Volume VII, Number 08
June 29, 2003

Published by

Mt. Baker
church of Christ
Bellingham, WA
(1860 Mt. Baker HWY)
(360) 752-2692

Bible Classes..........9:30 AM
Worship............10:30 & 6:00

Bible Classes...........7:00 PM

Web sites:

Editor................Joe R. Price

"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)

In this issue:

Spiritual Illusions
Joe R. Price

A friend recently sent me some optical illusions via e-mail. Looking at them got me to thinking about spiritual illusions that deceive many souls. Here are a few for you to contemplate, with the hope that we may clearly see the difference between man-made illusions and divinely revealed truth.

Looking at optical illusions got me to thinking about spiritual illusions that deceive many souls.  Here are a few for you to contemplate, with the hope that we may clearly see the difference between man-made illusions and divinely revealed truth.

1.  “One church is as good as another.”  This illusion assumes that all the churches men have established are good in God’s sight.  But, Jesus built one church:  one body over which He is the head (Matt. 16:18; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4).

2.  “Join the church of your choice.”  While God has indeed given mankind freewill, He did not give man free rein to build churches and then offer them as some sort of commodity to the masses.  Jesus purchased His church with His blood (Acts 20:28).  Why choose a church of inferior value?

3.  “Doctrine in not important as long as you are sincere.”  The illusion is that sincerity of heart equals remission of sins.  But it does not.  Only the blood of Christ cleanses the sin-stained soul (1 Pet. 1:18-19).  Only when the sinner obeys “from the heart that form of doctrine” delivered by Christ’s apostles will he be saved (Ro. 6:17-18, 3-4).  Recall that Saul was sincerely persecuting Christians and Cornelius was a sincerely moral man, yet both were lost in sin until they believed and obeyed the gospel (Acts 26:9; 23:1; 10:1-2; 11:14). 

4.  “We must be doing something right, look how big our church is!”  The adage “might makes right” is adapted to religion, and millions are comforted by the illusion that numbers represent divine approval.  They forget Jesus’ warning that “few” find “the way which leads to life” (Matt. 7:13-14).

Optical illusions play tricks on the eye.  But, spiritual illusions fool the soul and have eternal consequences.  So, remain focused on God’s word of truth.  “When eye is good, your whole body also will be full of light” (Lk. 11:34).  Never forget, “there is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 16:25). 


Go Up This Mountain
Joe R. Price

The Lord told Moses he would not be allowed to enter the land of promise “because you trespassed against Me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Zin, because you did not hallow Me in the midst of the children of Israel” (Deut. 32:51).  Yet, in His mercy, the Lord allowed Moses to see the land He was giving Israel (Deut. 32:52).  Come now with Moses and let us “go up this mountain” to the top of Pisgah and there lift up our eyes to see the depth and breadth of the divine purposes and plans for the people of God (Deut. 32:49; 34:1).

        From the top of Pisgah we see God keeping His promises.  Can you see the hills of Ephraim and the coastal plains as they slope to the Mediterranean?  From the heights of Naphtali to the southern plains of Judah, see with Moses the “exceedingly good land” traversed by Joshua and Caleb in the day the spies passed through it (Num. 14:7).  From the top of Pisgah we see God keeping the land promise He made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob:  Then the LORD said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants’ (Deut. 34:4).  Under the leadership of Joshua God would cause Israel to enter and inherit the land promised to their fathers (Deut. 31:7, 23; 4:21-22; Josh. 11:23; 21:43).  Similarly, under the leadership of Christ, the Lord God will lead Christians into a heavenly country of eternal rest (Heb. 4:8-10).  Since God’s faithful ones will certainly cross Jordan into the heavenly land, let us be “diligent to enter that rest” (Heb. 4:11; 3:6, 14; 5:9; 11:13-16).

        From the top of Pisgah we see the power of God.  By His might the Almighty would “cast out many nations before” Israel that were “greater and mightier than you” (Deut. 7:1).  Even before the first battle was set, the victory was assured:  “Go up into this Mount Abarim, and see the land which I have given to the children of Israel” (Num. 27:12).  But, although “the Lord fought for Israel” and graciously gave Israel her inheritance, Israel would have to courageously engage the enemy and obediently wield the sword of faith (Josh. 10:14, 42; 1:7-9; 10:28-43).  As in those ancient days, it is the Lord our God “who goes before you.  He will not leave you nor forsake you” (Deut. 31:6; Heb. 13:5).  So, in the boldness of faith, let us take up “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and with it fight the good fight of faith against sin and error and lay hold of eternal life (Eph. 6:17; 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Tim. 4:7-8).  God’s grace will give victory to those of humble faith (Heb. 11:30-40; Jas. 4:6).

        From the top of Pisgah we see punishment and redemption from God.  Look in the distance and you can make out God’s eventual judgment upon a rebellious people.  Israel would “turn aside from the way” commanded by Moses and provoke God with evil works (Deut. 31:29).  With prophetic certainty and sadness Moses denounced Israel as “a perverse and crooked generation” who repaid God’s goodness with corruption (Deut. 32:4-6).  God would attempt to restore Israel to repentance as He rendered just vengeance upon His enemies and provided atonement for His land and His people (Deut. 32:34-43).  In the Lord Jesus Christ, the nations rejoice with Israel, for “all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Deut. 32:43; Rom. 15:10; 10:11-13).  What will you reap:  redemption or retribution? 

        Can you see the Promised Land?


You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS

Faithful in Christ

Scripture Reading:  2 Tim. 4:1-5

     Being “faithful” means much more than attending every worship service.  May we truly be God’s faithful people.


  A.  Faithful is Something You Do (trusting, relying, confiding, believing; i.e., full of faith)-  Jno. 20:27; Acts 10:45; 2 Co. 6:15; 1 Ti. 4:3; 5:16.
Faithful is Something You Are (trustwor­thy, reliable, dependable; i.e., worthy of trust)
- Deut. 7:9-11; Prov. 11:13; Matt. 25:21; 1 Cor. 4:2 (Moses, Nu. 12:7; He. 3:2, 5); 1 Cor. 10:13.
God Expects Us to Have Both Qualities – Eph. 1:1; 2 Cor. 5:7; Acts 11:22-24; 16:15.


  A.  Express Their Faith in Obedience – Phil. 2: 12-13; Gal. 5:6 (Lk. 6:46).
  B.  Express Their Trust Through Action – Jas. 2: 17-18 (1 Tim. 4:12; 1 Jno. 2:1; 1:9).
    1.  Praying frequently (Lk. 18:1-8).
    2.  Studying diligently (1 Tim. 4:13, 15).
    3.  Giving generously (2 Cor. 9:6-7).
    4.  Teaching with opportunity (Gal. 6:9-10).
    5.  Assemble regularly (Heb. 10:24-25).
    6.  Living in purity (Ro. 12:1-2; 1 Pe.1:14-16).
Reliably do the Will of God – Matt. 6:33; 24:45-46; 25:15, 21.


1.  Faithful:  Trusting obedience & trustworthiness.
  a.  Do you trust that His will in your life is what you need, & obey it?
  b.  Can God & others depend on you to do your best?


You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS

Bible Question Box (June 2003)

Scripture Reading:  Eccl. 8:10-17

#1:  What was the Jews’ understanding of hell in the OT (where the unfaithful went when they died)?  Did they have one?

1.  God’s word regarding eternal punishment gradually revealed (Heb. 1:1).  General emphasis of OT is life on earth, Eccl. 8:10-17.
  -OT offered shades & shadows – Heb. 8:4-5; 10:4; Col. 2:16-17.
2.  Sheol (Death, the grave, the pit):
  a.  The name:  “to ask” (demand), hence, insatiable (Prov. 30:15-16).
  b.  The abode of the dead.
    (1)  Darkness, silence & forgetfulness – Psa. 88:10-12;     115:17; Eccl. 9:5-6, 10.
    (2)  Companion of destruction – Job 28:22.
  c.  Not a state of unconsciousness or annihilation (1 Sam. 28:11-15); Exo. 3:6 (Matt. 22:31-33); Acts 24:15 (Dan. 12:2).
  d.  Within God’s jurisdiction – Psa. 139:8.
3.  Concept of reward after death is implied in the OT – Psa. 16:10; 49:15; 86:13.
4.  Concept of punishment after death is implied in the OT – Deut. 32:22; Num. 16:33; Job 24:19; Eccl. 12:14; Isa. 66:24.
5.  Jesus revealed & refines the reality of eternal punishment:
  a.  Hell (Gehenna) – Matt. 5:29-30.
    (1)  Everlasting fire – Matt. 5:22; (Mk. 9:43-48).
    (2)  Destruction – Matt. 10:28.
    (3)  Corruption & agony – Mk. 9:43-48.
    (4)  Everlasting torment (punishment) of fire – Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 14:10-11; 20:10, 15.
    (5)  Utter darkness – Matt. 25:30.
  b.  Who?
    (1)  Won’t repent, Matt. 5:29-30.
    (2)  Won’t confess Jesus, Matt. 10:28, 33.
    (3)  Do not know God nor obey Him, 2 Ths. 1:8-9
    (4)  Do not obey the truth, but do evil – Rom. 2: 8-9; Rev. 21:8.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Crickets, Gulls and God

        Did you know the seagull is the official state bird of Utah?  Did you ever wonder why a landlocked state in the middle of the intermountain west would choose the seagull to symbolize its state?   The answer dates back to 1848, almost one year after the Mormons settled the Salt Lake valley under the leadership of Brigham Young.  Large black insects (later dubbed Mormon crickets) descended on their wheat fields with devastating results.  The Great Salt Lake to the northwest of the newly settled valley was home to California gulls, and what happened next is still called ‘the miracle’ by the Mormons.  For three weeks, gulls by the thousands swooped upon the crickets, saving the wheat crop.  The Mormon pioneers said God had sent the gulls to save the saints.  And hence, the scavenging seagull is now the honored fowl of Utah.

        Fast forward to the present.  Another cricket infestation is occurring about 100 miles south of Salt Lake City.  (These cricket migrations are not uncommon in the intermountain west.  In Pershing County, Nevada, in 1938-39, one band of Mormon crickets was reportedly 12 miles wide and required five days to pass an observer!)  The current infestation has already caused $25 million in lost crops in Utah.  (“Last month, Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt declared a statewide agricultural disaster based on the triple-whammy of insect attack, drought and high winds.” –Reuters via Lycos News, 6/14/2003)  A single Mormon cricket, which is actually a ground dwelling katydid resembling a grasshopper, can consume up to 38 pounds of plants in its lifetime.

        So far, the seagulls have not saved the day.  One would think the Mormon God would hear the cries of his children and send the gulls south.  Borrowing the cynicism of Elijah as he rebuked the prophets of Baal, we likewise urge the Mormon prophet and apostles of their god:  “Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is meditating, or he is busy, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is sleeping and must be awakened” (1 Kgs. 18:27).  Maybe the Mormon God cannot hear the cries of his people (after all, he was once a man like you and me – maybe he lost his hearing in a previous life!).  Or, maybe the gulls have not saved the day because the Mormons have not prayed enough.  Or, maybe the event in 1848 was not a miracle from God in the first place.  Maybe, just maybe, Mormonism is not of God at all (Gal. 1:6-9).

        Are we being too harsh?  Was Elijah?  No my friend.  When men attribute miraculous powers to the natural eating habits of seagulls that claim deserves to be tested (1 Jno. 4:1).  Mormonism’s prophets are powerful men, but they are false prophets.  We are not afraid of them (Deut. 18:21-22).  The doctrine of Mormonism is devouring millions of souls.  Like seagulls, may truth swoop down and consume every error that souls may be saved.


Created by Chuck Sibbing.  07/13/2003

The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
Send all questions, comments and subscriptions to the editor at: