And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 14, Number
In this issue:
The expression "church of Christ" is a descriptive term of possession. The word church is a collective noun (like "flock" or "family"). The church is composed of saved people (Christians, the "called out" ones, Acts 2:41, 47). "Church of Christ" is used to signify the church that belongs to Christ ("I will build my church", Matt. 16:18). "Church of Christ" is not a denominational title.
We emphatically affirm that the church of Christ is not a denomination. While many promote the advantages of "the church of your choice," Jesus' urgent prayer to the Father was for the unity of His believers - not their division into religious sects (Jno. 17:20-21). Denominationalism is the essence of religious division. We plead for the unity of believers with the truth of Jesus as the basis for that unity (Eph. 4:3-6; 2 Tim. 3:16-17).
Others would promote the notion that Christ is important, but the church - not so much. Yes, Christ is preeminently important (Col. 1:18). We must also acknowledge the importance of His church; the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18). To diminish the church of Christ is to diminish Christ.
The importance of Christ's church is brought into focus by what the Bible says about the church of Christ:
1) It belongs to Jesus, not man (Matt. 16:18). Jesus built it; it is His. Men have constructed rivals to it, but without Christ's approval.
2) Jesus purchased His church with His blood (Acts 20:28). This is the value Jesus places on His church, the saved ones.
3) Jesus is the head of the church of Christ (Col. 1:18). Since it is His, He exercises supreme authority over it. That is how valuable the church is to Him. We must submit ourselves to His authority in all things (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 3:17).
4) The church of Christ is the body of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23). Who wants to believe for a moment that Christ's body (composed of the saved ones) is insignificant?
5) Jesus is the Savior of His body, the church of Christ (Eph. 5:23). He gave Himself to die on the cross so she could live (Eph. 5:25). That is how important the church is to Jesus!
How important is the church of Christ to you? (Acts 2:36-42, 47)
Looking for Christ's Return
Joe R. Price
A Baptist preacher once asked me "how I viewed the Apocalypse (the book of Revelation)." I replied that the book's meaning and message is found in its historical setting as it yields eternal principles of truth (Rev. 1:1-3). Although he understood what I said, it was obvious he did not agree that the Revelation should be interpreted from an historical perspective. His next question was, "You are looking for the coming of Christ, aren't you?" I said "yes, but not in the way the premillennial speculators do." Little progress was made to change his view of the Apocalypse and the return of Christ.
There are and have been many predictions of the Lord's return. Everyone has failed. This should give pause to the speculators who diligently comb through Biblical prophecies hoping to pin down with certainty the time of Christ's return. We need not be alarmed or deceived by such false prophets (2 Ths. 2:1-5).
There are others who cast disdain upon the very thought that Jesus Christ shall one day return in glory to judge the world. The apostle Peter rightly noted that these skeptics are "walking according to their own lusts" as they deny the evidence supporting His return (2 Pet. 3:3). Peter observed two approaches used by unbelievers to persuade themselves and others not to believe in the return of Christ. First, there is the time argument: "Where is the promise of his coming?" Secondly, there is the continuity argument: "all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation" (2 Pet. 3:4). Peter answered the continuity argument first in 2 Peter 3:5-7, then addressed the time argument in 2 Peter 3:8-9. Briefly stated, the view that Christ will not come back because "all things are continuing as they always have" fails to acknowledge the historical fact of the worldwide flood. Things have not always been as they are now (read Gen. 7:21-23). Like then, God's word will initiate His day of judgment at Christ's return.
As to the time of His coming, Peter reminds the skeptic that God is not limited by time as we are: "But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (2 Pet. 3:8). God inhabits eternity (Psa. 90:2, 4). We must view the fact that Christ has not yet returned as evidence of God's longsuffering toward sinful men and women, not as evidence of God's failure to keep His word (2 Pet. 3:9, 15). God is not "slack" in His promise; He does not delay in discharging His purposes. Rather, He gives us time to repent. A day of judgment is prepared and God will keep His promise to send Jesus to judge the world (Acts 17:31).
When Jesus Christ returns He will not come to the earth to establish a kingdom and to sit on a throne in Jerusalem. The apostle Peter describes the nature of Christ's return in 2 Peter 3:10-13 as he speaks of "the day of the Lord" (which signifies divine judgment, Zeph. 1:14-18. This phrase is interchangeable with "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ," 2 Ths. 2:1-2). The events of Christ's return include the following:
1) The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night (2 Pet. 3:10). A thief comes suddenly and unexpectedly (without warning, 1 Ths. 5:2-3, Matt. 24:40-41; 1 Ths. 5:4-6). Please take note of the emphatic nature of that day's appearing: it "will come."
2) This universe will be destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10). Oh what power to be exerted on that great day! Inasmuch as "both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up", one cannot rightly conclude that Jesus is coming to the earth to establish a kingdom lasting 1000 years.
3) The new heavens and a new earth (2 Pet. 3:13). This stands in contrast to the heavens and earth that will "melt" and be "dissolved" with fervent heat (2 Pet. 3:10, 12). The word Peter uses for "new" speaks of newness in reference to quality, that which is fresh and unworn. Since this present heaven and earth will be completely consumed, he can only be describing the sphere of abode for the righteous -- the eternal abiding place of heaven. As Paul taught, we shall "...meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord" (1 Ths. 4:17).
Yes, Christians look forward to the return of Jesus (Phil. 3:20-21). Through holy living and godliness we are earnestly desiring the day of God (2 Pet. 3:11-12). If we are not faithful and wise servants of God, the day of the Lord will overtake us and we will be devoured in His righteous judgment against sin (Matt. 24:45-51). Can you honestly say you are looking forward to Christ's return? If not, then repent, obey the gospel and faithfully serve Him today (Heb. 3:13). "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
This New Year
Scripture Reading:Psalm 39:4-8
1) What will you hear this year? Mt. 13:9-15
2) Will your sight be clear this year? Matt. 6: 22-23; 7:1-5
3) Who will be dear to you this year? Matt. 22:37; 1 Ths. 2:8; Eph. 5:25; 6:1-4
4) Will you fear God this year? Matt. 10:28
5) Will you get in gear this year? Rom. 13:10
6) Will some jeer at you this year? Lk. 6:26
7) Will you be here this year? Psa. 39:4-6; Acts 2:42; 1 Tim. 4:12; 2 Tim. 2:22
8) What will you be near this year? Lk. 15:1
a. Near the cross? 1 Cor. 2:2; Gal. 6:14
b. Near your families? (Flesh, 1 Tim. 5:4; Eph. 6:1-4; in the Lord, Gal. 6:1-2)
c. Near the throne of grace? Heb. 4:16
9) Will you be in the rear this year? Rom. 12:11; Eph. 6:10-13
10) Will you sear your conscience this year? 1 Tim. 4:1-2
11) Will you shed a tear this year? Lk.7:36-38
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Growing to Maturity
Scripture Reading: Philippians 3:12-16
maturity is desired by every conscientious Christians, Matt. 5:48; Phil.
3:12; Eph. 4:13.
I. BY PUTTING
AWAY CARNAL THINGS.
CULTIVATING YOUR UNDERSTANDING OF TRUTH,
1 Cor. 14:20; Eph. 5:17; Jno. 8:32.
III. BY BEING
MORE AND MORE LIKE CHRIST,
Eph. 4:13, 15.
IV. BY PROGRESSING BEYOND FIRST PRINCIPLES, Heb 5:12- 6:1-3.
A. In Your
Understanding and Use of God's Word, 5:11, 13.
1 Jn. 2:14
Did you see the funeral procession for the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il? There was wailing, there was foot-stomping, there was arm flailing - all in a show of grief and mourning for the dead dictator. Few actual tears were seen. Little genuine remorse and sorrow was observable as tens of thousands gathered as the hearse passed. The man who had starved his people while building a nuclear arsenal is dead. The multitude wailed; staged sorrow.
This imagery strikes me as analogous to someone staging a display of sorrow for sin. Unfortunately, it is very possible for one to feign godliness while harboring sin in the heart (Ananias and Sapphira come to mind, Acts 5:1-10). Similarly, one may pretend sorrow for sin while covering up a heart that is still in the clutches of sin.
Of course, only God knows the heart of one who confesses sin to Him and to others (1 Jno. 1:9; Jas. 5:16). At the same time, the fruit borne subsequent to such penitent confessions of sin tells the tale of whether the sorrow is godly or worldly (2 Cor. 7:10-11). When the Corinthians possessed godly sorrow over their sin it produced repentance and its corresponding fruit. The result of godly sorrow is observable - "observe this very thing..." (2 Cor. 7:11).
When it becomes necessary for a Christian to confess sin (privately in prayer to God or publicly due to the public nature of the sin) it is essential that the confession (acknowledgement) results from godly sorrow and not staged sorrow for the eyes of others. Jesus warned of such hypocrisy (Matt. 6). No one should deceive themselves into thinking God is pleased by such displays - or that sin is forgiven when such a lie is offered as service to God.
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 01/02/2012
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA