Volume VII, Number 31
January 11, 2004

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:

Does God Have a "Plan of Salvation?"
Joe R. Price

A plan is a program of action, “a scheme for making, doing, or arranging something” (Webster).  We are familiar with plans:  Football teams have game plans, architects have building plans, and teachers have lesson plans.  Many people use “day-planners” to arrange their daily activi­ties.

Having a plan indicates order and definition.  Although the word is not used in Ephesians 1:3-14, it is obvious from a reading of that passage that God has executed His plan of saving the lost through Jesus Christ.  When we speak of the “scheme of redemption” we are referring to this plan of God that saves sinners.

When speaking of how God’s salvation is appropriated into the life of the sinner, we also speak of a plan:  the plan of salvation.  A reading of the New Testament makes it clear that God has a plan – an arrangement – whereby His mercy and grace removes man’s sins.  What follows is that plan – the arrangement God has revealed – which, when obeyed, will result in our salvation.

First, one must believe in God and His Son, Jesus Christ (Heb. 11:6; Jno. 8:24).  Without faith, nobody will be saved.  One is brought to belief in Christ by hearing the word of God (Jno. 20:30-31; Rom. 10:17).  That same word commands the sinner to confess his faith in Jesus Christ (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10).  When one has confessed his faith in Christ, his faith compels him to repent of his sins, another commandment Christ has given us in order to be saved (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30).  Having changed one’s mind toward sin, what now remains is for Christ to wash away one’s past sins, which He does when one is baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27).  Now saved in Christ, the Christian is added by the Lord to His church and called upon to live a life of obedient service to Jesus (Acts 2:47; Rom. 6:17-18; 12:1-2).

Yes, God has a plan of salvation.  The question is whether or not you have obeyed it?  If you haven’t, not why not do so now?  (2 Cor. 6:2)


A Living Sacrifice
Joe R. Price

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.  (Rom. 12:1)

With these familiar words the Holy Spirit urges every Christian to slay self-interest and to present oneself in holiness to God for His service.  To unselfishly service to God is a reasonable (logical) expectation of the Christian in view of the mercy he has in Christ.

     To be a “living sacrifice” implies activity on our part.  We must “put to death” the deeds of the flesh and live in the Spirit according to the truth He has revealed in inspired Scripture (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16, 18, 25).  This transformation begins by renewing one’s mind toward doing the will of God (Rom. 12:2).  Until we want to do God’s will we can never be living sacrifices that please God.

     Romans 12:3-21 teaches us how to be a living sacrifice that is acceptable to God.

     Think soberly (12:3).  We must have a proper estimation of ourselves to be worthy servants of God.  Soberness means to be in one’s right mind so as to exercise self-control.  Here, the idea seems to be “to put a moderate estimate upon one’s self” or “think of one’s self soberly” (Thayer, 613).  We must see ourselves as servants of God, not servants of self.  Otherwise we will make little sacrifice for the sake of Christ.

     Function faithfully (12:4-8).  We must see that we are parts of the whole.  The world does not revolve around us.  And, for that matter, the church doesn’t, either.  We are “individually members of one another” and are to faithfully function according to the abilities and opportunities given us by the Lord (12:4-5, 6-8).  Although we are variously blessed, the living sacrifice shows honor for the body of Christ by faithfully accepting his or her role in it.

     Love sincerely (12:9-10).  True love is “without hypocrisy” whether it is for one’s family and friends, one’s brethren, one’s enemies, God’s truth or for God Himself.  Our love for good is directly opposite to our abhorrence of evil (v. 9).  Like ancient Israel, we must “hate evil” and “love good” (Amos 5:15).  Without genuine love for what is good in the sight of God we can be holy sacrifices; we will be blemished with spots of sin that defiles us before God.  Sincere love is shown toward our brethren through kind words and consideration  (v. 10).

     Serve fervently (12:11-16).  Jesus Christ “did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).  Zeal for God’s purposes marked His life of service on this earth (Jno. 2:17; 17:4).  His example of service is set before us as a worthy reminder of how we should serve the Lord:  “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.   Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another” (Rom. 12:12-15).  How truly it obliges us to crucify ourselves in order to give such constant care and devoted service to others – even those who persecute us (cf. Jesus, Psa. 69:9; Rom. 15:3).  Such service will not occur where there is a heart of conceit instead of one that thinks soberly (12:16, 3).

     Live peaceably (12:17-21).  Retribution belongs to the Lord; He is Judge of all (Heb. 12:23; 2 Cor. 5:10).  The gospel calls us to overcome evil with good – not be conquered by evil.  If we take vengeance into our own hands against those who wrong us we fail to honor God’s righteous judgment and we descend to the realms of worldly thinking and conduct. 

     Living sacrifices present themselves to God for His service and honor.  Living sacrifices obey the word of God, not the selfish appeals of the world.  Living sacrifices set their minds on things above.  Living sacrifices please God.


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

Elders in Every Church

Scripture Reading:  Ezekiel 34:23-31

1.  God promised & delivered “one shepherd” to feed His sheep:  Christ (Jno. 10:11, 14; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4).
2.  The Chief Shepherd has revealed His will that there be elders in each church doing His work as shepherds of His sheep – 1 Pet. 5:1-3 (Acts 14:23).

I.  EACH CHURCH NEEDS TO BE ORGANIZED AS THE LORD WOULD HAVE IT.   The authority for elders is established by…

  A.  Commanded – Titus 1:5.
  B.  Approved Example – Phil. 1:1.
  C.  Necessary Inference – Acts 14:23 (1 Cor. 4:16; 1 Ths. 2:14).

II. EACH CHURCH NEEDS SHEPHERDS –Eph. 4:11 (cf. Jno. 10:1-6, 11-15).

  A.  To Lead Us – Heb. 13:7, 17 (cf. Acts 11:30; 15:4, 6, 22-23; 21:18-26; Jas. 5:14); 1 Pet. 5:3.
  B.  To Feed Us – 1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28 (Heb. 5:12-14; 1 Ths. 5:14.
  C.  To Watch for Our Spiritual Safety – Heb. 13:17; Acts 15:23-24; Titus 1:9-11; Acts 20:29-31.


  A.  Men Must be Qualified & Willing to Serve – 1 Tim. 3:1, 2-7, 11; Titus 1:5-9; Heb. 13:17.
  B.  We Must not Expect (Demand) Men to be Sinless in Order to Qualify – 1 Pet. 5:1; Lk. 5:8. 
  C.  Men who Serve Must be Honored for their Work – 1 Ths. 5:12-13; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:17.


1.  Need for elders exists & should be met with faith in the Lord’s will and ways.
2.  Will this church work together out of love for Jesus, His truth & one another to appoint qualified men to serve as elders (& thus accomplish this part of our work as a congregation)? – Eph. 4:2-6, 11-12


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

How Do I Apply God's Truth in My Life?

Scripture Reading:  Ephesians 4:17-24

1.  Truth is practical – Heb. 4:12 (Eph. 4:17-24).
2.  Forming Christ within us is the essence of Christianity (3:27; Col. 1:27) – Jno. 14:21-23.
3.  Here is the challenge:  How do I turn what the Scriptures say into the way that I live?

I.  A GOOD HEART – Lk. 8:15; Matt. 23:25-26.

  A.  An Unprejudiced Mind, Willing to Receive & Hold Fast to the Truth – Lk. 8:15; 2 Tim. 3:16; Psa. 51:10-13.

II.  A RESPONSIVE FAITH – Hebrews 11:6.

  A.  Trust that what God Says Will Work in Your Life, & that it will be the Best for You – Heb. 11 (Col. 3:12-15; Eph. 5:22-30; 1 Cor. 15:58).

III.  COMPLETE COMMITMENT - Matt. 6:19-24; Rom. 12:11 (Acts 11:23).

  A.  We Pursue what is Valuable to Us – 6:19-21.
  B.  Zealous Christian Living by Using God’s Truth – Heb. 5:13-14; 6:1-3.


  A.  Bible must be Our Final Authority (Source of Direction) – Jno. 6:63, 68; Psa. 119:11.
  B.  Study with the Intention of Obeying God – 2 Tim. 2:15 (Jno. 7:17); Gal. 4:19 (cf. 5:16, 25).

V.  SELF-EXAMINATION USING GOD’S WORD – 2 Cor. 13:5 (Jas. 1:22-25).

  A.  Don’t Waste Time Comparing Your Life to the Wrong Things:
    -Others (2 Cor. 10:12); Worldly wisdom (Col. 2:8); Opinions of men (Prov. 14:12); etc.

     Without Christ in us, we can do nothing (and all we do is vain) – Jno. 15:4-5.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Burglar in the Box
Joe R. Price

There was a burglary attempt on Tuesday in Medellin, Columbia.  The would-be intruder tried to enter a residence by shipping himself by parcel post.  He was delivered in a cardboard box to the wealthy home that he planned to burglarize until his plan went awry.  The police, who first thought there might be a bomb in the box, arrested the 24-year-old when the panicked thief shouted that he could not breathe.

False teachers are like this burglar in the box.  The Scriptures tell of those who enter among the people of God to spiritually pillage and plunder:  “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber”  (John 10:1).  Those who follow the Good Shepherd will listen for and follow His voice instead of the teachings of a counterfeit shepherd whose error destroys the sheep (Jno. 10:2-11).

False teachers “secretly bring in destructive heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1).  These pretenders come among the saints in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves (Matt. 7:15; Jno. 10:12-14; Acts 20:29).  Just as “the thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy,” false teachers exploit Christians with “deceptive words” (Jno. 10:10; 2 Pet. 2:3).  Therefore, we must be watchful and “test the spirits, whether they are from God” (Acts 20:31; 1 Jno. 4:1).

Sin is also like that burglar in the box.  Whenever it can, it creeps into our lives.  Once inside, it robs us of purity and holiness.  It shackles us with a bondage from which only Jesus can free us (Rom. 6:16-23).  Once freed from sin, Christians must be sober and watchful and not allow sin to again enter their lives (cf. Matt. 12:43-45; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).


Created by Chuck Sibbing.  01/10/2004

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