And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 50 November 16, 2008
In this issue:
Sometimes the wisest response we can give a person who has chosen to reject the truth is no response at all. This does not mean that we should not answer error; we must “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). Neither should silence be our first response when someone asks about our faith. The Spirit of God commands us to “sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Pet. 3:15). But as we shall see, the Lord teaches us to be wise in choosing the kind of response we give – or do not give – to those who ignore, reject and even fight against the truth.
Solomon advised not to answer a fool according to his folly. He said, “Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him” (Prov. 26:4). While there is a time when one must “answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes,” there comes a moment when that is no longer advisable (Prov. 26:5). When can we know the difference? When one stubbornly refuses to hear the truth and your responses only serve the fool’s purpose it is time to “shake off the dust from your feet” and move on (Matt. 13:13-15; cf. 10:14).
Jesus chose not to answer the chief priests and elders when he stood accused before Pilate. “And while he was being accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?’ But he answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly” (Matt. 27:12-14). Why? Jesus had repeatedly answered them yet in unbelief they refused his words and his works (see Jno. 10:24-26). There comes a time when all that can be said has been said.
Jesus chose not to say a word to Herod. “Then he questioned him with many words, but he answered him nothing. And the chief priests and scribes stood and vehemently accused him” (Lk. 23:9-10). This murderous man did not care about the truth; to him, Jesus was a mere spectacle (Lk. 23:8). Some love the excitement of the debate – not the truth that is made known in debate. Such do not deserve an answer, but do deserve to be avoided due to their factiousness (Titus 3:10-11).
Some say the person who will not respond when he is challenged must be a coward. Perhaps. But, that can also be an easy accusation made by those who have evil hearts. It may be that every effort to speak the truth has been met with contempt, thus leading one to simply be silent. Remember, Jesus was not a coward when he said nothing to Herod.
So, speak the truth (Eph. 4:25). Give an answer for your hope from the word of God (1 Pet. 3:15). Be forbearing in an effort to win souls (2 Tim. 2:24-25). Commit yourself to truth above all else (Prov. 23:23). Rely on God’s word and not yourself (Psa. 119:97-104). Then, when those who stubbornly reject and oppose the truth try to prod you into useless conflict, chose silence instead (2 Tim. 2:23-24).
This election cycle refocused interest on a number of social and moral issues, including abortion, same-sex marriage and physician-assisted suicide. Three states voted to ban same-sex marriage, opting for marriage between a male and a female. South Dakota defeated a proposition that would have banned abortion, and the state of Washington passed an initiative approving physician-assisted suicide.
A similarity emerges between each of these issues. Advocates of abortion, euthanasia and same-sex marriage must redefine terms – in this case, life, death and marriage – in order to justify their immoral behavior. Their redefinitions may satisfy their consciences but they do not satisfy the God of heaven. Neither should they satisfy us. Isaiah described such efforts by pronouncing “woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isa. 5:20)
Consider the following redefinitions that are taking place:
1) Abortion advocates redefine when human life begins. One objects in vain that new and distinct life does not begin at conception. New, identifiable life that is unique from its parents (although living in one of its parent for a time) begins at conception. Whether inside or outside of the womb, that new life is a baby (Lk. 1:41, 44; 2:12).
2) Assisted suicide redefines murder, telling us it is moral to take the life of another human being (or assist one in ending his own life). Life is given to each person by God: “He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). How presumptuous it is of man to believe that life and death are within his right to take as he sees fit while ignoring the will of the Giver of life! To take life from another person is an act of murder; men’s pleas of “mercy” and “death with dignity” notwithstanding. (When Jesus knew he was going to die should his apostles have assisted him in killing himself to escape the agony of the cross?)
3) Same-sex marriage redefines the nature and purpose of marriage given it by God. God presented woman to man to complete him and to be his companion in life. In God-defined marriage life is multiplied, society is anchored, love is expressed and God is honored (Gen. 2:18-25; 1:27-28; Heb. 13:4; 1 Cor. 7:1-2). Conversely, homosexuality is “against nature” and those choosing it bring upon themselves “the penalty of their error which was due” (Rom. 1:26-27). Selfish lust is redefined as love while God-defined and God-designed marriage is held up to ridicule and scorn.
There are other “redefinitions” people make in the spiritual realm. For example:
1) Many people have redefined the beginning of spiritual life. Jesus said a new birth must occur to enter the kingdom of heaven (Jno. 3:3-5). Some say that birth occurs when one believes, yet the Bible says new life begins only when the believer has been baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3-4). “Faith only” advocates redefine the beginning of spiritual life like the abortion advocates redefine the beginning of human life.
2) Many people try to redefine spiritual death by saying it cannot happen to the Christian. They say a Christian cannot commit spiritual suicide by sinning against Christ. They are wrong (Gal. 5:4; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). Spiritual life is a gift from God that must be nurtured not negated through disobedient living (Eph. 2:8-10).
3) Some try to redefine God-approved marriage. Some say all marriages are acceptable to God regardless of prior divorce and subsequent remarriage. But, one who divorces for a cause other than fornication and remarries commits adultery (Matt. 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3). To be saved, those committing adultery in sinful remarriages must repent and cease the sinful relationship (Acts 2:38, 41; 26:20).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-14
-Savior (“deliverer, preserver”) who is…
Christ: Anointed One, Messiah (Psa. 2:1-2) – King.
I. WE ALL NEED A SAVIOR, Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Mic. 5:2 (Rom. 3:23).
Some Expect a Savior to Save From All Kinds of This World Distresses, cf.
Jas. 1:9-11; Matt. 22:17-21; Mk. 14:7; Jas. 4:13-17.
II. MAKE ROOM FOR THE SAVIOR, Lk. 2:7.
Many Hearts have no Room for a Savior Due to Sin, Matt. 13:14-15; Jno. 9:41;
Mk. 4:19; Lk. 18:9-14.
III. JESUS IS THE SAVIOR, Lk. 2:6-7, 11; Jno. 4:42.
Repentance and Forgiveness, Acts 5:31.
IV. TELL ABOUT THE SAVIOR, Lk. 2:8-20.
The Savior and His Gospel is for All, 1 Tim. 4:10; 2 Tim. 2:2.
V. GIVE YOURSELF TO THE SAVIOR, Matt. 2:11 (Josh. 24:15).
Only then is Jesus Your Savior, (1 Tim. 4:10) Matt. 11:28-30; Acts 2:36-38.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 12:9-14
Jesus was charged with being evil while He went about doing good. He faced
the injustices of men with candor, caring and consistency.
I. GOD EXPECTS MEN TO BE MERCIFUL, Matt. 12:1-8; Hosea 6:4-6.
To be Merciful We must First Recognize Our Need for and Our Reception of
Mercy, 12:1-2; cf. Deut. 23:25.
II. BE MERCIFUL…ALWAYS, Matt. 12:9-14.
Characteristics of Mercy:
Psa. 89:1-2: We cannot praise God’s mercy while being unmerciful.
Alzheimer’s is such a heartbreaking disease. How sad to watch as the once vibrant and active person slowly recedes into the fog of forgetfulness, social withdrawal and the inability to plan and complete complex tasks. The brain ceases to function normally; simple tasks become difficult and familiar faces become foreign.
Alzheimer’s occurs through no fault of the person affected by it. The same is not true of what we shall call “spiritual Alzheimer’s” – the forgetfulness that comes from choosing not to grow spiritually nor remain faithful to Christ in one’s life. This type of forgetfulness is sin (Jas. 4:17).
The apostle Peter wrote of such forgetfulness: “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:8-11).
Christians who forget they have been cleansed of their past sins invariably return to it (see 2 Pet. 2:20-22). So, in order to prevent spiritual Alzheimer’s Christians must:
1) Constantly remember that having been cleansed from sin by the blood of Jesus we must now live holy lives and no longer be driven by our former, sinful lusts (1 Pet. 1:13-16).
2) Continually be diligent to grow in personal faith (2 Pet. 1:5-7). This was Peter’s point. By failing to grow we forget our conversion and become “barren and unfruitful”. Do not be a “forgetful hearer” but a “doer of the work” (Jas. 1:24-25).
3) Do not forget the nature and purposes of God (read 2 Pet. 3:8, 5). God will keep his word, so “do not forget to good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Heb. 13:16).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 11/17/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA