And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 15, Number
In this issue:
The Scriptures clearly warn Christians against the danger of pride's overconfidence: "let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:12). Yet, the temptation to either "tell or to hear some new thing" infects the thinking of some brethren, persuading them to discount the need to hear and preach the "old paths" (Acts 17:21; Jer. 6:16). Preaching on Bible authority, true worship, the organization and work of the local church, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the plan of salvation (faith, grace and works) and the dangers of immorality (fornication, dancing, drinking, etc.) are deemed irrelevant by some, and too negative and harsh by others. Instead, the common urge is for a message that is more palatable to the tongue and more pleasing to the ear (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
A rationalized defense is offered for this shift away from preaching the old paths of God's word: "We already know that". Maybe so. Yet, the Scriptures are filled with exhortations of our need to be reminded of what we know (Lk. 17:32; Gal. 1:8-9; Phil. 3:1-2; 2 Pet. 1:12-15). Knowledge must be coupled with love or it only puffs up (1 Cor. 8:1-3).
Growing to spiritual maturity does not mean we abandon the first principles of the gospel. The problem of immaturity in Hebrews 5:12-6:3 resulted from a failure to use "the word of righteousness" to discern good and evil. Without properly using the word of God we will not grow in Christ (2 Pet. 3:18; 2 Tim. 2:15). If we conclude that "we already know that" we are setting ourselves up to eventually neglect that part of God's word "we already know", as well as hasten the inevitable erosion of faith.
"Leaving" does not mean "forgetting" (Heb. 6:1). An adult does not live on milk, but he does drink it. Or again (using the figure of constructing a building), the foundation must be laid before the structure can be built. The "elementary principles of Christ" must be implanted in our hearts in order for us to "go on to perfection" (maturity, Heb. 6:1-2; Jas. 1:21). Spiritual maturity does not dismissively say "we already know that" - now we want something else. It sees the value of keeping a solid faith foundation upon which to build mature faith (Heb. 11:1).
A balanced diet of gospel teaching is essential. The whole counsel of God must always be preached (Acts 20:27). We must always teach holy living that identifies sin and warns of its death (Gal. 5:19-21; Rom. 6:23). We must always teach and "hold fast the pattern of sound words" that honors Christ's authority in everything while rejecting every innovation and error (2 Tim. 1:13; Col. 3:17; Matt. 15:7-14). We need reproof, rebuke and exhortation "in season and out of season" (2 Tim. 4:2).
Preachers and brethren, continue to preach and to demand God's word on every subject. Never say "we already know that", lest there develops within you "an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God" (Heb. 3:12). "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isa. 8:20).
Speaking the Truth in Love
Joe R. Price
“...but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ" (Eph. 4:15).
The objective of speaking the truth is the salvation and spiritual growth of the hearer (Rom. 1:15-16; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). To achieve this we must first speak. Silence will not win a soul or turn restore one who is fallen (Mk. 16:15; Gal. 6:1). We must speak the truth, not the wisdom, will and doctrines of men (Acts 26;25; Rom. 9:1; Eph. 1:13; 4:21). And, we must speak the truth in love, that is, in the best interest and to meet the greatest need of the hearer (Matt. 22:39). Being harsh and rude is alienating rather than instructive (1 Cor. 13:5).
Love “does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6). The person who speaks the truth is expressing love toward others. We are tempted to believe the opposite; that telling someone the truth will "hurt their feelings" - and so we say nothing. The truth remains unspoken and the one who needs to hear it is not helped. Better to speak the truth in love and let the truth do its work than be silent (cf. Gal. 4:16). Professing to love someone while rationalizing silent inaction harms us and fails to help the one who needs the truth. We end up failing to speak the truth at all, much less doing so in love. That cannot be right (Jas. 4:17).
How then can we “speak truth in love”? God’s word puts us under commandment to “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). When we use the word of God to “convince (reprove, ASV), rebuke, exhort” it is an act of love toward the hearer. This is God’s approved way of correcting the sinner (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-26). Sadly, some Christians appear to believe the way to love people is never to communicate with them face to face about their sin.
A Christian once observed that “maybe sometimes we are too sweet with people” to the point that they fail to understand the seriousness of their sin on their spiritual condition. The point is this: How will we ever restore a fallen Christian unless we speak what needs to be spoken (Gal. 6:1-2)? We cannot wait for the one who has been overtaken by sin to come to us for help; that rarely happens! We must see the need, go to the person and speak the truth in love to try to save their soul.
Three reasons for why we must speak the truth in love are given in Ephesians 4:14-16:
1) To avoid error and spiritual destruction (v. 14). Without divine truth guiding us we will be tossed about by the doctrines of men like a ship in a storm until we finally break apart and lose our souls (Gal. 1:6-10).
2) To help each other grow in faith (v. 15). Truth helps us grow up in Christ. If we see the importance of physical growth then surely we can understand the need for spiritual growth. Without it we remain weak and susceptible to sin and death. The truth of God is designed to promote our growth and spiritual well-being (1 Pet. 2:1-2; 1 Jno. 2:14).
3) To strengthen the church (v. 16). As we receive and obey the truth we become a functioning member of the body of Christ and should contribute to its stability and maturity (Acts 2:47; Rom. 12:3-5). Notice the apostle says when the body grows it is being built up or edified "in love".
The next time you are tempted not to speak the truth when it ought to be spoken, ask yourself whether or not you love the person involved. Love speaks the truth; it does not remain silent. By speaking the truth in love we help save souls, thereby strengthening the body of Christ, His church.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Trusting God with Our Lives
Scripture Reading: Psalm 5:1-3
Psalm 5 in an example of a man of faith (David) who trusted God in the face of fierce enemies. He teaches us to do the same.
I. A MORNING PRAYER, Psa. 5:1-3.
Remember that God Hears and Answers Your Prayers, 5:1; Psa. 4:1.
II. REMEMBER GOD'S WARNING TO THE WICKED, Psa. 5:4-6.
God's Moral Clarity. 2 Cor. 6:14
III. FIND RENEWAL IN WORSHIP, 5:7-8.
Mercy Enables and Provides Our Worship God, 5:7; Jno. 4:23; Matt. 14:33.
IV. GOD'S DENUNCIATION OF WOE ON THE WICKED, Psa. 5:9-10.
A. God in
Justice Pronounces Guilt and Punishment. (Rom. 2:6-11)
V. ANTICIPATE THE BLESSINGS AND FAVORS OF THE RIGHTEOUS, 5:11-12.
are Lifted at Calvary, Jno. 16:33
Conclusion - David's central request in Psalm 5: "Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies..." (5:8)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Lord, Teach Us To Pray
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:9-15
Called the Lord's Prayer, yet it is a model prayer for disciples, Matt. 6:9-15 (5-8); Lk. 11;1-2. Christians must be prayerful people.
I. God's Paternity: "Our Father (who art) in heaven", Matt. 6:9. (Matt. 6:25-30.
A. God Rules, Psa. 11:4; Heb. 12:9.
II. GOD'S PERSON: "Hallowed be Your name." Matt. 6:9 (Psa. 111.9; 1 Pet. 1:14-16).
III. GOD'S PROGRAM: "Your kingdom come", Matt. 6:10.
A. Kingdom: Sovereignty, Royal Power and Rule; Matt. 16:18-19; Jno. 18:36; Mk. 9:1.
IV. God's Purposes: "Your will be done", Matt. 6:10.
A. God's Will has Priority Over Our Will, Matt. 26:39, 42; Jno. 5:30; Eccl. 12:13.
V. GOD'S PROVISIONS: Give us this day our daily bread", Matt. 6:11.
A. God is
Our Provider, Matt. 6:31-33.
VI. GOD'S PARDON: "And forgive us our debts", Matt. 6:12. (Jno. 8:21, 34, 36).
A. God Forgives Us Just As We Forgive Others, Matt. 6:12. (Proviso, 6:14-15).
VII. GOD'S PROTECTION: "And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one", Matt. 6:13.
VIII. GOD'S PREEMINENCE AND PRAISE: "For yours is the Kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen." Matt. 6:13
Conclusion - 1 Jno. 5:14-15
A lawsuit goes to trial Monday in a Los Angeles Superior Court in which the plaintiff David Coppedge alleges he was demoted and then lost his job with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory because he shared his view of Intelligent Design (ID) with coworkers.
"It's part of a pattern. There is basically a war on anyone who dissents from Darwin and we've seen that for several years," said John West, associate director of Center for Science and Culture at the Seattle-based Discovery Institute. "This is free speech, freedom of conscience 101."
"The National Center for Science Education, which rejects intelligent design as thinly veiled creationism, is also watching the case and has posted all the legal filings on its website." ("David Coppedge, Ex-NASA Worker, Claims In Lawsuit That Agency Axed Him For 'Intelligent Design' Views", huffingtonpost.com)
We note that according to its own description, ID is not creationism (intelligentdesign.org). "The theory of intelligent design is simply an effort to empirically detect whether the 'apparent design' in nature acknowledged by virtually all biologists is genuine design (the product of an intelligent cause) or is simply the product of an undirected process such as natural selection acting on random variations" (Ibid.). For Bible believers, the design seen everywhere around us infers that Almighty God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1; Psa. 19:1-2; Rom. 1:20; Heb. 3:4).
Darwinists face a dilemma: They must assign the design of the universe to random, mindless, material processes (unintelligent design?). Challenging their godless, mindless sacred cow comes at a cost. Did Mr. Coppedge lose his job because he dared to resist the prevailing wisdom? Perhaps. But this we know: resisting the Creator will bring one's eternal loss. (Rom. 1:18-21)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/19/2012
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA