And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 11 February 10, 2008
In this issue:
(Many of us have loved ones who are nearing the end of life. Such are difficult times, yet the comfort of God’s love strengthens and assures the faithful, while God’s word helps each of us prepare for death. -Joe)
Death. We all know it happens; we just think it always happens to somebody else. Young people think death is what happens to old people – until a teenage friend gets cancer and dies in the prime of life. Young adults are thinking about having babies and raising families, not about dying – until a young mother is diagnosed with cancer and must battle to stay alive. Middle-aged folks, who have been in good health all their lives, begin to accept it is time to get their health checked regularly. Aches and pains become more pronounced, unexpected diseases arise, surgeries and treatments become necessary to preserve health and prevent untimely death. The elderly have reached a time in life when they know most of their years are now behind them. Health maintenance is a large part of life until finally, death comes.
Discussing death is poignant, but practical. We must all come to grips with our own mortality. Yes, it is a fact; each of us will die. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Are you ready to die?
You do not know when you will die. Surely this is one reason why it is easy to push the thought of our own death into the deep recesses of our minds. Yet, the certainty of death is not lessened by the fact that we do not know when it will happen. The uncertainty of life is the very reason why we must think about our own mortality and do the will of God now, while we still have life (Jas. 4:14-15).
You must be ready to die today. Death is the separation of your spirit from your body (Jas. 2:26). You will continue to be conscience after death. The righteous will be received into the comforting environment of Paradise, but the wicked will be deposited into the anguish of tormenting flames (Lk. 16:22-25). Are you a Christian? If not, you are not ready to die. If you are you a faithful Christian, then you are ready to die. All of us should heed the warning, “Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live” (Isa. 38:1).
You will be raised from the dead. Jesus Christ will abolish death on the day of his return, the day of resurrection: “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:26). All will be raised, but not all will be raised to everlasting life: “…for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth — those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (Jno. 5:28-29). To prepare for death you must do “good” (the will of God). These will enter heaven (Matt. 7:21). Be wise and build your life on the solid rock of Christ; obey him now (Matt. 7:24-27).
Yes, we will die. The Lord has been gracious to us and shown us the way to life everlasting in His Son. Let us rejoice that as Christians, our names are written in heaven (Lk. 10:20). Truly, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints” (Psa. 116:15).
Recently I came across an internet blog that is dedicated to “Answering the Church of Christ.” Here is a sampling:
“Often on our local TV station, the cofC preachers will talk about the churches of Christ in Romans 16:16...From this kind of literal citation of Scripture, without regards to the context, they have developed a theology about the name of the church, which just happened to be the “Church of Christ” that came out of the Stone/Campbell movement.
“They often reasoned like this: Where in the Bible do you read of a Baptist Church or a Methodist Church or a Presbyterian Church? One can read about the Church of Christ Church in Romans 16:16, but one cannot read about the others.” (“Romans 16:16”, Answering the Church of Christ blog, wordpress.com)
Romans 16:16 does not assign a denominational name to the Lord’s church. It is a statement of possession, referring to churches that belong to Christ. These churches are local congregations, not denominations. (A basic knowledge of the New Testament and of church history confirms this. For example, Romans 16:4 mentions “all the churches of the Gentiles” – not as a denominational name of churches, but as a description of their constitution; all of the congregations composed of Gentiles. The “churches of Judea” in Galatians 1:22 are the congregations located in Judea; it is not a name given to those churches.) It is entirely proper to ask the question, “Where in the Bible do you read of a Baptist Church or a Methodist Church or a Presbyterian Church?” The Bible answer is you do not read about any of them!
The question remains whether or not today’s churches of Christ are like those we read of in the New Testament. Sadly, many are not. Many have abandoned the “pattern of sound words” revealed in the New Testament and accepted the doctrines of men (2 Tim. 1:13; 4:3-4). Many have corrupted the work of the local church by adding the social gospel to the old Jerusalem gospel (1 Cor. 11:22, 34; Acts 2:42). Many have corrupted the independence of congregations by becoming “sponsoring churches” that mimic denominationalism in their organization and control of men and money. Some have perverted the worship of the New Testament by adding instrumental music (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16-17). A church may designate itself as a “church of Christ” – but that does not mean it actually belongs to Christ!
One more thing; the churches of Christ did not “come out of the Stone/Campbell movement.” People in that movement chose to go back to the Bible for their authority, including how they would describe their congregations. The church of Christ is composed of Christians, not denominations, and has been here since Pentecost, Acts 2:47. A local church is a “church of Christ”; more than one are “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16).
Denominationalists must give up their false concept that the church is composed of denominations, and obey the gospel of Christ to be saved from their sins. The Lord will add them to his church---the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:47; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 49:16-20
inheritance concerns you the most: Material or spiritual?
I. WE CANNOT TAKE ANY EARTHLY THINGS WITH US BEYOND THE GRAVE, Lk. 12:20.
A. We Brought
Nothing with us into Life, Eccl. 5:15; 1 Tim. 6:7.
II. WHAT WE WILL TAKE WITH US.
A. Our Identity,
Lk. 16:22-23-24 (Dan. 12:2-3; Matt. 25:34-40, 21; Lk. 16:23-31).
III. OUR PRESENT AFFECTS OUR ETERNAL FUTURE, Rom. 14:12.
A. Hope is Unique
to Mankind, cf. Eccl. 9:5-6; 12:13-14 (1 Cor. 15:19; Jno. 11:25-26; 1 Pet.
1:3-4); Psa. 16:9-11.
What a wonderfully comforting truth that God is mindful of us and has prepared a place for us to live forever, Psa. 8:4-5; Jno. 14:1-3.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 2 Peter 2:1-3
1. Warned against
religious pretenders (pseudo: false, spurious, impostor; “often of a
deceptive resemblance,” Matt. 7:15; 2 Tim. 3:13.
I. WE ARE WARNED OF:
A. False Christs,
Matt. 24:23-25; 2 Ths. 2:8-12.
II. JESUS CHRIST IS THE TRUTH, Jno. 14:6.
A. All who are of
the Truth Hear His Voice, John 18:37.
1. Are you “of the
truth” in everything religiously?
Churches Select Leaders
Two churches gained new leadership this week; too bad neither is following Jesus Christ (who has only one body – one church, Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4; 5:23.)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) announced Monday that 80-year-old Thomas S. Monson has been named the 16th president of the 13 million member church. He has been serving as an apostle in his church since 1963. Now, he will be regarded as the living Prophet of God on earth. (“Mormon church names president,” AP)
The Greek Orthodox Church selected a new leader on Thursday, when it’s Holy Synod (composed of 78 bishops) elected 70-year-old Metropolitan Bishop Ieronymos of Thebes to be its new archbishop. His enthronement ceremony will probably be held February 16. The Greek Orthodox Church is influential among the world’s other national Orthodox Churches, which have more than 250 million members. (“Greek Orthodox Church Elects New Leader,” Derek Gatopouolos, AP)
Neither one of these churches existed in the first century. The church in the New Testament had no president, no archbishop, no Holy Synod, no succession of apostles and no Metropolitan bishops.
The LDS Church and the Greek Orthodox Church (along with the other Orthodox Churches) are apostate churches. Claims of visions, dreams, revelations, authority and orthodoxy notwithstanding; the Bible shows them to be counterfeit in organization, in doctrine and in practice (Gal. 1:6-10; 1 Jno. 2:18-19; 4:1, 6).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 02/14/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA