And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Proverbs 16:24, "Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones" (KJV).
God's word is, "Sweeter also than honey and the droppings of the honeycomb" (Ps. 19:10). Let us reflect for a moment on its effects on people who received it. Jesus' words to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus made their hearts burn within them (Lk. 24:13-22). Philip's inspired words led to the Eunuch's going on his way rejoicing and Paul's words to his weary shipmates were sweet and healthy to them (Acts 8:35-39; 27:33-36). All agree on the good effects of the words of God. What about pleasant words from mere men?
What falls under the heading of "pleasant words"? Caution must be exercised as some seemingly pleasant words appeal to the worst sides of a person, such as pride and lust. A flattering mouth may lift us up to our own demise (Prov. 26:28). Likewise, "the lips of a strange woman drop honey…but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword" (Prov. 5:3,4). Let us now note pleasant words that do a person good.
The Bible has much to say about the power of words. As we have seen, pleasant words have a power all their own. Are such words a neglected part of your vocabulary? Remember, the words of God that are comforting and soothing.
"Let no corrupt speech proceed out of your mouth, but such as is good for edifying as the need may be, that it may give grace to them that hear" (Eph. 4:29).
-(The Way of Truth and Life, May 18, 2014, edited for length)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12).
A pastor is a shepherd, one who tends a flock. Under this figure the Lord identifies the local church as a flock and its elders (bishops) as pastors or shepherds (1 Pet. 5:1-3; Acts 14:23; 20:28). The placement of pastors in the local church by the Lord is a gift that blesses the local church with spiritual strength and stability as they do their God-given work (Eph. 4:7-8).
1. Elders have been given a work of service. Being an elder is a "good work" that benefits the entire congregation (1 Tim. 3:1). Their work is preeminently spiritual, tending to the spiritual needs of the flock. Elders are on call 24-hours a day (spiritual concerns do not keep a 9:00-5:00 schedule!). It is their particular work to oversee the spiritual affairs of the congregation. If elders are more concerned with physical stones (building, lawn, etc.) instead of the "spiritual stones" that compose the church under their charge, then their priorities are misplaced. The church will suffer as a result. A wise eldership assigns physical tasks to the deacons (whose service is invaluable in caring for such things, cf. Acts 6:2-4) while they "tend the flock of God" (1 Pet. 5:2, ASV).
2. Elders have been given the work of setting examples. The Holy Spirit said that pastors are to be "examples to the flock" (1 Pet. 5:3). By giving pastors to the local church the Lord has given us examples to look to and follow: "Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct" (Heb. 13:7; cf. Phil. 3:17). Elders should always be aware of the example they are setting for the church. Rarely (if ever) will you find a church that rises to a higher spiritual plane of maturity and faithfulness than that of its eldership.
3. Elders have been given the work of leadership. Their "rule" is borne out of the work they are given, to "watch out for your souls" (Heb. 13:17). They are not to be overlords who press their selfish demands upon brethren (1 Pet. 5:3). Pastors lead the church in the ways of God by feeding it God's word, by correcting those who stray and by encouraging each member to remain loyal to Christ (Acts 20:28-32). Leadership requires devotion, the willingness to stand up and show the way that must be taken by the church. Admittedly, at times being a leader is a lonely job. But, leaders do not rely on others to motivate them, they are motivated by their sense of purpose and their responsibility for and to others. They motivate others to excellence by their commitment to faithful excellence. A wise eldership realizes the church needs strong, faithful leadership. The elders set the example of worship, of Bible study and teaching, of morality and spiritual priorities. Saints are equipped for service and the body of Christ is strengthened as elders lead them in the way of truth (Eph. 4:12).
Thank godly elders for their faithful work: "esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake" (1 Ths. 5:13). Make their work joyful by obeying them (Heb. 13:17). And, thank the Lord He gave some to be pastors.
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 53:1-6
1. Cup: Container, by metonymy, its contents; "a figure of speech to
represent one's portion of or participation in something."
I. THE CUP OF GRIEF OVER A FAITHLESS NATION.
was Grieved that Jerusalem Rejected Him, Matt. 23:36-39; Rom. 9:21; Isa.
65:3; Ezek. 18:32; Lam. 3:31-33.
II. THE CUP OF GRIEF OVER FALTERING APOSTLES, cf. Matt. 17:16-17.
Overconfident Apostles, Matt. 26:31-35, 40-41 (Lk. 22:45); Eph. 4:29-30;
Heb. 6:6; 10:29.
III. THE CUP OF GRIEF OVER THE CROSS, Matt. 20:22; Mk. 14:36.
A. The Cup
of Humiliation, Acts 8:32-33; Phil. 2:8; Isa. 50:6; Jno. 19:1-3, 10-11.
2. Jesus: Man of Sorrows so we may have joy.
Scripture Reading:Exodus 19:3-9
1. The eagle is strong, swift and majestic.
I. THE STRENGTH OF GOD SAVES US FROM THE BONDAGE OF SIN.
Power to Save Us from Our Sins, Exo. 13:3; Heb. 7:25 (Jas. 4:12); Acts 4:12;
Rom. 1:16; 1 Cor. 1:18, 21-24.
II. THE STRENGTH OF GOD GUARDS US FROM BEING OVERCOME BY THE ENEMIES OF OUR FAITH (SATAN AND SIN), Deut. 32:10-12.
Saving Power is also Sufficient to Protect Us from being Recaptured by Sin,
cf. Deut. 32:11; Isa. 31:5; Heb. 13:5-6.
III. GOD WILL BRING SWIFT, DECISIVE JUDGMENT AGAINST EVIL, Exo. 6:6; 7:4-5; 12:12.
Judgments against Sin are Sure and Decisive; Hos. 8:1-3; Hab. 1:6-8; Matt.
24:28; 1 Ths. 5:2-3.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
The United Methodist Church (UMC) is on a course to division over homosexuality and same-sex marriage (Is Gay Marriage Destroying the United Methodist Church?, christianitytoday.com). While the Methodist Church's Book of Discipline bans same-sex unions, a recent poll showed 90 percent of its members are against dividing over the issue. Still, one voice among them says "'We can no longer talk about schism as something that might happen in the future. Schism has already taken place in our connection,' said Maxie Dunnam, chancellor of Asbury Seminary and leader in the Good News movement for evangelical Methodists, in comments to Good News magazine." (Ibid)
Two schools of thought have developed, and serve to illustrate the trouble of attempting compromise with error: "Traditionalists (in the UMC, jrp) are convinced that God's will is for sexual relations to be enjoyed exclusively within the bounds of heterosexual marriage. Progressives believe sexual relations within a covenanted relationship, heterosexual or homosexual, are pleasing to God and should be affirmed by the church" (Regarding United Methodism's Future, goodnewsmag.org, emp. added). This dissension drives to a basic issue: the authority and inspiration of the Bible. In answer to the unity in diversity proposal of the progressives, one reply summed up the issue: "We believe that sexual relations outside of heterosexual marriage are sin. Fundamentally, this matter is over the interpretation of Scripture (emp. added). We simply cannot abandon the Bible’s teachings on the practice of homosexuality and same-sex marriage. We believe that marriage between one man and one woman is a foundational institution, ordained of God and good for the well being of all people. We cannot forsake our sincere beliefs on this matter in order to keep the church united. Your proposal would put us, who believe that same sex relations are sinful, in the position of having to deny our consciences. This new policy is simply asking us to do something we cannot do" (An Open Letter to Revs. Adam Hamilton and Mike Slaughter, Rob Renfroe, goodnews.org).
Unity in doctrinal diversity always compromises God's word (Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jno. 9-11). Will we heed the warning?
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/23/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA