And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume XII, Number 08 February 22, 2009
In this issue:
Fundamentalist Hindus do not like Valentine’s Day. As I write this on February 14th, some gangs of rowdy Hindus are making a commotion in the shopping district here in Bangalore, India. Mark Mayberry and I have been advised to stay indoors until later today out of concern for our safety.
The fundamental Hindus see V-day as an intrusion into their culture concerning love and marriage. Traditionally, Indian marriages are arranged by families. A young man and young woman holding hands in public is viewed by many Hindus as an inappropriate display of affection that calls for their immediate marriage. Some have been known to be beaten and otherwise mistreated for this behavior.
Valentine’s Day is also called “Lover’s Day” in India, which leaves an entirely different connotation. The idea of lust is thus injected into the day by many in India (and around the world). Lustful displays and conduct are certainly immoral and ought to be opposed, not by beating people, but by the moral persuasion of truth. “But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints” (Eph. 5:3). We can understand why the Hindus object to this connotation and conduct; every Christian should, too.
The evidence of western culture is seen everywhere here on the streets of Bangalore as well as throughout India; some for the better and some for the worse. Tabloid headlines and immodest photographs are in the local newspapers. Images of immodestly clothed men and women exposing their thighs and other private parts of bodies are plastered on billboards (1 Tim. 2:9). While the infusion of western goods and services is helping to improve this country’s infrastructure, the infusion of western immorality is staining this society with sin and decadence. “Sin is a reproach of any people”, and the sins of western civilization are being exported around the world to our great shame (Prov. 14:34).
Not that India is innocent of immorality and sin. This land teems with idols and indecency. It exports its false religions, superstitions, astrology, idolatry and mysticism to the nations, too.
The gospel of Christ calls on all of mankind to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves (Mk. 12:29-31). It is when men behave “without self-control”, becoming “lovers of themselves” and “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” that sin ensues and with it, eternal death (2 Tim. 3:2-4).
Let us export truth and righteousness to the nations, not sin and death (Prov. 14:34; Psa. 33:12; Mk. 16:15; Eph. 4:17-24).
Many churches of Christ practice a brand of church cooperation that is foreign to the word of God. Implementing worldly wisdom coupled with “good intentions”, unscriptural cooperation now occurs among many churches.
The New Testament reveals the God-given patterns of church cooperation in the work of evangelism, edification and benevolence. Some have said there is no exclusive pattern for church cooperation in the New Testament. Guy N. Woods stated this in the Cogdill-Woods Debate: “So, it becomes necessary to raise the question: is there an exclusive pattern of church cooperation taught in the Bible? My answer. No.” (p. 196) His conclusion is false.
The Bible reveals a pattern of church cooperation to which we must adhere (2 Tim. 1:13). Like independent cars on a multi-lane highway which travel in their own lane, concurrently cooperating with the other cars, independent churches of Christ concurrently cooperate to do their work without a super-organization linking them together and directing that work.
The sponsoring church arrangement destroys the independence of churches. Through them, elders oversee works larger than their own flock (1 Pet. 5:1-2).
The sponsoring church arrangement is defended as a safeguard against corrupt preachers. But in truth, it generates corruption. Yes, the Bible pattern of church cooperation can be abused at times by evil men. But, when each church is directing its own work such corruption can be recognized and immediately corrected.
The New Testament pattern for church cooperation in evangelism. Churches in the New Testament sent preachers into the world to preach (Acts 13:2-3). Thus, churches are authorized to do so today. Churches sent support directly to preachers; churches must do so today. For instance, the Philippian church shared with Paul in “giving and receiving” on multiple occasions (Phil. 4:15-16). By doing so it had fellowship with him in the gospel (Phil. 1:5). Again, when Paul preached in Corinth he took wages from other churches (2 Cor. 11:8).
This is the pattern of church cooperation in evangelism: Each church sending out a preacher, or sending support directly to him to “live from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). Thus, each church cooperates concurrently with other churches to accomplish its own God-given work of evangelism.
The Scriptures are as silent about churches sending money to a sponsoring church for evangelism as they are on using instrumental music in worship. Both violate revealed patterns; one of music in worship and the other of church cooperation of evangelism.
The New Testament pattern for church cooperation in edification. In the New Testament Christians came together in local congregations to edify each other by teaching God’s word and worshiping God (Acts 2:42; 1 Cor. 14:26). When independent churches do the same today they are cooperating concurrently (just like the autos on a multi-lane highway). Each is doing and accomplishing its own God-given work of edification.
What we do not find in the New Testament is one church appealing to another church to fund its local work. Churches often do so today, asking other churches to assist them in their building projects and ministries. This is as much an addition to the New Testament pattern of church cooperation in edification as is the instrument of music in worship. Both violate revealed patterns; one of music in worship and the other of church cooperation in edification.
The New Testament pattern for church cooperation in benevolence. Local churches cared for their own needy members in the New Testament (Acts 2:43-44; 4:32-35; 6:1-6; 1 Tim. 5:3-16). Churches correctly do so today. Churches also sent benevolent relief to other churches of Christ where saints needed relief (Acts 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8-9). Such is also done today. Churches cooperate in benevolence by sending directly to the church where the need exists so the needy saints may be relieved. When independent churches of Christ send relief directly to churches to relive needy saints they are cooperating concurrently (just like the autos on a multi-lane highway). Each church is doing and accomplishing its own God-given work of benevolence.
What cannot be authorized by command, approved example of necessary inference is churches funding a sponsoring church that distributes relief to saints (and sinners). This is as much an addition to the New Testament pattern of church cooperation in benevolence as is the instrument of music in worship. Both violate revealed patterns; one of music in worship and the other of church cooperation in benevolence.
We are not “anti” church cooperation; we are “anti” unscriptural church cooperation.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Leviticus 10:1-3
speaks of “strange” things; unauthorized by God and hence, is “strange”
before Him. (Josh. 24:20)
I. STRANGE FIRE: WHAT THE LORD DID NOT COMMAND, Lev. 10:1-2.
Presumptuous Sin, Psa. 19:13; Deut. 18:20; 2 Pet. 2:10.
II. STRANGE WOMAN: THE SIN OF ADULTERY, Prov. 2:16-17.
Foreign, Immoral and Against God’s Authorized Marriage Covenant; Prov.
5:1-6, 20 (15-19).
III. STRANGE DOCTRINES: FOREIGN TO APOSTLES’ DOCTRINE, Heb. 13:9.
Doctrine is New Testament Teaching, Acts 2:42; 2 Jno. 9; Gal. 1:6-9; 1 Tim.
Concl. God’s word becomes “strange” to us when we “refuse knowledge”, Hosea 8:12; 4:6.
Taking the “Dirty” out of Dancing?
“Michael Mayell, principal of Brunswick High School in Madina County, Ohio, is requiring students to sign a pledge to follow 10 provisions if they are to attend the school’s winter formal on Saturday.” (“Ohio High School Principal Implements Dirty Dancing Ban,” Foxnews.com)
The principal is trying to ban “grinding”, a form of dancing that simulates sexual contact. While we give Mr. Mayell an “A” for effort, we predict his ban will not remove the “dirty” from the dance. Here’s why.
First, the modern dance inherently involves “dirty” conduct. Unrestrained and indecent bodily movements along with the impure handling of the male and female bodies are defining elements of the modern dance. (Which, by the way, are descriptive of “lasciviousness” – a work of the flesh, Gal. 5:19.) The ban on some “dirty” dancing will not eliminate the other “dirty” conduct that occurs on the dance floor.
Secondly, the modern dance stimulates “dirty” thinking; it is based on and generates lust. The lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye are unquestionably associated with dancing (1 Jno. 2:15-16; cf. Matt. 5:28; Col. 3:5). The temptation to lust is intrinsic in the modern dance. While banning some forms of lustful conduct, the principal is unable to ban lust from the hearts of the dancers. God’s word says to “flee youthful lusts”, but the high school dance puts students into a lustful situation (2 Tim. 2:22).
When the world calls dancing “dirty”, it should cause Christians to acknowledge its impurity. Yet, some Christians condone and even defend dancing as an innocent activity. If so, why all the rules and chaperones for the “innocent” activity? In truth, the dance floor generates lust. It is not innocent; it is “dirty.”
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 03/17/2009
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA