And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 49 December 13, 2009
In this issue:
If a man urges unity, he should preach and practice those things that promote real Christian unity. He cannot, of course, sacrifice a command of God or faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; but his own opinions and speculations must be sacrificed for the sake of unity.
Not so many years ago we often heard sermons and read articles on unity and union. Why has there been a falling off in such sermons and articles? Perhaps, in view of so much strife and division in the churches of Jesus Christ, preachers hesitate to preach on unity. But do not conditions demand that we study the subjects more carefully and prayerfully and preach on it more earnestly? Why hesitate in the midst of such need? Have we a condition for which we have no remedy? If so, we show a lack of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Someone propagates a theory or a speculation and thereby divides a church of Jesus Christ. Is there no remedy?
Two brethren fall out about some business transaction, the brethren take sides, and the church is divided. Is there no remedy?
A preacher stays with a church till the church divides over him. Is there no remedy?
If I should cause division in any of these ways, am I better than any other sectarian? What right would I have to claim to be a gospel preacher? What right have I to claim the support of any church, if my presence is a menace to their peace and wellbeing?
A division is a church hurts every member of that church. Even those who are in the right will be provoked into thinking and doing things injurious to their Christian character. Few people, if any, can maintain a proper balance in the midst of misrepresentation and abuse. And a church fuss injures the influence of that church. The world reads your religion in what you do. They figure that if your religion will not save you from the devil now, it will not in the world to come. And your actions thus hinder the prayer of Jesus. He prayed that his followers might be one, that the world might believe.
Here we have a fearful responsibility. God hates one who sows discord among brethren. The sower of discord among the brethren is one of the devil’s best servants, no matter what his pretentions may be. Am I helping the world believe, or am I serving the devil by sowing discord among the brethren? Make that question a personal matter........
......Do you love the church as Jesus loved it? What would you give for its glory and honor? How do you regard divisions in the church which Jesus purchased with his blood? Will you trample that blood under your feet in a mad scramble to have your own way? “Oh, no,” you say. Good! But what is your attitude toward the man who does such things? Do you follow Paul’s demands? “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent.” (Rom. 16:17,18). Many churches have suffered, and been permanently injured, because they paid not heed to this solemn injunction. Will we wake up? Will we cultivate a conscience on this matter that will rise above personal considerations? Have we forgotten that Rom. 16:17,18 is in the Bible? Does it mean anything to you? But you want a man of smooth and fair speech? Page Absalom!
-Doctrinal Discourses, 204-207
Brother Whiteside’s comments first appeared in The Gospel Advocate, October 6, 1932. Things have not changed much, have they? The appeal of prestige, prominence and “smooth speaking” preachers continues to lead to compromise of the truth of Jesus Christ. The opinions of men are transformed into the doctrine of Christ. Allegiance to the promoters of error is tolerated. We do not deny the sincerity of those who preach their error in the name of truth. But, we must resist the false doctrine that says sincerity determines whether or not we remain in unity with one who teaches or practices error. Sincerity, conscience and popularity do not provide the standard on which unity and fellowship is based (Jno 17:20-21; 2 John 9-11).
The debate over divorce and remarriage is a case in point. Truth can be understood and believed on this topic. We can obey God’s truth and unite on the truth (Eph 5:17; 3:35; 2 Tim 2:15; Col 3:17). The fact that brethren have not always done so does not nullify the capability of God’s word to establish unity upon it or our ability to obey it. Some use Romans 14 to broaden fellowship with those who preach and/or practice doctrinal error on divorce and remarriage. But, if Romans 14 can be used in this way on one doctrinal and moral topic (MDR), then why not on all the other difficult religious topics men must face in order to have fellowship with God? Why not baptism, instrumental music, homosexuality and more (some already do so)? Such attempts satisfy man’s definition of unity, not God’s (Eph 4:16; 5:11). Joe
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Remembering Christ's Death as We Eat the Supper
Scripture Reading: Luke 23:33-38
1. Like anything else we do regularly,
the LS can become a repetitive reflex rather than a regular
remembrance. Lk 22:19
I. REMEMBER GOD’S LOVE AND GRACE AT THE CROSS, Rom 5:6-11.
A. We should Remember Christ’s Death Accomplished Reconciliation, Col 1:19-23.
II. REMEMBER THE SUFFERING OF THE SAVIOR, Heb 2:9.
A. Suffering Prophesied, Isa 53:3-8.
III. REMEMBER THE SURRENDER OF THE SAVIOR, Phil 2:5-8.
A. Remember His Humble Obedience, cf. Lk 22:40-46; cf. Jno 18:4-11.
IV. REMEMBER HIS SACRIFICE FOR SINS AT THE CROSS, Heb 9:13-14.
A. The Perfect Sacrifice, Heb 2:10; 5:9.
V. REMEMBER THE SALVATION HIS DEATH PROVIDES, Heb 5:8-9.
A. Bore Penalty Due our Sins, 1 Pet 2:24.
VI. REMEMBER THE SUCCESS (VICTORY) AT THE CROSS, Lk 23:34, 43; Matt 27:54.
A. Bring Many Sons to Glory, Heb 2:10.
Religious Mix and Match
The latest Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life was released Wednesday and showed a continuing shift in the religious landscape of America. According to USA Today, the survey indicates “elements of Eastern faiths and New Age thinking have been widely adopted by 65% of U.S. adults, including many who call themselves Protestants and Catholics” (“More U.S. Christians mix in 'Eastern,' New Age beliefs”, Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA Today).
This means (among other things) that insisting there is only one way of truth – one true doctrine – is dramatically out of favor these days (Eph 4:4-6). But, that’s nothing new. People believe being “spiritual” is enough (and they will define what “spiritual” means, thank you very much!). They believe they are free to mix and match their religious views – or have no religion at all – and still claim a relationship with God (whoever or whatever God is to them). They have no faith in God; they are deceived by sin (Heb 3:12-13).
Mix and match religion is nothing new. Syncretism is “the fusion of diverse religious beliefs and practices” (Britannica Online); “the attempt to reconcile disparate or contrary beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought” (Wikipedia).
Gone is a conviction that sin is real, a Savior is needed and His truth is the only way to salvation. Now, what one experiences satisfies as “spiritual”. Today a blending of everything from yoga, meditation and reincarnation of the Eastern religions to the Jewish mysticism of Kabbalah to the diversity of the western denominations serves as the backdrop for self-realized spirituality: “Truth is what is true to you”.
Yet, the truly spiritual person submits heart and life to the one true God and His word (Rom 8:5-8). God’s word abides forever while man’s wisdom is a fleeting failure (Matt 24:35; 1 Pet 1:23). We have neither the knowledge nor the power to mandate what God approves; His Son Jesus Christ does that (Jno 8:31-32; Matt 28:18-20). Jesus defines truth, not human experiences (Jno 14:6; 17:17). We must obey Jesus to be saved from our sins (He 5:9; Matt 7:21-23).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 12/21/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA