Times of services:
"And take...the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:17)
In this issue:
The age of miracles has ended. Miraculous gifts, distributed by the Holy Spirit according to His will, have served their purpose and ceased to exist. But still there are many souls who, deceived by lying wonders and void of Bible understanding, are convinced that God miraculously works through men and women today (Acts 8:9-11; 2 Ths. 2:9-12).
We are told by those who believe in present-day miracles that such powers will continue in this world until the return of Jesus. An appeal is made to 1 Corinthians 13:10 to support the doctrine: “But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part will be done away.”
The word translated “perfect” (teleios) in verse 10 will not allow this interpretation. It means “brought to its end, finished, wanting nothing necessary to completeness” (Thayer, 618). Paul is not speaking of Jesus in verse 10, but rather of the completion of the object and purpose of the miraculous gifts, namely, the completed revelation of the gospel. The miraculous gifts are identified in 1 Corinthians 12, but there is a “more excellent way” to follow than elevating miraculous gifts above their proper role in the church (12:31). 1 Corinthians 13 shows us that “more excellent way,” which is love. The early Christians who had been given miraculous powers were to always use those gifts in love, for it would “abide” even though the miraculous gifts were soon to be “done away.” Until then, 1 Corinthians 14 would show how the miraculous gifts were to be properly used in the church.
The miraculous gifts were partial and temporary, like a scaffold around a building under construction. When the building is completed the tools are removed; the scaffolding comes down. Likewise, when the completed revelation of truth was completed through the works of the apostles and prophets of Christ, the miraculous gifts, having served their purposes of revealing, confirming and inspiring the gospel, were removed. Now, the “perfect law of liberty” remains (Jas. 1:25; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
One of the first century miraculous gifts was “the word of knowledge” – the ability to have knowledge and speak divine truth without previous study (1 Cor. 12:8; Lk. 12:11-12). But Paul said “whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away” (1 Cor. 13:8). If by “perfect” he meant the return of Jesus (v. 10) we must conclude that when Jesus returns knowledge will cease to exist. Yet, Paul said when “that which is perfect has come” that “I shall know just as I also am known” (13:12). Knowledge will not cease when Jesus returns. Paul was not discussing the return of Jesus, but the completion of the revelation and production of the gospel. Today, knowledge of truth is obtained by studying God’s word, not by a miracle.
Miraculous gifts were partial in nature; no one had them all (1 Cor. 13:9). Now, everyone have the complete (perfect) word of truth available to them (1 Cor. 13:10). Miraculous gifts have ended; truth remains.
The story is told of a business man who went to his financial adviser on a regular basis to assess and update his financial holdings. At these meetings he would say, “I died last night. Tell me what happened to my family, my business and my estate.” This shows wisdom and planning on his part for the well-being of his family after his death. Yet, if this man had actually died last night his real interest would not be his financial wealth and stability – it would be his soul and his standing before God (read Lk. 12:15-21). More important than having our finances in order when we die is having our spiritual condition in order when we die.
We don’t think that sudden, unexpected death will happen to us. Like most, we are tempted to think that such tragedies only happen to the other guy. And so, we give little thought to our own death. Yet, none of us have the assurance of tomorrow (Lk. 12:20; Jas. 4:13-15). And, none of us will escape death. Are you prepared for your death?
Preparing for death is not a morbid thought to the Christian. We do not become discouraged over the prospect of dying. For Christians, death is gain (Phil. 1:21, 23). So, we must develop an eternal perspective of life. Your existence is not merely defined as the span of time between your birth and your death. The choices you make now will affect you throughout eternity (cf. Lk. 16:25-26; 2 Cor. 5:10; Heb. 9:27).
If you died last night you would be greatly concerned with the answers to the following questions about your life:
“Did I obey the gospel?” The most important questions of all in the hour of death will certainly be, “Am I a Christian? Am I saved from my sins?” “Did I believe in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God?” (Jno. 8:24) “Did I confess my faith before men?” (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10) “Did I repent of my sins?” (Lk. 13:3) “Was I baptized into Christ for the remission of my sins?” (Mk.16:16; Acts 2:38) These are questions you will surely want to answer “yes” to when death comes your way. How tragically sad it is when people reject Christ and His salvation by refusing to obey His gospel and be saved. They have the punishment of eternal destruction to anticipate (2 Ths. 1:8-9). Many folks who have not yet obeyed the gospel expect to get around to it one of these days. How devastating it is when death comes and one is not prepared to meet the Lord. Have you obeyed the gospel? Why not now?
“Was I faithful to my Lord?” Having “died last night,” you recall that Jesus said, “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). Quickly you try to remember your life: Was I faithful to study God’s word, use it in my life and teach it to others (2 Tim. 2:15, 2)? Was I faithful in prayer (Phil. 4:6; Jas. 5:16)? Did I faithfully abstain from all evil (1 Ths. 5:22)? Did I walk in the good works of God (Eph. 2:10)? Was I sober and watchful against the devil, or did I give in to his devices (1 Pet. 5:8)? You see, when we die we will not be able to justify a lack of faithfulness with “I meant to do what was right” or “I know I should be more faithful.” Then, it will be too late. Be faithful now, before and until death comes, and you will not face death with regrets over the faithful life you could and should have lived.
“Did I make life easier for someone else?” One area of our lives that will be judged by the Lord is our treatment of others. Matthew 25:31-46 depicts a separation that will take place at the judgment. That separation, as described by Jesus, will be based on our treatment of others. The saved wondered when they had seen the King hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or in prison (25:37-39). His reply was, “inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” (25:40). The importance of caring for others will be dramatically displayed on Judgment Day. If you had really died last night, would you have left a legacy of good deeds like Dorcas (Acts 9:36)? Treating others as we want to be treated embodies the heart and soul of the law of God (Matt. 7:12). A living faith is exemplified by responding to the needs of others as we have the ability and the opportunity to do so (Jas. 2:14-17; Gal. 6:10). Give up hurtful words and damaging attitudes, replacing them with gracious thoughts, words and deeds of kindness (Gal. 5:13-15; Eph. 4:29; Col. 4:6).
“What influence did I leave behind on my family?” With so much emphasis on providing material security for one’s family, providing one’s family with spiritual security is often neglected. Material security is important, but spiritual security is essential (1 Tim. 5:8; Matt. 6:33-34). Did you leave your family godly examples to follow? Did you spend time with your children, teaching and developing within them righteous attitudes, character and conduct? Did you nourish and cherish your marriage? Or, did you have time for everything and everybody else except your family? Oh, the painful words, “too late!” Too many will learn too late that after death they can do nothing to help their loved ones (Lk. 16:27-31). Now is the time to be a godly influence upon your family (Matt. 5:13-16).
You died last night. How is it with your soul? If you died last night, would you change yourself if you could? If your answer is “yes,” then change now – before you die and judgment comes (Heb. 9:27).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: John 5:16-23
1. Nature of God is
crucial to faith (Gen. 1:1-2, 26-27; 3:22; 11:6-7).
I. IN TERMS OF HIS DEITY (NATURE): NO DISTINCTION, Col. 2:9.
A. Equality, Jno. 1:1; 5:17-18; 8:58; 10:30, 33, 36,
II. IN TERMS OF HIS HUMANITY: SUBMISSION TO THE FATHER.
Jesus Emptied Himself of the Form of God & Took Form of a Servant (man),
Phil. 2:5-8 (Jno. 17:4-5; 10:30; 8:58; 1:14).
1. The Son is not inferior to the Father.
Denominations in Turmoil
This has been a turbulent week for two U.S. denominations, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
The Episcopal Church (the American arm of the larger 77-million member Anglican Communion – the family of churches with roots that trace back to the Church of England) is almost certainly headed for outright division. At the Episcopal General Convention this week in Columbus, Ohio, they elected the first woman to lead any church in the Anglican Communion, plus they refused to ban the ordination of gay bishops. Within hours of electing Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori of Las Vegas as the presiding bishop of the denomination “the Episcopal Diocese of Forth Worth voted to seek leadership elsewhere within the worldwide Anglican communion” (“Episcopal Church elects 1st woman leader, rejects outright ban on confirming gay bishops,” dallasvoice.com).
In her first sermon, feminist Bishop Schori referred to both “our mother Jesus” and “King Jesus’ followers.” Episcopalians are confused about many things (1 Tim. 2:5, 11-12; 3:1).
In the meantime, the Presbyterians voted to receive a policy paper on “gender-inclusive language for the Trinity” in their liturgies at their national assembly in Birmingham, AL While “Father, Son and Holy Spirit” should still be used, Presbyterians were told to look for “fresh ways to speak of the mystery of the triune God” (USA Today, 6/19/06). [What mystery? God has revealed Himself to mankind in His Son (Jno. 1:18; Acts 17:22-31; Eph. 3:1-5, 14-21; Heb. 1:1-3).] Some alternate phrases are already being suggested: “Mother, Child and Womb;” “Rock, Redeemer, Friend;” and “Lover, Beloved, Love.” Some conservative Presbyterian groups warned that approval of this optional language would “promote schism by permitting the disregard of clear standards of Scripture” (Ibid.). It is interesting that they refer to “clear standards of Scripture” in their appeal for unity.
These denominations long since abandoned the “clear standards of Scripture” and are now reaping the whirlwind. When God and His word are abandoned for self-defined religion, sin always progresses worse and worse (from idolatry to feminism to every type of immorality, including homosexuality, Rom. 1:18-32). If we abandon God’s word we can only expect similar chaos and condemnation (Rom. 2:1-5)
Created by Chuck Sibbing -
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA