"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:
It’s been said that good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from using bad judgment. There is some truth to that. If only we would learn the dangers of using bad judgment, maybe we could avoid its painful (and sometimes tragic) consequences in the future. We are assisted in this by remembering that Jesus wants us to “judge righteous judgment” (Jno. 5:24).
We all need to use good judgment in our lives. Parents need to use good judgment concerning the education, safety and training of their children (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21). When Christians enter the work force they must use good judgment in several ways. Will this job help or hinder my spiritual service to God and man? Will this job place me in situations of temptation? Will this job allow me the time I need to worship with the saints and care for my other spiritual responsibilities? (1 Jno. 2:15-17; Heb. 10:25; Gal. 5:9-10) Young people will need good judgment as they develop their relationships. Good judgment is needed to choose the kinds of friends to have or the types of people they will date. Will your friends help you or keep you from obeying God? Will the boy or girl you date share your commitment to put Christ and His gospel first in life? Will he or she help you stay morally pure?
Experience can be an effective teacher to help us learn good judgment. I am not saying we must experience the depths of sin in order to learn the difference between right and wrong. I am suggesting that when we find ourselves in questionable (or sinful) circumstances because of using bad judgment, we ought to be wise enough to learn from our mistakes and change for the better. The prodigal son learned from experience that the advantages of living in his father’s house far exceeded the glamour of riotous living. By “coming to himself” he drew on his past experiences in his father’s house as well as his current situation, and made drastic changes in his life (Lk. 15:11-21). Wouldn’t it have been better for him if he had valued his father and his blessings there before wishing he could eat the slop he was feeding the hogs? Yes, but even so, lessons learned the hard way can help us improve our judgment.
We should learn from our
past experiences to put away sin from our lives (Col. 3:5-9). If you have
not obeyed the gospel and become a Christian we urge you to use good
judgment and put Christ first in your life; become a Christian. If you have
squandered your time on things that led you away from God, then use good
judgment and repent. Come back to Christ. Avoid sin and eternal death
(Eph. 5:16; 1 Pet. 5:8; 1 Ths. 5:4-8). We can develop good judgment, even
if we have used poor judgment in the past.
The Lord wants His people to dwell together in the closest of unity and harmony. This is taught in many Bible passages. In the very shadow of the cross, our Lord prayed for the disciples He then had and for all who would believe on Him through their word that they might be characterized by the same oneness which exists between the Father and the Son (Jno. 17:20-21). Jesus knew that the effectiveness of His disciples in teaching others and causing them to believe was dependent upon the unity of these disciples. He had promised them the guidance needed to be able to teach His truth, without error, and to remember, without mistake, the things He had taught them (Jno. 14:26; Jno. 16:13). Hence, any failure of His disciples to have the unity for which Jesus prayed is not due to their lack of an adequate basis for that unity, i.e., God’s word (Jno. 17:17), but will be because of the wrong attitudes, words and actions of those who profess to be the disciples of the Lord. This fact emphasizes that the matter of disunity is a serious thing. It is serious for people to conduct themselves in such a way as to defeat the prayer of the Savior.
It is thrilling to contemplate the rapid growth of the church in the first century. As the gospel was preached, thousands obeyed the Christ. On Pentecost, about three thousand gladly received the word and were baptized. Soon the number was five thousand. Thereafter, we read such statements as “believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women” (Acts 5:14), “the number of disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7) and other similar statements. Yes, the zeal of the early church in preaching the gospel and the prompt obedience of so many is, indeed, impressive.
We are no less impressed by the conduct of the disciples after their baptism. As they manifested a readiness to obey, so they demonstrated a willingness to continue. The fact that “they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42) was a contributing factor their “having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:47).
Another factor which gained for them the respect of the people was the marvelous UNITY which characterized them. Theirs was not a cold, formal sort of unity, but a real and genuine uniting of their efforts and purposes--not a “big I” and a “little you” situation, but the simple, humble “we” attitude. The inspired record ways they “were of one heart and of one soul” (Acts 4:32). Such unity gave added encouragement to the apostles and resulted in further conversions to Christ.
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). Sadly enough, we may not realize how “good” and “pleasant” unity is until such is destroyed--by the habitual, deliberate and long-practiced maneuverings of the sowers of discord, the wagging tongues of the careless, the malicious lies of callused slanderers, the conniving of some clique, the domineering of a “Diotrophes,” or some other devilish work. But, one such experience is sufficient to convince the sincere and thoughtful that it is only by being unity that we can ever hope to accomplish the work of the Lord. May such strife and disunity ever be avoided, and may genuine love, peace and harmony ever prevail among us, is the desire of every faithful heart.
If a time comes that the unity of God’s people has been destroyed and when brethren are biting and devouring one another, faithful Christians must candidly face that fact and exert every scriptural effort to remove the hindering causes and to re-establish the unity which has been destroyed. To fail to do this is to perpetuate the division and to intensify the baneful results it brings. It is no time for one to “bury his head in the said” or to “look the other way,” pretending that nothing is wrong. It is no time for one to ignore his own responsibilities and try to shift the burden to others. It is not a time for compromise, cowardice or laziness. It is a time for conviction, courage and action. To fail in this is to fail in our duty--and results in our joining with, and promoting the works of, the devil. “These six things doth the Lord hate; yea, seven are an abomination unto him: a proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:16-19). We must acknowledge the sad fact that oft-times there are some who claim to be Christians but who practice these things the Bible teaches are an abomination unto the Lord, and when they do, is any so simple as to think it does not destroy unity among the people of God? Or, that such practices are to be accepted--and they practitioners petted and pacified, as though they do no harm? Unity cannot be had by trying to appease those who sow discord among brethren. Nor can it be had by allowing them to conceal their own guilt by their efforts to accuse others, as such people invariably attempt to do. And certainly, unity can never be restored if the sowers of discord are permitted to shift the blame from themselves, make a scapegoat of some other person--whether preacher or some other--and then, brethren deceive themselves into thinking they can have peace by trampling under their own consciences to offer that preacher, or other, as a sacrifice to gratify the ungodly demands of the troublemakers! Right thinking people know this to be true--and yet, some brethren, in their eagerness for a “quick fix,” or an “easy way out,” are willing to yield to such pressures. It is no wonder that the prayer of Jesus for the oneness of disciples is so often defeated by those who claim to be His people!
Unity among brethren is a condition which, existing, ought to be maintained. Of course, such unity is to be based upon our adherence to God’s revealed truth--and necessitates lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, forbearing one another in love, etc. (See Eph. 4:1-6; James 3:13-18; Rom. 12:16-21; etc.) Praying for, living for and working for the restoration and preservation of unity is worthy of our best efforts -- both individually and collectively. How sad to be responsible for destroying the unity and harmony of the people of God! (Read again Prov. 6:16-19) Let none of us so act! Rather, let us work and pray together for close and genuine harmony and unity--and for greater diligence and faithfulness in accomplishing our God-given work. To this end may God bless us.
-PAUSE-PONDER-PROFIT, January 1993
Today is called “Palm Sunday” by “Christendom,” named in recognition of the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem and palm branches were placed on the road before him (Matt. 21:1-11). But the Bible never names any day as “Palm Sunday,” and we neither use it nor recognize such non-Biblical terms and celebrations today. The same is true of this entire week – “Holy Week” – as it is called. The Bible gives absolutely no space to a holy day – or week – leading to the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Yes, the Bible records the events of these days. But the liturgical development of “Holy Week” crowned with “Easter Sunday” is not of Bible origin. When people are content to do Bible things in Bible ways they will recognize these holy days for what they are; the traditions of men that do not constitute the true worship of God revealed and taught in the New Testament. When we speak as the oracles of God we will not be party to such traditions of men that transgress the commandment of God (1 Pet. 4:11; Matt. 15:3-9).
In the year 383 a European woman named Egeria joined a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and wrote a travel diary about the events of “Holy Week.” “According to Egeria, the ceremonies for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday were especially noteworthy” (“The Restoration of Holy Week,” Father Richard P. McBrien, Tidings Online, 18Mar05, http://www.the-tidings.com). She tells of reenactments of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, of his agony in the garden, his arrest and trial, of venerations of the cross and of Easter-day baptisms and the Eucharist.
It certainly didn’t take long for men to corrupt the simple worship of God revealed in the NT (Jno. 4:24; Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19; 1 Cor. 11:23-26; 14:26; 16:2). While millions will be celebrating “Holy Week,” we are reminded that holiness is not defined by a date on the calendar, but by divine truth that teaches us to live in harmony with the divine will (1 Pet. 1:13-17). God is honored by given Him a Holy Life – not a “Holy Week.”
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA