"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
Steven j. wallace
(Sunnyside & Yakima, WA)
March 26–31, 2006
Monday-Friday: 7:00 PM
9:30 AM: 2 Timothy 2:15
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Are gospel meetings advantageous in today’s world? Some brethren say gospel meetings are not useful in today’s world. The basic reason for a gospel meeting is to arrange meetings where the gospel can be heard. Is it no longer beneficial to make such arrangements? Is it no longer helpful to attend such meetings and invite others to come? The lost can hear the saving gospel and Christians can be edified in the truth (2 Tim. 4:1-5; Eph. 4:11-16; 2 Tim. 2:15). Still, some Christians complain against having gospel meetings. As you consider these typical criticisms of gospel meetings see if you detect the common thread running through each one.
1. Gospel meetings are outdated and ineffective in the modern world. This attitude leaves the impression that the gospel must be dressed up in some new way if it is to have any impact upon the lives of sinners today. This simply is not true. God's word is powerful and persuasive and able to convert the lost and strengthen the saved – today (Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12; Psa. 19:7-11). Some suggest the only way to reach souls for Christ today is to first develop personal friendships (so-called “friendship evangelism”); gospel preaching is not enough. Certainly friends need the gospel, and a friend is more likely to talk with you about the gospel than is a complete stranger. Still, it was not friendship that persuaded about 3,000 souls on the day of Pentecost to believe and be saved. It was the power of the word of God (Acts 2:40-41). The gospel, when preached, continues to save those who believe and obey it (1 Cor. 1:21).
2. A week is too long and too tiring. This is usually said by the Christian who has already decided he will not come to every worship service. Yes, to participate in any week-long activity requires a certain amount of dedication and energy. That usually means we will get tired. But, is this the best attitude we can develop when it comes to gospel preaching? Can you imagine Cornelius saying to Peter, “Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God” – just make it quick (Acts 10:33)? If this had been Jesus’ attitude toward His work of redeeming sinners would He have endured the cross or said, “That’s too demanding!”?
3. Only brethren come to gospel meetings. This is not true. The lost are saved as a result of gospel meetings. I have seen it and perhaps you have, too. Maybe this criticism hides a more troubling picture: perhaps the lost do not come because we do not invite them and bring them to hear the gospel (cf. Jno. 1:46). But, what if only Christians come? That does not nullify the good that is done when saints assemble (Heb. 10:24-25).
4. Meetings are just another way for preachers to make money. This sort of motive judging is sad but true of some Christians. The gospel preacher should not be made to feel ashamed for receiving financial support for preaching the gospel, but it happens. Jesus said, “The laborer is worthy of his wages” (Lk. 10:7), and the apostle Paul said, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). Could it be that some brethren do not wish to support gospel preaching by their presence as well as not supporting it with their giving, even though God has commanded both (1 Cor. 16:2; Heb. 10:25)?
Did you discover the thread running through these objections to gospel meetings? These complaints show a lack of faith in the power of the word of God to save the lost and convert souls into the image of Christ. They reflect attitudes of selfishness and excuse-making, not faith in the power of Christ and His gospel. Gospel meetings are not the only scriptural arrangement we can use to teach the lost and encourage the saved. We understand that. But, we ought to realize that no scriptural arrangement of spreading the gospel will succeed unless and until we diligently commit ourselves to it, including gospel meetings.
We should examine our commitment to gospel preaching as our gospel meeting approaches. Let us use our opportunity to hear the gospel and to help others hear it, too. Invite your friends, family and strangers. Invite your brethren in Christ. Plan to be present, to grow in faithfulness and in service. Trust the power God’s word has on the lives of good and honest hearts (Lk. 8:15). God’s word will accomplish His purposes (Isa. 55:11). Good can and will be done through gospel meetings.
Most everyone knows without being told that when a man withholds a possession from its rightful owner, it is considered theft. However, when we think of robbery, we always seem to think in terms of men stealing from men…this is not always the case. There is a very real sense in which men steal from God by withholding things from God which rightfully belong to Him. In the Book of Malachi, the prophet posed a question before the Jews which we need to ask ourselves… “Will a man rob God?” (3:8)
One can rob God in the same sense that the Jews did in Malachi. When Malachi asked the question, “Will a man rob God?”, the Israelites responded by asking, “Wherein have we robbed thee?” (v. 8) Malachi answered them, “In tithes and offerings” (v.8). One way we can rob God is materially. The Jews were commanded to tithe; Christians are commanded to give with liberality. When we fail to fulfill this New Testament standard for giving we rob God just like the Jews robbed God when they failed to fulfill their Old Testament standard for giving. (Read Romans 12:8) No doubt, there are many who rob God every first day of the week when the collection plate is passed (1 Cor. 16:2).
We can also rob God when we refuse to give Him our lives. Our bodies, our souls, and our lives were given to us by God Almighty. We belong to Him. When we refuse to give God our lives, we rob Him, keeping back that which rightfully belongs to Him. We also rob Him of the pleasure He gets from seeing His children live in accordance with His Holy and Divine Will. We can give God a great deal of pleasure by giving to Him our lives by living the way He has outlined for us to live in the New Testament. Let us not be found guilty of robbing God. Let us give to Him what is rightfully His in the first place.
(Caprock Church Bulletin, Sept. 9, 1992)
The Tuesday headline says “Polls show support for Iraq war at new low” (Washingtonpost.com, Feb. 28, 2006). Opinion polls are big business in America. One is made to wonder whether news agencies use polls to report the news or to make the news. Opinion polls measure popularity and preference, as in the aforementioned headline. The popularity of food, people, activities, political positions, etc. – the list is endless. Opinion polls often shape the public discourse; the reliable ones attempt to bring context to that discourse. Polls mark out the ground for discussion. Polls have a great deal of influence. And, how pollsters frame a question can greatly affect the poll results.
Polls can have a variety of useful applications. But not when it comes to deciding the word of God. The man of God does not preach based on the latest opinion poll. He does not put his finger in the air to see which way the wind of popularity is blowing. He respects the word as being from God, not man, so he keeps the divine charge to readily preach it “in season and out of season” to preach it (2 Tim. 3:16-4:2). He does not change it to soothe itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3-4). When the gospel needs to be heard, he cannot be silent (2 Tim. 4:5; Rom. 10:13-14; cf. Jer. 20:9).
The easy way would be to say nothing. It is the coward’s way; the faithless way. But it is not God’s way. We preach the gospel because men are lost without it (Rom. 1:14-16).
Polls do not determine truth. Men-pleasers poll the church before taking their stand. Wishing never to “rock the boat,” these “pollsters” never risk affliction while trying to save some (Jude 22-23; 2 Tim. 4:5). But, men of God take their stand upon the revealed truth of God and with watchfulness, preach it so that some may be saved (Acts 20:24-27).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA