Published by:
Mt. Baker church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker Hwy · Bellingham, WA 98226

Volume VI, Number 27 - October 20, 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:


"Ye Have Heard That It Was Said..."

Jim McDonald


Six times in Matthew Five Jesus says, “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time” or “it was also said,” verses 21, 27, 31, 33, 38, 43. In each instance after giving what was said, Jesus adds, “But I say unto you...” These added words by Jesus are intended to be a contrast, but a contrast between Jesus and whom? Does He contrast what the law said with that which He said or is He contrasting what the Pharisees said (the teachers of the law) with what He said? Does it matter who or whom it was Jesus was contrasting His teaching with?

In the first option (Jesus VS the Law) one sees Jesus preparing the people for a new law versus the old. In the second option (Jesus versus the Pharisees) another idea prevails. That idea is that Jesus, by saying “but I say unto you,” was setting forth the true spirit of the law as contrasted with the external form as taught by the Pharisees; not contrasting His doctrine with that of the law. In this thesis Jesus sets forth nothing distinctively different from what the law taught. According to this philosophy, He calls the people back to the spirit and tenor of the law which the Pharisees had ignored and left. Is THIS the proper approach to the subject matter Jesus deals with?

Jesus did have problems with the Pharisees. One only need read His searing reprimand of them in Matthew 23 to see the great chasm between Him and them. And, it is apparent that in this sermon Jesus condemns the self-righteousness of these teachers, warning His disciples they must have a different spirit if they would enter the kingdom of haven. 

Yet, while Jesus charged the Pharisees with hypocrisy (Mt. 23:3); making void the word of God by their traditions (Mt. 15:6); and binding grievous burdens upon the people (Mt. 23:4), it is also worthy to notice that Jesus said, “The scribes and Pharisees sit on Moses seat. All things whatsoever they bid you, these do and observe, but do ye not after their works for they say and do not” (Mt. 23:21). His principal grievance with the Pharisees was that through their traditions they set aside the law they taught rather than an actual defacing of the law itself.

     Are we are to say then, that when Jesus said, “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time,” that Jesus had the Pharisees in mind who as teachers had corrupted the law Moses gave? I think not. How could we say such when each passage in which the Lord said, “Ye have heard that it had been said to them of old time,” is EXACTLY what the law did say?

     “Thou shall not kill”; “Thou shall not commit adultery”; “Whosoever shall put away his wife...” ; “Thou shalt not forswear thyself”; “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Dt. 5:17; Ex. 20:14; Dt. 24:l; Lev. 19:12; Ex. 21:24). The only one of the six which is not an exact quotation says, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor and hate thy enemy,” and yet this is a representation of the spirit of that law for while the Law said, “Love thy neighbor” (Lev. 19:18), God’s instructions to the nation to drive out the Canaanites and to make no covenants with other nations does translate into “Hate thy enemy.” None of these six quotations was a twisting or wresting of what the law said, nor some perversion the Pharisees had made of the law. It was not what the Pharisees said that is the contrast Jesus makes; it was what the law said which Jesus contrasts His teaching with.

     One thing that must not be forgotten as one studies this part of Jesus’ sermon on the Mount is that the law was given to a physical nation and designed to regulate their physical behavior. In such a case the law could enforce no punishment for the attitude and spirit of its subjects so long as those attitudes did not lead them to a violation of its precepts.

     It could hold no man responsible as guilty of a criminal act such as hatred, so long as that hatred did not cause him to murder. It could punish no lustful man who did not commit adultery, it could hold no man responsible for his disposition to vow, so long as he kept his vows. But, Jesus’ kingdom is spiritual, a spiritual law for a spiritual people. And, unlike a nation with national laws, God can AND will hold a man liable for hatred, as well as murder, for lusting, as well as adultery, for holding a man accountable for divorcing his wife and her subsequent adultery in her marriage to another man. Jesus’ statement “Ye have heard that it was said” and then “But I say unto you” is a contrast of Jesus’ teaching with what the law taught preparing His people for His law to come.

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


What is Denominationalism?

Scripture Reading:  1 Corinthians 1:10-13


   A.  Denominations Are Sects, the Result of Division.

      1.  To denominate - “The act of naming; a class or kind having a specific name; a religious sect” (Webster’s);  To distinguish by a name.

      2.  A part, party, segment; Based on division.

    B.  The Nature of Denominationalism Shows It Does Not Produce the Church of the NT – Gal. 5:20-21; Eph. 4:4-6.

    C.    Attempt to Justify - Jno. 15:1-8.


  A. It Promotes Division – 1 Cor. 1:10-13.

  B.  It Redefines the Church.

  C.  It Denies the Importance of the Church.

  D.  It Consents to the Choices of Men Above the Word & Will of God - Jer. 10:23; Prov. 16:25; Isa. 55:8; 2 Kgs. 5:11;  1 Kgs. 12:26-30.

  E.  It Is Built upon Man’s Sincerity Rather Than God’s Absolute Truth - Acts 23:1; 26:9.

  F.  It Ignores the Divine Standard of Unity, the Truth of God -Jno. 17:17, 20-21; Mt. 7:21-23

  G.  It Approves Making Laws Where God Has Not Made Them - Gal. 1:6-9; Col. 3:17.

        1.     Creeds of men vs. inspired word of God - 2 Tim. 3:16-17.  [

        2.     Ex.  Sprinkling vs. burial (Rom. 6:4; Col. 2:12)…Which is right?!

  H.  It Elevates Man’s Desire Above the Lord’s Stated Will - Matt. 28:18.


  A.  Due to its Nature, the Church of Christ is Not a Denomination.

  B.  The Church of Christ is Not a Denomination Because…

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


The Social Gospel

Scripture Reading:  1 Samuel 8:4-9

1. We will see that the social gospel an invention of the wisdom of men - 1 Cor. 2:5; Gal. 1:6-10.
2. "Social gospel" is not a NT - 1 Pet. 4:11.
3. Social Gospel defined.

   A. Spiritual in Nature - Jno. 18:36; Lk. 17:20-21; Rom. 14:17.
   B. Built Through Gospel Preaching - Matt. 16:18-19; 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 2:1-5; 1 Ths. 2:11-13.
   C. Christ's Purpose: Save Sinners From Their Sin - Matt. 1:21; Lk. 19:10; 1 Tim. 1:15.

   A. Social Reform Through Social Activism (classic social gospel).
   B. The Social Gospel Adopted & Adapted by Churches of Christ.
      1. General benevolence.
      2. Church-sponsored social activities
      3. Social Gospel as a tool for evangelism.
   C. The View is That the Church Should Provide for the "Whole Man." (Ex. "Bridges to the World")

   A. Misunderstands Nature of the Kingdom.
   B. Misinterprets the Purpose of the Gospel: Salvation from Sin - Rom. 1:16-17.
   C. Misconstrues Work of Local Church - 1 Tim. 3:15.
   D. Mistakes Individual Action for Church Action.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)


Skunks Stink, and So Does Sin!
Joe R. Price

As if we didn’t know it already, a recent internet survey of this nation’s noses confirm it:  skunks have the worst odor of all!  Skunk stink garnered the most disdain of 59.7% respondents.  Other disgusting odors were rotten eggs (47.2%) and dirty diaper bins (45.1%).  Dairy farms came in with 31.6%.  The survey was conducted by AOL and Renuzit.

Did you know God says some things stink to Him?  The Lord uses the sense of smell to teach us spiritual lessons.  Wherever there is moral and spiritual decay a putrid aroma permeates the air!  If the smell of a skunk gets our attention and makes us avoid its path, how much more ought we to have noses sensitive to the stench of sin so as to avoid it! 

In Isaiah 3:24 the worldly, ostentatious immodesty of the women of Jerusalem is judged and condemned by the prophet of God.  Instead of their perfumed scent lingering, a stench would radiate from them as the Lord brought His judgment upon their sins (Isa. 3:13-26).  Truly, when God’s people live in sin it is a stench in God’s nose!

In Joel 2:20 the Lord describes the removal of an invading heathen army from Israel.  As God drives out the invaders the “stench” and “foul odor” of its morally dead carcass fills the air. 

While the odor of sin is repulsive, the smell of humble and faithful sacrifice is a “sweet savor” to the Lord.  Leviticus and Numbers is filled with this phrase as it describes the effect of Israel’s offerings unto Jehovah.  Just as the sacrifice of Christ was a “sweet-smelling aroma” before God, so too is the Christian’s offering of a life of love (Eph. 5:1-2).  Again, as Christ’s gospel is preached there is a “diffusing the fragrance of His knowledge in every place”  (2 Cor. 2:14).  “The fragrance of Christ” thus fills the world; an “aroma of life” to those who are being saved, but an “aroma of death” to those who perish (due to their rejection of the gospel, 2 Cor. 2:15-16).

How does the gospel smell to you?  And, how do you smell to God?

Created by Chuck Sibbing.  11/23/2002

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

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