"All material is written by
Joe R. Price, unless otherwise
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
As we continue to study Bible authority in a series of sermons (see page 3) we will eventually discuss how to establish and apply Bible authority to the work and worship of the local church. The subject is of consequence because the word of God teaches us we must act under the authority of Christ in all we say and do (Col. 3:17). That includes the functions of the local church. To do otherwise is to forfeit fellowship with God (2 Jno. 9).
For example, there is a pattern for our worship of God: prayer, singing, eating the Lord’s Supper, giving of our means and studying God’s word (Acts 2:42; 20:7; Eph. 5:19). To alter the pattern of sound words concerning worship corrupts true worship; God is not pleased (2 Tim. 1:13; Jno. 4:23-24).
There is also a scriptural pattern for the work of the local church. When New Testament Christians came together in their assembled worship (1 Cor. 11:17-20), they edified each other and taught the word of God (1 Cor. 14:26; Acts 20:7; Eph. 5:19). Churches were also doing the work of evangelism (Acts 11:22; Phil. 1:3-5; 4:15-16) and tending to needy saints (Acts 4:32-35; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; 1Tim. 5:16).
Many churches of Christ evidently believe edification is accomplished by simply being together. Therefore, whatever the local church does to get brethren together is accepted as edification. We are not opposed to brethren spending time together; that is a good thing (Acts 2:46). But, it is not the work of the local church to arrange all manner of social gatherings for the brethren. For example, many churches of Christ provide kitchens or multi-purpose rooms for social meals, etc. in their buildings, and promote these meals as a form of fellowship and edification. Yet, the Bible clearly prohibits this in 1 Corinthians 11, where Christians are told they “have houses to eat and drink in” and therefore, “if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home” (11:22, 34). The eating to be done as part of a church’s worship and work is the memorial meal of the Lord’s Supper, not a social meal that fills the stomach (1 Cor. 11:17-34).
There is no Bible authority for a local church to plan, promote or provide social activities. As just noted, there is a prohibition against it. Yet, some are heard to say that such activities are not a big deal; they can take it or leave it. (Okay, then why not stop doing it?)
Please don’t confuse the issue. The issue is not one of eating where you worship. Yes, churches can and have met in homes in which people also eat. (Many other things occur in homes, too. Shall all of these also become part of the work of a local church?) The issue is whether the local church has Bible authority to add another work – that of social activities – to the work already given it by the Lord (evangelism, edification and the care of needy saints).
When a local church provides and promotes social activities as a part of its work of edifying the saints, it shows a misunderstanding of edification, and it acts without Bible authority. That is a “big deal.”
Exposing the Problem
Oh, for the faith and courage to examine ourselves, lest we harbor the sins of false accusation and slander in our hearts and permit their expression with our tongues (2 Cor. 13:5)! The difficulty with exposing these sins within ourselves is that slanderer does not love light – they lurk in the shadowy darkness of bitterness and pride, envy and malice, evil suspicions and hatred (Eph. 4:31; 1 Tim. 6:4; 2 Tim. 3:3-4). Without earnest and honest examination of our own motives in the light of God’s word we will not be willing or able to see these sins in ourselves (Jno. 9:39-41; 3:19-21).
God forthrightly condemns the false accuser and his slanderous words. Israel was commanded, “You shall not circulate a false report. Do not put your hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness. You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice…You shall not pervert the judgment of your poor in his dispute. Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked” (Exo. 23:1-2, 6-7). Please notice that not only was the false report condemned, so also was the distribution of the falsehood. The Lord God made it clear: He would not (and will not) justify such wickedness. Undoubtedly, this is because “a false witness who speaks lies and one who sows discord among brethren” is detestable to the God of truth and justice (Prov. 6:19; Deut. 32:4). There is no doubt that “whosoever spreads slander is a fool” (Prov. 10:18).
The New Testament of Christ equally condemns false accusations and slander. Slanderers walk in fellowship with those who love themselves, who are traitors, headstrong, haughty, and who are unloving toward men and God. Godliness is merely a façade in this person’s life. Therefore, we are commanded to “turn away” from such (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
The Holy Spirit commands us to put away lying and speak truth about one another, “for we are members of one another” (Eph. 4:25). The separation of best friends is just one of the sorrows produced by the whisperer who spreads slander (Prov. 16:28). Spreading false accusations and slander divides the body of Christ. Is this not the desire of the devil? There is good reason why “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Rev. 21:8).
False accusation and slander are products of a prideful, hateful, malicious and envious heart. They serve the devil’s desires, and we should be deeply grieved over such treatment of one another. David sought divine deliverance and protection from the danger and damage of those who, with wicked intent, slanderously defamed him: “Deliver me, O LORD, from evil men; Preserve me from violent men, who plan evil things in their hearts; they continually gather together for war. They sharpen their tongues like a serpent; the poison of asps is under their lips…let not a slanderer be established in the earth…I know the Lord will maintain the cause of the afflicted…” (Psa. 140:1-3, 11-12). The evil of false accusations and slander gives every godly person reason to pause and examine their treatment of others in the light of divine truth.
(Continued next week)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 21:23-27
1. How can we have confidence we are
trusting in God’s authority & not man’s to save us?
I. THERE ARE ONLY TWO AVAILABLE SOURCES OF AUTHORITY: ONE IS RIGHT & ONE IS WRONG, Matt. 21:23-27.
A. Man’s Wisdom
Enslaves, is Empty & Deceptive, Col. 2:8 (1-3).
II. CHRIST’S AUTHORITY IS CONTAINED IN HIS WORD, Heb. 1:2-3.
A. The Lord Began to
Speak Salvation, Heb. 2:3-4 (Jno. 6:63, 68; 8:31-32; 12:48-50).
III. THE CHAIN OF AUTHORITY FROM HEAVEN TO EARTH (GOD TO MAN).
A. Jesus Spoke the
All-Authoritative Word of God, Jno. 12:49-50.
SCRIPTURE CONTAINS CHRIST’S COMPLETE AUTHORITY,
2 Tim. 3:16-17.
Conclusion: 1 Pet. 1:22-25; Isa. 55:11.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
-Review Part 1 (Matt. 5:17-20).
I. RIGHTEOUSNESS OF THE KINGDOM REFLECTS TRUSTING FAITH & PRODUCES FRUITFUL SERVICE, Matt. 6:19-34.
A. Faith that Trusts & Serves God,
6:19-32 (Rom. 1:17); Jas. 2:18.
II. RIGHTEOUSNESS OF KINGDOM PROPERLY ASSESSES ALL THINGS, Matt. 7:1-20.
A. Judge Ourselves & How we Judge
Others, 7:1-6 (Jno. 7:24).
III. RIGHTEOUSNESS OF KINGDOM HEARS & OBEYS THE WORDS OF JESUS, Matt. 7:21-29.
A. Saying but not Obeying is Sin,
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” (Col. 3:15)
Christians, who live in fellowship with God, should continually be impressed with the many spiritual blessings enjoyed in Christ (Eph. 1:3). But, like children of the flesh, children of God can forget and fail to be thankful. Having been called to the peace of God, each member of the body of Christ is to thankfully allow His peace to rule in our hearts (and thus, over our lives, Col. 3:15).
The list of whom and for what we should be thankful is as long as the list of blessings we have in our lives: God, for His salvation, love and truth; Parents, who gave us life itself; Children, who teach us what life is all about; Fellow-Christians, who comfort, encourage and help us live for Jesus; Our country, where freedom still rings...
Please consider this good summary on being thankful children of God:
“For children of God, every day is a day of thanksgiving. Even our pleas and petitions are to be accompanied by expressions of thanks. “With thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). Jesus commended the giving of thanks for kindnesses shown and blessings bestowed (Luke 17). One of the first signs of depravity is the lack of thankfulness (Rom. 1:21). Truly, brethren, “be ye thankful” (Col. 3:15). “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).” (“Be Ye Thankful,” Larry Ray Hafley)
As Thanksgiving Day approaches, let’s remember to be thankful and to say “thank you” every day.
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA