And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
April 21-26, 2013
lessons nightly, Mon-Fri at 7:00 PM
"Practical Lessons for Every Christian"
Sunday Class - The Power of Peer Pressure
Sunday AM – Leavening Power of Sin
Sunday PM – Why do we need Authority Today?
Monday - New Testament Authority in the Present Age
Tuesday – Who has received a love of the truth?
Wednesday – Be Angry and Sin Not!
Thursday – Abstaining from the Appearance of Evil
Friday - Beware of Despair and Bitterness of Heart
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Joe R. Price
The greatest and most valuable possession you have is your soul; nothing is more important than its condition before God. “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26)
The greatest need of any man or woman is the salvation of his or her soul from sin and death. Even though the word and concept of sin has been stricken from many people’s thoughts and vocabulary, we know from the word of God that sin is both real and deadly. Sin prevents every sinner from entering the glory and presence of God (Isa. 59:2). All “fall short of the glory of God” since “all have sinned” (Rom. 3:23). We all need to be saved from sin.
The result of sin is eternal death, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The seriousness of sin cannot be overstated. Those who minimize sin, rationalize sin and redefine sin out of existence do so at their own eternal peril.
Sinners do not earn (merit) the right to be saved. We are powerless to save ourselves from sin, so “Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). It is God who made us alive when we “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1). We are saved by grace (Eph. 2:5, 8). Therefore, salvation from sin is a “gift of God”; salvation is not obtained by personal merit (Eph. 2:8-9). It is futile to think a sinner can earn the right to be saved since he or she has already sinned. No amount of good removes sin once committed. Sin must be forgiven by God and the death it causes must be replaced with eternal life (Rom. 6:23).
God forgives the sins of those who have faith in Jesus. While the New Testament describes different kinds of faith, only one kind of faith is saving faith (Jas. 2:14-26). Saving faith is more than just believing Jesus lived, died and rose again. Even demons believe to that extent (Mk. 1:24; Jas. 2:19). The kind of faith that is “accounted for righteousness” (the kind of faith that saves) is faith that causes one to obey the word of God (Rom. 4:5).
Some mistakenly think obeying God by faith is earning or working for one’s salvation, thereby nullifying God’s saving grace. This is an unscriptural view of faith that saves the soul (Heb. 10:39).
Saving faith is obedient to God. Obedient faith is the kind of faith Abraham had. We are to “walk in the steps” of the faith he had in order to be saved by grace, through faith (Rom. 4:12, 16). Here is Abraham’s faith: He did not withhold his son Isaac from God when commanded to offer him up (Gen. 22:1-2, 10-12). He trusted and obeyed God, and was greatly blessed (Heb. 11:17-19). Abraham did not earn the right to be blessed when he obeyed God (Rom. 4:1-3). Instead, he showed his faith in God through his obedience, and his obedient faith was “accounted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:4-5).
In the same way, each sinner who wants to be saved from sin and eternal death must believe and obey the commands of Jesus Christ (Heb. 5:8-9). Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments” (Jno. 14:15). The apostle John assures us that the love of God is keeping His commands (1 Jno. 5:3). Do you love Jesus? If so you will obey Him – and He will save you!
God’s plan of salvation includes both God’s grace and man’s faith: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). The foregoing Scriptures affirm we must obey Christ in order to be saved from our sins, and when we do so we have not earned the right to be saved. Rather, we have acted with full faith (trust, confidence, belief) in God that He will save us by His grace through our faith.
In order to be saved from your past sins, God has commanded you to believe in Him and His Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “...unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (Jno. 8:24). By hearing His word (the gospel) one learns about who Jesus is and what He has done for us all (Rom. 10:17; Eph. 4:20-21).
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). Just believing that God exists is not sufficient to save a sinner from his sins (remember the demons, Jas. 2:19). The verse says God rewards those who “diligently seek Him”. Faith compels sinners to seek God by obeying Him.
In order to be saved from your past sins, God has commanded you to confess Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The apostle Paul is clear when he says, “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:10). We must confess Jesus before men to be confessed by Jesus before His Father in heaven (Matt. 10:32). You do not earn your salvation by confessing your faith in Christ; you declare your dependency upon Him to save you. Your confession is an act of faith, for Jesus said without it you will not be saved (Matt. 10:33).
In order to be saved from your past sins, God has commanded you to repent of your sins. Not a single sinner is exempt from the command to repent. God “commands all men everywhere to repent” because He has appointed a day of judgment when we will all be judged by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30-31). When a sinner repents it is not because he thinks he has somehow earned the right to be saved and go to heaven – far from it! It is the result of a heart that is crushed by the reality of one’s sin against God (Psa. 51:4, 17). Repentance is a decision to change one’s heart and life to no longer live in sin. It is the pleading of the earnest believer, “God, be merciful to me a sinner!” (Lk. 18:13). God will save the believer who trusts Him so much that he obeys Him by changing his heart toward sin (repent).
In order to be saved from your past sins, God has commanded you to be baptized for the remission of your sins. Jesus said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16). Without faith “you will die in your sins” (Jno. 8:24). But, to be saved you must believe and be baptized – not just believe. This is not hard to understand. Being baptized does not earn salvation and it does not diminish God’s grace. Abraham did not earn his blessing when he obeyed God. But he did show his faith in God. By his obedience his fear of God was made known (Gen. 22:12). In like manner, when a sinner is baptized in order to be saved he shows his faith in God to save him by the blood of Christ (Rom. 6:3; Acts 22:16). The blessing of God’s grace is applied when one has faith, confesses it, repents of sin and is baptized in water for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 8:35-39; 10:48; 22:16).
Do not be confused by those who say mandated obedience is earning salvation. It is not. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). When you obey Christ you are doing your duty as a servant, nothing more (Lk. 17:10). We urge you to fully obey Christ in faith and be saved by God’s plan of salvation. Be saved by grace, through faith (Eph. 2:8). God is ready to save you; are you ready to trust and obey? Christ will save you when you obey Him (Heb. 5:9).
More Terror and No Fear
Joe R. Price
Deadly blasts rocked the Boston Marathon last Monday killing three and wounding many, many more. The terror it produced was conspicuous; its pain piercing the joyful celebration of personal achievement near the race’s finish line. Citizen heroes helped their neighbors; strangers saving strangers as well as mourning lives lost. We extend our sympathy to all who lost loved ones and to those who continue to recover.
The goal of such acts is not merely to maim and kill, but also to cause fear and panic. They mean to cause terror in the heart and to inject doubt and uncertainty into daily life. Terrorism seeks to change the status quo, to affect whole societies by causing alarm and trepidation.
At the same time, a prevailing sentiment witnessed repeatedly when these kinds of events happen is the expectation that justice will prevail. The perpetrator(s) will be identified and justice will be served. Usually, that is the case, but, not always.
Far too many people have no fear of God and refuse to turn their lives away from sin (cf. Psa. 36:1-4). God is not a terrorist; that is not the fear of which we speak. Yet, God will punish sin, and as a result, Jesus said we should fear God (Matt. 10:28). He demands our obedient respect. Christ’s apostles taught the Lord will not allow sin to go unpunished; His justice will be served upon all who “do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel” (2 Ths. 1:8-9). Additionally, those who cause others to sin will be punished (Matt. 18:6-7). It is a “fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). The fact that the judgment day is coming is one of the reasons the apostles persuaded people to repent and obey Christ: “Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men” (2 Cor. 5:11).
The terror of the Lord is an incentive for us to teach the lost. We should have at least as much urgency toward saving lost souls from sin as those who saved strangers from bombs, shouldn’t we? They saved lives for this life, but we seek to save lives for all eternity. Let us teach the gospel to the lost so they may choose to fear God, obey Him and live forevermore (Matt. 10:28). Remember, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 04/18/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA