And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 24 April 01, 2007
In this issue:
April Fools’ Day, the annual day of pranks and jokes, is said to have started around 1582 when the Gregorian calendar set New Year’s Day as January 1. Before this, the New Year was observed with a weekly celebration beginning on March 25 and culminating on April 1. After the Julian calendar was replaced, those who continued to celebrate the new year on April 1 were regarded as “backward” and subject to practical jokes and various forms of ridicule.
The world views Christians as fools. Those who live by faith and obey Jesus Christ are treated with various forms of ridicule, mockery and disdain (Heb. 10:32-33). Paul even drew upon the world’s reproachful view of Christians to sarcastically refer to the apostles as “fools for Christ’s sake” in contrast to the self-important arrogance he rebuked in the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 4:9-10).
God views those who reject him as truly foolish. “The fool has said in his heart, ‘there is no God’” (Psa. 14:1). Those who refuse to acknowledge and glorify God become “futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened, professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Rom. 1:20-21).
Many reject the gospel of Christ because they think it is foolish. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:18, 23-24). The good news of a Savior and the salvation he gives is “the wisdom of God” to all who are saved.
We must become foolish in our own eyes to be wise. Humility before God and man is essential for God’s people. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He catches the wise in their own craftiness; and again, The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile. Therefore let no one boast in men” (1 Cor. 3:18-21).
Which fool do you wish to be; the fool who is only called a fool in the eyes of men, or the fool who is really one in the eyes of God?
We must continue to be watchful against the influence of error that false brethren and false teachers foist upon the minds and lives of faithful Christians. Left unchallenged and unrestrained, these imposters capture the unsuspecting with their error and overthrow the faith of some (Gal. 2:4-5; 2 Tim. 2:17-18)
As in the days of Samuel when Israel demanded a king, many of God’s people are enamored with the false religious teachers that rule in the churches of men (1 Sam. 8). While applauding the “spiritual insights” of these blind guides, some will simultaneously reject as outmoded, outdated and old fashioned those who “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3; Matt. 15:14).
Perhaps some of the kings of the nations around Israel had some good ideas about how to rule a nation. Do you suppose the Israelite demand for a king started with, “We will only take the good points from them – we can tell the difference between the works of men and the will of God”? If so, they were naive about the influence of error and lacked faith in God and the Law He had revealed to them. We are, too, if we think we cannot be influenced by the smooth, fair and persuasive words of false teachers (Rom. 16:18; Col. 2:4). Every “good idea” or “different take” about “life and godliness” must be judicially tested by the standard of divine truth, not human wisdom, before it can be rightly said to be “good” in God’s sight (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Ths. 5:21-22). What will we rely on for our guidance, the wisdom of men (which is “foolishness”) or the gospel (which is the power of God)? 1 Co. 2:4-5; Ro. 1:16
So, should I never read or study any religious material unless it was written by faithful Christians? Must I never listen to anyone who is not a New Testament Christian? No, and if that is your conclusion then you missed my point. (Even Paul knew of and quoted pagan poets, Acts 17:28.) The point is this: Any of us can be influenced and deceived by error. It is deceptive, often appearing to serve righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15). We cannot afford to be deceived. It requires humility and moral courage to examine ourselves to see whether we have been deceived, and if so, to repent (2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:5).
Whatever we study and learn must be carefully compared with and judged by what is written in the Scriptures (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:10). Keeping our focus on the word of God instead of the opinions of men is the only safe, God-approved course. Then, we will not desire to be like the nations around us. Let us “buy the truth and do not sell it” (Prov. 23:23).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 2 Cor. 7:6-12
1. Sin is still
real (Rom. 3:23; 6:23), & is against God (Psa. 51:4), others (Gen. 4:9) &
self (Eccl. 12:13); enormity of sin (Rom. 5:8-9).
I. HOW WE VIEW OUR SIN.
A. First, We Must Understand
Sin, 1 Jno. 3:4; 5:17; Jas. 4:17; Matt. 7:23 (Acts 2:36-37; Rom. 3:18).
II. HOW GODLY SORROW RESPONDS TO PERSONAL SIN, 2 Cor. 7:10.
A. Sorrow of the World, Heb.
11:17; Gen. 4:9-14; Rom. 2:3-5; Matt. 27:3-5 (Prov. 15:13, 15).
III. ONLY GODLY SORROW PRODUCES GENUINE REPENTANCE & OBTAINS GOD’S FORGIVENESS, Ac 3:19; 8:22-24; Jas. 4:8-10
1. Our view of sin influences
how we chose to deal with our own sin.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Acts 20:27-32
1. Apostasy rooted
in failure to respect divine authority, 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Tim. 4:3-4 (Col.
I. CORRUPTION OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.
Organization of Local Church,
1. The path of
apostasy is away from the “old paths” (Jer. 6:16-17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
[History of the Church, #4]
Finding Your Religion
The magazine insert in a recent Bellingham Herald contained a “Weekend Tip” with the above title by Arianne Cohen. The advice she gave is classic “feel good” religion as she emphasizes finding a religion that fits you instead of finding the truth and fitting yourself to it. “‘Find a great fit,’ says Beliefnet.com’s religion editor, Laura Sheahen, ‘because if your soul isn’t happy, you’re not going to be happy.’” Wow! That’s profound. But, what will truly make your soul happy?
In short, Cohen’s advice is to “(1) Search the web, (2) Attend a service, and (3) Ask earthly questions.” That’s right, ask “earthly questions” like, “Does the schedule work for you?”, “Are there kids’ programs?” and “What’s the financial commitment?” Worldly guidance says that when it comes to being happy in your religion, it’s all about convenience, not about sacrificial commitment to Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said we must deny ourselves to follow him (Lk. 9:23). But then, that makes a lot of folks sad, not happy – wouldn’t want to do that!
Jesus taught about searching for and finding truth, but his teaching is very different from the above. When Jesus said, “seek, and you will find” he did not say seek “the church of your choice” that fits you (Matt. 7:7). He said to seek to “enter by the narrow gate” that leads to life (Matt. 7:13). He said to fit yourself into the will of the Father, not try to fit God into what you say makes you happy (Matt. 7:21-23). You will find happiness when you do the will of God (“blessed are…,” Matt. 5:3-12).
Jesus said the value of God’s kingdom is like a “hidden treasure” a man found in a field. He hid it and happily sold all he had to buy the field to possess the treasure (Matt. 13:44). He was happy, not because he defined the “treasure,” but because he found a treasure that God defined as more valuable than anything else, the kingdom and its salvation.
“Pure and undefiled religion” is found in the word of God (Jas. 1:27, 21-26). When you are a “doer of the word” (v. 22) you are saved; that’s real happiness (v. 25).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 04/02/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA