Volume VII, Number 12
August 17, 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:

Why Demand the Instrument?
Joe R. Price

The New Testament of Christ is the revelation of His will for the whole world (Matt. 28:18-20; Rom. 1:16-17).  Therefore, we would expect to find His will concerning acceptable worship to be contained therein.  We are not disappointed (Jno. 4:23-24).

We do not use instrumental music in worship because Jesus has not taught us to do so.  The fact that Israel under Sinai law did so is irrelevant:  we must hear Jesus, not Moses (Matt. 17:3-5).

When we listen to Jesus we hear Him teach us to offer up the vocal praises of song in our worship of God:  “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19; see Col. 3:16).  Since we must never presume to add to that which God has revealed and taught, we content ourselves with the assurance that by “singing and making melody in (y)our heart to the Lord” He is glorified and pleased.

Why is there such staunch insistence that God will be pleased if we also offer up to Him instrumental music as a form of worship?  Upon what basis does one appeal to justify the practice?

Some say, “Since David used instrumental music in worship, we can.”  Well, he also offered animal sacrifices (2 Sam. 24:25).  Using this rationale we would be justified to do the same.  The fact that Israel under Sinai law did so is irrelevant:  we must hear Jesus, not Moses (Matt. 17:3-5).  This is not properly handling God’s word (2 Tim. 2:15).

David offered animal sacrifices and also worshipped with instruments of music because God commanded it by His prophets (2 Chrn. 29:25-28).  We have been commanded neither.  The cross of Christ abolished the Old Testament law with its worship (Col. 2:14-16; Eph. 2:14-15; 2 Cor. 3:14).

Others say, “We have also played instruments of music.”  Such a claim is historically wrong.  Hundreds of years passed from the days of the apostles until men introduced instrumental music.  It was accepted only after much opposition over hundreds of years.  Man has no right to add to God’s ordained pattern of acceptable worship (Gal. 1:8-9).

All agree that God approves singing in worship (Eph. 5:19).  History confirms men added playing to the worship of the church.  Why not unite on what the Bible says and simply sing, instead of demanding the use of instrumental music in worship and dividing over what the Bible does not say?  Shall we please men, or God (Gal. 1:10)?


"Works based" Gospel?
Joe R. Price

We are frequently charged with teaching works-based salvation.  For instance, this note was recently received from a visitor to our web site:

“I was reading through your Q&A section about salvation.  You seem to misunderstand that we are saved by grace (unmerited favor) through faith (dependence on, reliance in) the finished work of Christ ALONE.  You are teaching a “works based” false gospel.  False gospels are the result of bad semantics and poor hermeneutics.  So many people confuse “head knowledge” faith with “heart knowledge” faith and justification with sanctification.  That’s how false gospels get started.”

There is no misunderstanding that we are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).  There is no misunderstanding that Christ has accomplished redemption through His blood, “the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace”  (Eph. 1:7).

However, our kind respondent misunderstands faith.  Otherwise, he would not object to the necessity of an active, obedient faith (one that shows its dependency upon Christ) in order to be saved.  Jesus will not save the faithless person, and only the one who obeys the Lord has genuine faith!  “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).  Therefore, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas. 2:17).  The “works” James attaches to faith is one’s obedience to Christ (which are prompted by one’s dependence or reliance upon Him):  “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?  (Lk. 6:46)

The misunderstanding lies in the false teaching that man is completely passive in his salvation.  Jesus forever rejected that notion when He said only those who do the will of the Father will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 7:21).  He further taught, “If you love Me, keep My commandments,” and “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (Jno. 14:15; 15:14).  Can one refuse to love and befriend Jesus (not keep His commandments), and yet be saved?

When one obeys the commands of Jesus Christ he is not depending upon himself to save himself, as our kind reader implies.  Jesus has indeed accomplished our means of salvation; none other can save us (Jno. 17:4; Acts 4:12).  But it is Christ who tells us how to obtain the salvation He provides.  Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).  Will you have faith that relies on the words of Christ (that if you believe and are baptized He will save you)?  Just who, then, is the person who does not have faith:  The one who says being baptized is a “works based” false gospel and rejects it (although Jesus commands it); or the person who trusts that when he is baptized according to the commandment of Jesus, the Lord will save him from his sins?

As for justification and sanctification, the Scriptures show these are two ways of describing our salvation in Christ.  For instance, “many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed, and were baptized” (Acts 18:8).  Paul affirmed the results of their conversion:  “But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).  When they believed and were baptized they were washed from their sins by the blood of Christ (Acts 22:16).  They were sanctified (separated from sin, made holy).  They were justified (acquitted, freed from the guilt and penalty of sin).  When?  When they believed and were baptized!  (Acts 18:8)  Sanctification and justification are both applied to being saved in 1 Corinthians 6:11.

When one obeys Jesus he has earned nothing.  He have, however, shown his faith in Christ by obediently submitting to His will:  “So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do’" (Lk. 17:10).  By your obedience (works of faith), you show your faith (Jas. 2:18).

Do those who oppose all “works” believe one must do the Father’s will to enter heaven (Matt. 7:21)?  If so, then we agree:  One must obey Jesus or he will not be saved in the Son due to his lack of faith.


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

"In the Name of the Lord"

Scripture Reading:  Acts 4:5-12

1.  “In the name of” found 30 times in the NT.
2.  Some have turned it into a formula necessary to validate baptism – Matt. 28:19, Acts 2:38.
3.  What does it mean?  How is it used?  What does it matter to you & me?


  A.  To Act in Someone’s Name Means to Act Under Their Authority (strength, power, endorsement) – Acts 4:7.
    1.  Acts 3:6; 4:10 (16:18), 12; 1 Cor. 6:11.
    2.  Acts 4:18 – Teach “in the name of” Jesus:  Teach His power to heal & save!  (4:19-20)
    3.  Acts 4:30-31 – Jesus’ power worked miracles & authorized word they spoke!  (5:40-42)
  B.  Other Illustrations:
    1.  Jesus – Jno. 5:43; 10:25 (Matt. 21:23).
    2.  Receiving others – Matt. 10:41-42.
    3.  Preaching – Acts 9:29, 27.
    4.  Apostolic commands – 2 Ths. 3:6.
    5.  Prophets spoke – Jas. 5:10.


  A.  A Statement of the Power by Which One is Baptized – Matt. 28:19; Acts 2:38; 8:16; 10:48; 19:5; 1 Cor. 1:13 (Acts 8:37-38).
  B.  The Element of Baptism “in the Name of” Jesus is Water – Acts 2:38; 8:14-17; 10:47-48.
  C.  The Result of Baptism “in the Name of” Jesus Christ – Acts 2:38; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 22:16.


  A.  To be Saved One Must Believe in the Name of the Son of God – Jno. 3:18.
  B.  To be Saved One Must be Baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ (His authority) – Acts 2:38; Acts 4:12; 19:3-5.
  C.  Whatever We Do Must be “in the Name of” the Lord – Col.3:17 (Eph. 5:20; 1 Jno. 5:13)


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

Their Children Spoke the Language of Ashdod

Scripture Reading:  Nehemiah 13:23-27

1.  The constant influence of evil and error coupled with carelessness produces moral & spiritual defilement (cf. Judah, Neh. 9:2; 10:28-30; 13:1ff).
2.  Mingling with error hinders speaking & doing God’s word (1 Pet. 4:11).


    -A Heart that Desires Unity in Doctrinal / Moral Diversity Will Not Speak the Whole Counsel of God – cf. Matt. 12:34 (Acts 20:27) – cf. Gal. 2:5, 13; Matt. 26:69-70.


  A.  “Men’s Retreats, Women’s Seminars, Youth Rallies.”
    1.  Bible:  Acts 2:42-46.
      a.  Congregational worship, Acts 20:7; Heb. 10: 25; 1 Cor. 11:17-20; 14:23.
      b.  Public & private Bible studies were held, Acts 18:26; 20:20.
    2.  If worship, why charge money?  (Isa. 55:1; Matt. 10:8)
    3.      If recreation, why are churches involved?  (1 Cor. 11:22, 34)
  B.  “Fellowship Meals.”
    1.  Some define these as meals provided in a fellowship hall (Acts 2:46; 20:7-12; 1 Cor. 11:20-22)
    2.  Some define these as the Lord’s Supper, properly eaten (1 Cor. 10:16-17; 11:24-26)
  C.  “Fellowship Halls.”  (Gal. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:11)
  D.  “Things Have Changed Since Bible Times, You Know” – Matt. 5:13-16


  A.  Examine & Conform to the Word of God – Neh. 13:1-2 (Col. 3:16-17); Heb. 8:5.
  B.  Repent & Separate – Neh. 13:3, 30 (Ezra 10: 10-11); 2 Cor. 6:17; Eph. 5:11; Rom. 6:1-2.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

A Sign from Heaven?
Joe R. Price

        Did you hear about the Baptist preacher in Forest, Ohio who asked God for a sign while preaching on repentance?  According to reports, at that moment, “the church’s steeple was struck by lightning, setting the church on fire and blowing out the sound system.”  “‘It was awesome, must awesome,’ said church member Ronnie Cheney, 40, of rural Forest…Cheney said the lightning traveled through the microphone and enveloped the preacher, but he was not injured.”  After trying to resume services they discovered the building was on fire and had to call the fire department.  (Everett Herald, 5July03)

        Well, I guess “signs” are in the eye of the beholder.  Looks to me like one could just as easily conclude God wanted the Baptist Church burned down as to say God was calling the Baptists to repent!  Was it really a sign from God?  What saith the Scriptures?

        The Bible teaches that speaks to us today through His Son, not through lightning strikes (Heb. 1:1-2).  The Bible teaches that sufficient signs have been recorded in the New Testament to persuade sinners to believe that Jesus is the Son of God in order to be saved by Him (Jno. 20:30-31).  The Bible teaches that when people refuse to be persuaded to repent by the word of God they will not be convinced even if one rise from the dead (Lk. 16:27-31).  But, maybe lightning is a more powerful sign of God’s power than raising Jesus from the dead, right?  The Bible teaches the purpose and duration of miracles has been accomplished (Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:3-4; 1 Cor. 13:8-10).

        Coincidences (time and chance) happen in life (Eccl. 9:11).  While we can indeed be persuaded to repent and get right with God as a result of life circumstances (such as famine, drought, pestilence and warfare, Amos 4:6-12), we cannot put our finger on each event and say, “God did that” unless He has revealed it to us through His word (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20).  We should take the events of life and learn from them to get right with God (Heb. 12:3-11).  We should not demand things of God He has said He will not do.  


Created by Chuck Sibbing.  08/15/2003

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: