And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 16 March 16, 2008
In this issue:
We cannot violate the stated will of God and then justify our sin by saying, “I just find it hard to believe” what it is the Bible says. When it is hard for us to believe what the Bible says, the remedy is for us to strengthen our faith, not dismiss the word of God. Here are some of the ways this rationalization is used to defend and prop up sin and error.
* I just find it hard to believe that God would not accept women pastors. This was said to me today by a young man while we were discussing the Bible teaching that forbids women preachers. We were discussing 1 Timothy 2:11-12, that prohibits “a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” when he said this. You can believe it!
* I just find it hard to believe that God commands me to be baptized to be saved. This comes from one who still misunderstands the role of obedient faith in salvation. Jesus saves those who obey him (Heb. 5:9). When one obeys the Lord by being baptized to be saved he has only done the Master’s will; he has earned nothing (Lk. 17:10). You can believe it!
* I just can’t believe that God will not accept instrumental music in worship. This comes from a failure to grasp that we do not define acceptable worship, God does (Jno. 4:23-24). His definition is singing – not singing and playing, and not playing only (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). God accepts true worshipers who submit to His stated will. You can believe it!
* I just find it hard to believe that God expects anyone to live alone for the rest of his life. This is heard from those who do not believe the teachings of Christ in Matthew 19:9 and 1 Corinthians 7:11. The will of God is not always easy to obey; only those willing to accept it will receive it and obey it (Matt. 19:10-12; Lk. 8:8, 15, 18). You can believe it!
* I just find it hard to believe that God would send people to hell. This comes from those who do not know or accept that Jesus taught clearly about the reality of hell and that sinners go there. In truth, it is one’s own sins that cause one to be lost in hell (Rom. 6:23). Jesus warned against behavior for which one would be cast into outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the worm does not die and where the fire is not quenched (Matt. 8:12; 25:30; Mk. 9:42-48). Hell is real; behold the goodness and the severity of God (Rom. 11:22). You can believe it!
* I just can’t believe that God doesn’t want me to be happy. Of course God wants you to be happy, but not as the world defines happiness. The person who delights in God’s law, who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stand in the path of sinners nor sit in the seat of the scornful, is truly happy (Psa. 1:1-2). You can believe it!
The power of sin is deadly, binding the body and the mind in its fearful clutches (Rom. 6:23; 2 Pet. 2:19). Our adversary, the devil is a vigilant and mighty foe, but he can be resisted through an alert faith (1 Pet. 5:8-9).
The Spirit of God expressly said that some would “depart the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1). Plunging into sinful error and searing their consciences, these Christians are overcome by sin and its ruin (2 Pet. 2:20-22).
Is it possible for the Christian who has fallen away from the Lord to be forgiven and restored? A man just sent me the following post:
“Dear Joe, I am worried that I have fallen away and cannot receive forgiveness. Can I be certain that I can still be forgiven and that it is not too late for me?”
The guilt of past sins and the burden of its present consequences can lead fallen Christians to think they can never be forgiven. Others who have fallen into sin may convince themselves that they have sinned so grievously that they are beyond hope and the reach of God’s forgiveness. These are more of Satan’s tactics to prevent the lost from returning to God.
When Christians fall away from God they fall from grace (Gal. 5:4). But thanks be to God that his grace is greater than sin: “But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more, so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 5:20-21). So, the first thing to be completely convinced of is that God has the grace and power to forgive you of every sin when you repent of your sins. Sin is not greater than the grace of God.
Secondly, the fallen Christian should remember that God loves him and God’s mercy is always extended to him. The parable of the prodigal (wasteful) son is remarkable in reminding us of the abundant mercy of God. The sinning son “came to himself” and with a repentant heart confessed his sins to his father. The father accepted his son with merciful compassion and joy (Lk. 15:17-24). God is ready to forgive you and God has the power to forgive you. It is not too late to return to your Father with a contrite heart and a repentant life. Our God is rich in mercy and love to forgive our sins (Eph. 2:4; Psa. 32:5).
As an example of God’s great mercy toward those who fall away, consider the people of Israel who rejected and murdered Christ, the Son of God. While suspended between heaven and earth Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Lk. 23:34). When the apostles preached the saving gospel on Pentecost about three thousand souls who had crucified Christ were forgiven (Acts 2:36-41). If God can forgive those who murdered his Son when they repented and in faith obeyed the gospel (and he did), then he can and will forgive the fallen Christian who returns to him in godly sorrow, repenting and confessing his sins (2 Cor. 7:9-10; 1 Jno. 1:9).
Sadly, some fallen Christians never return to the Lord. They so harden their hearts that they refuse to be touched by the power of the gospel (Heb. 6:4-6). But rest assured that is not God’s fault. He is always ready to forgive every sinner; he does not want any to perish; he wants all to repent (2 Pet. 3:9).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:17-24
1. We are slaves
what conquers us, 2 Pet. 2:19.
I. WHAT IS WORLDLINESS?
1 Jno. 2:15-17
II. HOW DOES WORLDLINESS PRESENT
ITSELF TO US TODAY?
III. OVERCOMING THE WORLD: OUR
CHALLENGE OF FAITH,
1 Jno. 5:4.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 59:1-8
people have a view that if their prayer is not answered “yes” then it is not
answered at all! 1 Pet. 3:12 (Prov. 15:29)
I. TO BE HEARD BY GOD WE MUST PRAY…
A. With a Contrite Heart, Psa.
51:14-17; 2 Chrn. 7:12-15; Lk. 18:9-14; Heb. 5:7.
II. GOD WILL NOT HEAR PRAYERS DUE TO…
A. Disobedience, Deut.1:43-45;
1 Sam. 28:6.
1. Prayer is God’s blessing to
his children that secures us, assures us & convinces us that God loves us,
hears us and supplies what we truly need, Phil. 4:6-7, 19
Nothing New Under the Sun
We use this column to comment on events of the day, drawing from them lessons that transcend the news of the moment. The inspired Scriptures are not a running commentary on current events, but they do give us great insight and understanding into how God views the things that happen in the world, and therefore, how we should view them.
News is redundant. That is, the news doesn’t change much – only the names and places are different. Whether it is war, disease, famine, theft, murder, abuse, politics, etc. – the news is pretty much the same every day. What can we learn from this?
* There is a time for every purpose under heaven (Eccl. 3:1). The cycle of life presents challenges and opportunities, blessings and trials to us all. The daily news confirms this. Life on earth is a blessing from God, but it is not the final chapter. Therefore, do not become overly fixated on the things that happen around you. Maintain a balance of righteous living in your life under the sun (see Eccl. 7:16-18).
* Ultimately, human beings cannot fix the problems of this world. The news indicates that while we affect this world, we are not the saviors of it. Only when people give their lives over to the Son of God will the problems that come with sin be eased. The Lord calls on us to be light and salt, to illuminate and preserve with righteous living and faithful service to both God and men (Matt. 5:14-16; Col. 4:5-6; Eph. 5:8-11).
* This world is not our home. The philosophy of humanism views this planet as the sum of our existence; it is not. (Nothing comes from nothing; in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, Gen. 1:1). The news reminds us that we are living for heaven, not earth.
The news of the day gives us reasons to believe in God and obey him so that we may be delivered from this present evil age (Gal. 1:4).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/17/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA