And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
Jeremiah was set in place by God to be his prophet to Jerusalem, Judah and the nations. With God’s word, Jeremiah was set “to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:4-5, 9-10). When he was severely persecuted for speaking God’s word to rebellious Jerusalem, Jeremiah pondered silence over speaking “anymore in His name” (Jer. 20:9). God’s prophet was tempted to refrain from speech sure to bring him under rejection, mockery, imprisonment and death threats. He did not yield to the temptation. Instead, he was emboldened in faith to continue to open his mouth and speak the inspired word of God: “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (Jer. 20:9). Although friends and foes were against him, he rested his confidence in the Lord’s presence, power and justice (Jer. 20:10-12).
What a worthy example for every Christian today. We live in an age of moral defiance and open rebellion against God and His holy standards of conduct. Marriage is being redefined to include “same-sex” relationships. The murder of innocent life has been redefined to be a woman’s “right to choose” concerning “reproductive health”, while the unborn are relegated to being an appendage. Mind-altering substances like marijuana are being legalized, joining the ranks of alcohol and other drugs to vie for a way to “escape” reality. In religious circles, sin is being redefined out of existence and the Scriptures are ridiculed as mythical, out-dated and irrelevant. Faith has been reduced by many to a money grab as they preach prosperity theology that serves the flesh.
The question for us is whether or not we will raise our voices against the prevailing winds of sin and unbelief. Will we fear men and be silent? Will we quietly dissent but publicly go along with the evils of the day? Are we prepared to suffer for the name of Christ (1 Pet. 4:16)? What would Jeremiah say and do? (If you are familiar with the life of Jeremiah, you know the answer to that question.)
Jeremiah is a worthy example for gospel preachers, too. These are men who have devoted their lives to proclaiming the word of God to a lost and dying world. These are men who are obliged before God to “preach the gospel” without fear or favor (1 Cor. 9:16; 2 Tim. 4:2-4). They are to boldly speak the whole counsel of God, not avoid its proclamation (Acts 20:27). They are not to be hirelings who remain silent in the face sin, error and spiritual danger (Jno. 10:12-13).
Yet, too often we are left to wonder what a preacher teaches and where he actually stands on the soul-effecting topics of the day. Jeremiah didn’t have that problem. A gospel preacher must stand against the tide of public opinion and unfaithfulness like Jeremiah. That is true not only gospel preachers, but also of elders and teachers, all of whom have the Christ-given work of building up the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-16).
Preachers are silent today when they ought to be proclaiming God’s word against sin in all its forms, including false teaching and immorality. No preacher (or elder) should ever be heard saying, “We don’t have that problem here”, or, “there’s no need to preach on that subject.” That is exactly what our adversary the devil wants – the silence of the preachers! Be assured fellow-preachers, if you are not preaching on subjects that are not currently problems where you live, they will eventually become problems, and the brethren will be ill-equipped to address them from God’s word, due in part, to your silence. Let me illustrate.
Bible authority and the local church. I have been told on more than one occasion that comprehensive teaching on how to establish and apply Bible authority is not being preached these days as in times past. More and more congregations seem to be ill-prepared to deal with innovations that are creeping into local churches. We now see “non-institutional” churches of Christ advertising the social activities of members, from picnics to youth “lock-ins”. By what Bible authority does a church do this? We now have some churches announcing youth camps run by colleges and individuals. Where are the preachers rising up to warn brethren against violations of Bible authority by adding a social work to the spiritual labors of the local church (Col. 3:17)? Fellow-preacher, when was the last time you preached on Bible authority and the differences between the individual and the congregation (1 Tim. 5:16; Matt. 18:15-17)? The silence of the preachers is deafening!
Marriage, divorce and remarriage. Now, that’s a topic from which many run. When was the last time your preacher taught on divorce and remarriage from the pulpit? There are preachers who will not do so. They reason like the world: “that is a subject for classes or private study, not the pulpit”. Perhaps Jeremiah should not have publicly preached against the adultery of the age (both actual and spiritual adultery, i.e., idolatry, Jer. 3). I am sometimes asked what a particular preacher teaches on this subject, and I must rely, “I don’t know; they have nothing in writing or on record to go to and find out.” That should not be the report concerning one who preaches the gospel (Acts 20:20). Such silence enables the spread of doubt, sin and compromise with it. Plus, when one does speak up with the truth of God on the subject he is branded a “radical”, a “troublemaker” and “extremist” unworthy to be heard – sort of like Jeremiah (Jer. 26; 37:11-21; 38:3-6). So, it is safer to be silent. The silence of the preachers is deafening!
Space fails to speak of the silence of the preachers on immodest clothing, social drinking, fellowship with those in error and more. Jeremiah’s warning remains relevant: “The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their own power; and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end?” (Jer. 5:31) Is your preacher being silent? If so, ask him why. Jeremiah’s had a fire in his bones; he had to preach! May it ever be so.
Scripture Reading: John 10:7-16
1. The gospel call
brings with it deprivation and denial, Lk. 9:23; Heb. 10:32-33; 11:35-40; 1
Pet. 4:14- 16; 2 Tim. 3:12
I. WHAT IS THE ABUNDANT LIFE?
Fullness of Eternal Life and its Blessings, Jno. 1:4; 4:10, 13-14; 5:24-26;
II. THE LIFE THAT NOW IS AND THAT WHICH IS TO COME, 1 Tim. 4:8.
A. The Life
that Now is: Showers of Blessings, Eph. 1:3; Ezek. 34:23-31; Acts 3:19;
Phil. 4:7; 1 Cor. 10:13; 2 Cor. 1:7; Heb. 4:16; 10:24.
Scripture Reading: John 8:43-47
1. The devil has many
tales to tell, and they are all lies! Jno. 8:44 (Devil: slanderer,
accuser; Satan: “Adversary”).
I. “THERE IS NOT A GOD.”
A. The Devil
does not Believe His Own Lie, Gen. 3:1; Job 1:6-7; Matt. 4:3; Psa. 10:4, 11.
II. “YOU WILL NOT SURELY DIE”, Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-5.
A. He has
Deceived Many into Forgetting the Danger/Power of Sin, 3:1, 4, 5; Lk. 8:13;
Gal. 5:4; 19-21.
III. “THE CHURCH IS NOT IMPORTANT.”
A. The Devil
Offers You the “Church of Your Choice”. Jer. 10:23
IV. “THERE IS NOT A ‘PLAN OF SALVATION.’”
False Approaches to How to be Saved, Heb. 12:25.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Most every day you can find news reports of people defending themselves against some charge, whether real or imagined. This week’s news included a defense of Obamacare by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius before a Congressional committee. We heard of the “affluenza” defense of a 16-year-old boy in Texas who admittedly killed four people while driving drunk. (The “affluenza” defense is that he didn’t realize his actions would have harmful consequences due his affluent, privileged lifestyle. The judge gave him rehab and ten years probation.) Then, there was the Montana newlywed charged with murdering her husband of eight days. She defended her innocence during trial, but near its conclusion changed her plea to guilty of second-degree murder.
Why are we tempted so to defend ourselves before others – even when we know we are wrong? Our error may or may not be a sin, yet we are driven to defend ourselves and our actions. It is “someone else’s fault”, or “a misunderstanding” caused us to be rash in word or deed. “If only so-and-so hadn’t said or done this or that, then I would not have…” And so it goes.
The answer to our question “why” is easy enough: it is the problem of pride (1 Jno. 2:16; Jas. 4:6). An unwillingness to humble ourselves in our own estimation is “conceit”, and is directly rebuked in Scripture (Phil. 2:3-4; Rom. 12:16).
A typical expression of conceit is an unwillingness to take personal responsibility. We can all learn from David, whose effort to conceal his sins failed miserably (2 Sam. 11-12; Psa. 32). Better to admit one’s error or sin with, “I am the man”, than through pride to compound trouble (Prov. 16:18).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/16/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA