And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 36 August 03, 2008
In this issue:
Obedience results from recognizing the authority one has over you plus a willingness to yield to that authority. We obey the laws of the land because we recognize the authority of civil government and we willingly comply with its laws and ordinances.
Jesus is obeyed because of his authority. He calls upon us to willingly yield to his authority and obey him today.
1) The wind and the sea obey Jesus. “And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!” (Lk. 8:25) Jesus possesses power over the elements, being both their Creator and Sustainer (Jno. 1:3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:3). Should we not learn from the wind and the waves to instantly obey when the Lord commands us?
2) The unclean spirits obey Jesus. “Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, ‘What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.’” (Mk. 1:27; also 9:25-26) The demons tremble with fear before the power of God and His Son (Jas. 2:19; Lk. 8:27-31). Should we not tremble before the great power of God and obey when the Lord commands us?
3) Diseases obey Jesus. “The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.’” (Matt. 8:8). Christ’s power over illness and infirmities was completely obeyed when He said the word. Should we not completely obey when the Lord commands us?
4) Death obeys Jesus. He commanded Lazarus to “come forth” and death released its grip (Jno. 11:43-44). When Jesus comes again He will command all the dead to come out of the graves, and it will be so (Jno. 5:28-29). Should we not learn from death and fully obey when the Lord commands us?
Why then do so many people disobey Jesus? Why do the elements, the evil spirits, disease and death obey Him, yet most people will not? One reason is free will. We must choose to obey Jesus with our whole heart. Without a willing heart we will never properly obey Jesus (Matt. 15:7-9).
Jesus saves those who obey Him (Heb. 5:9). One does not know God and love God if he or she is disobeying Jesus: “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work” (Titus 1:16). Be numbered among the faithful disciples and obey all Jesus commands (Matt. 28:18-20). Your profession of faith is genuine when you are always obeying Jesus.
Jericho was under siege; no one could get in or out because of the army of Israel. The king of the city had tried but failed to capture the spies who were sent to Jericho on a reconnaissance mission. The citizens were terrified of Israel and her God. But one citizen, Rahab, showed faith in God and “received the spies in peace”. Because of her faith she and her family were saved when Jericho was destroyed (Josh. 2:9-21; Heb. 11:31).
What caused the walls of Jericho to fall? In this great event we have a wonderful illustration of how God breaks down the wall of sin, saving sinners “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2:8).
1) The walls fell by the grace of God. Were it not for God’s grace, the walls of Jericho would not have fallen. “The Lord said to Joshua: ‘See, I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor” (Josh. 6:2). When it was time for the walls to fall, Joshua said to the people, “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city!” (Josh. 6:16)
The grace of God gave Israel the city of Jericho. The victory was of the Lord. No amount of trumpet sounding and human shouting would make the walls fall without God’s grace giving the city to Israel.
2) The walls fell by the faith of man. Were it not for Israel’s faith, the walls of Jericho would not have fallen. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Heb. 11:30).
The victory was received because of Israel’s obedient faith. No amount of God’s grace would have given Israel the city if they had not obeyed the Lord’s command to “march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days…seven priests…seven trumpets…But on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times…” (Josh. 6:3-5). Detailed instructions were given, and when Israel fully obeyed, the wall fell down flat (Josh. 6:15-20).
God’s grace and man’s faith combined to produce victory at Jericho. The walls fell by God’s grace through man’s faith. Take away either one and the walls do not fall.
Please observe the kind of faith that God blessed; faith that obeyed the commandment of God. Israel did not “earn” the right to have the walls fall down by obeying the Lord’s command to encircle the city, blow trumpets and shout. But it would not have happened if they had not obeyed God. God gave Israel the gift of Jericho when in faith they obeyed.
Likewise, obeying the Lord’s commands to believe and be baptized to be saved is not earning salvation; it is trusting God will bless the sinner when he or she does what God says.
The wall of sin that separates people from God falls down by the grace of God. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). God’s grace is greater than sin: “where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Rom. 5:20). Our enemy is defeated and victory is obtained by grace.
The wall of sin that separates people from God falls down by the faith of man. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jno. 8:24). Without faith, victory over sin is not obtained. And, it must be faith that obeys Jesus – just like the faith of Israel that obeyed God. Jesus commands sinners to believe and be baptized in order to be saved (Mk. 16:15-16). When obeyed, salvation is not earned (“of works”); it is “by grace…through faith” (Eph. 2:8-9). Remember the walls of Jericho.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 2:1-7
1. Sin is a
pestilence upon mankind – “a distiller of hate, a breeder of crime.”
I. SIN IS NOT A BIOLOGICAL PHENOMENON.
A. Sin is not in Our Genes.
II. SIN IS NOT IN HUMAN NATURE.
A. People (made in the image
of God) are not Innately Sinful; Eccl. 7:29; Eph. 2:1-3.
III. SIN IS NOT TRANSFERABLE.
A. People have always tried
to Blame Others for their Sin, Gen. 3:12-13; Exo. 32:21-24.
IV. SIN IS SEPARATIVE.
A. Sin Separates Man from
God, Isa. 59:1-2
V. THERE IS A REMEDY TO SIN.
A. The Blood of Jesus Provides Forgiveness, Heb. 9:13-14; Eph. 1:7 (Jas. 4:7); 1 Jno. 5:4; Heb. 5:8-9; Rom. 6:3; Eph. 6:13-17.
1. Don’t let sin reign over
you, Rom. 6:12-13.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 8:16-22
Jesus taught with heaven’s authority (Matt. 7:28-29; Jno. 12:49).
I. “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Matt. 8:2-4 (Rom. 3:9-18; 1 Tim. 2:3-4; Heb. 9:13-14; 2 Kgs. 5:10-14)
II. “As you have believed, so let it be done for you.” Matt. 8:5-13 (Eph. 2:8-9; Jas. 2:17, 24)
III. “He took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” Matt. 8:14-17 (Isa. 53:4-6)
IV. “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” Matt 8:23-27 (1 Pet. 5:7; Matt. 11:28-30)
V. “Why are you bothering us?” Matt.8:28-34 Jno. 12:42-43; Acts 24:25
VI. “Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven you.” Matt. 9:2-8, 14-15 (Acts 8:39)
VII. “Lay your hand on her and she will live.” Matt. 9:18-26 (Jno. 11:25-26)
VIII. “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Matt. 9:27-31 (1 Pet. 1:6-9)
IX. “It was never seen like this in Israel.” Matt. 9:32-34 (Isa. 35:5-6)
The evidence of Jesus’ power is before us: Will we believe and obey His every command to be healed from our sins?
Fitness without Exercise
According to researchers at the Salk Institute we may one day be able to stay physically fit without exercising – just take a pill. No more boring exercises to stay in shape; no more painful exertion to maintain endurance. They are developing muscle-enhancing drugs that increase endurance and could have a host of medical applications.
It could also appeal to athletes who take performance-enhancing drugs in addition to those who do not like to exercise. “It’s a little bit like a free lunch without the calories,” said Dr. Ronald M. Evans, leader of the Salk group. (“Drugs Offer Promise of Fitness Without Effort,” Nicholas Wade, The NY Times, Aug. 1, 2008)
Christians must beware of thinking that spiritual fitness results from a similar mentality. Unless we exercise our senses to discern good and evil by using the word of God every day in our lives we will not grow strong (Heb. 5:14). We cannot just take a “spiritual pill” and presto, spiritual strength appears. For example:
* We must regularly attend worship services, yet attendance alone does not insure spiritual strength. The Sardis Christians attended worship regularly, yet they were spiritually dead (Rev. 3:1). True worship will help you grow, but that requires effort, not just taking the “spiritual pill” of attendance (Acts 2:42; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16).
* We must eat the Lord’s Supper every Lord’s Day, but the Lord’s Supper alone does not insure spiritual strength. Many Corinthian Christians who regularly ate the Lord’s Supper were spiritual dead (“asleep”, 1 Cor. 11:30). We must always eat the supper in a worthy manner (1 Cor. 11:27-32). The Lord’s Supper is not popping a “spiritual pill” that insures spiritual strength and endurance.
We must exercise ourselves toward godliness (1 Tim. 4:7-8). This exercise includes worship as well as removing sin and developing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16-25). As we learn and live the word of God we get stronger; our spiritual endurance increases (see Eph. 4:11-16). But, if we refuse to exercise ourselves toward godliness we will remain weak. No “spiritual pill” will strengthen us when we will not exercise ourselves by daily doing the will of God.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 08/04/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA