Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
The Mt. Baker church of Christ
(1860 Mt. Baker Highway, Bellingham, WA)
invites you to our
Bible lessons presented
nightly at 7:00 PM
The gospel of Jesus Christ is God’s power to save sinners (Rom. 1:16). Since every person has sinned against the will of God, everyone needs the salvation from sins that the gospel offers (Rom. 3:23).
Bobby Holmes will be preaching the message of salvation from the Bible this week, and we invite you to hear God’s word with us. God will save those who believe the “message of the cross,” and that is why it will be preached in this gospel meeting (1 Cor. 1:18, 21). We hope you will join us as we hear the things God has prepared for us in His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 1:1-2; Acts 4:12).
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The denominational, religious world has long held a doctrinally false view of this most beautiful subject. Now, the same false view is being “peddled” by some who claim to be preachers of the Gospel. In a nutshell, the denominational concept of grace is that of a “blanket” covering of man’s sins, without obedience on his part, due to the perfect righteousness of Christ. A sort of strange “fog like” thing that prevents God from seeing our sins and imperfections. Because of the perfect righteousness of Christ, this “grace” serves as sort of an “umbrella” between God and man so that God only sees our good. This false doctrine has led some to totally reject any kind of works of obedience and a strong movement for “unity” with those who teach and practice false doctrine both in and out of the Lord’s church. One of the most popular writers today, and one who claims to be a Gospel preacher is Max Lucado. While most of those who hold the false position on grace that he holds have not gone as far away from Truth as he has, the seeds are being sown for the same kind of “harvest”.
An article appeared in the Dallas Morning News on Saturday, November, 1998 about Mr. Lucado entitled “The Grip of Grace.” It began by telling a time worn joke.
“A guy goes to heaven, St. Peter give him a tour, stopping at room after room of various believers: Baptists here, Methodist there, and Catholics over yonder. Tiptoeing past the last room and shushing the wide-eyed newcomer, the great saint whispers: And there are the Church of Christ folks. They don’t think anybody else is here.”
It’s an old one but, Max Lucado still laughs because he knows as well as anyone the Church of Christ’s no-one’s saved-but-us reputation. He’s a Church of Christ minister, after all, as well as the hottest Christian writer around.
And he believes that there really are Baptist, Methodist, and Catholics in those other rooms. ...... People in the pews, even many preachers ( in the church of Christ, brh), have begun to regard professing Christians down the street as the real thing. Even if they sing their hymns with organs. Even if they take Communion quarterly rather than weekly. Even if they were sprinkled rather than dipped.
The shift in thinking that’s under way is momentous, born of tensions loosely paralled to those who have racked the Southern Baptists for 20 years. The shift isn’t something that Mr. Lucado started. He does embody it, however.”
The article goes on to say:
“If Mr. Lucado, the minister of the Oak Hills church of Christ in San Antonio, lacks the hard edge often associated with his tradition, it isn’t for lack of exposure. He grew up in it. He was baptized at the Parkview Church of Christ in Odessa, Texas, when he was 10. But, “I don’t think that a lot of the more strict teaching ever became a part of my DNA,” he says.
One of the strictest is the belief that baptism--by immersion and for the forgiveness of sins- -is an act that saves the soul. As much as he cherishes baptism, Mr. Lucado says, “we are saved by grace.” “Baptism is a response to God’s gift, not a way to earn God’s gift.”
In an article Lucado wrote that was published in Wineskins, Jan. 1993, he stated:
“I have brothers...with whom I do not agree on the role of women, the meaning of baptism...But our uncommon ground is a barren island compared to the great continent of common ground we share. If we can agree on the...Christ, don’t we share enough to accept one another? ...Fellowship is not found in common opinions but in a common savior.”
My dear readers, these are but a small sampling of the error taught by men versus the teaching of God on the subject of grace. Grace has indeed been defined: “Unmerited Favor” of God. He prepared the “Scheme of Redemption” whereby man can be saved through the sacrifice of Jesus as He shed His blood on the cross and our obedience to the terms of God’s grace. That grace of God that brought salvation to mankind is revealed in the Gospel of Christ.
Consider the following points:
· Man becomes lost when he transgresses God’s law. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).
· Animal sacrifices could not redeem man. “But in those sacrifices there is a reminder of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:3-4).
· Jehovah God provided a perfect sacrifice in His Son. “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).
· Jesus bled and died as He gave His life for man. “Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out” (John 19:32-34). “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9). “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).
· When one hears this Gospel message (“Good News”), believes it, Repents of his sins, Confesses his faith in the Redeemer and submits to the Command of the Gospel to be Baptized into the death of Jesus (Where the blood was shed), he Receives the Remission of Sins! “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5).
· This is revealed through the Gospel and is thus called the “Gospel of the Grace of God.” “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and theministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).
Yes, we are saved by Grace (unmerited favor of God) when we obey the Gospel (“Good News”) of God’s plan of salvation for man. Note again our beginning passage, Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Now, let us look at the very example of these Ephesians being saved by God’s grace. “And it happened, while Apollos was at Corinth, that Paul, having passed through the upper regions, came to Ephesus. And finding some disciples he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ So they said to him, ‘We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ So they said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ Then Paul said, ‘John indeed baptized with a baptism of repentance, saying to the people that they should believe on Him who would come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” (Acts 19:1-5).
If man wishes to be saved by the Grace of God, he must be saved the same way the Ephesians were saved! Don’t be fooled by a perverted kind of “grace” that is not Grace at all! Are you willing to be saved by the Grace of God? If so, you must obey the conditions of that Grace.
Last Sunday night our men’s business meeting agreed on a procedure to follow in announcing, considering and appointing men to oversee this congregation as elders. Names of men were first set before the business meeting and then the entire church for consideration. It was agreed that a two-week period of consideration and discussion with these men commence at that time. We are now one week into that period, and the Lord willing, next Sunday this church will have qualified elders shepherding it. I urge each member here to use this time prayerfully and wisely.
As we are in this process and proceeding toward the appointment of elders, an important question should be set before us: What do you think about when you hear the word, eldership? What is the first thing that comes into your mind? Do you think of disqualifying a man? Of trouble? Of taking sides? Of battles? Of division? Oh brethren, Satan rejoices over such confusion.
Something far better should possess our minds on this matter. Should we not picture our Savior, girded with a towel with water basin in hand, washing the disciples feet? In humble service the Creator and Master of all things has given us “an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (Jno. 13:15). When we think of elders, should we not think of service to the people of God? Peter, who many years later would himself serve as an elder, objected at first: “Lord…you shall never wash my feet” (Jno. 13:6, 8). But Jesus assured him that he would come to understand what was being done (Jno. 13:7, 12-15). This stirring example of the towel-draped Christ is a fitting backdrop to what elder Peter wrote, “all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility” (1 Pet. 5:5).
When we think of elders we should think of service to the Lord and to His people. The flock belongs to God; the elders are His shepherds over it (1 Pet. 5:2). An eldership that is doing its work is girded with the towel of humble service, not a display of superiority as “lords” over the flock (1 Pet. 5:3).
The nature of Christ’s kingdom is rooted in service. At the very moment His disciples were disputing among themselves who should be considered greatest, the Master washed their feet (Lk. 22:24-27).
When elders (and all Christians) do the will of our Master in heaven, they have only done what it is their duty to do as unprofitable servants (Lk. 17:10). The eldership is not a place for self-seeking glory, but for dutiful service (1 Pet. 5:2).
Pray for this church and for these men. It is the Lord’s work that we mean to do, and He is the one to be exalted in all things. When the Chief Shepherd appears, faithful elders, along with faithful Christians, “will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away” (1 Pet. 5:4; 2 Tim. 4:8). For the servant, that will be enough.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA