And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 39 October 04, 2009
In this issue:
Jesus said “I will build My church”, and with that clear statement denoted the value and the identity of His church (Matt 16:18). He said He would build His church upon the foundational truth confessed by Peter, “you are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt 16:18, 16). Jesus emphasized His superior power to build His church when He said “the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it”. Even His death would not prevent Him from building His church. Indeed, it was by means of His death and His resurrection that He showed Himself to be the Son of God (Rom 1:4). Jesus built His church as a result of the redemptive power of His death (Acts 20:28; 2:32-41). The gospel calls the lost to salvation and Jesus adds those who are saved by it to His church (Acts 2:47).
Consider these simple and profound truths about the church Jesus built:
1) The church of Christ belongs to Christ. It does not belong to the elders, to the members or to anyone else. It is the body of Christ, not the body of men (Eph 1:22-23).
2) The church of Christ is comprised of the redeemed. The word “church” means the called out ones. The gospel calls sinners out of sin’s darkness and death into God’s light of salvation (1 Pet 2:9-10). The church of Christ is those who have answered that call by obeying the Lord’s commands (1 Pet 1:22-23).
3) The church of Christ is valuable to God. The Son of God purchased it with His blood (Acts 20:28). Those who say the church is unimportant fail to correctly value Jesus’ death (Eph 5:25-27).
4) The church of Christ is composed of Christians. The church is not an amalgamation of churches. Each Christian is a living stone in God’s spiritual house, the church (1 Pet 2:5). Saved people are added to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47).
5) The church of Christ is not a denomination of churches. Denominations are not in the Bible. They only appeared on the religious landscape because men left the pattern of sound words to cling to false doctrines and false organizations (1 Tim 4:1-3; 2 Tim 1:13; 3:16-17). There is “one body” (one church of Christ), not many (Eph 4:4).
6) The church of Christ was not built by men. No one but Jesus purchased the church and no one but Jesus is the head of the church of Christ (Eph 1:22-23). Man cannot improve on the church that Jesus built.
7) You are added to the church of Christ by Christ when He saves you from your sins (Acts 2:47). Jesus said “he who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk 16:16). Jesus saves believers who repent and are baptized (Acts 2:47). If you have not done so you are not in the church of Christ. You are still lost in your sins. Obey Jesus and be saved – be added to His church (1 Cor 12:13).
Some unbelievers skeptically question why Jesus had to die for God to forgive sins; others sincerely question the reason for His death. “Why did God choose to have Jesus be murdered on the cross to save us from sins?” Truth seekers discover in the Bible why Jesus died to save the lost (Acts 17:11).
Without the shedding of blood there is no remission (Heb 9:22). From the earliest animal sacrifices offered by men to appease divine wrath against sin, the principle of life being sacrificed so sinners might live was being emphasized and expressed. The explanation was given to Israel in the Law of Moses: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Lev 17:11). The ASV translates “for the soul” as “by reason of the life”. The shedding of blood denotes the giving of life. Sin destroys life (“in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die”, Gen 2:17). Life that is pure and free from sin’s blemish is required by God and offered to Him to atone for sin. Yet, the blood of unblemished bulls and goats cannot take away sins (Heb 10:4). The animal sacrifices of the Law of Moses were shadows of what would be needed for human redemption. Another type of unblemished life would be necessary to purify sinners (Heb 10:1-4). A body was prepared for the Son so that He could offer Himself as the pure sacrifice for sinners (Heb 10:5-10).
The death of Jesus satisfies the justice of God. His death demonstrates the righteous justice of God in His forbearance toward sins that had been committed before the death of Jesus (Rom 3:25-26). Justice demands the punishment of sin (the wages of sin is death, Rom 6:23). Since the blood of unblemished animals could not redeem sinners (“take away sins”, Heb 10:4), divine wrath against sin had to be appeased. Divine justice demanded the penalty of death for sin. How could God be just and true to His righteousness as He “passed over” the sins that were previously committed without the penalty of sin being imposed (Rom 3:25)? The answer is “through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ” as His blood is “set forth as a propitiation” for sins (Rom 3:34-25). God would accept the life of the sinless Son as an adequate offering to appease divine wrath against sin. Isaiah explains, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief, when You make His soul an offering for sin…He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied” (Isa 53:10-11). Jesus freely offered His life to God as an offering for sinners, and God accepted it as sufficient to satisfy His justice against sin.
The death of Jesus shows the mercy of God. Were it not for the merciful grace of God, no sinner would be saved. The divine love is fully expressed in the voluntary death of Jesus: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). Deserving death, sinners obtain life through the Son’s sacrificial death (Rom 5:6-11). By the grace of God Jesus tasted death for everyone (Heb 2:9). He died willingly so we could be sanctified (Heb 10:10). God is rich in mercy and fully offers redemption to sinners in Christ (Eph 2:4-7; 1:6-7). The death of Jesus affirms that God forgives!
The death of Jesus was voluntary. God did not force the Son to die; He freely laid down His life (Jno 10:17-18). This magnifies the love of God and the sacrifice of Jesus; there is no greater love. Jesus freely bore our sins on the cross so we can die to sin and live for righteousness (1 Pet 2:24). “Oh, what wondrous love I see” on Calvary’s cross!
Inquiring sinners are compelled to ask, “What must I do to be saved?” God has done His part to save by providing and accepting the sinless offering of Jesus for the sins of the world. Now, sinners must believe Jesus is the Christ and confess Him, repent of every sin and be baptized, where contact with the saving blood of Jesus is obtained (Acts 2:37-38; Rom 6:3-4; 10:9-10).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-27
14:22-33: The exciting and exhausting events of the day now conclude with
the Lord protecting His disciples, praying to the Father and persuading His
disciples to have greater faith in Him as the Son of God.
I. THE LORD AT PRAYER, Matt 14:22-23; cf. Jno 11:41-42.
A. Prayer: A Period of Soothing and Refreshing Relief, Jas 5:16; Phil 4:6-7; 1 Ths 5:17-18; Psa 55:16-17; Lk 18:1; 11:5-8; Psa 55:22.
II. CONTRARY WINDS, Matt 14:24.
Contrary Winds of False Doctrines, Eph 4:14; Jno 6:15; cf. Mk 6:52 (Acts
1:6-7); 1 Ti 1:5-7; 2 Pe 3:16-18; 2:1-3.
III. SALVATION AND SAFETY FROM THE LORD, Matt 14:26-33.
Word of Jesus Calms Fears, 14:26-27; 1 Jno 2:14; Jas 1:21; Eph 6:13-14.
Jesus will save you from the storms of sin, of life and of doubt.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 29:13-16
for “positive Christianity” has developed an imbalance leading to:
I. “We need to hear more preaching about the daily walk of the Christian.”
6:40; 1 Jno 2:6; Eph 2:10; 4:1; 5:8; 3 Jno 3-4. Eph 4:17-20; 5:15.
II. “The love doesn’t flow.” Acts 8:39; Phil 2:2, 16-18; 1 Jno 3:16-18; Eph 5:2.
III. “Preaching on Bible authority is too dry and boring.” CENI (Command Example Necessary Inference) is ridiculed, Matt 28:18-20; Col 3:17 (CENI, Acts 15:6-21). 2 Tim 2:14-18; 4:3-4; 1:13.
IV. “Your sermons make me feel beaten down, not lifted up.” 2 Tim 4:2; Acts 24:24-25; 2:37; 6:54; 13:45, 48; 2 Cor 7:9-10; Rom 10:17. Positivism infers we must always feel good (1 Pet 1:6; Jas 5:13).
V. “We need to go in a new direction.”
Way of salvation, Acts 16:17; the Lord, Acts 18:25; of God, Acts 18:26; of
truth, 2 Pet 2:2; of righteousness, 2 Pet 2:21.
VI. “The church needs to operate like a business.” 1 Cor 12:26; 2 Tim 4:5
Conclusion. Man-made distinctions, 2 Tim 3:16f
This is the name given in a recent survey by Trinity College to Americans who identify with no religious tradition. Currently, 15% of Americans claim “no religion”. In 1990, the “nones” comprised 8% of Americans, and are the fastest growing segment of the national religious landscape. At the current rate, 25% of Americans could claim “no religion” in 20 years (“Survey: One Quarter of Americans Could Claim 'No Religion' in 20 Years”, Dan Gilgoff, U.S. News & World Report, Sept 22, 2009).
This survey reports that the secularization of American does not mean the “nones” are atheists. Instead, results suggest they are better described as skeptics. They are not necessarily hostile to religion; just unconvinced.
The religious nones present Christians with both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge continues to be to oppose and expose the humanistic forces of the day, including the abandonment of moral boundaries in divine truth for the “idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Tim 6:20).
Our opportunity is to present these skeptics the evidence of God’s presence and power, and of His Son’s identity, authority and redemptive work (Rom 1:20; Psa 19:1; Jno 20:30-31; 5:36; 14:7-11). They need reasons to believe. Unfettered by previous and present religious traditions, we have an opportunity to reach them with the truth of the gospel. Our aim is to turn skepticism into belief that leads to eternal life through the power of the gospel (Jno 1:12; 20:31; Rom 1:16-17). Our aim is to save the lost. While we oppose the secularization of America, it may well provide us with an opportunity to advance truth and the salvation of the lost.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 10/05/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA