And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 34 July 20, 2008
In this issue:
Religious division discourages many souls. It implies there are many ways to worship God. However, the Bible says true worshipers worship in spirit and in truth (Jno. 4:23-24). Religious division implies there are many ways to live for God, so “join the church of your choice”. But Jesus said, “not every one who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Religious division implies that God’s word is not absolute and binding and that truth is open to many acceptable interpretations. However, the New Testament assures us there is “one faith”, not many (Eph. 4:5). Religious division implies God is happy with believers being doctrinally and morally divided. Yet, God hates the “one who sows discord among brethren” (Prov. 6:19). Religious division leads many to conclude they are helpless to know for sure which way is the right way when Jesus said, “you shall know the truth” (Jno. 8:32). The word of God condemns division while commanding unity (Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:3).
Before one can search for and find the right way of the Lord he must have a wiling heart to seek out the truth. Jesus said, “if any one wills to do His will he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is of God or whether I speak on my own authority” (Jno. 7:17). If you seek for the truth you will find it (Matt. 7:7-8). We must ask ourselves whether we really want the truth. When one does not want Bible truth it becomes easy to be convinced that “there are many ways to God” and that sincerity is enough to please Him. But the Bible does not teach this.
How can we know the way of truth? Before His death Jesus said, “And where I go you know, and the way you know” to which Thomas replied, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?” Jesus affirmed, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jno. 14:4-6). By coming to know Jesus we come to know the way to the Father. The gospel reveals the Son of God to us all so that we may follow Him in truth (1 Cor. 1:21-23).
Jesus spoke of a “broad way” that leads to destruction and a “narrow way” that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14). One way is right and one way is wrong. Jesus said most will live on the broad way and few will find the narrow way. Is this because the narrow way is obscure? Is it hard to find? No. We can more accurately attribute not finding the narrow way to one’s own refusal to yield to the demanding nature of the gospel and the self-denial needed to obey Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:24-27; Lk. 6:46; 9:23). Few have the heart to do whatever the Lord’s word commands; these find the narrow way and walk it (cf. Acts 17:11-12).
Whatever the subject over which men are divided (i.e., how to be saved, how to worship God, what constitutes moral living), the right way is revealed “in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Col. 1:5). By learning it we come to know the “right way” and by obeying it we obtain freedom from sin and the blessed hope of eternal life in the Son (Jno. 8:31-32; 1 Jno. 5:11-13).
Misogyny is “hatred of women”. The word has been popularized by the feminist movement to describe those they perceive to be prejudiced against, debasing toward and degrade of women. They portray the apostle Paul as a misogynist, viewing him as hating women and holding them to be inferior and subordinate in nature and being to men.
This accusation against the apostle to the Gentiles was recently echoed by Pat Connor, a Catholic priest who lectures high school seniors on “Whom Not to Marry”. In a New York Times article entitled “An Ideal Husband”, Connor described Paul of Tarsus as “that world-class misogynist” (“An Ideal Husband” by Maureen Dowd, NY Times, July 6, 2008). It is ironic that a celibate priest who’s Church forbids women from its priesthood would depict the great apostle of Christ as a hater of women!
First, we categorically deny this charge against the apostle Paul. It is outrageous and agenda-driven. “A false witness who speaks lies” will not go unpunished by God (Prov. 6:19). One ought to give due attention to Paul’s emphatic statement that his writings were “the commandments of the Lord” (1 Cor. 14:37). Paul’s attitude toward and teaching about women was the Lord’s will on the matter. Paul honored women both in his treatment of them and in the doctrines he taught concerning them.
1) Gender does not establish the privileges of redemption in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Race, class and gender do not distinguish the authenticity of one’s salvation in Christ (see 3:26-27).
2) Paul respected women. There were numerous occasions in Paul’s life that show his honor and regard for women. This so-called “world-class misogynist” met with women by a river in Philippi and taught them the gospel (Acts 16:13-15). He commended Phoebe as a great help to himself and many others (Rom. 16:1-2). He “worked with” Euodia and Syntyche and urged harmony between them (Phil. 4:2-3). Never do we find a disrespectful word from Paul’s pen toward the women he knew or toward women generally.
3) Paul compared the church of Christ to a bride (Eph. 5:25-27). While feminists call this demeaning, the very opposite is the case. The purity of the bride and the oneness of marriage amply depict the relationship Christ has with His church (Eph. 5:28-32).
4) Paul taught that the model for the woman’s relationship with man is Christ in His relationship with God. “But I want you to know that the head of even man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Cor. 11:3). Note that “the head of Christ is God.” Does that mean Paul was not only a misogynist but also a blasphemer for degrading and debasing Christ by saying He has a “head” who is God?! Who can believe it? In truth, Paul observed that Christ freely accepted His role as a servant by emptying Himself of heaven’s glory to become human and die on the cross (Phil. 2:5-8). The fact that different roles exist and are assigned for men and women does not make men better than women – just as Christ and God the Father having different roles in human redemption does not make one better and the other inferior.
Paul was not a misogynist. The gospel he preached lifts women to a place of honor and noble service in the kingdom of God. With Paul, we thankfully honor women who accept and fulfill their great and honorable God-given roles as wives and mothers.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 6:1-3
1. Danger of new
converts falling away is real and apparent. What can be done?
I. BASIC PRINCIPLES ABOUT FIRST PRINCIPLES.
A. First Principles are a
Starting Point, not the End, Heb. 5:12; Heb. 6:1; 1 Pet. 2:1-2; Jas.
II. THE FOUNDATION: BASICS FOR NEW CONVERTS, Heb. 6:1-2.
A. Repentance from Dead Works
(Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30); 2 Cor. 7:9-11; Acts 26:20; Rev. 2:5; Acts 8:22;
Rom. 6:1-2, 22
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:19-21
I. RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM REFLECTS TRUSTING FAITH AND PRODUCES FRUITFUL SERVICE, Mt. 6:19-34.
A. Faith that
Trusts and Serves God, 6:19-32 (Rom. 1:17); Jas. 2:18.
II. RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM COMPELS US TO PROPERLY EVALUATE ALL THINGS, Matt. 7:1-20.
Ourselves and how we Make Judgments, 7:1-6 (Jno. 7:24; Matt. 15:1-3, 7; Rom.
III. RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM HEARS AND OBEYS THE WORDS OF JESUS (as the will of the Father), Matt. 7:21-29.
A. Saying but not
Doing is Lawlessness (Sin), 7:21-23.
A recent Chicago Sun-Times article on Barack and Michelle Obama related their courtship, engagement and marriage. One passage stated, “Michelle had become a bit irritated with his struggle over whether marriage had become an outdated institution” (‘2 people who love each other’ by Stefano Esposito, July 13, 2008, suntimes.com). Another article appears to confirm this:
“Barack had a more bohemian attitude toward romance. “We would have this running debate throughout our relationship about whether marriage was necessary,” Obama told me. “It was sort of a bone of contention, because I was, like, ‘Look, buddy, I’m not one of these who’ll just hang out forever.’ You know, that’s just not who I am. He was, like”—she broke into a wishy-washy voice—“‘Marriage, it doesn’t mean anything, it’s really how you feel.’ And I was, like, ‘Yeah, right.’” (“The Other Obama”, Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, newyorker.com)
This was in the early 1990’s. Over the last 16 years (the length of the Obama’s marriage) we have seen a continual deterioration of respect for marriage as God designed it (Gen. 2:18-24). More and more people live together without marriage, the divorce rate hovers around 50% and same-sex relationships are now being legalized and ritualized as “marriage.” Furthermore, any opposition to such conduct is met with charges of “homophobia” and “prejudice”. (A Michigan man is trying to sue Zondervan Publishing Co. over distress caused by the Bible’s disparaging comments about homosexuality!)
We must strengthen our resolve to work at keeping our own marriages strong as well as defending the honor of marriage in the face of such onslaughts of human will and wishes (Heb. 13:4). Marriage is not outdated. It is necessary for building families and for building societies that respect moral standards instead of the lowest common denominators that appeal to the flesh.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 07/20/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA