrifice Comfort In Order To Follow Jesus - Lk. 9:57-62; Matt. 6:25-34; Heb. 11:24-25. cf. Apostles - 1 Cor. 4:8-14.

III. JESUS SACRIFICED JUSTICE.
 
A. He Was Not Treated Fairly: He Was Despised, Rejected, Oppressed & Humiliated - Isa. 53:3-8; Jno. 1:10-11; 15:25; Acts 8:32-33.
 B. Christians Must Sacrifice the Approval Of Others in Order to Follow Christ - 1 Pet. 3:13-18 (Matt. 10:34-37; 1 Pet. 4:4; 3 Jno. 9-10); 2 Tim. 4:16-17.
Conclusion
Eph. 5:2 - The sacrifice of Jesus was an expression of complete love; Matt. 5:29-30 (Lk. 9:23).


Blasphemy Against The Holy Spirit and Sinful Remarriages

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 12:22-32

I. THE HOLY SPIRIT UPON JESUS: A MARK OF MESSIAHSHIP - Isa. 42:1-4 (Matt. 12:15-21).
 A. "Could This Be The Son of David"? - Jno. 20:30-31; Matt. 12:22-23 (Isa. 61:1-2 -- Lk. 4:18)
 B. The Pharisees Rejected This Evidence, and Their Rejection Blasphemed the Holy Spirit - Matt. 12:24; Mk. 3:22.
 C. Jesus Demolished Their False Charge - Matt. 12:25-30.
 D. The Depth of Their Problem: Blasphemy Against Holy Spirit - Matt. 12:31-32; Mk. 3:29-30.
 E. Putting Oneself into a State of Continual Sin & Perpetual Rejection of the Power of God Produces "Eternal Condemnation" (no forgiveness).

II. FORGIVENNESS NEVER AVAILABLE?
 
A. Some Brethren Teach Forgiveness is Never Possible Once Blasphemy Against the HS Occurs - Rev. 9:20-21; Acts 19:18-20; Rom. 1:16; 10:13; Ezek. 18:4, 23, 32.
 B. A Blasphemer Against The Holy Spirit Who Was Forgiven: Saul of Tarsus - 1 Tim. 1:13 (Acts 26:9; 7:58, 51; 8:1); Acts 22:16.
 C. Practicing Sin, No Forgiveness - Rom. 6:1-2 (1 Jno. 5:16-17).
   1. The blasphemer who persists in his blasphemy.
   2. The drunkard who persists his drunkenness.
   3. The polygamist who persists in his polygamy.
   4. The adulterer who persists in his adultery.
 D. Repentance & the Nature of Sin (Lk. 3:8-14) - Rom. 6:1-4, 11-12.

Conclusion
1. God's word never approves forgiveness in spite of one's sin (while continuing to practice sin).
2. God's word never withholds forgiveness from the sinner who truly repents of his sin!


NOTEWORTHY NEWS

(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Religion in America after 9/11
Joe R. Price

We have observed that often it is when man finds himself in trial and trouble that he turns to God for comfort and solace. While it is not wrong to do so, the point is has been made that too often that is the ONLY time many turn to the Almighty!

The events of 9/11 were certainly one such occasion. We do not disparage those who have turned heavenward over the past six months. We are heartened by every sincere search for God, and along with the apostle we urge all to "seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us" (Acts 17:27).

But, indications are emerging that indicate the "flash in a pan" problem. "Religion was in the air after Sept. 11 in a way that hadn't been the case for a long time and may not be the case for a long time in the future," said Andrew Kohut, director of the center. "I've never seen such a dramatic change disappear so quickly." ("Roll of Religion Grew, Then Fell", Will Lester, AP News, 3/20/2002). Poll results released this week show that religion's role in America life, which spiked with the terrorist events of 9/11, is now on the decline. Or, at least how American's perceive that role is changing. The AP story noted:

"Polls taken near the end of the year showed more than three-fourths of the public felt the influence of religion on American life was increasing. The poll released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press showed that more than half - 52 percent - now think religion's effect is in decline - about the same number who felt that way a year ago." (Ibid.)

We can take some lessons from all of this if we will. (1) Calamity is an occasion for seeking after the Lord, but from such times we must learn to seek after Him every day. Nineveh cried unto the Lord for mercy when judgment was certain, and He showed mercy. But their repentance was short-lived. Within about 150 years Nineveh was destroyed. While "the Lord is slow to anger and great in power" He "will not at all acquit the wicked" (Nahum 1:3). Nineveh fell back into sin and fell before the mighty justice of God. (2) We must endure to the end to be saved (Matt. 10:22). The Lord is not looking for zealous flashes in the pan which quickly extinguish. He is looking for the embers of zealous faith which glow with constant devotion and service (Rom. 12:11). (3) We must strive for "pure and undefiled religion" which serves the weak while remaining pure from the sinful stain of the world (Jas. 1:27). Seeking God while serving the world will always be a futile endeavor.


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

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