And takeÖthe sword of the Spirit, which  is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:17

THE
SPIRITíS
SWORD

Volume 18, Number 25
01/10/2016

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

Location:
  
1860 Mt. Baker HWY
Mailing Address:

       P.O. Box 30821
  Bellingham, WA 98228
       (360) 752-2692

Sunday:
Bible Classes..........9:30 AM
Worship..10:30AM; 6:00PM

Wednesday:
Bible Classes.........7:00 PM
All sing last Wednesday

Web sites:
Mt. Baker church
Bible Answers

Editor......Joe R. Price


Elders
Morris Bass
Rick Holt

Deacons
Aaron Bass
Rich Brooks
Mike Finn
Dan Head


 

In this issue:


Examining Islam  (Part 4)
Joe R. Price

Muslims and Muhammad

The Muslim prophet Muhammad died in 632 A.D. The persecuted had become the leader of a new religion, ruling those who submitted to the revelations he claimed were from Allah (God). I encourage you to read more about Muhammad's life. It is hard to overestimate his place in the Muslim world. "In situations that are not explicitly dealt with in the Koran, Muslims look for guidance to the life and words of the Prophet. Muhammad was only a man, but Muslims believe he lived a nearly perfect life. His life and words represent the standards of devout, pious, and upright behavior by which Muslims measure their own morality and that of their fellow men" (Thomas W. Lippman, Understanding Islam, An Introduction to the Muslim World, 32).

This marks out a crucial distinction between Muslims and Christians. The New Testament of Christ sets forth Jesus as the Master and Model for God's people and the whole world (1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jno. 2:6). Jesus is the Leader we follow, the Prince and Pioneer of our salvation (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 12:2). Christians train themselves by following the life and words of Christ, not Muhammad: "A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher" (Lk. 6:40). The inspired apostles of Christ boldly teach us to imitate them as they imitate Christ (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; Phil. 4:9). While Muslims claim Jesus as one of their prophets, we exalt Jesus Christ as The Prophet and very Son of God whom we "hear in all things" and follow in order to live in the blessings of God (Acts 3:22-26). Jesus is the one God raised up and sent to bless both Jews and Gentiles with salvation from sin (Rom. 1:16). Muhammad and his doctrines do not possess and do not provide the blessings of salvation. It denies the truth of the very One God sent to the world to save the world (Jno. 12:48).

After the death of Muhammad in 632 A.D. there was a struggle over the succession of leaders (the caliph is the successor to the Prophet, the caliphate his rule). By 660 A.D. a division solidified that still affects Islam and the world: The Sunni, Shia divide. It has been said that before he died Muhammad appointed Ali (his cousin and son-in-law) to be his successor. After his death, some accepted this choice, ascribing to direct successor from the Prophet. These Muslims, called Shia (which means "helpers of Ali", "faction" or "Party" of Ali) believe Ali was divinely appointed as the successor of Muhammad and the first Imam ("Shia Islam", wikipedia.com).

Shiites are the second largest branch of Islam, making up about 15% of the world's Muslims. Iran, for example, is a Shiite-ruled Islamic nation. The majority of Muslims believed the successor of Muhammad should come from his close advisers. These are the Sunnis ("the way"). Shia and Sunni Muslims hold common core beliefs, yet still go to war against each other to uphold their distinctive doctrines which they believe link them to Muhammad and thus, Allah's approval.

This marks another trait of false religion. Almost invariably there is a power struggle within man-made religious movements when the charismatic originator passes from the scene. Sometimes the movement dies off all together (Acts 5:36-37). At other times, division results. In sharp contrast is the united faith and practice of the early church of Christ. For you see, the Master was not dead at all, but alive forevermore (Luke 24). Christians share a common faith in the resurrected Christ and the common salvation He gives (Titus 1:4; Jude 3). The gospel calls us into common fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1:9). And so, instead of a power struggle, the early Christians "continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42). Unity in Christ is the hallmark of shared fellowship with God (Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Jno. 1:1-7; Eph. 4:1-6). It is when Christians stray from the "word of the truth of the gospel" that division results (Col. 1:5; 1 Tim. 4:1-3; 1 Jno. 2:19). We plead for unity based upon the inspired Scriptures (truth), not political and ecumenical alliances that camouflage division with the facade of familiarity. We must abide in the word of Christ in order to be His disciples (Jno. 8:31-32). Fellowship with God and unity of Christians is obtained in the truth of Christ, never in the wisdom and will of men. 

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Assorted Sword Tips
Joe R. Price

Self-Examination

ďI thought about my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments.Ē (Psalm 119:59-60)

Self-examination is crucial to spiritual success. Take a careful look at yourself today by using Godís word as your mirror. Are you living according to Godís will? If not, start obey Godís commandments without delay.
If you put off obeying God your heart becomes calloused, making it harder to choose what is right.
Make today the day you turn away from sin and swiftly run to God.  (Sword Tips #24)

Morality is not Relative

ďWoe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!Ē (Isaiah 5:20)

In this age of moral relativism we are bombarded with the same sort of foolishness and folly as Isaiah saw in his day.
There is evil in this world Ė and it must not be confused with what is good! It is a great deception to say there are no moral absolutes in our world.
Commit yourself to the truth (Jesus defined truth as Godís word, Jno. 17:17).
Sin is real, and it brings pain, sorrow and death. See it for what it is.
Commit yourself to knowing the truth; it will make you free. (Sword Tips, #27)

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You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
 

Looking at Forgiveness

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 103:6-14

1. Godís forgiveness in Christ is the greatest act of love and grace we will ever have, Psa. 32:1-2; Rom. 5:8-9.
2. God has a heart ready to forgive.
3. Our forgiveness is our compelling reason to forgive others, Matt. 6:12, 14-15.
4. Forgiveness from the heart, Matt. 18:35.

I. UNDERSTANDING FORGIVENESS.

  A. To Send Away, to Release, Matt. 18:35. cf. 1 Cor. 7:11 (Lk. 23:34; Mk. 2:5).

II. LOOKING AT FORGIVENESS.

  A. forgiveness Acknowledges the Hurt Caused by Sin, Exo. 34:6-7. 1 Cor. 13:4, 6; Mk. 3:5; Eph. 4:30; Rom. 5:8; Jas. 5:19-20.
  B. Forgiveness Releases the Offender of his Offense, Lk. 23:34; Matt. 18:15; 5:23-34.
  C. Forgiveness Lets Go of Resentment, Rom. 12:19-21; Matt. 5:43-45; Prov. 19:11; Gen. 50:16-21; Eph. 4:31-32.
  D. Forgiveness is an Act of Grace, Eph. 1:7; Prov. 24:17-18, Matt. 18:27; Lk. 6:37-38.

Conclusion
1. The world does not know what forgiveness looks like because it doesn't know the horribleness of sin. If it did, more would come to Jesus to be forgiven, Matt. 11:28-30.
2. Christians, having been forgiven by God, will forgive others from the depth of their hearts with the motive of mercy, with words of kindness and by actions of genuine release toward those who sin against us.

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You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
 

Come, Let Us Reason Together

Scripture Reading:  Isaiah 1:16-20

1. God urged Israel to take a walk with Him and reason together about their state of sin and His provisions of salvation, Isa. 1:18.
2. God pleaded with His people to reason with Him and repent to have salvation.

I. COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER FROM THE SCRIPTURES, Isa. 1:2, 10.

  A. That is Where Godís Truth is Found, Jno. 17:17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17.
  B. That is Where Godís Grace Is Given, Acts 20:24, 32; Tit. 2:11-12.
  C. Godís Fellowship Is Secured by Scripture, 1 Jno. 1:1-4,5-7; 2 Jno. 9.
  D. We Must Follow the Apostolic Practice when We Reason Together (Acts).

II. COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER ABOUT SIN, Isa. 1:2-15.

  A. The Nature of Sin.
  B. Sin is Purged (Cleansed) by Repentance, Isa. 1:16-17. Col. 3:5, 9; Acts 26:20.

III. COME, LET US REASON TOGETHER OF SALVATION, Isa. 1:18-20.

  A. God Still Offers His Mercy and Grace to Sinners, Isa. 1:9, 18; 1:24-27; Eph. 2:4-7; Titus 3:5-7.
  B. Manís Faith, Isa. 1:19. Eph. 2:8; Jas. 2:24; Heb. 5:9.

Conclusion
Righteous judgment will occur, Isa. 1:20, 28-31 (Rom. 2:5). Listen when the Lord reasons with you from His word, obey Him and be saved now instead of facing His wrath later.

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NOTEWORTHY NEWS
(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Where Your Treasure Is
Joe R. Price

The first four days of January saw the U.S. stock market suffer its worst ever four-day opening of a new year. The Dow Jones index has lost 5.2% since the end of 2015. Billions of dollars of stock value has been lost. The weakening and uncertain Chinese economy has led the way, with low oil prices and an uncertain U.S. economy also contributing to the stock selloff ("Dow, S&P off to worst four-day Jan start ever as China fears grow", Caroline Valetkevitch, in.reuters.com).

This reminds me of what a very wealthy man once said about riches and how they impact life: "The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eats little or much; But the abundance of the rich will not permit him to sleep" (Eccl. 5:12). Solomon knew that with increased wealth can come increased distractions, concerns and worry.

So, it is crucial that our faith in Christ regulates our values and the priority we put on material possessions. Laying up treasures in heaven includes the wise and godly use of our material possessions. The rich are taught to trust in the living God and not in uncertain riches. By trusting in God we can enjoy life, do good with our possessions, give and share, and in so doing store up a good foundation for time to come and for eternal life (1 Tim. 6:17-19; Matt. 6:19-21).

Instead of being anxious, disturbed and distracted by the vacillating values of stocks and bonds and land and houses, let us renew our trust in the Lord. He always provides our present needs, and, He secures our eternal future (Matt. 6:24-34). Serve the Lord and you will have the "unsearchable riches of Christ" (Eph. 3:8). Serve riches and you will lose everything of true value (Matt. 16:26). 

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Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  01/13/2016

The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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