And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 15, Number
In this issue:
Most parents have heard their children ask this question. Children have a way of testing parents to see if they really mean what they say. Parents must teach children they do indeed mean what they say, and they are expected to do obey their instruction (Eph. 6:1). Parents have their children’s best interest at heart (or should), when they teach them obedience (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:20). They want them to learn responsibility, reliability and respect.
Like parents, God’s teachings are in our best interests. God commands us for our eternal good. We must not be like little children and say to God, “Do I have to?” when He commands us. He wants to keep us out of spiritual danger by saving our souls from sin and by teaching us to be faithful, responsible, reliable, respectful children of God. For example:
“Do I have to be baptized to be saved?” Did you know that question was never asked in the New Testament? Instead, people asked, “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37); “Lord, what do You want me to do?” (Acts 9:6); and “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30) Christ has commanded us to be baptized into Him for the remission of our sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:27; 1 Pet. 3:21). It is His way of washing away our sins by His blood (Acts 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4). It is not our place to say, “Do I have to?” It is our place to reverently believe and obey (Acts 10:34-35).
“Do I have to attend every worship service of the church?” Early Christians made it a habit to assemble together to worship God and edify each other (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20). Although some made a habit of forsaking their assembling together, this was a willful sin against God (Heb. 10:24-26). We must see the spiritual benefits and blessings of worshiping God and not approach it with begrudging compliance (1 Jno. 5:3). God who has saved us from our sins should not receive from us the unthinking response, “Do I have to go to all the worship services?”
“Do I have to read my Bible regularly?” What a blessing it is to have a Bible to read (Jno. 8:32; Acts 17:11; Eph. 3:3-5; Heb. 4:12). By doing so we understand the will of the Lord (Eph. 5:17). The God who saves us is the same God who has revealed His mind to us through the apostles and prophets of Christ (Jno. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10-13). Every person who wants God’s approval must surely see the benefit of learning God’s word of truth so he can conform himself to the will of God (2 Tim. 2:15). Christians who rarely open the Holy Scriptures fail to equip themselves to do God’s work. In effect they are saying, “No, I do not have to read the word of God to be a mature Christian” (2 Tim. 3:15-17).
“Do I have to?” No, you do not have to obey God. You choose whether you will obey or disobey God (Josh. 24:15). But be advised, eternal salvation is only promised to those who obey Jesus in faith. It is not promised to those who disobey Him (Heb. 5:8-9). Instead of asking, “Do I have to?!” we ought to ask, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”
Jesus concluded his parable highlighting forgiveness by saying, “So shall also my heavenly Father do unto you, if ye forgive not everyone his brother from your hearts” (Matthew 18:35). Forgiving from the heart denotes a sincere and genuine forgiveness. But here our heart is made aware of a sobering thought. What will my heavenly Father do unto me, if I do not forgive from the heart?
We are to forgive from a heart knowing God will not forgive us if we do not genuinely forgive others. This is the point of the parable (Matthew 18:23-35). A servant owes the king 10,000 talents and cannot immediately pay the debt. Pleading for patience, the servant receives compassion from the king who forgives him of the debt. When released of his debt, he finds a fellow servant who owes him 100 shillings. He rigorously demands payment. He does not forgive with compassion, even though he was forgiven by the king far more than what his fellow servant owed him. His king, when learning of his servant’s unwillingness to forgive, demands what was owed him. This is where Jesus’ summary statement is made. We must forgive others knowing God will not forgive us when we need forgiveness (Matthew 6:14-15).
Forgiving from the heart is a heart that is not calculating the wrongs done, but is a heart always ready to forgive. Peter asked, “How oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him…” No doubt thinking magnanimously, Peter immediately adds, “until seven times?” Jesus follows the line of thinking, but takes it to a different meaning. Jesus says not seven but the complete number 7 multiplied by 10 times 7. Jesus is not saying that one must forgive 490 times, but the limit is reached at this point and one does not have to forgive the 491st time. He is saying the heart is ready always to forgive.
What is the limit of your forgiveness? If one wrongs you once and you forgive; and then wrongs you a second time, and you forgive; you are probably at your limit. Does it not make you look foolish to keep on being wronged and you respond with forgiveness? After all, does not the world think in terms, “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”. But forgiving from the heart involves being always ready to forgive, not having a certain limit to forgiveness.
Forgiving from the heart, is a heart knowledgeable of how God forgives. While always ready to forgive, God does not forgive until we repent (Acts 8:22). As God has forgiven us, we are to forgive others with a “tender” and “kind” heart (Ephesians 4:32). While we should always be ready to forgive, “if he repent, forgive him” is the godlike way we should forgive from the heart (Luke 17:3).
We must forgive as God forgives, being ready to forgive the penitent with compassion. We will forgive with a heart never to apply the wrong again. When your heart says “I just cannot forgive anymore,” tell yourself, “Do I want God to quit forgiving me?” He will, if we quit forgiving from the heart those who sin against us!
–Glad Tidings (XXII:31), July 29, 2012
I didn’t join the church of Christ. I didn’t select the church of Christ as “my choice” from among many churches. It never occurred to me that I had a choice nor that I desired to make a choice of churches.
I started thinking about my spiritual condition down in Tennessee some years ago—several years ago and made up my mind that I should do something about it. I began to consider what the Lord wanted me to do. I started to study my Bible.
I found that I was a sinner and that Christ was THE savior. I found that if I were ever saved it would only be by Christ. I considered His word relative to what to do to be saved. He said I should repent, Luke 13:3, I did. He said I should confess Him, Matthew 10:32. I did. He said I should be baptized, Mark 16:16. I did. He said if I would do these things I would BE SAVED. I was. But the BIBLE taught that when I was saved the Lord added me to the church, Acts 2:47. He did.
Now, WHICH CHURCH did he add me to? HIS, Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28; Romans 16:16. Thus I am a member of the church of Christ because I had NO CHOICE and wanted none. I just wanted to be saved. And I was!
-The Old Paths (19:23), August 5, 2012
Scripture Reading:Deuteronomy 7:1-6
1. Review Part 1: Compromise is the “a settlement of differences by mutual
I. COMPROMISE IN KING SOLOMON’S LIFE:
Unlawful Marriages, 1 Kgs. 11:1-3 (Deut. 7:3-4).
Politics, Rape and Abortion
Todd Akin, Republican Senate candidate in Missouri, opposes abortion in cases of rape and incest. Last Sunday during a TV interview he said pregnancy would not occur in cases of “legitimate rape” because “the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down” (Senate Candidate Provokes Ire With ‘Legitimate Rape’ Comment, nytimes.com). Tuesday, Mr. Akin offered an apology, saying he “misspoke” about rape (Ibid). Whether Mr. Akin will survive the political firestorm that erupted is yet to be seen. Nevertheless, we can learn some lessons from this event.
First, we oppose abortion in cases of rape and incest. Rape is not “legitimate” and neither is abortion. Killing an innocent child conceived through an act of violence and violation produces a second victim. It does not heal the first victim nor does it bring justice to the evildoer. Abortion is the deliberate taking of innocent life. Abortion is murder (Rom. 13:8-10). The Bible gives no “except in cases of” scenarios. To offer them goes beyond God’s word and sanctions sin (1 Cor. 4:6).
The Bible says the son does not bear the guilt of the father (Ezek. 18:20). Situation ethics justifies killing the innocent (unborn) child; God does not (cf. Jer. 32:35).
You might be surprised to learn about Feminists for Life of America, an organization that urges women to “question abortion”. They oppose abortion in cases of rape and incest. One of their posters shows a young lady with the tag line, “Did I deserve the death penalty?” The poster reads: “My ‘crime’ was being conceived through rape. So the next time you hear people talking about ‘exceptions’ to abortion for rape and incest, think of me. My name is Rebecca.” (feministsforlife.org)
One final lesson to learn from Mr. Akin: get your facts straight before you speak (see more here). A person can do great damage to the cause of truth with careless, uninformed words. “The heart of the righteous studies how to answer” (Prov. 15:28; 25:11-12; cf. 1 Pet. 3:15).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/26/2012
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA