And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 15, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
Jesus Christ came “to seek and to save the lost” (Lk. 19:10, ESV). His work took him from Jerusalem to Galilee and from beyond the Jordan to the regions of Tyre and Sidon. Throughout the land he preached the gospel of the kingdom and with mighty miracles healed various diseases and torments (Matt. 4:23-25; Mk. 6:1; 7:24, 31). Many “were astonished beyond measure” when they witnessed his powerful works (Mk. 7:37).
But not everyone. When Jesus went to Nazareth and taught in the synagogue the people were astonished and said,
“Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ So they were offended at Him.” (Mk. 6:2-3)
Jesus was the occasion for their fall. They “tripped” or fell over what they saw in and heard from Jesus. They reacted with disapproval to him. Although his works were great and validated his teaching, these people were unwilling to believe in him.
Their faithless reaction did not catch Jesus off guard; he knew their hearts. He replied, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house” (Mk. 6:4). And, “He marveled at their unbelief” (Mk. 6:6).
When the devout man Simeon saw the Christ and blessed his parents he said, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed...so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed” (Lk. 2:34-35). While many would be lifted up to heavenly places by Christ, many would oppose him and fall due to their evil hearts. As the events in Nazareth show, many stumbled at the Christ. Many still do.
The apostle Peter applied Isaiah 8:14 to Jesus, describing him as “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (1 Pet. 2:8). How ironic that those he came to save stumbled over their Savior.
Jesus continues to offend many; “they stumble, being disobedient to the word” (1 Pet. 2:8). Shall we stumble at Christ or in obedient faith obtain God’s mercy and be the people of God (1 Pet. 2:8-10)?
The Works of Jesus Offend Many
The works of Jesus, as mighty as they were, offended the people of Nazareth (Mk. 6:2-3). He did not measure up to their expectations; he did not fit into their mold. They stumbled at him. Similar offenses happen today. Here are some examples.
1. The kingdom that Jesus set up offends many. He came to earth to be a king, and his purpose of setting up the kingdom of God was fully accomplished (Lk 1:31-33; Jno. 18:36-37; 17:4; Mk. 9:1). But, Christ’s kingdom did not conform to the prevailing desire for a king who would vanquish the Romans and reign from Jerusalem (Jno. 6:15). The Jews stumbled at him, and using the false charge of treason they delivered him up to the Romans (Lk. 23:2). Nevertheless, God set his king upon his holy hill of Zion! (Psa. 2:6-7; Acts 13:32-33; Heb. 1:5-13)
Premillennialists stumble at Christ. They do not believe he has established his kingdom. They think Jesus will return to earth and reign from Jerusalem for 1,000 years. But, Jesus is now reigning as king over his kingdom (Mk. 9:1; Eph. 1:20-23; Col. 1:13). Upon his return he will deliver the kingdom up to God the Father, not set it up here below (1 Cor. 15:23-24).
2. The crucifixion of Christ offends many. They stumble at the idea of a suffering Savior dying “for our transgressions” (Isa. 53:5-6, 10-11-12; 1 Pet. 2:24). Nevertheless, Jesus died on the cross in humble obedience to the Father (Phil. 2:8). Because of his tremendous love and sacrifice, God “has highly exalted him and given him a name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9). Unless we confess that “Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” we will remain lost in sin, stumbling over the rock of salvation (Acts 4:10-12).
The Words of Jesus Offend Many
The teaching of Jesus offended people in Nazareth (Mk. 6:2-3). Even “many of his disciples went back and walked with him no more” when they refused to believe his words (Jno. 6:60-61, 66). It still happens.
1. Christ’s teaching on how to be saved causes many to stumble. Jesus said one must believe he is “from above” or die in sin (Jno. 8:23-24). Many want to believe Jesus was a good man, but not God; they stumble at Christ, being offended. Jesus said one must repent or perish (Lk. 13:3, 5). Many want to believe in Christ but keep living in sin; they stumble at Christ, being offended (Rom. 6:1-2). Jesus said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16). Many want to believe and be saved and then be baptized. That is not what Jesus said. Those who accept the “faith only” doctrine stumble at Christ. They are offended at his plan of salvation.
2. Christ’s teaching on the church offends many. Jesus said he would build his church, and He did (Matt. 16:18). He built one church, not many churches (Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4). The church of Christ is his body that he saves. It is composed of Christians, not churches (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; Acts 2:47). Men who have built denominations stumble at Christ, being offended at his teaching about his church.
3. Christ’s teaching on the permanency of marriage offends many. Jesus said marriage is for life with one cause for putting away a mate and marrying another (Matt. 19:3-9). Today, many endorse divorce for any cause. Just as Jesus said it would be, they stumble, being offended at him (Matt. 19:10-12).
And so it goes. Either one is saved by believing and obeying Christ or he stumbles in unbelief and remains lost in sin. The Lord gives us reasons and opportunities to believe, obey and be saved (Heb. 5:8-9). We must have humble, open hearts that hear, believe and obey his word. His word and ways are not our words and ways (Isa. 55:8-9). If we think otherwise we will be offended at Christ, and be lost. How tragic to stumble over Jesus!
Scripture Reading:Acts 7:54-60
1. How we face
death makes a statement about how we live, Heb. 11:35; 1 Ths. 4:13.
I. THE CHRISTIAN DIES IN HOPE, Phil. 1:21-23; Col. 1:3-5; 1 Ths. 4:13-16.
the Joy of Eternal Salvation, 1 Ths. 1:10; 5:9-11.
II. THE CHRISTIAN DIES IN COMFORT, 1 Ths. 4:16-18.
the Assurance that God is in Control, 1 Cor. 15:24-26; Heb. 2:14-15; 2 Tim.
III. THE CHRISTIAN DIES IN FAITH, Heb. 11:13.
Believing in a Future Judgment, Heb. 9:27; 10:26-27; 2 Ths. 1:3-9.
1. We must
live so as to prepare for death.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading:Ephesians 1:3-10
1. The church
is vitally important, Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23; 3:10-11;
I. THE CHURCH POSSESSES FULL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS, 1:3-14.
A. All Spiritual Blessings are “in Christ”, 1:3; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 3:27; Acts 2:47.
B. All Spiritual Blessings are in “Heavenly Places” in Christ, 1:3, 20; 2:6; 6:12.
Summary of the Blessings in Christ (His Church), 1:4-14.
II. THE CHURCH MUST COMPREHEND ITS BLESSINGS, 1:15-23.
A. Understanding the Will of Christ is Vital to Faithfulness, 1:17-19.
Power of God in Our Lives is the Power that...
Pastor Ryan Meeks, Eastlake Community Church, Bothell, WA is canceling services Sunday at most of the church’s campuses so folks can watch the Seattle Seahawks playoff game. KOMONews.com reports that Meeks “...is canceling Sunday morning services at most of his Eastlake Community Church campuses and plans to complete his own sermon by kickoff. “I promise the message will not go overtime,” Meeks said. Instead of a standard service, Meeks will bring in tents and coolers and Eastlake will become “Beastlake” for a congregation tailgate party.”
Good thing the game wasn’t played in Troas (circa AD 58), since Paul’s sermon continued until midnight (Acts 20:7)! This is not the first time this church has canceled services for football; they did it in the 2011 playoffs.
Meeks was upfront, saying “It’s not even a strategic decision...Frankly, as soon as they won that game I was like, ‘I want to watch that game,’ so we didn’t get a committee together and think about it, we all want to watch the game.” There you have it; football over faith, playoffs over pews, Seahawks over worship service.
Now, for more human wisdom: “The congregation, which happens to include a few former Seahawks, will get the message this weekend that faith is a lifestyle, not an event. Meeks believes people can follow football and God at the same time.” (This is a straw man – faith is a lifestyle that includes events, 2 Cor. 5:7; 1 Cor. 11:23-26. How foolish.) But of course, they won’t be following football and God “at the same time”; they will be following football, not God!
Jesus was upfront when He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33), “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily (except playoff Sunday?, jrp), and follow Me” (Lk. 9:23). Perhaps they should ponder Matthew 16:26: “What shall a man be profited, if he wins a playoff game and loses his own soul?”
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 01/14/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA