"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:
Invites you to our
Sept. 25–30, 2005
Monday-Friday: 7:00 PM
9:30 AM: This man is the Great Power of God
Monday: Recognizing the Tares
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
As this is being written, hurricane Rita is bearing down on the coastal plains and bayous of Texas and Louisiana. Man-made seawalls and levies will be put to the test. Will they hold? Or will the fury of the wind and the unrelenting pounding of the waves overwhelm man’s best efforts to hold back destruction and death? Historically, man has been no match for the sheer strength and power of nature’s forces.
Long ago a great windstorm arose on the Sea of Galilee, endangering the lives of those trying to reach the shore. The raging water was filling the boat and the men were terrified of drowning – all but one, that is – he was asleep in the stern. When awakened by his companions and rebuked for his apparent lack of concern – “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” – he “rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’”, and a great calm replaced the violent tempest (Mk. 4:35-41). He then reproved his disciples’ fear and challenged their lack of faith, “And they feared exceedingly, and said to one another, ‘Who can this be, that even the wind and the sea obey Him!” (Mk. 4:40-41). The God who lifts His voice to the clouds and sends out rain and lightning can also make them cease (Job 38:34-35). On that occasion, He did. Oh, the mighty hand of God!
The power to calm a raging storm indicates another power of the Almighty; His power to calm the storm of sin and save the sinner from death. God takes no pleasure in the death of sinners. He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). So, the question is, will sinners have the faith to “turn, and live” (Ezek. 18:31-32)?
Because God does not want sinners to perish, He commands that we:
1) Believe in Jesus Christ or perish: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jno. 3:14-16).
2) Repent or perish: “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3, 5).
3) Confess faith in Christ or perish: “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33).
4) Be baptized into Christ or perish: “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us…” (1 Pet. 3:21). Bible baptism is “into Christ” and “into His death” in order to be saved from sin by Jesus (Rom. 6:3; Acts 22:16).
5) Live faithfully to Christ or perish: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (Jno. 10:27-28). Jesus said, “he who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 10:22).
Will you believe and obey the commandments of Him who ordered the great storm be replaced with great peace? If so, He will command life and peace to replace the sin and death that is in your life (Rom. 6:4, 23). Safe in Christ, the tempest of sin will not overwhelm you. Obey Jesus now. Peace, be still.
On more than a few occasions it has been said that our teaching is “too negative.” What about it: Why isn’t it being negative to charge us with being negative? The glaring contradiction of such a charge reveals its purely subjective, self-comforting nature.
The word of God says, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Tim. 4:2). At running the risk of sounding negative, could it be that those who complain about the reproof and rebuke of sin have a greater love for sin that they have for truth (1 Jno. 2:15: is John being “negative” here)? Isn’t this what the apostle Paul said: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables (2 Tim. 4:3-4). What are we to do when people say “the word of the truth of the gospel” that we preach is “too negative” (Col. 1:5)? Are we to stop reproving and rebuking sin? Some do. But, Paul told Timothy to “preach the word” and to “be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry” (2 Tim. 4:2, 5). If Timothy was told to keep preaching sound doctrine when people didn’t like it and rejected it, shall we be blessed if we do any less?
We usually visit a doctor because we are sick. Do we only visit the doctor when you are sure to hear positive news about your health? No, we all go to the doctor to hear about what is ailing us – even if it is “negative,” so we can also receive the treatment we need to help heal us. When it comes to our physical health, we want to hear the “negative” news because we are willing to listen to the doctor’s recommendations and take the medicine he prescribes. We want to get better.
What about our spiritual health? Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mk. 2:17). Should we charge Jesus with being “too negative” because He talked about sin and repentance in an effort to heal sinners? Yet today, when spiritual diseases are identified and the Great Physician’s remedy is prescribed from His word, not a few say they don’t like the “negative” preaching!
The light of truth exposes sin: “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jno. 3:19). Just as an MRI or a CT scan reveals what is inside the human body, the word of God reveals what is inside our hearts and lives (Heb. 4:12). We are thankful for the “light” of modern medicine that helps cure physical disease, yet the divine light of truth that cures the disease of sin is maligned as being “too negative.” Why? Because “everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (Jno. 3:20).
The gospel of Christ heals, but it also divides (Matt. 10:34; Lk. 12:51). It gives sight and it blinds (Jno. 8:12; 9:39-41). Why? Because some do not have a “love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Ths. 2:10; Jno. 8:37, 31; 6:60-68).
The next time we get the urge to criticize the teaching of sound doctrine as “too negative,” it’s time to turn the light of God’s word on ourselves to see “whether (we) are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5).
The medicine that cures an illness may not always taste good, but the result is positive. Likewise, to identify sin and error so it can be removed is a positive thing. Negative things like sin and error must be reproved and rebuked, else sinners will not be saved (Acts 2:36-41).
100-Minute Bible? Wait a Minute!
A new version of the Bible, The 100-Minute Bible, was unveiled on Wednesday in London, England. The Rev. Michael Hinton of the Church of England is its author. Here are some descriptions of it from its author and publisher (100-Minute Press), along with some analysis from the complete Bible.
“…It summarizes every teaching from the Creation to the Revelation…”
-I guess we’ll just have to take their word for it, right? But, since “the entirety of Your word is truth,” isn’t it presumptuous to summarize God’s word and then offer it to the public as “every teaching?” (Psa. 119:160) More accurately stated, the 100-Minute Bible contains “every teaching” Mr. Hinton thinks is important (Isa. 55:8-9; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
“…ideal for an upcoming rail or aeroplane journey.”
-Are we to believe the entire Bible isn’t? (Deut. 6:6-9; Psa. 1:1-2)
“…a new way of looking at the Bible.”
-The Bible says, “Then I would not be ashamed, when I look into all Your commandments” (Psa. 119:6). We’d better be looking at the Bible in the “old” way to find the “good way” (Jer. 6:16 – I wonder if that verse is in the 100-Minute Bible).
“…written for those who want to know more about Christianity but who do not have the time to read the original Bible…”
-Those who want to know about the gospel of Jesus Christ will take the time to read and know (Jno. 7:17; Eph 3:3-4).
The 100-Minute Bible “picks out the principle stories of the life and ministry of its central character, Jesus Christ.”
-The Holy Spirit already did that in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John (Jno. 20:30-31; 21:25; Lk. 1:1-4; Acts 1:1-3). We are not better equipped with less than what the Holy Spirit gave us? (Jno. 16:13; 2 Pet. 1:3; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Rev. 22:18-19)
- (‘100-minute Bible’ is launched, CNN, USA, Sep. 21, 2005)
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA