Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
Christianity is a religion of persuasion, not coercion. The medieval Crusades show the fallacy and folly of a forced faith. The plowshare and pruning hook, not the sword and the spear, are the instruments of the kingdom’s advancement.
Therefore, Jesus commissioned His apostles to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15). The purpose of gospel preaching is persuasion unto salvation; to convince lost to convert to Christ and be saved. While gospel preaching does indeed inform, unless it is punctuated by calls to make personal application of that information, its purpose (the salvation of souls) will not be realized. The power of the gospel saves when the sinner is persuaded to apply its saving power to his life (Rom. 1:16).
There is too much pointless preaching today. What we need is persuasive preaching. The word translated “persuade” in the New Testament is used of trying “to induce one by words to believe…to cause belief in a thing” so as “to trust” or “have confidence” “to comply with” the call of the gospel (Thayer, 497). For instance, when Paul preached the gospel in Rome he did more than offer his audience information as he explained from the Scriptures about the kingdom of God and Jesus the Christ (Acts 28:23). There was a point to Paul’s preaching. His goal was to persuade them they were lost and that Jesus, who is the Christ, could save them!
There is a point to gospel preaching. Paul used reasoned argumentation from Scripture to persuade the lost to believe and obey the gospel (Acts 18:4; 19:8). Some were persuaded and some were not, but please note that it was what Paul had “spoken” that did the persuading; not his personality, not his charisma and charm, and not his ability to tell jokes (Acts 28:24; cf. Acts 17:2-4). The point of Paul’s preaching was to save, not placate or entertain.
Gospel preaching is also pointed. He applied the persuasive power of the gospel to his audience’s spiritual condition and their present need, telling them they were fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy of a people whose hearts were dull, whose eyes were closed and whose ears were hard of hearing (Acts 28:26-28; Isa. 6:9-10). Our preaching must be “instant (ready, urgent) in season, out of season” so the lost will be convicted of their sin (and cry out “what shall we do?”) and so the saved will know how to continue to live faithfully in Christ (2 Tim. 4:2; Acts 13:43).
The good and honest heart will be persuaded by the gospel. The Lord expects us to apply the proper persuasion: “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11). So, hold up the hands of faithful Christians who attempt to persuade men and women to comply with the word of God. Some will not be persuaded when they hear the gospel, but let us be sure it is not due to our failure to apply the point of Scripture to the needs of man (Lk. 16:31; Acts 26:28).
There is scriptural precedent for local churches to have and use a treasury of its collected funds. While there have been some who teach such is unauthorized, it is apparent that New Testament churches did indeed have them.
The Jerusalem church had a treasury (Acts 4:35). It was maintained by the free will offerings of its members (Acts 4:35, 36-37). From these gathered funds distributed was made to its members “as anyone had need,” implying a treasury from which such needs were met (Acts 4:35). The church’s treasury was under the custody of the apostles (Acts 4:35). When its care and the service of the needy from it began to interfere with their “ministry of the word,” men were selected to serve over this business (Acts 6:1-6).
The Corinthian church had a treasury, as did the churches of Galatia (1 Cor. 16:1-2). It was maintained by saints giving on the first day of the week according to their prosperity. The treasury contained money to be used to relieve needy saints in Jerusalem. When Paul arrived at Corinth on his way to Jerusalem there would be no need to collect funds from individual brethren, because the collection would stand ready for use.
The treasury holds the money that is used to fund the authorized work of the local church. The local church is authorized to (1) Preach the gospel, including providing wages to evangelists (2 Cor. 11:8); (2) Edify the saints (Acts 11:22-23); and to (3) Relieve needy saints (Acts 2:44-45; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 1 Tim. 5:16). Therefore, it necessarily follows that the treasury may be used to fund these works.
One area of abuse brethren have withstood through the years is the use of the treasury to provide “general benevolence” (i.e., relieve physical needs of people who are not Christians from the treasury). The local church is not a social relief organization for the community. There is no New Testament pattern for such general use of the treasury in benevolence. The church is charged with the care of needy saints (Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25-27).
Another abuse of the treasury is its use to fund social gospel activities. Such is not the work of the local church. Therefore, the promotion and practice of social activities is not to be funded from a church’s treasury.
Some brethren object to a church helping a needy saint from its treasury, believing that only needy widows can be relieved from the treasury. They believe a separate collection, made by individuals, is the only right way to relieve needy saints. There is no disagreement that individual Christians can help meet the needs of their fellow saints (Gal. 6:10; Jas. 1:27). And, it is true that 1 Timothy 5:16 says the local church is not charged with the ongoing care of widows who have family to care for them (cf. 5:9). However, that does not negate a church’s right (nor its responsibility) to use its treasury to relieve the needs of its members (including widows) that occasionally arise.
The very authority for the existence of a treasury allows for its use to meet the benevolent needs of saints (since such benevolence is an authorized work of the local church). “That no collections be made when I come” clarifies the wisdom of a treasury from which such benevolent needs can be met (1 Cor. 16:2). To demand that it requires a separate collection in order to help a needy saint is to violate the stated intention of the treasury in 1 Cor. 16:2. Such a view binds where the Lord has not bound.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Conflict Between the Flesh and the Spirit (Part 1)
Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:16-26
I. THE FLESH & THE SPIRIT: ENEMIES IN A BATTLE FOR THE SOUL – Gal. 5:16-18.
II. WORKS OF THE FLESH – Gal. 5:19-21.
A. They Are
Well-Known, 5:19 (1 Jno. 2:15-16).
III. HOW TO WALK IN, BE LED BY & LIVE IN THE SPIRIT – Gal. 5:16, 18, 25.
A. The Spirit
of God Does not Lead us by… Force, direct operation (HS baptism), feelings
(Prov. 14:12), confident assurances of friends.
IV. THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT, Gal. 5:22-23
A. It is What
Living by the Gospel (which the Spirit gave) Produces in One’s Life.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Come to the Knowledge of the Truth
Scripture Reading: Nehemiah 8:1-12
1. God has
always spoken to man in the words of man so as to be understood by man (Gen.
2:16-17; 3:1-3; Exo. 24:3-4, 7, 12; 25:8-9; Neh. 8:1-3, 7-8.
I. HERMENEUTICS: WHAT IS IT?
Science (principles) of Interpretation. (Acts 14:12)
II. THOSE IN ANCIENT TIMES BELIEVED THEY COULD GAIN KNOWLEDGE OF GOD’S WILL.
A. “To the law
& to the testimony,” Isa. 8:19-20; Ezra 7:10; Deut. 29:29; Neh. 8:1-8 (12).
III. WHY MUST WE BE CONCERNED WITH USING CORRECT HERMENEUTICS (principles of interpretation) IN BIBLE STUDY?
Respect for God’s Word – 2 Tim. 2:15
Secrets and Telling Secrets
This past week George Tenet, director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, reported to the American people about the trials, trouble and treachery of gathering, collating and assimilating international intelligence, with special emphasis on Iraq. Gathering national secrets is a difficult and deadly business.
On the other side of the world we also learned that “Abdul Qadeer Khan – the man who gave Pakistan the nuclear bomb - publicly confessed leaking nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea” (BBC News, World Edition online, Feb. 6, 2004). It would seem that retaining national secrets can be just as difficult as discovering them.
Gathering secrets is not necessarily a good idea. Now, I am not talking about gathering intelligence for the good of national security. I am talking about one’s personal and eternal security. Some folks think they must have their finger on the pulse on everything and everybody around them. Take Eglon, the king of Moab, for an example. When thought he would be told a secret it cost him his life (Judges 3:19-22). Then, there is the matter of gathering up secret sins in one’s life: not a good idea. King David sinned in secret, but the consequences of his sin would be made public for all to see (2 Sam. 12:9-12). Be sure your sins will find you out (Num. 32:23; cf. Psa. 90:8). Oh Lord, cleanse us from secret faults (Psa. 19:12).
Telling secrets can get you in a lot of trouble. “Debate your case with your neighbor, and do not disclose the secret to another; lest he who hears it expose your shame, and your reputation be ruined” (Prov. 25:9-10). One should ask himself some questions before becoming a talebearer: Am I telling what I know in order to discredit someone and to build up myself? If I tell what I know will it help resolve a problem or will it increase the trouble? Sometimes, silence is the better part of valor. Truly, “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips (Prov. 20:19).
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA