And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 47 September 23, 2007
In this issue:
September 23-28, 2007
lessons Nightly Mon-Fri at 7:00 PM
-WHAT KIND OF PREACHING?
(From I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
It was January of 1990 when I read my first Charles Swindoll book, Living Above the Level of Mediocrity. I was fascinated by his grasp of spiritual matters. He seemed to have a way of picking me up and showing me the light that exists in a dark world. In the following two months I read five of his books, and before long I become a Swindoll “disciple.” As I began to explore this untouched region of my life, I encountered another author, Max Lucado, and his book, Six Hours One Friday. His style is much like Swindoll’s in that he uses spiritual principles to give the hope of living a life that makes a difference in the eyes of God.
Within a matter of weeks, I began to use illustrations, points, and materials by these men in my sermons. People asked for copies of my outline because the material impressed them so much and made them feel charged. I felt as if I finally found a way of presenting the Truth the way it was in the New Testament. I realized that my sermons were more motivational than doctrinal, but I felt that Jesus himself approved of that when he told the Pharisees, “...you have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith” (Matt. 23:23). I was confident that the “devotional” aspect of the law was weightier than the “doctrinal” aspect of the law.
Oh, I didn’t think that doctrine was unimportant; I just thought that here was the material that we Christians have been forsaking in our lives and especially in our preaching. My mission was clear - show Christians what living a life devoted to Christ was all about.
It was during spring break of this past year that something happened that caused me to re-evaluate my spiritual feasting. My mother had met a young man at work who showed an interest in spiritual matters. She mentioned me to him and within a week he called me in Florida to set up a time that we could meet over the break. I was elated! I met him one night and before long, we were joined by four other people who began to “study” with me. We all agreed on the attitude that we should have; we all agreed on the power of Christ in our life; and we all agreed on the potential that Christians had in a life with Christ. Yet the charges he laid before me against the church belonging to Christ were above my head. I was simply not able to defend the teachings of Scripture concerning the precious body of Christ.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not a novice in the faith. I have been studying the Bible for the biggest part of my life. The conversation that my friend and I participated in was one of meaty consistency. Yet I was silenced because of my ignorance. I went back to school both disillusioned and wiser. I was disillusioned with the books that I had put so much trust in. Though I thought they offered life, they gave me no assistance when I was called to defend my King. I was ready to pitch my whole collection of “feel-good” books. I came back a little wiser because I realized that there was no substitute for the true book of life, the Bible.
Now that I look back on my experience, I see that I went from one extreme to the other. Don’t get me wrong – I believe with firm resolve that there is no substitute for God’s Word; however, I still see some good that can be gained from the books that I mentioned earlier. My advice is simple: “Read them with care!” They have some good things in them that Christians can use. Just don’t make them your Bible.
Yes, we must be able to see the beautiful life that our Saviour promises. We must be able to understand the limits of “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” But we must also be able to “be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). As Peter said, “...always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). It is a sad thing when members who ought to be teachers can’t wield the sword of the Spirit effectively in defense of their King.
It is my strong plea that every Christian engage in some sort of daily Bible reading, for it is in his Word that we know the mind of God. That seemed to be the whole point of Paul’s message in 1 Corinthians 2. God had revealed his will to inspired writers (v. 10) so that we might know it (v. 12). Only by searching the Scriptures can we equip ourselves with God’s words to give a defense to everyone who asks a reason for the hope that is in us so we don’t have to be ashamed.
As I said before, books written by men can be good. Many contain inspirational messages that can lift our souls and cause us to think about our commitment to the Father. But I pray that everyone who reads this will remember that there is no substitute for the living Word of God. It is the power of salvation (Rom. 1:16). It contains eternal life (Jn. 5:24). It can save your soul (Jas. 1:21). Can any other book today make such bold claims? Doesn’t it only make sense that our true spiritual feast should come often from the inspired writers? Let our foundation be built on the words of Christ and we will stand firm in his doctrine.
-Guardian of Truth
[Editor’s Note: We agree; the writings of false teachers must be used very carefully. The words of men never rise to the authoritative level of the word of God. We must go to God’s word, not false teachers, to learn God’s will. Brethren who refuse to identify false teachers like Swindoll and Lucado for who they are and for what they teach will eventually be deceived by their error, though clothed as “sheep” (Matt. 7:15-21).]
"Don't Tase Me, Bro!"
You have probably heard about the disruption at the University of Florida earlier this week where US Senator John Kerry was holding an open forum. Twenty-one year old student Andrew Meyer repeatedly refused to leave the microphone peacefully when his time was up. Continuing to shout and make a commotion, he was taken out by campus police. Meyer continued to be uncooperative, and the police used their taser gun to bring him under control. Just before the tasering, Meyer is heard on the video yelling, “Don’t tase me, bro!” (“Tasered US student becomes a web hit,” The Press Association, 19Aug2007)
This fellow got his 15 minutes of fame. There is some evidence to suggest that was his intent all along. Still, some good lessons are illustrated by this event:
1) Christians are to “aspire to lead a quiet life” (1 Ths. 4:11). Civil disobedience is not in harmony with the word of God. There are lawful means of airing grievances (cf. Acts 19:39); disobeying the law is not one of them (Rom. 13:1-2).
2) Discipline yourself, or be disciplined (Heb. 12:5-11). We now have a generation of youth that seems to think they are above correction; anything goes. This attitude flies in the face of self-control and the respectful treatment of others. When we will not control ourselves and instead, choose to sin, we will eventually receive just and eternal punishment (Rom. 2:3-11).
3) All the pleading in the world will not obtain relief from the punishment of sin (Lk. 16:24-26). Better to accept correction now, than eternal punishment later. We cannot expect to yell, “Don’t punishment me, God!” on judgment day and obtain mercy; “now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). We must live in submission to God and not disrupt fellowship with God by sinning against Him (Isa. 59:1-2).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 09/21/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA