And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Nobody I know enjoys being called a name. One kind of name calling is a vehicle of reproach, ridicule, and demeaning a person. Children learn this device early (I wonder who they learned it from?). Some carry this verbally abusive treatment of others with them for a lifetime. Jesus said that Christians will be the target of such name calling, and worse (Matt. 5:11). Jesus Himself was the object of verbal ridicule on many occasions (cf. Matt. 11:18-19; 27:12, 39-44). We must be ready and willing to suffer this reproach for wearing the name of Christ (1 Pet. 4:14-16).
There is another type of name calling which Christians must do at times. This name calling has to do with identification. This type of name calling falls into two categories. First, we are told to "mark" those who set forth worthy examples to follow (Phil. 3:17). The apostles called the names of people in this way: Timothy and Epaphroditus, Onesiphorus and Demetrius (Phil. 2:19-30; 2 Tim. 1:16-18; 3 Jno. 12). It is good and right to commend worthy brethren in the faith. In this way we can identify the examples we should follow.
God's word also calls upon us to identify those who cause strife and division contrary to the doctrine of Christ (Phil. 3:18-19; Rom. 16:17-18). It is necessary at times to specifically identify (call the name of) the person or persons from whom we must "turn away" (cf. 1 Tim. 1:19-20; 2 Tim. 2: 17-18; 3 Jno. 9-10). These passages are clear that false teachers contribute to division and the loss of souls. In order to avoid encouraging error, as well as escape its deceptive clutches, Christians must have accurate information about what is being taught and who is teaching it. While it is not always necessary to "name names" where error is involved (see, for instance, 1 Cor. 15:12), neither can we separate the error from the person teaching it.
People influence others by their words and their deeds. We must not shy away from properly identifying those whose words and deeds oppose the sound words of Christ (1 Tim. 6:4). Some were offended when Jesus used such a straightforward approach to expose error and warn of its evil (Matt. 15:3-12). Some are still offended when disciples of Jesus follow His example. The real shame of it is that some Christians are among those offended by calling names in order to identify error, warn the faithful and urge repentance.
Bread has sustained life for millennia. Yet, Jesus said, "man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:3). A person's soul especially needs to be fed, not just the body. Truly, we should care more about feeding our souls with "the bread of God who comes down from heaven" than we do about feeding our bodies (Jno. 6:33; Matt. 6:25-33). Jesus described Himself as the "bread of life" that feeds the soul (Jno. 6:33, 35-58).
How does one feed his soul with the Bread of Life (Jesus Christ)? Jesus explains:
"I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst." (Jno. 6:35)
To feed upon (partake of) the Bread of Life one must:
Come to Christ. Jesus said so in John 6:35. While we satisfy their physical hunger, it is the person who wants to be filled with spiritual strength who comes to Jesus to be filled. Jesus said, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). Jesus is the source of spiritual sustenance, strength and survival. We must come to Him to feed our souls. Coming to Jesus begins by hearing and learning the Father's will (Jno. 6:44-45).
Believe in Christ. John 6:35 says our soul is nourished by coming to Christ and believing in Him. Believing in Christ not only involves acknowledging who Jesus is, but also obeying what He says. The words of Jesus "are spirit, and they are life". Still, we must believe and follow them in order to be spiritually nourished (Jno. 6:63).
Obey Christ. Christ's words actually feed your soul when you believe and obey them: "But why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say?" (Lk. 6:46) Jesus challenged them (and us) to realize that sincere faith is obedient (Jas. 1:21-25). Do you have genuine faith in Christ? If so, you are obeying the word of Christ.
Rewarded by Christ. The one who eats the Bread of Life will be "raise(d) up in the last day" to "live forever" (Jno. 6:54, 51). It is plain and profound. To be resurrected unto eternal life you must eat the Bread of Life by coming to Christ, believing in Christ and obeying Christ.
Christ commanded belief in Him as the Son of God, confession of Him as Lord, repentance of sins and water baptism to be saved (Jno. 8:24; Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 17:30; Mk. 16:16). Once forgiven of your past sins you are brought into fellowship with Christ and given every spiritual blessing. (Jno. 6:56-57; Eph. 1:3). Live faithfully and your eternal inheritance is assured in Him (1 Pet. 1:3-5).
Are you hungry for the Bread of Life? If so, then "do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life" (Jno. 6:27). Feed your soul upon Jesus Christ: Come to Him, believe in Him and obey Him, and He will give you everlasting life.
Spirit's Sword (III:51)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: 1 Timothy 1:18-20
1. To the faithless, "tolerance" means acceptance, even to the point of
changing your beliefs. (Illus: Hillary Clinton)
I. JESUS DID NOT TOLERATE SIN.
Said "take these things away", Jno. 2:13-17.
II. CHRISTIANS CANNOT COMPROMISE WITH ERROR (SIN), Gal. 2:5; Rev. 2:2.
Religious/Doctrinal Error is Sin against God, Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jno. 9.
III. WHAT ARE WE TO DO? 1 Cor. 5:9-10.
A. Let Our
Lights Shine, Matt. 5:14-16.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Psalm 33:13-22
1. God sees every creature, including me and you, Psa. 33:13-15; Heb. 4:13.
I. GOD VALUES US MORE HIGHLY THAN BIRDS, Lk. 12:24.
Assured Us of God's Care in this Life, Matt. 6:25-26 (Lk. 12:22-23). Gen.
1:26; Psa. 8:6-8; Gen. 9:2-3
II. GOD KNOWS OUR NEEDS AND SUPPLIES THEM BY HIS POWER, Psa. 40:4-5.
Feeds the Ravens, Matt. 6:26; Lk. 12:24; Job 38:41.
III. GOD KNOWS WHAT THE SPARROW IS DOING, AND HE KNOWS WHAT YOU AND I ARE DOING.
Knows our Circumstances, Trials, Temptations, Thoughts, Actions, Psa.
The Fix Is In
I haven't really followed the reports about what quarterback Tom Brady knew and when he knew it concerning deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game last January. But, based on the investigative report made public this week, the NFL handed him a four-game suspension (next season), fined the New England Patriots $1 million and docked the team two draft picks. Brady is appealing the ruling (USAToday.com).
What caught my eye is a poll that said 69% of "avid fans" believe Brady cheated. And, 85% of avid fans think other teams do similar things (espn.com). Most of the people surveyed believe cheating is common in professional football.
Are we shocked? Not really. People driven by competition and big money are tempted to skirt and break the rules to gain an advantage. The list of those who have yielded to that temptation keeps getting longer.
The cynic might argue that the deflated footballs did not affect the outcome of the game; "no harm, no foul". That misses the point. When the rules of the game are not followed, the game itself (not to mention the cheater) is tainted.
Are we expecting worldly-minded people to be people of honesty, integrity and honor? No. Very often they are not. However, the Lord God expects His people to always be pure in heart, honest and trustworthy in character (Matt. 5:8; Eph. 4:25; 1 Pet. 2:12).
Something else. Once sin tarnishes your influence it is not easy to restore (ask Pete Rose). Guard your good name; it is very valuable (Prov. 22:1).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/18/2015
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA