"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
There is no dispute that we need to study and learn God’s word, the Bible. Without study we will not understand what we read (Acts 8:30); we will not grow in the knowledge of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:18); we will not increase in personal faith (Rom. 10:17); we will not be able to “carefully follow” the doctrine of Christ (2 Tim. 3:10); we cannot be good teachers of the word (Heb. 5:12-13); and we will not be able to discern good from evil (Heb. 5:14). We are all instructed to “give diligence” to be approved before God by rightly dividing the word of God (2 Tim. 2:15, ASV). There is no substitute for deliberate, dedicated Bible study (1 Tim. 4:13-16).
Regrettably, some people are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). This is not because they lack the capacity to learn. According to the text, it is because they are “loaded down with sins” and “led away by various lusts” (2 Tim. 3:6). When one surrenders himself to unholy motives and ungodly conduct he will not be anxious to learn the truth found in God’s word. This person has already made up his mind – don’t confuse him with the facts. To study and learn what God’s word teaches about his life would expose his sin to the light of divine truth and rebuke him for it (Jno. 3:19-21). It is tragic, but true, that some people like the darkness because “their deeds are evil” (Jno. 3:19).
Each of us should study God’s word with the purpose of helping us to examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). Is my heart “in the faith” in its character, its motives and its goals? How will I know unless I compare my heart to what the Bible says my heart should be (see Col. 3:12-14)? If my heart is not what it should be in the sight of God, my conduct, however righteous it may appear to men, is merely a façade that will not stand in the day of judgment (1 Cor. 4:4-5; 2 Cor. 5:10). When our heart is pure, our conduct will be holy (Matt. 5:8; 1 Jno. 3:2-3). Better to know that now so one can repent, than to rush headlong into hell.
So, when you study the Bible, do so to first help yourself. You will then be better equipped to teach and help those who are still held in the bondage of sin (Matt. 7:1-5; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). By doing so, God will be honored as you are “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9; Eph. 3:21).
We must preach the cross of Christ, or our preaching is vain (1 Cor. 1:17-25; 2:1-4; 15:1-5; 1 Ths. 2:4). Some say that to preach on doctrinal topics (such as the organization and work of the local church, marriage, divorce and remarriage, and even the necessity of water baptism for salvation) is not preaching Christ. That conclusion is misguided and not in accord with the word of God.
Preaching the cross of Christ entails the entire scope of the gospel, not just faith in the events surrounding Christ’s death, burial and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-5). True, without His death and resurrection there would be no salvation, no Christianity. Yet, it is precisely because of the cross of Christ that we have a body of inspired teaching, the New Testament Scriptures, to which we can (and are expected) to conform (Jno. 12:48; Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 3:17). For instance, without the death of Jesus Christ there would be no church. And, without the inspired record of Christ’s relationship to His church we would have an incomplete portrayal of how God expects a marriage to function (Eph. 5:22-33). Similarly, without the cross of Christ our worship would be vain. Without the cross, faith in Christ and every aspect of service to God through Him would be invalidated (Eph. 3:21; 1 Pet. 2:4-5). Conversely, because of the cross, our every attitude and action is related to it (cf. Rom. 6:1-4; Col. 3:1-11). It is a futile and unscriptural effort for men to designate some revealed truth as “core gospel” while relegating the rest of revealed, authoritative truth to the periphery of spiritual importance. One area wherein this is attempted is the use of instrumental music in worship.
A growing number of “Churches of Christ” are using instrumental music in their worship services. The record shows this has been happening for some time. Consider the words of Larry James, preacher for the Richardson East Church of Christ in Plano, Texas, from almost 20 years ago:
“Music in worship of Churches of Christ. Only a carefully refined ‘quarry-exegesis,’ having nothing to do with the heart and essence of the Gospel, can argue for a cappella music only, while insisting that instrumental music is in fact sinful. True exegesis will not support our long-held tradition. The outcome of our ingenious ‘mining’ creates a host of problems for us.” (CARE, Vol. V, 1985; cited in Behold The Pattern, Goebel Music, 131-133).
James charged that we have gone to the Bible with a predetermined point of view in order to arrive at the conclusion that only singing is approved by God. Notice he says this has “nothing to do with the heart and essence of the Gospel.” Worship has nothing to do with the gospel?! This is the “core gospel” concept and is rotten to the core! We must steadfastly stand against such judgmental, anti-scriptural assessments of Bible teaching and true worship.
Offering God the worship of song without instrumental accompaniment is not the product of “our long-held tradition.” It is not “Church of Christ doctrine” (I have had people talk about it to me in those terms). Let us state the issue clearly:
The Bible authorizes Christians to offer the music of singing in praise and worship of God. Nowhere are Christians instructed to offer the music of playing as a part of true worship. By introducing playing into worship men have added to the word of God. Such alterations of God’s word have been and always will be a sin against God (Deut. 4:2; 1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19). We must be content with what the Bible commands us to do. It is not our place to alter what God has spoken (Heb. 12:25).
In Old Testament times God’s people worshipped Him using mechanical instruments of music. The scriptures show God’s acceptance of this under the law of Moses (2 Chrn. 29:25-28). Does this mean that God accepts the offering of instrumental music by Christians today (Jno. 4:23-24)? No more than it means God approves of burnt-offerings as a part of our worship of Him. Remember, animal sacrifices were also approved and accepted by God in 2 Chronicles 29:25-28. Read the passage. To appeal to Old Testament usage of instrumental music to justify our use of it today compels one to also offer animal sacrifices to God – a practice clearly forbidden because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (Gal. 5:3; Col. 2:14-15; Heb. 10:10-12). God does not hold us responsible for obeying the Old Testament law today, and we cannot use that law to justify our worship of Him.
New Testament teaching on music in worship to God is clear, unambiguous and final in its authority. Singing is commanded of Christians (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). Singing was the practice of the early church (1 Cor. 14:15; Heb. 13:15; Jas. 5:13). Singing is what true worshippers offer Him today (Jno. 4:23-24). Human innovation introduced the use of instrumental music into worship hundreds of years after the days of the apostles (see Instrumental Music in Worship, M.C. Kurfees, pp. 143-197, for extended historical evidence).
We are not preaching Christ if our worship is corrupt (Jno. 4:23-24). Our hearts must be right with God as we offer our adoration to Him. And, our action in worship must agree with what God said He will accept. We have no right to change our worship to please ourselves. Remember Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 5:14-28
1. Daily life of Christian, Eph.
2:10; 4:1; Phil. 1:27 (1 Ths. 5:14-28).
I. GATHER THE MANNA DAILY – Exo. 16:2-4.
A. Daily Labor – 1 Ths. 4:9-12 (Eph. 4:28); Prov. 14:23 (Gen. 3:17-19; Eccl. 2:24; 3:12-13; 5:18; cf. Prov. 19:15).
II. DAILY READING OF THE WORD – Neh. 8:18; 1 Ths. 5:27 (1 Tim. 4:13; 2 Ti. 3:14-15).
A. Do Not
Quench the Spirit – 1 Ths. 5:19 (Jno. 6:8; 17:17; Rom. 1:18; Gal. 5:16-18.
III. PERFORM YOUR VOWS DAILY – Psa. 61:8.
Obligation of Vow before God, Num.30:2
IV. DAILY PRAYER – Psa. 88:9; 1 Ths. 5:17,25.
Expressions of Faith – 1 Jno. 5:14-15 (Phil. 4:6-7; Matt. 6:11; 1 Ths. 1:2;
3:10; Eph. 6:18-19).
V. DAILY WATCHFULNESS – Prov. 8:34; 1 Ths. 5:21, 6.
A. Watch for what Right & Sin – 1 Jno. 4:1 (Col. 3:17); Phil. 4:8 (1 Co. 16:13); 1 Pet. 5:8.
VI. DAILY CROSS-BEARING, Lk.9:23; 1Th.5:22
Sacrifice Self – Phil. 3:7-8 (Gal. 2:20).
VII. DAILY EXHORTATION – Heb. 3:13; 1 Ths. 5:14-15, 26.
Pursue what is Good (5:15).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Romans 14 and the Scope of Fellowship (#2)
Scripture Reading: Romans 15:1-7
Continued from last week…
II. THE PROBLEM: DISPUTES OVER CONSCIENTIOUS SCRUPLES WERE DIVIDING BRETHREN.
Strong Brother – 14:3, 10.
III. DEFINING TERMS.
IV. REMEDY: RECEIVE EACH OTHER IN YOUR DIFFERENT SCRUPLES OF CONSCIENCE.
the Contempt & Condemnation Toward One Another – 14:1, 3, 10-11.
V. AN APPEAL FOR UNITY IN MATTERS OF PERSONAL CONSCIENCE & LIBERTY – 15:1-7.
Follow the Example of Christ – 15:1-3.
VI. MAKING THE RIGHT APPLICATIONS OF ROMANS 14 TODAY.
Respect Consciences re. Liberties.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA