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published by

Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy · Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume VI, Number 18 - August 18, 2002

"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)

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

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 In this issue:


Religious Debate:
Pulling Down the Strongholds of Satan

Joe R. Price

      Religious debate is an entirely scriptural means of persuading the lost to repent and obey the gospel of Christ.  We need not take time here to rehearse the many occasions in the New Testament when noble discussion exposed error and exalted truth, leading to the salvation of souls.  Jesus, Stephen, Paul and Barnabas are among the New Testament examples of honorable debate (Matt. 21:23-27; Acts 6:8-10; 15:1-2; 17:1-3).  Those who conclude that religious debate “does no good” or “does more harm than good” should take up their complaint with the Master.  (If it is not a good thing to debate, why do some debate the value of debate?)

      Like anything else, the nobility and honor of religious debate is reduced to disgusting diatribe when men elevate themselves rather than the truth of the gospel.  We make no defense here of such profane efforts to defend that which is high and holy.  Just as we do not ban preaching because a few preachers abuse their use of the pulpit, neither shall we ban debating because a few debaters do the same (cf. Phil. 1:15-17).

      Let me hasten to say that sometimes the defender of truth is accused of wrongful behavior in debate, not because he has in fact been belligerent, but because the sting and power of truth is more than some can stomach.  Some brethren become squeamish when the force of truth is applied to error.  They apologize to the false teacher for the gospel preacher’s “method” of debate, thus unwittingly giving the false teacher a measure of comfort and confidence.  How else shall truth be contrasted with and exalted over error except to fully expose its faults and failings with the light of truth (Jno. 3:19-21)?  When, in religious debate, one exposes error with truth and forcefully appeals to those in sin to abandon their error he is not “abusing them”.  Such is an effort to “pull them out of the fire” while earnestly contending for the faith (Jude 23, 3).  There is a legitimate place for the mockery of an Elijah or the sarcasm of a Paul in the exposure of error (1 Kgs. 18:27; Gal. 5:11-12).  The sword of truth slays the false doctrines of men:  a necessary work in order to save the lost (cf. Jer. 1:9-10).  We commend every debate and debater who does this work of God.

 The motives for religious debate

     Christians are at war against a host of spiritual enemies.  We cannot ignore the “good fight of faith” or escape the controversy it brings (Lk. 12:49-53; Jno. 16:33; 1 Tim. 6:12).  The apostle said For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5).  Consider the emphatic nature of the NIV translation here as it describes the weapons of our warfare:  “…they have divine power to tear down strongholds.  We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Cor. 10:4-5, NIV).  Religious debate is a vital use of spiritual weapons to tear down the strongholds of Satan.

      Here, then, is a fundamental motive of and reason to engage in religious debate:  the defeat of the strongholds of error which exalt themselves against the truth of the gospel.  Souls will be eternally lost if left in the darkness of false teaching.  For this reason the apostle reasoned from the Scriptures with the Jews in Thessalonica, “explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ’” (Acts 17:2-3).  He presented the Scriptural evidence for his message and then appealed to his audience to reject error and accept truth.  This is religious debate at its finest.  Have we lost the will to engage in and/or support similar debate in our day?  Evidently, some have (except when it comes to debating against debate!).

      Our motive for religious debate must be to persuade the lost with gospel truth so they can repent and be saved.  Such work will also protect the saved from falling into error.  Paul and Barnabas publicly engaged the Judaizers in Antioch with these worthy objectives in mind:  And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you” (Gal. 2:4-5; cf. Acts 15:1-2).

 The dangers of religious debate

     One temptation we must guard against in debate is the mentality of winning and losing.  The goal is not to “win” – it is to win souls for Christ!  The temptation to “win an argument” can blind us to our gospel mission.  NT debaters did not view debate as an intellectual exchange of mental prowess, but as an opportunity to seek and save the lost (Acts 17:16-32).  So must we.

      A similar danger in debate is the urge to obtain personal victory over the antagonist.  Personal vindication must never be in view when we debate the gospel of the cross.  When the focus of debate becomes the man rather than the message it has entered a dangerous and dreadful arena.  Keep the focus on the gospel and its power and persuasion, not upon the exoneration of self (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12).

      Renown and recognition must not be one’s motive for public, religious debate.  The gospel debater is not “looking for a fight” so he can “flex his muscles”.  The best debaters I have observed are meek men, yet bold in proclaiming and defending the truth of the gospel (1 Pet. 3:15).  We must be wise in the gospel – not in the wisdom of men (Matt. 10:16; 1 Cor. 2:1-5).  The defender of truth relies upon the power of the gospel, not the power of his reputation, to persuade men.

      We must not presume to call into question the debater’s motives.  Some quickly assign disingenuous intentions to most every man who publicly debates the word of God.  “He is just out to make a name for himself” is heard in the absence of credible evidence.  Such carnal tactics divert attention away from the word of truth which ought to be heard and thoughtfully examined (Acts 17:11-12).

 The value of religious debate

     Honorable debate sets truth in bold relief against error (Acts 6:9-10).  It persuades honest hearts to repent and obey the gospel (Acts 17:4).  It is of great value as it calls sinners to repent of error and obey the truth.  And, debate strengthens and edifies the people of God (Jude 3-4).

      There was a time when debating truth was held in honor among God’s people.  It should always be so.

You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS


You Can’t Go To Heaven!

Scripture Reading:  2 Cor. 5:1-11

1.  Sadly, some people can’t go to heaven.
  a. Not because of God - 1 Tim. 2:4 (2 Pet. 3:9).
  b. Because of their own sin – Ezek. 18:4, 20; Isa. 59:1-2; Rom. 1:20; 3:23; 6:23.

2.  Nobody goes to heaven by accident!  2Tim.4:7-8

-You CanNOT Go to Heaven IF YOU DO NOT…

·   Become a Christian!

 1.  How? -Jno. 8:23-24; Lk. 13:3, 5; Rom. 10:9-10.

 2. Redemption from your sins - Rom. 3:24 (Matt. 20:28); Eph. 1:7; Rom. 6:3; Acts 22:16.

·   Live by Faith – 2 Cor. 5:7.

-Faith is inseparably connected to how we live (Heb. 11:1-16); Anchors our hope & expresses our love for Christ (1 Pet. 1:3-9).

·   Do the Will of the Father – Matt. 7:21; cf. Jno. 5:30; 6:38.

 1.  Give up your will - Prov. 14:12; Jer. 10:23.

 2. Your objective: Do God’s will in all things – 2 Cor. 5:9 (Jno. 8:29); Rev. 22:14.

·   Strive to Enter Heaven – Lk. 13:24.

 1. Strait way – Matt. 7:13-14.

 2. Forcefully pursue entrance – Lk. 16:16.

 3. Righteous saved with difficulty (strenuous effort) - 1 Pet. 4:17-18.

 4. Remove every obstacle - Heb. 12:1-2.

·   Live Righteous & Holy Life – 1 Pet. 1:13-17.

    1.  Crucify the flesh – Gal. 5:24. 

    2.  Do not love the world – 1 Jno. 2:15-17.

·   Set Heaven as Your Goal & Live for Heavenly Things – Col. 3:1-4; Phil. 3:17-21.

    1.  Endure to the end – Matt. 10:22; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Rev. 2:10.

    2.  Establish & keep right priorities – Lk. 12:31-32 [unselfishness - Lk. 16:19-25 (12:15-21)].

    3.  Make every sacrifice necessary to serve Christ – Lk. 9:23-26.

  --You CAN go to heaven (Jno. 14:1-3).  Will you?

You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS


The Promise of His Coming

Scripture Reading:  2 Peter 3:1-13

1.  In OT, “day of God” a day of wrathful judgment on wicked – Zeph. 1:14-17; Joel 2:28-32.

2.  2nd coming of Christ – 2 Pet. 3:4, 10, 12.

3.  Reality, events, effects & results of His return.

 I.  THE REALITY OF THE 2nd COMING – 2 Pet. 3:1-9.

  A.  Inspired Testimony Has Been Given To Convince Us Of Its Certainty - 3:1-4; Matt. 25:31-33; Acts 1:9-11; 1 Ths. 4:16; 1 Pet. 1:7; 1 Jno. 3:2.

  B.  God’s Past Judgments Against Sin Should Also Convince Us That He Will Keep His Promise & Come To Judge Sin-3:4-7

  C.  Certainty of His Coming Not Nullified by the Passing of Time - 3:8-9,15 (Psa. 90:4).

 II. EVENTS, EFFECTS & RESULT OF THE DAY OF THE LORD (What will happen & how we should react) - 3:7-13.

  A.  Some Of Its Events – 3:7-12:

    1.  Ungodly judged & punished - 3:7.

    2.  Repentant saved – 3:9; 2 Ths. 1:10.

    3.  Destroy the present world – 3:10-12 (3:7).

  B.  Some Of Its Effects – 3:11-12:

    -Motivates holy, godly lives – 3:11-13; (cf. Acts 26:20); 1 Pet. 1:15-17; Matt.25:30.  Unholy, unproductive lives will be punished!

  C.  The Result of the Day of the Lord:  A New Order Will be Ushered in for the People of God – 3:13 (Isa. 65:17; 66:22); Rev. 21:1.

      1.  Heavens & earth (place of habitation).

      2.  A new habitation will emerge (1:11):

      a. Pre-flood (3:5); post-flood (3:7); the church (Eph. 2:22; 1 Cor. 15:24); eternal kingdom (Rev. 21:1-3).

      b. New - “Where righteousness dwells.”  (3:7)



Be Sure Your Sin Will Find You Out

Joe R. Price

      Humberto Perez of San Antonio, TX, bragged on “What is Your Biggest Lie?” (a talk radio show) that he had gotten a new truck after lying to his insurance company that his truck had been stolen.  Perez now faces up to five years in prison if convicted of mail fraud.  (Reuters, 8/16/02)

    Sin can be that way, too.  Just when we think we have “made a clean get away”, the truth of our sin comes crashing down on us.  Moses, when warning against disobedience said, “be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23).  Indeed.

     The sons of Jacob could not hide from God their sins against their brother Joseph.  When the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack Judah said, “God has found out the iniquity of your servants” (Gen. 44:16).  Truly, God had known their sin all along.  But now, the weight of their sin began to bear upon Judah and his brothers.

     David tried to conceal his sin, and it appeared he had succeeded (2 Sam. 11).  “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Sam. 11:27).  When Nathan said, “You are the man”, David could hide it no longer.

     The apostle affirms that “some men’s sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later” (1 Tim. 5:24).  Although for a time we may hide them from men, we will never be able to hide our sins from God.  Instead of unsuccessfully trying to hide our sin we should confess them all to God that He might heal us.  I said, “LORD, be merciful to me; Heal my soul, for I have sinned against You” (Psa. 41:4).

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