And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 09 January 27, 2008
In this issue:
We regularly warn of the evil influences of the world and how they test and try God’s people. We must continue to do so lest we become deceived by sin and lose our souls (1 Cor. 15:33-34; Jas. 1:13-16).
Fellow Christian, you also have an influence that you must not ignore. It reaches everyone you know and even those you do not personally know. Your influence must be for what is good in the sight of God. The Lord expects you to be an influence for righteousness in this world of sin. That means saying “no” to sin and “yes” to “true righteousness and holiness” (Eph. 4:24).
1) “You are the salt of the earth.” (Matt. 5:13) Salt flavors and preserves food. Thus, the Lord teaches you to season and protect the world around you with godly character, holy attitudes and upright conduct. “But if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?” (v. 13) It is difficult to restore your good influence when it has been damaged by sin. But, it can be done through the power of the gospel of Christ. It is vital that you protect your good influence by making godly choices in your life; choices that promote and protect righteousness.
2) “You are the light of the world.” (Matt. 5:14-16) Just as a city on a hill cannot be hidden, your influence in the world will be seen and felt. The Lord expects your life to radiate the light of truth, not the darkness of sin (see Eph. 5:8-11).
Your words have an influence: “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one” (Col. 4:6). What you say will either help or hurt others; the influence of your words is real.
Your actions have an influence: “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you” (Titus 2:7-8). When you are a “pattern of good works” your influence will be great. When you obey the truth you give no real opportunity to the opponents of truth to speak evil of you and of Christ. Your influence is good when your conduct is exemplary: “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
"Then early in the morning all the people came to Him in the temple to hear Him." (Luke 21:38)
Is it not intriguing that the people who very shortly would cry "Crucify him!" were so eager to hear what Jesus had to say? Mark records that the "common people heard him gladly" (Mk. 12:37). Their interest is set in contrast with the chief priests and scribes who were looking for a way to kill Jesus (Lk. 22:1-2). We must desire to hear what Jesus teaches. Additionally, we must not be influenced by the opponents of truth to reject it as these later did (Matt. 27:20).
This scene speaks of the willingness we should have to sacrifice our convenience (and even necessities) in order to hear the word of God. It seems so difficult for some folks to come “early in the morning” to hear the gospel of Christ these days. (After all, 9:30AM on Sunday morning is just so early to get up for a Bible class!) Never mind that some who object to such an “early” hour must be on the job much earlier than that five days a week! Maybe that is the real problem. Some will not sacrifice their chance to “sleep in” to be at Bible class to hear the word of God. The people of Jerusalem (who soon turned against Jesus) put some Christians (who affirm their undying allegiance to Christ) to shame when it comes to rising early to hear Jesus. Who do we think we are fooling? Not the Lord.
Some Christians appear to have little patience with sermons and classes that are not “short and sweet.” Evidently it has not occurred to them that some Bible subjects cannot be adequately presented and sufficiently studied in a 20-minute sermon. Some may take 45 minutes and some require a series of sermons. This should not surprise us. The apostle Paul preached to midnight on one occasion (Acts 20:7). Jesus was known to teach for hours at a time (Mk. 6:34-35). But today, preachers are told to remember that “attention spans are shorter today, so we must accommodate the audience or lose them.” Has it ever occurred to those who demand shorter sermons that we ought to accommodate our attention span to God’s word, instead? (Lk. 8:8, 18)
We are not advocating that the preacher take advantage of his audience. Gospel preachers should use their time wisely, avoiding unnecessary repetition and excessive words that belabor the point (Col. 4:6; Eph. 6:19).
Whether early or late, are you ready and willing to hear the word of Christ?
“Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:28-30)
A question frequently received by e-mail is where did Jesus go for the three days between his death and his resurrection?
The answer is readily available in the Scriptures and gives Christians great assurance of hope.
David the prophet wrote that the Christ would die, be buried and rise from the dead. At death, his soul would pass into Hades (Psa. 16:8-11; Acts 2:25-28, 31). Hades is the realm of the dead or departed spirits. In Luke 16:22-26 Hades is described as having two parts that are separated by an impassable gulf; one a place of comfort (Abraham’s bosom) and the other a place of tormenting anguish.
When he died, Jesus went to this place of comfort in Hades. He told the thief on the cross that “today you will be with me in Paradise,” and we fully believe that is exactly what happened (Lk. 23:43). We are not told what Jesus did there, but we may rightly conclude that he was comforted following his tormenting death.
After Jesus was raised he appeared to Mary Magdalene and said he had “not yet ascended to my Father” (Jno. 20:17). Jesus ascended to the presence of the Father when he finally left the earth (Acts 1:9-11). Jesus now lives and reigns at the right hand of God (Acts 2:32-36).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 2:18-23
1. The conscience
is greatly misunderstood, abused, neglected and disregarded.
I. WHAT IS YOUR CONSCIENCE?
A. The Faculty of Mind by
which we Assess Right & Wrong, Acts 23:1; cf. 1 Tim. 1:12.
II. CLEANSING YOUR CONSCIENCE.
A. It can only be Cleansed by
the Blood of Christ, Heb. 9:9, 14 (cf. 1 Jno. 1:9).
III. TRAIN YOUR CONSCIENCE, Phil. 1:9-11; 1 Tim. 1:5; 1 Tim. 1:19; 2 Tim. 1:3.
IV. PROTECT YOUR CONSCIENCE.
A. What Defiles the
What Celebrity Cannot Do
Another celebrity met an untimely death this week. The 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment. The exact cause of his death is yet to be determined, and we will not speculate on that here.
We live in the age of celebrity. Cell phone cameras, You Tube videos and the internet are the ticket to many people’s “15 minutes of fame.” The fame of celebrity has always been lusted after by many as the way to fortune and ease.
Yet, celebrity will never give lasting satisfaction. As Ledger’s death reminds us, there are eternal principles of truth by which we must live and die (Eccl. 12:13).
1) Celebrity cannot guarantee happiness. The reports of sad, angry and depressed celebrities abound. True and lasting joy is found in Christ, not in the world’s fleeting fame; “rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil. 4:4).
2) Celebrity cannot prevent death. Famous people die just like “ordinary” people. Solomon noted there is a time to die, and it comes to us all (Eccl. 3:2). If you think being famous will protect you from death, you are dead wrong.
3) Celebrity cannot prepare you for death. The trappings of fame do not prepare a person to stand before God in judgment. The rich man was a fool because he did not prepare to meet God (by living for God). He trusted in his wealth to answer his future needs, but he was unprepared for his future meeting with God (Lk. 12:15-21). God will judge what Mr. Ledger lived for. The question is, are you living for God? (Jas. 4:13-17)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 01/28/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA