And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume X, Number 36 June 24, 2007
In this issue:
Faithful Christians, committed to doing all things in the name of the Lord and holding fast the pattern of sound words, are charged with being “antis” (one that is opposed, against) for not yielding to sponsoring church arrangements and local church support of human organizations (Col. 3:17; 2 Tim. 1:13). The false charge is that we are opposed to (“anti”) local church cooperation. “Anti” is also used in a derogatory way because we reject local church support of human organizations (like orphans homes and other benevolent organizations).
Every Christian and every local church should be “anti” (against or opposed to) every form of local church cooperation that does not follow the New Testament pattern. Many are not. We must uphold the pattern of cooperation of local churches that is actually revealed in the text. That pattern is simple: each local church working concurrently (at the same time) as it has the ability and opportunity to do its own work (Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2). Each church oversees and does its own work; not the work of another church. All can agree on the concurrent (parallel) cooperation of churches occurred in New Testament times (Acts 9:31). The same pattern must be followed today. Disagreement, discord and division occurs when other patterns, unauthorized by the Scriptures, are introduced, used and promoted without the approval of God’s word (Rev. 22:18; 2 Jno. 9-11). The superstructure and organizational hierarchy of a “sponsoring church” exists without Bible authority. Those who oppose it are the right kind of “antis” – anti-error. Are we against church cooperation? No. We are against arrangements of church cooperation that corrupt the Bible pattern of cooperation.
The New Testament reveals a pattern of local churches sending benevolent assistance directly to other local churches to relieve needy saints (Acts 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:1, 12-13). When independent churches do this work, they cooperate concurrently. All agree this arrangement exists in the Bible. It is the addition of a human organization or a “sponsoring church” to arrange, to facilitate and to oversee the work of benevolence that violates the divine pattern (Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jno. 9).
The eldership of each local church is sufficient to oversee each church’s work in benevolence without any additional organization being arranged and maintained to do so. The relief for needy saints in Jerusalem was sent from local churches directly to the Jerusalem church (Rom. 15:26; Acts 21:17-18), not a sponsoring church. Each local church, sending directly to relieve needy saints, is the exclusive Bible pattern. Human organizations, funded by local churches, are not “messengers” of the churches; they use the churches’ funds to operate another arrangement of oversight and distribution. This is without Bible authority.
The superstructure and organizational hierarchy of a human benevolent organization, financially supported by local churches, is without Bible authority. Those who oppose such things are the right kind of “antis” – anti-error. Are we “anti” benevolent work? No. We are against arrangements of the benevolent work of a local church that corrupt the Bible pattern.
The New Testament reveals a pattern of local churches sending financial support directly to the evangelist to have fellowship with him in the work of preaching the gospel (2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:15-16). When independent churches do this, they cooperate concurrently.
Never is there recorded in the New Testament one church sending funds to a missionary society to arrange, facilitate and oversee sending out preachers and supporting them to preach. In like manner, never is there recorded in the New Testament one church sending funds to another church (a “sponsoring church”) that then arranges, facilitates and oversees “missionaries” in the “mission field” doing “mission work.” Are we against the work of evangelism? No. We are against arrangements of the evangelistic work of a local church that corrupt the Bible pattern.
We cannot be “pro” (for) Christ and be “anti” (against) His “pattern of sounds words” (1 Jno. 2:18-19, 22; 2 Jno. 7-9; 2 Tim. 1:13). We are commanded to “stand fast and hold the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of our epistle” (2 Ths. 2:15). To alter the Bible pattern of local church cooperation is disobedience to this commandment of God.
Brethren, “join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern” (Phil. 3:17). The apostles were “anti” man-made patterns of church cooperation. Whose pattern do you follow? (Phil. 4:9)
controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
The greatness of the “mystery of godliness” is indisputable, undeniable and certainly true. There is no reasonable, prevailing and sustainable objection to the excellence and splendor of the “mystery of godliness.”
What is the mystery of godliness? Paul tells us. It is nothing less than the fullness of God’s redemptive purpose and plan that was accomplished in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and preached to the world. It is the gospel of Christ: “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to his saints” (Col. 1:26). When Paul preached “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” he spoke “God’s wisdom in a mystery” – the “things God has prepared for those who love Him” – the things God had revealed through His Spirit (1 Cor. 2:1-13).
The mystery of godliness has been revealed. How godless and ungodly sinners are saved is now proclaimed and offered to the whole world in the gospel of Christ (Eph. 3:3-7).
Consider the grandeur and greatness of Christ and his gospel:
“God was manifested in the flesh.” Then and now, some disputed it, but there is no successful contradiction. All who say otherwise are deceivers and Antichrist (1 Jno. 4:3; 2 Jno. 7). The Word, who was and is eternal God, became flesh (Jno. 1:1-3, 14). His name is Jesus, and through him “grace and truth” came into the world (Jno. 1:17-18).
“Justified in the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit both testified to the identity of Jesus while he walked this earth, and was “another Comforter” when he departed (Mt. 3:16; Jno. 14:16; 15:26; 16:7-15). The miracles of Jesus showed the presence of and His fellowship with the Spirit of God, thus proving Jesus guiltless (justified) of every false charge against him (Matt. 12:22-24, 28).
“Seen by angels.” Long before Jesus came to the earth, angels desired to look into the mystery of human redemption God purposed in the Son (1 Pet. 1:10-12; Eph. 3:10-11). Angels joyfully announced his arrival on the earth (Lk. 2:13-14), came to his aid after being tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matt. 4:11), attended to him in Gethsemane (Lk. 22:43), rolled away the stone and announced his resurrection (Matt. 28:2-6), affirmed his return at his ascension (Acts 1:9-11) and served as his messenger-servants (Rev. 22:6-9).
“Preached among the Gentiles.” The message of a Savior sent to the Gentiles was revolutionary to the Jewish mind (and repulsive to most), although their prophets had repeatedly foretold it (Gen. 12:3; Isa. 2:2-4; 11:10; 42:6; 49:6; Acts 13:44-47). Jesus is preached to the whole world for its redemption (Matt. 28:19-20; Rom. 1:16-17).
“Believed on in the world.” Everywhere the gospel goes it bears fruit (Col. 1:5-6). The question is will you believe and obey its great message of salvation in the Son? (Mk. 16:15-16)
“Received up in glory.” The ascension of Jesus to heaven marked his moment of exaltation (Dan. 7:13-14; Acts 2:33-36; Eph. 1:20-23). Now glorified and exalted as Lord and Christ, his gospel continues to call sinners to repent and be baptized to obtain forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:37-41).
There is no overthrowing the grandeur of Christ and His gospel; great is the mystery of godliness!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Romans 2:1-11
-Day of Judgment will be a day of reckoning.
I. THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THERE WILL BE A DAY OF RECKONING (accounting) Matt.12:36-37
A. Parable of the Talents,
Matt. 25:14-19 (v. 19).
II. THIS IS AN APPOINTMENT THAT EVERY PERSON WILL KEEP, Heb. 9:27; Eccl. 12:13-14.
III. TO WHOM SHALL WE GIVE ACCOUNT?
A. To God, by Jesus Christ,
According to the Gospel, Rom. 2:16; Rev. 20:12; Jno. 5:17-18, 22, 26-27;
Acts 17:30-31; Matt. 25:31-33; 2 Tim. 4:1; 2 Ths. 1:7-9.
IV. FOR WHAT MUST WE GIVE ACCOUNT?
A. How We React to the Word of
God, Jno. 12:48; Acts 17:11; 13:44-46.
1. Jesus described the scene of
the final day of reckoning, Matt. 25:31-46.
He was just a little boy, on a
week’s first day.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 06/24/2007
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA