And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 06 October 22, 2006
In this issue:
The word of God says what we all know: bodily exercise is good, but its benefits are only temporary. Our bodies will finally wear out, and we will die. Christians do not lose heart over this because our goals are eternal. If we are more concerned about physical exercise and fitness than spiritual exercise and health, we must rearrange our priorities and exercise ourselves “toward godliness” (1 Tim. 4:7-8; 2 Cor. 4:16-18).
Just as physical exercise keeps the body fit, spiritual exercise keeps the soul fit. Here are some spiritual exercises we can do each day.
1. Stretching. “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14). We stay in spiritual shape by reaching for heaven instead of sitting in the sins and failures of the past (Col. 3:1-4).
2. Walking. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). Christians stay fit by carefully walking the gospel trail of good works, love and light (Eph. 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15).
3. Running. “…let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Heb. 12:1). The Christian’s life is a marathon, not a sprint. We must remove every sinful obstacle that hinders us from continually obeying the truth and enduring to the end (Gal. 5:7; Heb. 6:9-12; 10:36-39).
4. Gardening. “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). God’s wonderful seed (the “word of the kingdom,” Matt. 13:19), produces abundant fruit when planted in good and honest hearts (Matt. 13:23; Lk. 8:15). We must water and fertilize it, as well as prune and weed our lives in order to bear good fruit in Christ (Jno. 15:1-8).
5. Wrestling. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). Because we wrestle against spiritual forces we must “be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might” (Eph. 6:10). The armor of God equips us to stand in the day of peril and trial (Eph. 6:11, 13-17). We must wear it every day.
We need self-control to exercise regularly (1 Cor. 9:24-27). We will not lose the weight of sin and become spiritually fit unless we do! So, choose to exercise yourself toward godliness. By doing so you will be strong and fit for “the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Tim. 4:8).
In the first century, “churches increased in number daily” (Acts 16:5). Today, weeks and even months may pass without a single person obeying the gospel in local churches. Our study takes a look at some things that may account for why we are not winning more souls.
1) IT IS NOT BECAUSE…
• Of any fault with God. God will have all men to be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). He is not willing that any should perish (2 Pet. 3:9). It is God that giveth the increase (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
• Of any shortcoming on the part of Christ. Christ came to seek and to save the lost (Lk. 19:10). Christ died for sinners (Rom. 5:8).
• Of any failing of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has done His part in revealing the will of God to man (Eph. 3:3-6). This revelation is the gospel of salvation (Eph. 1:13; Rom. 1:16).
• There are no more souls to win. Surely we do not think that all the souls to be won have already been won. Paul said, “All have sinned ” (Rom. 3:23). As long as people are living, there will be souls to win. One just needs to open his eyes to see fields white unto harvest (Jn. 4:35).
• The gospel is no longer effective. Brethren sometimes lament that the gospel isn’t as effective as it once was. The gospel has the same power it has always had. It is still “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). We just need to use it!
2) IT MAY BE…
• We’re not bold enough. Early disciples were “bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil. 1:14). There is a great need for us to teach the gospel without fear or favor of men. Fear has a paralyzing effect on us. It keeps us from doing (Mt. 25:25). We must learn to conquer our fears (2 Tim. 1:7; Heb. 13:5-6).
• We’re not on fire. Many seem to have lost their burning intensity of feeling; their ardor. The word of God was in the heart of Jeremiah as a burning fire shut up in his bones (Jer. 20:9). We need to kindle in our hearts a zeal that is on fire for the Lord (Ti. 2:14; Rev. 3:15-16).
• We’re too easily discouraged. The devil will try to deprive us of our confidence, hope, and spirit. We often allow little things to get us down and we lose courage. We may get one “no” and give up. Don’t give up so easy. Be persistent! Remember Galatians 6:9, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
• We’re prejudice. Some have a tendency to rule out people before even giving them a chance. We just do not know another person’s heart (1 Cor. 2:11). God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34); neither should we be! Many of those converted in the first century may have seemed like unlikely prospects. Take, for example, those on Pentecost, who crucified the Son of God (Acts 2), and Saul of Tarsus, who persecuted Christians (Acts 9, 22, & 26).
• We have turned heads. Perhaps we are not looking for opportunities to tell others the good news. Many times opportunity knocks but once. There’s no telling how many soul winning opportunities knock at our door every day! Let’s “look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (Jn. 4:35).
• We’ve lost sight of heaven. Sometimes we forget this world is not our home (Heb. 11:13). We have become materialistic; wrapped up in worldly pursuits. There is a real need for us to stay focused on heaven (Phil. 3:20; Col. 3:1-2).
• We’re selfish. The modern philosophy is, “Look out for number one!” We need to learn to think of others; to share the gospel with others. “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:4). “And the things that thou hast heard of me...the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).
• We lack know-how. Know-how is the knowledge and skills necessary to do something effectively. Soul winning classes are needed from time to time, to help us become more effective personal workers. It is important that we learn how to win souls. How a thing is said and done is important. Paul wrote, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Col. 4:6). Do you really think you will ever learn how, if you don’t ever try?
• There’s a shortage of workers. This is what it all boils down to. Let’s face it – soul winning is hard work! Many times, we just don’t want to put forth the time and effort required to do the job as it needs to be done. We would no doubt accomplish more if we would only work at it. The harvest is great, but the labourers are few (Lk. 10:2). Will you step forward and help solve the labor crisis?
Now that you know what the problem is, what are you going to do about it? “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28:19).
-Back to Basics, June 2006
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Romans 1:13-17
1. No accident
that early Christians went everywhere preaching (Acts 8:4).
I. THE GOSPEL IS PERSUASIVE, Acts 2:40 (26:28); 2 Cor. 5:11.
Believable & Reliable, Acts 26:25; Gal. 1:11 (Acts 17:2-4; Rom. 10:8,
II. THE GOSPEL IS PERVASIVE, 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3-4.
A. Touches &
Changes Every Part of our Lives, Heb. 4:12.
III. THE GOSPEL IS DEMONSTRATIVE.
A. The Effect of the Gospel on Us Will be Seen, Jas. 1:21-25; 2:14-26.
IV. THE GOSPEL IS DECLARATIVE, 1 Cor. 2:1-5.
A. Not Giving
Mere Suggestions, Col. 1:5-6.
V. THE GOSPEL IS REDEMPTIVE, Rom. 6:17-18.
A. Word of Salvation, Eph. 1:13 (Rom. 1:16); 1 Pet. 1:18-22.
1. Live worthy of
the gospel, Phil. 1:27-28.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 3:1-6
1. Every house is
built by someone, Heb. 3:4.
I. SOLOMON BUILT GOD A HOUSE, 1 Kgs. 5:1-5.
A. God Would
Bless it & Dwell there if Solomon (Israel) was Faithful, 1 Kgs. 6:11-14;
II. GOD DOES NOT DWELL IN TEMPLES BUILT BY MEN, Acts 7:44-50.
Christ, the Son of God, Built a House for God, Heb. 3:3-4 (8:1-2).
III. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS THE HOUSE OF GOD, Matt. 16:16-18; Heb. 3:6.
Church is the Temple of God, 1 Pet. 2:4-10; Eph. 2:19-22.
1. God’s house is
composed of Christians (saved).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 10/23/2006
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA