And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Noteworthy News: Is Porn the "New Normal"?
Joe R. Price
We greet people every day with "How are you doing?" "How are things going?" "How's your day?" Common greetings, yet often said without much forethought or intent behind them. We get into the habit of greeting people without taking time to really show an interest in them. Most of us can do better at showing genuine concern for others (Matt. 5:43-48).
The customary greeting during Bible times helped prevent complacent salutations. For example, one might wonder why Jesus told the disciples He sent out to preach to "greet no one along the road" (Lk. 10:4). Was Jesus forbidding friendliness? No, He was impressing upon them the urgency of their task. Jesus was warning them to not delay, to quickly be about the work He was sending them to do (cf. 2 Kgs. 4:29).
The Bible speaks of bidding Godspeed to others. It is to express one's desire that God grant prosperity and success to another person (from a Middle English phrase, "God prosper you"). To bid Godspeed means to speak, affirm or extend expressions of well-being and joy to another. It is a greeting of gladness and blessing that all may go well for the recipient. It speaks of the joyful acceptance and commendation of another. In this manner Christians "greet" one another (Rom. 16:16).
For example, Zacchaeus "made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully" (Lk. 19:6). Here, "joyfully" is translated from the same word as "greets” (NKJV) or “God speed" (KJV) in 2 John 11. Or again, "And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, Rejoice! So they came and held Him by the feet, and worshiped him" (Matt. 28:9). "Rejoice" is the same word used in 2 John 11.
It is right and good to bid Godspeed to faithful brethren in the Lord. It is good and encouraging to express a heartfelt desire that God prosper them in their faithful endeavors.
We should bid Godspeed to faithful workers in the cause of Christ and assist them in their gospel work. 3 John 8 says such workers are worthy of reception, encouragement and endorsement as they go on their way preaching and teaching the word of God:
“Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.” (3 Jno. 5–8)
By receiving and encouraging faithful gospel teachers we have fellowship with them and their work. As verse 8 says, we become "fellow-workers" with them. Our support and encouragement of them shows our love for the saints, for the Lord and for His truth as we "send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God" (3 Jno. 6).
Jesus taught that “He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.” (Matthew 10:40–42, NKJV) The Lord acknowledges and will reward those who their agreement with the gospel by assisting brethren who are doing the Lord's work.
Let us rejoice in and express gladness for all who live in Christ and faithfully teach His word. Encourage a brother as he teaches a Bible class to a lost soul. Rejoice with the young Christian who is teaching the gospel to a friend at school. Hold up the hands of a gospel preacher as he proclaims the word of the cross without fear or favor. Support the evangelist as he proclaims the gospel at home and around the world. We have many chances to bid Godspeed to workers for the truth.
Do Not Bid Godspeed
There is another sort of person from whom we are taught to withhold joyful expressions of support, encouragement and prosperity. Not because we are taught to be unfriendly or rude, for there is no justification for the ill-treatment of others. But, because we are commanded not to lend our encouragement, aid and well wishes to those who do not teach the true doctrine of Christ:
“If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: for he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.” (2 Jno. 10–11, KJV)
To bid Godspeed to one who teaches, promotes and/or lives in error is to "receive him" and his error just as surely as bidding Godspeed to one who teaches, promotes and lives in truth means we "receive" him and the truth he advances (Matt. 10:40-42).
We are taught to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them” (Eph. 5:11). Surely we agree that false teaching (a departure from the faith) is a work of darkness (1 Tim. 4:1-3). To give our approval and support to the proclamation and proliferation of error makes us a "partaker" (fellowship, communion) in evil (2 Jno. 11).
Making the Application
Shall we give our encouragement, help, support and well wishes that God will prosper a person while he teaches the sinner is saved before and without water baptism (cf. Mk. 16:15-16)? No. To do so is to have fellowship with error. Instead, we teach the gospel plan of salvation and are careful not to give our name, influence and support to the promotion of error.
Shall we bid Godspeed to those who alter God's pattern of worship by adding instruments of music to singing (Eph. 5:19)? No. Therefore, we cannot practice this sin or encourage those who do so. We must oppose it while seeking opportunities to teach the truth.
Shall we give our time, energy, influence and well wishes to those who advocate unity in spite of moral and doctrinal diversity? No. When brethren teach we may agree to disagree on matters of moral and doctrinal import (that is, the revealed faith, the gospel), may we bid them Godspeed, wishing them joyful success in their work? Shall we not rather warn them of this error and "contend earnestly for the faith", "in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth..." (Jude 3; 2 Tim. 2:25-26)?
We must choose to whom we will give our encouragement and endorsement, our aid, assistant and well wishes: "workers for the truth" or those who do not "bring this doctrine" of Christ (3 Jno. 8; 2 Jno. 10-11)? Our choice determines whether we share in the good works of the gospel or in the evil deeds of error. May the Lord strengthen each one of us to make the Scriptural choice.
Praise the Lord
Joe R. Price
From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised. (Psalm 113:3)
As the days grow shorter, moving from autumn to winter, we are reminded that God set the seasons in place for our good (Gen. 1:14; 8:22). God ordained the sun’s daily circuit, and it declares his glory (Psa. 19:1-4).
Praise God today for his power; Power that keeps the sun in its place and that gives us both summer and winter. The winter rest will eventually give way to spring’s renewal and summer’s growing season. And so it goes – just as God planned.
Like the days that draw toward winter, our lives are drawing ever shorter. Do not forget God. He gave you life; praise him for it! Eventually, you will stand before God and answer to him for how you used the life he gave you (2 Cor. 5:10). He has appointed a day of judgment for us all (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:30-31).
God is worthy to be praised. Today and every day; praise his great name!
-Sword Tips #9
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Is Porn the "New Normal"?
In 2012 it was reported that “30 percent of all web traffic is porn” (“Pornography: ‘Everybody’ is watching it, statistics say”, digitaljournal.com). Dr. Linda Hatch cites from another article that “A total of 40 million U.S. adults regularly visit pornography websites. Ten percent of adults admit to an internet sexual addiction and 20 percent of men say they access pornography at work” (Is Porn Addiction the “New Normal”?). She observes, “If 10% of adults are internet porn addicts and there are roughly 232 million adults in the U.S., then there are 23 million internet porn addicts in the U.S. And this doesn’t count the underage porn users who are watching internet porn in increasing numbers.” (Ibid)
The numbers are staggering: “Every second – $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography; Every second – 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography. The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink” (familysafemedia.com).
Lust is a powerful master, enslaving the mind and driving sinful choices to eternal death: “for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (2 Pet. 2:19). Christ teaches we must put lust to death by taking deliberate, even drastic measures, to remove such sin (Col. 3:5-7; Matt. 5:27-30).
Pornography harms those who view it, those who produce it and every society in which it flourishes. It dishonors women, turning them into objects of sinful passion. It distorts the godly view of sexual relations ordained for marriage (1 Cor. 7:2; Heb. 13:4). It desensitizes the heart toward one’s spouse, toward sin and toward God (Eph. 5:25-29).
There is a way out of pornography's enslavement. New choices can be made. New patterns can be set. Godly sorrow working repentance can produce a radical change of your heart – your thinking, values, goals and purposes (2 Cor. 7:9-11). Converting your heart will lead you to make new, better choices that are holy and acceptable to God (Rom. 12:1-2).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 11/20/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA