"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
Why You Should Love God
loved you, 1 John 4:19
How many more reasons do we need?
How You Should Love God
With all your
heart, soul, mind and strength, Mark 12:30
The love of the world
The Holy Spirit is not the “force” of Star Wars fame. He is not an impersonal power source; he is a “he,” not an “it” (Jno. 14:26). The Holy Spirit is fully deity; he is God (Acts 5:3-4).
The night before Jesus was crucified he assured his apostles the Father would send them “another Helper” whom he identified as “the Spirit of truth” (Jno. 14:16). Jesus promised his apostles the Holy Spirit would do some specific things as their helper (parakletos, comforter and advocate, one who is called to one’s side). The Holy Spirit would: (1) Dwell with the apostles and “be in them” (in contrast with Jesus going away in death), Jno. 14:17-18; (2) He would teach them all things and empower them to accurately remember everything Jesus said to them, Jno. 14:26; (3) He would testify of Jesus (Jno. 15:26-27); (4) He would convict the world and guide the apostles into all truth, Jno. 16:8-13.
The empowerment of the apostles by the Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit baptism that Jesus promised them in Acts 1:4-5: “…you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” Holy Spirit baptism was not promised to all believers; it was promised to the apostles of Christ. As Jesus was leaving the earth he told his apostles, “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Just days later on Pentecost, “the promise of the Holy Spirit” was sent to the apostles and they began preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:1-21).
The Helper, or Holy Spirit, empowered the apostles of Christ with the revelation of the gospel (Jno. 16:13; 1 Cor. 2:10), with the inspiration to proclaim the gospel (Jno. 14:26; Matt. 10:16-21; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16-17), and with the confirmation of the gospel by miraculous signs that attended their preaching (Jno. 15:26; Mk. 16:20).
During the days of the New Testament the Holy Spirit operated directly (miraculously) on the apostles and those to whom they imparted miraculous spiritual gifts (Acts 8:14-17; 1 Cor. 12:1-11; Heb. 2:3-4). The fact that the Holy Spirit had a miraculous role in the lives of the apostles and prophets of Christ does not mean he has no role in the lives of people, including Christians, today. The Holy Spirit operates indirectly today through the word He revealed, inspired and miraculously confirmed as genuine. Jesus told the apostles that when the Spirit of truth came he would “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jno. 16:8). The Holy Spirit given word that they preached cuts to the heart, convicting and correcting sinners (Acts 2:37-41; Heb. 4:12). The Spirit of God has given us a word that produces faith and saves the lost (Rom. 10:17; 1:16-17). The Holy Spirit accomplishes his work in people’s lives today by means of the word of God.
Just like the Father and the Son, the Holy Spirit has fellowship with those who believe and obey the word of God. Some people believe the Holy Spirit personally and actually indwells their bodies. But, since the Spirit is God, if this were true it would be “incarnation” (which occurred when Jesus took upon himself flesh, Jno. 1:14). No, the Holy Spirit does not indwell believers today any more or any differently that the Father and Son dwell in the believer. This is the fellowship one has with God. The Father, Son and Spirit dwell with the Christian “through faith” (Eph. 3:17; Jno. 14:21, 23; 1 Jno. 3:24; 4:12-16). When one “walks by the Spirit” he is led by the word of God that the Holy Spirit has given us (Gal. 5:16-26). By obediently following the gospel, Christ is in you; the Spirit of God dwells in you; God is in you and you are in God (Rom. 8:9-11; 1 Jno. 5:12-16).
The Bible teaches that obtaining salvation from our sins is conditional: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jno. 8:24); “I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3); “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom. 10:9); “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16); “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized? Then Philip said, If you believe with all your heart, you may” (Acts 8:36-37).
The Bible also teaches that the Christian’s continued fellowship with God is conditional: “if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 Jno. 1:7-9); “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
Some believe that the idea of conditional salvation undermines the Christian’s hope. They tell us that conditions imply uncertainty. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, when we meet God’s conditions we are supremely confident that God will grant the blessing(s) he has promised. We also believe that if we do not meet his conditions we cannot expect to have his blessings. We will not hold out a false hope for ourselves or to others. Faith in God does not neglect what he has commanded by saying that God’s grace is greater than sin and therefore I am saved regardless of whether I meet the Bible conditions for salvation. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” implies that we can continue in sin after becoming a Christian, but if we want to continue in God’s grace we must not do so (Rom. 6:1-2)!
The conditional nature of salvation and our confidence of salvation are not in conflict. The apostle John wrote 1 John to assure Christians of their salvation in Christ Jesus: “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God” (1 Jno. 5:13). The Christian’s confidence of fellowship with God and eternal life in the Son rests upon meeting the following God-given conditions: walking in the light (1 Jno. 1:7); keeping his commandments (1 Jno. 2:3); abiding in Christ by practicing righteousness (1 Jno. 2:28-29, 3:7-10); loving our brethren (1 Jno. 3:16-19; 4:7-11, 16).
False doctrine says you can know God without keeping his commandments. God says, “He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him” (1 Jno. 2:4-5). John confidently wrote that “we know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 Jno. 5:19). Such confidence comes from doing the will of God (1 Jno. 2:17).
The Lord’s family is confident of salvation by faithfully doing the Lord’s will: “whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end…For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end” (Heb. 3:6, 14). Obey Jesus and have true confidence of salvation
Church of Christ Maligned on CNN
Baptist pastor Tom Rukala was interviewed by Nancy Grace on CNN March 27, 2006 (the full transcript is online at http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0603/27/ng.01.html). Grace admitted to knowing little about the church of Christ, and probed Rukala “what can you tell me?” He said:
1. The Church of Christ is a relatively new church that started about 150 years ago by Alexander Campbell.
2. It is a very legalistic sect that uses methods of intimidation and pressure tactics.
3. They claim they are the only ones going to heaven and all others are condemned to hell.
That got Grace’s attention. She asked, “What more can you tell me?” Mr. Rukala continued:
4. If you’re not baptized by one of their ministers you’re doomed to hell, even if you believe in Jesus Christ.
5. It is a border-line cult with cult-like characteristics; a narrow, exclusive group.
6. Their tactics are sometimes not only unbiblical but unethical, and they can be very ungracious.
Well, we certainly appreciate the gracious, ethical and biblical treatment shown to us by Mr. Rukala and Ms. Grace!! Pastor Rukala is either woefully uninformed or willfully ignorant; in either case, he is not a faithful witness for information on the church of Christ. The Bible says God hates “a false witness who speaks lies” (Prov. 6:19), and “whosoever spreads slander is a fool” (Prov. 10:18). Pastor Rukala shows himself foolish in his false accusations, and Ms. Grace for accepting it. In response, please note:
1. Jesus built his church (church of Christ), not Campbell, Matt.16:18; Rom.16:16. Who built the Baptist Church?
2. Did Pastor Rukala use verbal intimidation?
3. Only those who do the will of the Father will go to heaven, Matt. 7:21-23. Is it the Father’s will to falsely accuse others?
4. The authority of Christ, not “one of their ministers,” empowers baptism to wash away sins (Matt. 28:18-19; Acts 22:16).
5. Would Mr. Rukala have us be broader than the narrow gate and strait way that leads to heaven (Matt. 7:13-14)? Will Mr. Rukala also charge Jesus with being “narrow” and “exclusive?”
6. Biblical, ethical and graciousness compel us to “reprove, rebuke, exhort” rather than scratch itching ears (2 Ti. 4:2-3). The sting of truth cuts to the heart to expose sin (Acts 2:37).
Followers of Jesus are blessed when falsely accused for his name’s sake (Matt. 5:11). Even in the first century, those who wanted to know about the church of Christ went to the proper source (like the apostle Paul) to find out: “But we desire to hear from you what you think; for concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28:22). CNN should go to the source for accurate information; and so should you.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA