And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XI, Number 37 August 10, 2008
In this issue:
Humans have a tendency to get bored. We seem to always be looking for some “new thing” to engage our interest. But is the “new thing” really a “good” thing for us? It is not easy to answer that question with honest objectivity. We are easily deceived into thinking that change is good and “the same old thing” is necessarily stale, mundane and outdated. Such is not true when it comes to God’s word (Jer. 6:16). Nevertheless, this attitude of discontent shows itself in churches of Christ.
Some brethren are not content with true worship. They are heard saying things like, “we need to change our singing, to ‘liven it up’ to show some real emotion.” There is no question that worship in song ought to reflect thankful, happy hearts to God (Jas. 5:13). Singing praises is a joyful expression of adoration for God as well as admonition of men (Col. 3:16). But how does changing the arrangement of songs – songs that well express praise and admonish in truth – accomplish greater joy in worship? Unless the heart is first right, new songs and new arrangements of old songs accomplish nothing. Change for the sake of change. Why should we think that a heart that is “wrong” when singing the old hymns will suddenly be made “right” by singing new ones?
Some brethren are not content with Bible preaching. They call for change in the pulpit: “The sermons are too long”, “sermons on Bible authority are too dry”, “I feel beaten down by the sermons” and “the love just doesn’t flow”. Brethren are convincing themselves that things must change so that the sermons are entertaining, the preachers are dynamic and the messages make them feel good. Such thinking shows a change has already happened – and not for the better! There has been a change away from desiring preaching that reproves, rebukes and exhorts to sermons that soothe us in sin. That is not a change for the better (2 Tim. 4:2-4). Preachers should not ignore the needs of their audience. We are warning here that preachers can preach “peace, peace” when there is no peace – and God’s people can love to have it so (Jer. 6:14; 5:20).
How often have brethren said, “It’s time for a new preacher”? Not because the preacher is teaching error or is morally corrupt, but just because they think it is time for a change; time to go in a “new direction”. What does that kind of change accomplish for the cause of Christ? Brethren, if the preacher where you worship is doing the work of an evangelist and is preaching sound doctrine, then hold up his hands instead of discouraging him and his family with talk that “it’s time for a change” (2 Tim. 4:1-5; cf. Phil. 2:25-30). What kind of change are you looking for? Change for the sake of change is not always better.
Maybe it is time for a change after all; a change of heart toward God, toward our brethren, toward the authority of God’s word and toward our personal service to Him. It is time for a change of heart – repentance – whenever we are not content with God’s truth. Without that change, we are lost in the sin of discontent (Lk. 13:3-5; Phil. 2:14-15).
Plainness of speech is a mark of the gospel and its teaching (Acts 20:20-21). Much confusion has resulted from the councils, creeds, confessions and consciences of men concerning the church. Plain Bible teaching removes this confusion.
1) The church of Christ belongs to Christ. Men have built many churches, all claiming to belong to Christ. In contrast to the many denominations of men, the New Testament church belongs to Jesus. The church belongs to Christ because: (a) Christ built the church. After Peter confessed belief that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God” the Lord plainly said, “on this rock I will build My church” (Matt. 16:16-18). The church does not belong to us to do with as we see fit. (b) Christ died for the church. The church was purchased with the blood of the Son of God, shed as the redemptive price for the sins of the word (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:26-27; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). (c) Christ is the head of his church. No vicar, no president, no king or queen possesses authority in or over the church of Christ; His authority over the church is complete (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 1:18; 3:17). (d) Christ is the Savior of the church. Salvation is only through Jesus Christ, and he only saves His body, the church (Acts 4:12; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23). The church of Christ belongs to Christ; the denominations belong to the men who built them and rule them.
2) The church of Christ is composed of those who are saved in Christ. The church is not a club to join, a business to operate or a social organization to administer a social agenda. “Church” translates the Greek word ekklesia meaning an assembly of called out ones. The gospel calls sinners out of the darkness of sin into the marvelous light of God’s Son (1 Pet. 2:9-10). The church of Christ is the assembly of the saved; God’s people on earth whose citizenship is in heaven (Heb. 12:22-23). The Bible plainly says that one cannot be saved without being added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47). The church is composed of Christians, not churches. The church is not an assembly of churches; it is the assembly of the saved (Heb. 12:22-23).
3) There is only one church of Christ. Jesus plainly said “I will build My church” – not, “I will build My churches.” Considered universally, all the saved (all Christians) constitute one body, the church of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). Considered locally, Christians gather in different places to form independent congregations. Thus, we read of the “churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16; see also 1 Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:2; 1 Thess. 1:1; Rev. 1:11). Each congregation has its own organization and is fully equipped to do its own work without the oversight or sponsorship of another church (Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2-3; Eph. 4:11-16).
4) The Lord adds you to the church of Christ when you are saved from your sins. The murderers of Jesus heard the gospel call and believed Jesus to be “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36-37). They were told to “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins”, and about 3,000 who did so were added together (Acts 2:38, 40-41). The church began that day and the Christians continued to grow in faith and service to Christ (Acts 2:42). The church of Christ exists today. The Lord will add you to His church when you will believe, repent and be baptized for the remission of your sins (Acts 2:37-38, 47). –Back to Basics, August 2008
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Genesis 19:14-17
Lot is an example of allowing the influences of the world to bring us into
evil situations (Gen. 13:13; 18:32; 19:15-16).
I. LOT NEEDED TO ESCAPE MATERIALISM, Gen. 13:8-13.
Selfishness Cost Him Dearly, 13:10-11.
II. LOT NEEDED TO ESCAPE A LIGHT REGARD OF SIN, Gen. 13:13.
He Chose to put Himself and his Family into Sinful Surroundings, 1 Cor.
15:33-34; Eph. 5:11-12 (2 Pet. 2:7-8).
III. LOT NEEDED TO ESCAPE INDECISION AND DELAY, Gen. 19:16-17 (lingered… “escape”).
Many have been Lost because of Indecision and Delay, Acts 24:24-27.
Cor. 15:33: Don’t be deceived; Sin, if allowed to do so, will influence us,
consume us and destroy our faith!
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 9:35-38
God’s compassion via Messiah, Mic 7:18-20
I. COMPASSION SEEN IN HIS PREACHING, Matt. 9:35.
A. Preaching the Truth is an Expression of God’s Compassion for Mankind, Mk. 6:34; 1 Cor. 1:18-25; 2 Tim. 4:1-5 (cf. Jesus, Mk. 1:14-15); Col. 1:24-29.
II. COMPASSION SEEN IN HIS MIRACLES, Matt. 9:35 (Acts 10:38).
Jesus was Deeply Touched by the Tragic Circumstances People Faced in Life,
Matt. 14:14; 15:32; 20:32-34; Mk. 1:40-45; Lk. 7:13-17.
III. COMPASSION FOR LOST, Matt. 9:36-38.
Because of the Effects of Sin, 9:36; Matt. 11:28; Gal. 6:1.
God’s compassion, Mic. 7:18-19; Tit. 3:4-5.
I have a vested interest in the story of four Mexican soldiers holding a U.S. Border Patrol agent at gunpoint in the Arizona desert earlier this week. My son is a Border Patrol agent in that same area of Arizona. Fortunately, the agent was not harmed. After a tense standoff he finally convinced them who he was and where they were; on American soil. After about four minutes, the Mexican soldiers (who were patrolling for drug smugglers) lowered their weapons and returned to Mexico (“Mexican Soldiers Enter Arizona, Briefly Detain Border Agent”, Foxnews.com, 07Aug08).
A military incursion is “a hostile entrance into a territory” such as a raid (Webster). But we also use the word “incursion” more generally to describe entering a place or undertaking an activity. That’s what I want to talk with you about for a minute.
Sometimes Christians find themselves in places and situations they shouldn’t be. Like Joseph, you may be going about your business when someone tries to lure you into sin Gen. 39:11-12). If so, flee like he did (v. 13).
Sometimes Christians choose to go to places they have no business being. They make incursions into the world, crossing the border into the desert of sin. Some cross the border of religious error (Gal. 1:6-9). False doctrine causes souls to be lost; Christians who find themselves there must retreat, repent and return to truth. Some cross the border of immoral behavior – going to the bar, to the dance, to the casino – none of these are places for Christians (Rom. 13:13-14). Evil companionships corrupt good morals (1 Cor. 15:33). We must flee such places, repent of every sin and return to the homeland of fellowship with God and His Son (1 Jno. 1:7).
Be careful what borders you cross. You are a citizen of heaven; Incursions into the world bring eternal death (1 Jno. 2:15-17).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 08/11/2008
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA