Volume VI, Number 30
In this issue:
Just before He went to the cross, Jesus prayed for the disciples of that day and for us. “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21). Our faith is based on the word of the apostles, which they gave as directed by the Lord (Rom. 10:17; 1 Thess. 2:13), so, that payer includes all of us.
Yet, in this country today there are over 400 denominations, each one claiming to follow Christ, but distinct and different from all the others. Many seem to feel that situation is fine, but please note that Jesus prayed for the exact opposite. Instead of saying, as many do today, “Each can follow the faith of his choice and join the church of his choice,” Jesus prayed for unity. The whole system of denominationalism is based on division, which directly opposes the Lord’s prayer.
To be one in Christ we must submit to the same authority — that of Jesus Christ. He said, “All authority has been given unto Me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18). This is the One who said, “I will build My church” (Matt. 16:18). This is the same Lord who “added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). Now, really, if we submit to the authority of Jesus Christ, what church will we be in? He never offered a choice of ways to reach heaven. He said, “I am the way, and the truth and the life: No one comes to the Father, except through Me” (John 14:6). We cannot do it “our way” and expect to reach heaven! We must do it “His way” by submitting to Him and His will.
Still some seem to feel that being religious is enough, that it doesn’t matter in what church we worship. But Jesus addressed this very point: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matt. 7:21-23). To refuse to do the will of the Lord is to refuse salvation, for Jesus is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Heb. 5:9). No one can be a member of any denomination by the authority of Christ, for He never authorized any denomination. With regard to “other faiths,” the Lord still says, “Come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord” (2 Cor. 6:17).
-The Proclaimer, August 2002
good deal has been said of late about brethren “biting and devouring” one another. To be sure, the warning given us by the Spirit of God through the apostle Paul deserves our strictest observance: “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!” (Gal. 5:15) At the same time, it may be that we incorrectly identify as “biting and devouring” that which is approved by God and which ought to be supported by the people of God. How can we tell the difference? We want to “approve the things that are excellent” (“distinguish the things that differ”, ASV footnote) that we “may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:10). So, must properly apply the warning while not unjustly accusing the innocent. How can this be accomplished?
To understand and heed this warning we should note that “biting and devouring” is a work of the flesh (“an opportunity for the flesh”, Gal. 5:13, 20-21) that violates the royal law, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14; cf. Jas. 2:8). We must crucify the flesh with its passions and lusts, including the temptation to bite and devour (Gal. 5:24). At the same time, we can legitimately conclude that what the Spirit of God supports and approves in the arena of contending for the faith is not the “biting and devouring” of Galatians 5:15 (cf. Jude 3; Gal. 5:16-18). This ought to help us distinguish what is indeed “biting and devouring” and what is not.
False teachers bite and devour the innocent with their false teachings. One form “biting and devouring” takes is false teaching (cf. Rom. 16:18). This is exactly the context in which Paul issued his warning. With their doctrine of binding circumcision the Judaizers put a yoke upon the brethren (5:1-6). Their false teaching hindered obedience to the truth and troubled the saints (5:7, 10). Left unopposed, the infectious error of false teachers permeates and contaminates souls (5:9). Thus, Paul and others opposed their error with the gospel (Gal. 2:4-5). For that, some wrongly regarded Paul as their enemy (Gal. 4:16; 5:11). The real enemy is the one who advances error, for error devours the soul!
Paul was not guilty of “biting and devouring” when he severely rebuked false teachers for their false teaching. Paul said, “I could wish that those who trouble you would even cut themselves off” (mutilate themselves, Gal. 5:12). Would we scold and blame Paul for his approach in dealing with the Judaizers: “we agree with what Paul said but not with how he said it”; or “that Paul is just biting and devouring his brethren!” No, no, dear brethren. Paul was serving his brethren through love as he exposed and rebuked the false teachers (see Gal. 5:13, 6; 4:16). [And please remember, He wrote by inspiration (1 Cor. 14:37)
It is not “biting and devouring” to pointedly expose and rebuke error with the truth of the gospel. “‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith” (Tit. 1:12-13). Is it wrong to slander, to falsely accuse, to maliciously smear the reputation and character of another? Of course it is (another form biting and devouring takes, Eph. 4:31-32).
We must be able to distinguish between “biting and devouring” (sin) and the justified rebuke and piercing exposure of error using divine truth (Gal. 4:16; Eph. 4:15; Heb. 4:12; 12:6). Unless we can tell the difference we may likely “call evil good, and good evil”; error will find refuge, truth will be discounted, and souls will be devoured by the devil (Isa. 5:20).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Forgiveness: A Sign of Real Love
Scripture Reading: Romans 5:6-11
can & should be expressed in many ways (1 Jno. 3:18). One such expression of
love is through forgiveness.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 1 John 1:1-7
1. Fellowship vitally important –1 Jno. 1:7, 3-4.
2. We can understand it and properly apply it – 1 Jno. 5:20; 1 Cor. 1:9; Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:
I. DEFINING FELLOWSHIP.
A. Fellowship is Spiritual Participation or Association - Acts 2:42; Phil. 1:5; 1 Jno. 1:6-7.
** Never applied to social events (meals, halls, etc.) in NT..... (1 Pet. 4:11)
B. Fellowship is Joint (mutual) in Nature – 1 Jno. 1:7; Gal. 2:9-10; Phil. 4:15. -2 Cor. 6:14-18-
C. Fellowship With Other Christians Results From Being in Fellowship With God - 1 Jno. 1:1-3; Jno. 17:20-21; Acts 9:26-28; 1 Pet. 2:17; 2 Jno. 9-11 (reverse is true, too!); cf. 3 Jno. 5-8.
II. THE STANDARD OF FELLOWSHIP & UNITY AMONG CHRISTIANS.
A. Does Doctrine Affect Fellowship Among Us, or Should There Be Continued, Ongoing Acceptance of Brethren When Doctrinal Error is Being Taught &/Or Practiced? (1 Tim. 6:3; 2 Tim. 1:13) 2 Jno. 9-11 (Rev. 2:20-23).
B. Fellowship is Not Based Upon:
1. Good intentions - Prov. 16:25; Matt. 7:21-23.
2. Personal relationships - Eph. 5:7-11, 6.
3. Unity in moral & doctrinal diversity - Gal. 2:1-5, 11-14; Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10, 13.
4. Difficulty of the subject - 2 Pet. 3:15-16 (Jno. 8:31-32).
C. Fellowship is Based Upon The Doctrine of Christ - 2 Jno. 9-11; Jno. 14:23; 1 Jno. 2:3-6; 4:1-3, 6.
D. We May Scripturally Extend Fellowship (Gal. 2:9) When It Does Not Cause Us To Share In:
1. Teaching error - Rom. 16:17.
2. Practicing error - Eph. 5:11.
3. Endorsing error - 2 Jno. 10
The Jake Porter
If you haven’t read or heard about Jack Porter and his touchdown in the final seconds of his high school football game, you should (http://www.herald-dispatch.com/jakeporter/JakePorter.htm). His touchdown didn’t win a championship; it didn’t even win the game. But, it has won the hearts of thousands of people, and rightly so.
Jake was born with Chromosomal Fragile-X, the leading cause of inherited mental retardation. But, this 17-year old Northwest High School player from McDermott, Ohio, has taught us all something about the human spirit. And, so has his family, friends and peers.
Jake’s team was behind 42-0 with 5 seconds left in the game. His coach and best friend, Dave Frantz, called time, went across the field to Derek DeWitt, coach of the Waverly High School team. Jake got the handoff, hesitated, then with the coaxing of teammates, ran through the line – untouched – for a 49-yard touchdown. His coach had only wanted him the other team to let him take a knee – Waverly’s coach – and team – opted for sportsmanship over a shutout. The story has gripped southern Ohio and beyond. I urge you to read more about Jake on the link above – my space limits me from giving you complete details.
There are, however, some good lessons we can learn from Jake, this young man who cannot read and can barely write his name:
1) Use whatever abilities you have. The Lord expects it of us (Matt. 25:14-30; Lk. 12:48). Jake does.
2) Never give up. Jake has been on the football team for 3 years. He has never run with the ball (he took a knee in one other game), or made a tackle. But he was always at practice (football, basketball, track); always in class; always ready to try. How easily do we give up with far less obstacles before us? Let us not grow weary while doing good (Gal. 6:9).
3) Don’t be a complainer. Jake is never heard to complain about his life - A good lesson for every one of us (Jno. 6:43, 61; 1 Cor. 10:10).
4) The power of influence. Jake is one of the most popular kids in his school. Why? Not because of sympathy, but because of his indomitable spirit. How we deal with life influences those around us (cf. Matt. 5:14-16).
5) Sportsmanship is still important. Kindness to a neighbor; showing respect for others instead of winning at all cost” - these lessons are learned from the team that could have tackled Jake, but didn’t; from the coach who put Jake into the game and from the coach who said, “let him score”. We need more of that spirit in this “dog eat dog world (cf. Matt. 7:12).
6) The value of friendship. Jake has many friends because he is a friend to many. We can do a better job of being friends to others (Prov. 18:24; 17:17; Lk. 10:29-37). We can all learn from Jake Porter.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/23/2002
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ,