Mt. Baker church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker Hwy · Bellingham, WA 98226
Volume VI, Number 28 - October 27, 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:
Joe R. Price
As we drove into the parking lot of the Seventh-day Adventist Church we noticed the marquee quoted Proverbs 17:14: “The beginning of strife is like releasing water; Therefore stop contention before a quarrel starts.” This was refreshing to see, and so noted by brother Steven J. Wallace in his opening remarks of the debate on Sabbath-keeping. Religious debate need not be a contentious quarrel, and this one was not. Indeed, when properly conducted, debate will not be such. Instead, it is an open door for the proclamation of the gospel of Christ (Acts 14:1-3; 17:2-3; 1 Cor. 16:9).
Such were both the expectation and outcome of the two night debate last Monday and Tuesday (Oct. 21-22, 2002) in Forest Grove, Oregon. The attitude and attention of the audience was commendable. Their demeanor was exemplary and conducive to profitable Bible study. Brother Steven J. Wallace of Sunnyside, WA, capably presented and defended the truth that Sabbath-keeping ended with the death of Jesus. He showed that Christians are not obligated to keep the Sabbath day by observing the old covenant has vanished away (Jer. 31:31-34; Heb. 8-9); that the entire law of Moses was nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14); and that Christians are dead to the law that said “you shall not covet” - the 10 commandments, which included the Sabbath command (Rom. 7:4-7). He demonstrated that Jesus fulfilled the law and prophets, thus removing their binding authority over men (Matt. 5:17-18; Lk. 24:44).
Brother Wallace correctly showed that the Sabbath command was made known to Israel at Sinai and that it was not given to all men from creation as taught by Adventists (Deut. 5:2-3; Neb. 9:14). And, he subsequently showed the Sabbath command was a shadow not bound upon anyone under the gospel of Christ, for the law which contained it was only “added” to the Abrahamic promise “till the Seed should come”, thus abolishing the authority of the “tutor” (Col. 2:16; Gal. 3:16, 19, 23-25). With “great boldness of speech” our brother showed from Scripture “the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” was “taken away in Christ” (2 Cor. 3:7-14).
Honorable debate has a place in contending for the faith (Jude 3). Those who reject the value and usefulness of religious debate, describing it as negative and destructive to the cause of Christ, ought to change their thinking and practice. The gospel made great progress in the first century through the fearless and faithful confrontation of error with truth (Acts 6:7-10; 14:1-3; 17:1-4, 10-12; 19:8-10). The gospel will continue to progress as faithful servants of the cross engage error and champion truth, whether “from house to house” or via the public arena of debate.
The following words were written by Alexander Campbell in 1830. They are as relevant today as they were then:
“If there was no error in principle or practice, then controversy, which is only another name for opposition to error, real or supposed, would be unnecessary. If it were lawful, or if it were benevolent, to make a truce with error, then opposition to it would be both unjust and unkind. If error were innocent and harmless, then we might permit it to find its own quietus, or to immortalize itself. But so long as it is confessed that error is more or less injurious to the welfare of society, individually and collectively considered, then no man can be considered benevolent who does not set his face against it. In proportion as a person is intelligent and benevolent, he will be controversial, if error exists around him. Hence the Prince of Peace never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while he lived. He drew it on the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away.”
Recently I heard a sermon preached by brother Brian Price at the Woodmont congregation in Fort Worth, TX. His lesson was entitled “The Politically Incorrect Gospel.” In his sermon, he noted that no matter what is preached, someone will potentially be offended.
To illustrate his point, he turned to Genesis 1:1. He read the first four words, “In the beginning, God...”, and stopped. He noted that he had just offended the athiest, who denies that God exists. He read one more word, “created,” and noted that he had offended the evolutionist. He also noted, correctly, that a simple reading and affirmation of the Genesis account now offends some brethren as well.
Imagine living in an age where if we defend the simple creation account against those who advocate the earth evolved over billions of years, we offend our brethren and are castigated for exposing the error.
Imagine living in an age where if we defend Jesus’ plain teaching concerning divorce and remarriage (cf. Matthew 19:9) against those who teach error, we offend brethren and are castigated for our efforts.
Imagine living in a time where if we admonish brethren who are dressing immorally, drinking socially, gambling, and generally lowering their moral standards to where they are nearly identical to the world, we offend brethren, and are castigated for upholding the sanctity of our calling.
Imagine living in a time where if we mark the false teacher, convict the gainsayer, expose the errorist, we offend brethren and are castigated for “contending for the faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Imagine living in a time which is characteristic of the warnings given by the Apostle, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned
own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Imagine that if we fulfill Paul’s command for action in that scenario, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (vs. 2), we offend brethren and we are castigated for our efforts to rebuke and exhort.
Actually, it is not necessary to imagine such a time, as we are in such a state today. In response to such apathy and tolerance of sin we must continue to preach and defend the truth against error and sin.
Christians who do so will offend others. Exposing sin is what got our Savior killed. “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God” (John 3:19-21).
Brethren will castigate us for characterizing any Christian as an evil doer or false teacher. However, time and again such were named in the New Testament. Those who are walking unworthily deserve censure. “Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.” To do less would be to do too little. As in any age, we must preach the truth in love, regardless of who we may offend. “Let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4).
Sound Teaching.org, October, 2002
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Defending the Indefensible
AM Scripture Reading: Psa. 119:121-128
Liberal: “not restricted to the literal meaning; free and unconfined” (Webster). Liberalism is going beyond God’s word or otherwise changing God’s prescribed rule (2 Jno.9).
I. A “NEW HERMENEUNTIC” HAS CHANGED THE WAY MANY IN CHURCHES OF CHRIST ESTABLISH, APPLY & VIEW BIBLE AUTHORITY.
A. In the Bible: Direct Statement, Approved Example & Necessary Inference (Acts 15).
B. A New Hermeneutic Has Surfaced Which Rejects This God-Approved Way Of Establishing & Applying Bible Authority.
-“Our hermeneutic is therefore theological and Christocentric;” “Whatever love for God and man dictates, is the law of God for the church.”
C. The Result – 2 Tim. 4:3-4; 3:13.
II. ARE YOU REALLY AN “ANTI”?
A. The Charge: We are Against Churches Cooperating in Benevolence and/or Evangelism.
B. We Are Not Against Scriptural Approved, Church Cooperation, But We Are Against All Forms of Church Cooperation Which Do Not Conform to The NT Pattern!
III. LIBERALISM SAYS: “THERE IS NO PATTERN FOR THE LOCAL CHURCH’S WORK IN BENEV. & EVANGELISM.”
A. NT Pattern for Work of the Local Church.
1. Preaching – 1 Ths. 1:8; Acts 11:22; Phil. 1:5-7.
2. Edification – 1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 4:11-12.
3. Benevolence – Acts 6:1-6; 2 Co 8-9; 1 Tim. 5:16.
B. Local Church All-Sufficient For Its Work.
IV. LIBERALISM SAYS: “WHATEVER THE INDIVIDUAL CHRISTIAN CAN DO THE CHURCH CAN DO.”
A. Liberalism Fails to Distinguish Individual & Church Action - Gal. 6:10; Jas. 1:27.
B. A Distinction Exists in Scripture: Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Tim. 5:16; cf. Acts 11:22.
V. LIBERALISM SAYS: THE LOCAL CHURCH SHOULD PROVIDE BENEVOLENT RELIEF TO SINNERS AS WELL AS SAINTS.
A. The Compassion of Jesus – Matt. 4:23.
B. 2 Cor. 9:13: “Churches Relieved the Needs of Saints & Sinners. “
VI. LIBERALISM SAYS THE LOCAL CHURCH MAY BUILD / SUPPORT HUMAN ORGANIZATIONS TO DO ITS BENEVOLENT & EVANGELISTIC WORK.
A. Church Support of Benevolent Organizations Such (i.e., Orphan’s Home – Jas. 1:27.
B. Sponsoring Church Arrangement.
1. Evangelism - Phil. 4:15-16; Acts 18:5; 2 Cor. 11:8.
2. Benevolence – Acts 11:27-30; 12:25 (Gal. 1:18-24; Acts 26:20).
C. Church-Provided Social & Recreational Activities – Acts 2:44-45; 1 Cor. 11:17-22 (34).
1. Liberalism takes one away from the word of God & thus, away from God (2 Jno. 9).
2. The Bible pattern for the work & organization of the church is revealed & secure in the pages of inspiration (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
3. “Buy the truth and do not sell it, Also wisdom and instruction and understanding.” (Prov. 23:23; Col. 3:17)
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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