Volume VI, Number 40
In this issue:
In an attempt to evade the clear teaching of God’s word that Christians can fall away from grace and be lost in their sins, some would propose that if apostasy is a complete falling away then there can be no remedy for the apostate. Not only do these hold to the “once saved, always saved” error, they vainly try to prop it up with a defense which amounts to “once fallen, always fallen.”
Does one really want to take the view that once a person falls into apostasy he can never repent, be forgiven, and thus return to fellowship with the Lord? (1 Jno. 1:9) What Bible passage would teach such an abuse of the grace of God and the faith of man?
“Once fallen, always fallen” grows out of a misinformed view of Hebrews 6:4-6: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
The impossibility of renewing the fallen Christian does not lie in the unavailability of forgiveness, but in the sinner’s unwillingness to seek and procure it (1 Jno. 1:9; Acts 8:22-24). The impossibility of renewal resides in the fallen Christian’s continued practice of sin (“crucify again” implies the ongoing nature of his sin) rather than forsaking it.
Because the prodigal son fell into the muck and mire of transgression, could he never return to his father and obtain mercy? Of course he could, and did (Lk. 15:17-20).
There is no doubt that Christians can so sin as to fall away from the living God and lose their souls (Heb. 3:12-13; 4:11; Gal. 5:4; Acts 8:20-23; 2 Pet. 2:20-22). The Spirit expressly says some will “depart (fall away, jrp) from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1). Apostasy is a sure possibility., but it need not be a reality in one’s life.
Such a person can again be reached with the gospel, but he or she needs to be reached quickly! (Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19-20) Otherwise, the deceitful and hardening effect of sin will work upon the sinner to produce an impenetrable barrier between the gospel and the heart (Matt. 13:14-15; Heb. 3:13; 6:4-6).
Beware: Do not harden your heart! (Heb. 3:7-11)
“Parents don’t believe they are doing a very good job teaching their children essential values. Across the board, from teaching kids self-discipline to basic manners, parents give themselves very low grades, according to a new study” (Karen S. Peterson, USA Today, 10/30/02, D1).
Parents are especially concerned about the influence of television. “About 90% say TV programs are getting worse every year because of bad language and adult (translation: sexual immorality portrayed as acceptable–LRH) themes....”
An admission of failure is a start, but it is only that. Now, what will parents do about their perceived failures? How about controlling what their children watch on television? How about teaching them right from wrong? How about praising them when they do right and punishing them when they do wrong? How about setting an example in the home of how one should conduct himself? In short, may we expect parents to bring their children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4)? “And these words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up (Deut. 6:6, 7).
I do not want to sound unsympathetic to parents who fear and feel they have failed to teach their children such values as sexual purity, honesty, and courtesy (these items were all mentioned in the article cited above). However, when we have attempted to warn about such failings, we have been reviled by some of those same parents who have said, “Sexual abstinence is too much to ask; teenagers are going to have sex; let our schools pass out condoms.” “Chaperoned drinking at home and dancing at school are a young person’s ‘rite of passage’ into the adult world.” “You Bible thumpers can’t bind your ‘puritan morality’ on this generation.” “The Boy Scouts have no right to keep homosexuals from leading a Scout troop on a camping retreat.”
The article indicates that parents feel they have failed to teach their children to be polite. (My own sons were publicly ridiculed by teachers and coaches for saying, “Yes, sir,” and “Yes, Ma’am.”) It takes time and consistency to teach courtesy and “good manners.” Begin early and train the child. If both parents are busy and have little time for their children, it is unlikely they will learn how to be considerate, courteous and polite to others. Such “values” must be taught, practiced, monitored, and encouraged. Mom and Dad cannot do that without spending time (lots of it) with their children.
Brethren, there is an opportunity for us. If parents in general truly believe they are failing to teach their children properly, let them see our good works in that area and glorify God (Matt. 5:16). Young people, you have a role to play here, too. Let a watching world see the values and virtues that bring true happiness, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:7)!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Prayer in our Lives
Scripture Reading: Psalm 121
Pet. 4:7 - We are to be watchful in prayer.
I. PRAYER IS BASED UPON ONE’S RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD.
A. Without a
Relationship with God, Prayer Does Not Work - Matt. 6:9; 7:7-11; Jno. 9:31.
II. PRAYER IS:
Earnest Appeal - Eph. 3:20; Neh. 1:11-2:4, 8; Jas. 5:16-18; Matt. 6:10.
III. EFFECTIVE PRAY (Jas. 5:16).
A. Pray in
Humble Faith - Mk. 11:22-24 (Jas. 1:6-8).
Psa. 66:16-20 - We must continue to be a praying people in order for the Lord to be a prayer-answering God!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
"All to Jesus I Surrender"
Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:1-11
Discipleship to Jesus demands surrender – Lk. 9:23; 14:33; Gal. 2:20.
I. ABRAHAM SURRENDERED HIS COUNTRY – Acts 7:2-4.
is Great; But Our Heavenly Home is Greater – Phil. 3:20; Acts 5:29.
II. ABRAHAM SURRENDERED HIS KINSHIP – Acts 7:3.
A. Sometimes Greatest Enemy is in Your House –Matt. 10:36; Josh. 24:2; 1 Cor. 7:33, 23.
III. ABRAHAM SURRENDERED HIS JUDGMENT – Heb. 11:8.
A. A Matter
of Trust in God’s Way & Word.
IV. ABRAHAM SURRENDERED HIS PERSONAL PRIVILEGES IN THE INTEREST OF PEACE – Gen. 13:7-9.
A. Our Unity in Christ Compels Us to Surrender Personal Liberties for the Sake of Peace – Eph. 4:3; 1 Cor. 8:9-13 (Rom. 14:19).
V. ABRAHAM SURRENDERED WHAT WAS MOST PRECIOUS TO HIM IN ORDER TO OBEY GOD – Heb. 11:17-19.
A. By Faith
He Obeyed - Gen.22:2; Js.2:21-22
"16 Minutes Away..."
On February 1, 2003, the crew of the space shuttle “Columbia” disintegrated in the sky over East Texas and western Louisiana. According to news reports, this spacecraft was just 16 minutes away from a “picture-perfect” landing at Cape Canaveral in Florida. Sixteen minutes separated these people from a continued life on this earth with family and friends, and a “hero’s welcome.” Now, they belong to eternity to await the judgment decree from our Lord,“ the righteous judge” (Jn. 5:22, 27; II Tim. 4:8).
Sixteen minutes is not a long time. Sixteen minutes means very little to a culture whose TV shows normally last about 22 minutes (excluding commercial time). Sixteen minutes is only 960 seconds. During a day, we could waste those seconds like we might burn a piece of paper! If we are on a long drive, or on an airplane flight, and we hear we have 16 minutes to our destination, do we not usually settle back, and take comfort in the fact that we are “as good as there”? Perhaps those seven astronauts thought the same thing. They were wrong.
What might you do if you were assured that you had only 16 minutes to live? Might you pray? Might you repent? Might you try to restore old friendships? Might you take steps to make sure you were right with God? In truth, we ourselves do not know if we have sixteen minutes left to live! We do not know when we will die. We have no promise of what today might hold (Prov. 27:1). At one point in his life, David declared, “...there is but a step between me and death” (I Sam. 20:3). How true that is for all of us!
We do not know when our lives will end, but we can be prepared. Are YOU prepared? (II Cor. 6:2; Mk. 16:16)
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 02/09/2003
The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication
of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA