And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 20 May 24, 2009
In this issue:
“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast” (Exodus 12:14).
The United States of America pauses on the last Monday in May to remember fallen soldiers who fought to obtain and preserve our freedoms, but when God first instituted his own memorial day, it was no less an occasion of sacrifice and duty.
His people were preparing to leave behind Egyptian slavery where they labored to build Pharaoh his pyramids by the sweat of their brows. In the night that a plague of death swept through Egypt, the massacre would pass over the marked houses of the Israelites so that they could survive and escape into the land of promise (see Exodus 12:29-51).
The Passover feast commemorated that great occasion until it was punctuated with a messianic exclamation point and superseded by a superior sacrifice. God’s son, Jesus of Nazareth, would cap three years of ministry by willingly going to the cross, becoming an atonement for human sin, but only after sharing a final passover meal with his friends. “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1).
He was arrested and beaten mercilessly by the ruling Romans, scourged with whips and chains, mocked by the lowest of humanity, affixed to a cross where he hung in agony for six hours, his flesh nailed to the torturous tree. He struggled not. He resisted not at all, though he could have summoned twelve legions of angels to set him free (Matthew 26:53). “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (First Peter 2:23-24).
In the night he was betrayed, Jesus fulfilled the Passover promise and lit the way for all men to approach the heavenly land of perfect promise. “For Christ our passover lamb has been sacrificed” (First Corinthians 5:7).
He created a new memorial day and feast when his thankful disciples could assemble each Sunday. “Do this in remembrance of me,” he said (First Corinthians 11:24). “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes” (26).
America’s Memorial Day comes but once a year and commemorates very noble sacrifices. Christ’s memorial day is weekly, and when observed consistently and solemnly, proclaims an even more special and enduring gift.
-Woodmont Beacon, May 24, 2009, Ed. 446
Jesus built His church upon the truth that He is the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matt. 16:16-18). His church is “one body” composed of Christians, not churches (Eph. 1:22-23). The Lord does not add churches to His church; He adds those who are saved to His church (Acts 2:47).
A denomination is a class or kind that has or is given a specific name. Dividing and naming are the two elements of the denominating process. For example, to denominate money a process of dividing and naming the currency (penny, nickel, dime, quarter, half dollar; one dollar, five dollars, etc.) occurs. Denominating churches is the process of dividing believers and naming specific groups so as to correspond to their specific doctrines, organization or practices.
A dilemma arises in denominating churches that claim allegiance to Christ. The predicament of denominationalism is that Christ prayed for the unity of believers (Jno. 17:20-21). Denominations divide believers; that cannot please the Lord (Eph. 4:4-6).
Those wedded to their denominational church must somehow uphold the whole notion of denominationalism. To do so, they tell us that having many churches is good, since you can “choose the church of your choice”. Plus, they pray thanksgiving to God for “all the churches” and all the “good” they do. Anyone who objects to denominationalism is marginalized as narrow-minded and bigoted. (After all, there are so many “good people” in all the churches, who are we to judge any of them?!) If one is so bold as to point out from the Bible that those in the churches of men are still lost in their sins, he must be a judgmental extremist, a member of a cult or some other sort of vile “demon” to be avoided at all cost!
Nevertheless, the New Testament is clear: to go beyond the doctrine of Christ is to forfeit fellowship with the Father and the Son (2 Jno. 9). A perverted gospel will only condemn; it will never save (Gal. 1:6-9). The churches of men give false hope to people while they remain lost in their sins (Matt. 15:7-9). Though populated by many good people, denominations are against the plan and purpose of God. Those who are in such churches are lost. They need the saving gospel to bring them out of sin’s darkness into the Son’s marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9).
The church of Christ is not a denomination. It is the “general assembly” of the saved whose names are registered in heaven (not enrolled in a denomination, Heb. 12:23). Each local church of Christ is a group of Christians who are bound together by their common faith, fellowship and practice (Acts 2:42-47; 14:21-23; 20:7).
It is becoming more common for folks in churches of Christ to refuse to “judge righteous judgment” and rebuke the sinful errors of denominational churches. Some Christians (who should know better) are even heard to say that some people in denominations will go to heaven. Oh, really? What Scripture gives the hope of heaven to one who follows false doctrine, enters a false church and offers false worship to God? (Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 4:7-8)
Jesus bought His church, not denominations, with His blood; (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-27). He saves His body; not the churches of men (Eph. 5:23). Denominationalism sins against the Lord’s prayer for unity (Jno. 17:21). Until one rejects it he remains lost. Come out and be saved (2 Cor. 6:17-18; Acts 2:37-3-41)!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Romans 10:8-13
1. To be
“in Christ” means to “know” Christ, 1 Jno 2:3-5. Must be in Christ to know
I. SPIRITUAL BENEFITS ARE ONLY OBTAINED “IN CHRIST”.
creature (creation), 2 Cor 5:17
II. WHO IS IN CHRIST AND WHO IS OUTSIDE OF CHRIST?
III. HOW DOES A PERSON GET INTO CHRIST?
Called by the Gospel, 1 Cor 1:9, 21.
Concl. Are you IN or OUT of Christ?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 6:9-15
Christians are heirs of the Abrahamic promise, Gal 3:26-29.
I. USE GOD’S WORD, Heb 5:11-14.
Our Hope Compels Us to Teach the Lost, 5:12 (8-11). Matt 9:36-38; Jno 4:35
II. PRESS TO MATURITY, Heb 6:1-3,11
Our Hope for the Future is Secured by Events of the Past (6:13, 17).
III. APPRECIATE OUR VALUABLE BLESSINGS, Heb 6:4-6.
Our Present Spiritual Blessings Give Us Reason to Maintain Our Hope! Eph
1:3; 1 Cor 3:21-23
IV. BE FRUITFUL, Heb 6:7-8.
Bearing Fruit is Consistent with our Hope, Jno 15:5-8; Gal 5:22-23.
V. THE CHRISTIAN’S ASSURANCE.
God does not Forget, Heb 6:10.
Concl. Be diligent, faithful and steadfast; Inherit the promises, Heb 6:12; lay hold of the hope set before us, Heb 6:18.
What would you do if your bank accidentally put $6.1 million into your checking account? How honest would you be about correcting their mistake? Would you return what is not yours?
Well, when this happened to a New Zealand couple they decided to skip the country. The man had applied for a credit line of $61,000 but in closing the deal the bank mistakenly deposited $6.1 million. The bank recovered $1.7 million, but about $4 million was withdrawn. Now, the man and his girlfriend with her 7-year old daughter are thought to have fled to Hong Kong or China. (“International Search for New Zealand Couple Who Fled With Millions From Bank”, AP, May 22, 2009, FoxNews.com)
You may never have millions accidentally put into your checking account, but what about the $5 of extra change the cashier gave you at the grocery store? Do you return it? What do you do when the cashier overlooks charging you for an item? Do you call it to her attention, or take it without paying for it? That is no less stealing than taking millions.
Our honesty is tested just about every day. How we handle the little things says just as much about our character and honesty as do the big things (Lk. 16:10).
Our heavenly Father expects us to be honest in all things. “You shall follow what is altogether just” was commanded of Israel; no less is expected of Christians (Deut. 16:20; Lk. 3:13; Heb. 13:18; 1 Pet. 3:17-18). Stealing is a sin against God and our neighbor (Mk. 10:19; Matt. 7:12; Eph. 4:28).
It is far better to live honestly and please God than to live in covetousness and lose one’s soul (Matt. 16:26; Col. 3:5-6).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 05/25/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA