In this issue:
The prophet Jeremiah described the fallen spiritual condition of God’s people as backsliding: “The LORD said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: "Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot…Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also…” (Jer. 3:6, 8).
To “backslide” means just what the word implies, to go back to a prior state or condition. The English word “backslide” is used here to translate a Hebrew word which means “turning away, turning back, apostasy” (Brown-Driver-Briggs’), the root word of which means “to turn back (hence, away)” (Strong’s Hebrew Lexicon). Israel had turned away from her God to idolatry and immorality. She had fallen away from her God, and the Lord acknowledges that fact.
Yes, God’s people can fall away despite the doctrines of men that deny it. Backsliding is a departure away from the faith (gospel) of Christ, from the fellowship one has with Christ and from the grace of God enjoyed in Christ (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1; Gal. 5:4). The word of God is filled with warnings to Christians against falling away from the living God (Heb. 3:12-13; 1 Cor. 10:12).
To backslide necessarily implies one has previously been somewhere or in some other condition than which now exists. The Christian has been cleansed from his old sins by the blood of Christ (2 Pet. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Acts 22:16). When a Christian backslides it does not mean that he was never saved, but that he turns back to sin and is again entangled in it:
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Pet. 2:20-22)
Every Christian should hear and heed these warnings. They do not indict God’s power to save; they warn us of our ability to be deceived by sin and error to the destruction of our souls (Heb. 3:12-13).
I present a challenge to you, kind reader.
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1)
This was the challenge that was circulated and pressed among those in the first-century. Sometimes it was uttered with sternness, other times in heart throbbing fear and tears, but all the time in love for truth and fellow man. My challenge to you is simple. With your Bible in hand, interrogate, question, test your preacher. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 Jn. 4:1). “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies. . .” (2 Pet. 2:1).
My hope is that you will value the freedom found in truth more than the friendships with men. Perhaps we have viewed false teachers as rude, nasty men who when they speak the veins in their neck swell and bulge; their lips drip with rabid saliva; they snarl; their teeth gnash and from which spew words immersed in lewd, cruel orations condemning Christ, calling down God and castigating the Bible? False teachers do not come with a label on their forehead stating that they are such. Neither do they portray themselves as “antichrists.” The apostle taught that they “transform themselves into ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15). They are usually polite and cordial individuals who just like to suggest an “opinion” in place of God’s word. They slip a little error in with a lot of truth. They gently advocate improvement on the inspired message and divine order. False teachers are usually gracious and courteous—often until they are tested.
In the Old Testament, false prophets were put to death if their message contradicted God’s word, even if their signs came to pass! Read Deuteronomy 13:1-5. Please note that I am NOT suggesting that you do bodily harm to anyone. I am just asking you to test your preacher. If he is of truth, he will gladly entertain your questions and allow his message to be examined. If he is of truth, he will correct his false views when presented with Biblical evidence that contradicts his position. He will remain loyal to Christ and defy human creeds.
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
1) Why do you want us to call you “Father” when Jesus forbids such as a religious title (Matt. 23:9)?
2) Why do you permit men to call you “Reverend” when that word is found only one time in the Bible and is used exclusively for God (Ps. 111:9, KJV)?
3) How can women be gospel preachers when the gospel forbids such (see 1 Tim. 2:12)?
4) Why do you preach, “He who believes is saved and should later be baptized” when Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized shall be saved”? See Mark 16:16 and Acts 22:16.5) Why do you teach to keep the Sabbath holy when it was given only to the Jews and not to the Patriarchs or the church (Deut. 5:2, 3, 12; Hosea 2:11; Col. 2:14-17; Eph. 2:14, 15)?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Created for Good Works
Scripture Reading: Psalm 63
Good works are not the source of our salvation – Eph. 2:8-9.
I. GOD CREATES US (SAVES US) IN CHRIST SO WE MAY WALK IN GOOD WORKS – Eph. 2:10.
A. God Defines the Good Works We are to Walk in – Heb. 13:21; 2 Tim.
3:16-17 (Jno. 6:27-29).
II. IN ORDER TO WALK IN GOOD WORKS WE MUST BE:
A. Be a Pattern of Good Works – Titus 2:7; cf. Phil. 3:17; 1 Tim.
1. God has prepared good works for all who are in Christ – Eph. 2:10; Heb. 13:21.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Journeys of the Apostle Paul - #4
Scripture Reading: Acts 14:21-28
I. ANTIOCH: SEPARATE BARNABAS & SAUL FOR A WORK – Acts 13:1-4.
A. Teaching the Gospel: Serving the Lord – Acts 13:1-2 (1 Cor. 3:5).
II. THEIR PREACHING JOURNEY:
A. The Route (chart). “Paul” (13:7) now named 1st (13:2;
14:43); John Mark was assistant (13:5) who departed (13:13; 15:38).
III. THE POWER OF GOD ON DISPLAY: THEY PREACHED THE WORD OF GOD – Acts 13:5 (Rom. 1:16).
A. The Power of God to Reveal & Confirm His Word (Acts 15:12).
IV. WORK COMPLETED – 14:26-28.
A. Had Been Kept in God’s Grace – 14:26.
Battlegrounds in the 'War on Error'
In the aftermath of deadly bomb attacks against British citizens and interests in Istanbul, Turkey this week, President Bush said Friday that Turkey had become a battleground in the “war on terror.” “Terrorists have decided to use Turkey as a front,” Bush told reporters during his visit to Britain. “Two major explosions. Iraq is a front. Turkey is a front. Anywhere the terrorists think they can strike is a front.” (Brian Williams, Reuters, Fri November 21, 2003 03:20 PM ET) We should continue to pray for our governing officials “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim. 2:2).
Just as there is a real “war on terror” in our world, there is a real “war on error” being waged in the kingdom of God (Eph. 6:12; 1 Tim. 6:12). Causalities of this war are numbered, not by the physical but by the spiritual loss of life (1 Pet. 5:8; Phil. 3:17-19). The weapon that is victorious in this war will not be bombs; it will be the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). With this mighty weapon God’s soldiers cast down arguments and self-proclaimed knowledge that opposes “the knowledge of God” by bringing the thoughts of men into submissive obedience to Christ (2 Cor. 10:4-5).
There are many fronts in the “war on error,” not the least of which is fought for the human heart. Whether or not the law of God is written on one’s heart is fundamental to victory in Christ (Heb. 8:10-12; 10:16-17). If we expose our hearts to doctrinal and moral error we invite the enemy to defeat us (1 Pet. 5:8; Jas. 4:7-8). We must “hide” God’s word in our hearts to prevent and avoid sin (Psa. 119:11). Devotion to divine truth is tantamount.
Just as in the war on terror, “anywhere the ‘errorists’ think they can strike is a front.” The fronts in the “war on error” include both the far-left of “inclusivism” (loosing where the Lord has not loosed) and the far-right of “intolerance” (binding where the Lord has not bound). Just as surely as unity in moral and doctrinal diversity is false, so too is a “unity” that requires submission to the opinions and speculations of men. Truly, Romans 14 is in the New Testament to help us fight the “war on error” on this second front. There, Christians are instructed to receive each other in the practice of personal liberties (14:1-5). Romans 14 does not teach us to accept error; we are to contend earnestly for the faith against such (Jude 3). But, unless we can discern the difference between a “thus saith the Lord” and personal liberty, our enemy will breach this front in the “war on error” and many souls will be lost.
The “war on error” is real. Christ has enlisted us as soldiers in His army (2 Tim. 2:3-4). Soldiers of Christ, arise!
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/24/2003
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA