And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number
In this issue:
Desensitize. Now that’s a big word. What does it mean? It is defined “to reduce or eliminate the sensitivity of a person.”
A country boy asked a city-slicker once, “Have you ever seen a pig holding his nose?” The city-slicker answered, “No, I haven’t.” The country boy then said, “He’s been in the stench so long, he doesn’t know he stinks.” “Now, I’ve got it,” said the city-slicker. Don’t you love the way country folks can shuck it down where anyone can understand?
Desensitization happens when we expose ourselves to shameful things so long that we no longer respond to it as we once did. The Bible teaches us to keep our senses keen. Our senses are to be “exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:14). We need to have discernment to make good choices and approve of things that are excellent (Phil. 1:10). But too much exposure to filth has a tendency to numb the senses. Our world is full of people who “having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more” (Eph. 4:19). It is possible for our consciences to become seared (1 Tim. 4:2). I’m reminded of a newly hired construction worker who hit his thumb with a hammer and doubled over in pain. His boss walked by and said, “You know, if you’ll do that every day for a while, it’ll get to where it doesn’t hurt anymore.” He’s right. All the nerves will be dead. That’s desensitization.
In the days of Jeremiah, things got so bad that Jeremiah said the people did not “know how to blush” (Jer. 6:15). It makes me wonder – are we there? Have we lost the ability to blush at anything? Are there things that used to bother you but they don’t bother you any longer? Are you watching things on television that at one time you would not have watched? Are you going places that at one time you would not visit? Are you wearing things that at one time you would not have worn? Are you more silent about things that at one time you would have spoken out against? Has your zeal for the Lord reached the “lukewarm” level (Rev. 3:16)?
Have we been desensitized when we ought to be holding our noses? Think about it.
-knollwoodchurch.org; June 2011 articles
Beware the Extremist
A very versatile word in the English language is “extremist.” Much like “legalist,” “radical,” and “hobbyist,” it can be called into play whenever desired. It would seem that ANY MAN could be called an extremist — it just depends on who is doing the calling and where he stands at the time. A sure way to prejudice unthinking people against a certain viewpoint or matter of doctrine is to charge, “That is an EXTREME view!” An effective tool for poisoning people against a preacher is to claim, “You know, he is an EXTREMIST!” Immediately the dull-witted close their ears to what he says. They make no effort to investigate the Word of God to determine whether it is the truth. All of us need studious minds, desire for truth, willingness to study for ourselves, and fair-mindedness in considering any matter. Above all, we need respect for God’s Book!
Strange But Often True
Some very significant factors enter into this matter of irresponsible use of words, “He is just an extremist.”
• Somehow, it is ALWAYS the other fellow who is extreme – NEVER the speaker.
• Frequently it is used by very “pious” men as a weapon to destroy another – as a prejudicial epithet.
• Often the speaker may not be overly concerned with the basic question of right and wrong. Yet it is better to be extremely right by following the truth than to be extremely wrong by rejecting it.
• It may sometimes just be a self-protective device used by a person who is mortally afraid that HE may be identified with the extremists. Perish the thought! So, in accusing the other brother of extremism he implies – for his own safety – “I certainly am not like that. I am no extremist.”
Not Necessarily So
No one doubts that a man CAN be an extremist, but there are definitely some things that are NOT to be considered as marks of an extremist. If they are, the Bible is full of extremists (including God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the apostles, the prophets, etc). Let us observe that:
• One is not an extremist because he insists on divine authority from Christ for teaching and practice. The Holy Spirit requires this. (Col. 3:17; Heb 8:5.)
• One is not an extremist because he rejects human traditionalism in religion – even though it may be “common practice of the brethren.” Jesus denounced such. (Matt.15:6-9.)
• One is not an extremist because he refuses to encourage false teaching and teachers in any way. (2 John 9-11.) Fellowship with God is at stake here.
• One is not an extremist because he publicly challenges men to give authority for their practices. Jesus did. (Matt. 21:24-27.)
• One is not an extremist because he is willing to meet another in public encounter (that is, before an audience) and challenge a brother for his departure from the truth. Paul did so. (Gal. 2:11-14; Acts 15:1, 2.)
• One is not an extremist because he calls the names of men who teach the churches error and cause digression. Paul sets the example for this. (2 Tim. 1:15; 2:15-18)
• One is not an extremist because he presses the truth with vigorous contention for the faith. The apostles did and we are instructed to do so. (Jude 3; 1 Thess 2:1-2)
• One is not an extremist because he refuses to back away from the thick of a fight for truth. Paul says God has not given us “the spirit of fear” (cowardice). (2 Tim. 1:7-8.) A gospel preacher should be ashamed to be a coward.
• One is not an extremist because he teaches faithful Christians to mark and avoid brethren who teach contrary to apostolic doctrine. This is demanded. (Rom 16:17-18)
• One is not an extremist simply because his teaching causes division. Jesus’ sword – the word of God – does some disturbing and dividing. (Matt 10:34-36) Certainly not all division is laudable. Some of it is deplorable and sinful. It is always sinful to divide people by the preaching of error. On the other hand, division brought about by the proclamation of TRUTH – division that results when some men take their stand upon a “thus-saith-the-Lord” and others rally to their human traditions – is to be expected. It was so in New Testament days. It is true today. Men are OBLIGATED to teach the truth. And men are OBLIGATED to separate themselves from error. (Rom 16:17-18; II Cor. 6:14-18)
Revelation 2:5 shows that churches who once pleased God, may lose their lampstand (God’s approval). Consider three ways of identifying a church like this.
1. Composed of Christians Who is a Christian? Someone baptized by faith in the working of God to forgive sin by Jesus’ blood (Col. 2:12; Rev. 1:5). But Christians may depart from the faith (1 Tim. 4:1).
2. Teaching partial error Churches which avoid controversial topics may technically say “We don’t teach error.” Paul preached “the whole counsel of God” and regularly warned of error (Acts 20:28-31). Do you hear warnings of error, like lascivious dancing and dress, evolution, etc.?
3. Practicing partial error As for your works, the last are more than the first (Rev. 2:19). Jesus sees the practices of churches, and He often sees practices He does not approve of. Paul taught the church at Corinth to worship when they came together as a church but to satisfy their hunger at home (1 Cor. 11:18, 22, 34). Today, churches provide food, games, and sports which the family should provide. If churches can entertain children, can churches punish them too? If one, why not the other?
-The Exhorter, March 27, 2011
Quail Valley church of Christ
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Faith at Work (2) - Lessons from James
Scripture Reading:James 2:14-20
Faith that does not work is faith that will not save.
I. FAITH DOES NOT HARBOR PREJUDICE, Jas 2:1-13.
and Favoritism do not Coexist, Jas 2:1-9. 1 Sam 16:6-7; Acts 10:34-35.
II. FAITH IS AT WORK WHEN IT OBEYS GOD, Jas 2:14-20.
Kinds of Works in the NT: Some Approved as Righteous, Some Opposed as
Sinful, Eph 2:8-10.
III. FAITH IS MADE COMPLETE IN OBEDIENCE, Jas 2:21-26.
Faith of Abraham was Perfected by his Obedience, Jas 2:21-23.
given us good works in which we must walk, Eph 2:10.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 07/31/2011
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA