And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
A king ruling over an insurmountable kingdom was predicted in the Old Testament: Psalms 2:6-7; 110:1-3; 132:11; Isaiah 9:6-7; Daniel 2:44; 7:13-14. An angel announced to Mary that the child to whom she would give birth would be the king of that kingdom (Luke 1:30-33). Jesus is King today (Acts 17:7).
And yet, there are many who do not believe the kingdom of Christ was established during New Testament times, and that it exists today. They look for a kingdom that is yet to come. Who is right? “What does the Scripture say?” (Romans 4:3)
· Jesus preached
the gospel of the kingdom, Matthew 4:23; 13:10-11; 18-29; Luke 9:11
The kingdom of Christ exists today. The kingdom of Christ is the church of Christ. It is mighty and its glory is secure. We must live in Christ’s kingdom now in order to enter the eternal kingdom (heaven) later (2 Peter 1:10-11). Obey the gospel call and enter the kingdom of God (Acts 2:37-41, 47; Colossians 1:13).
Joe R. Price
You remember the story. John preached something King Herod and Herodias didn’t like. John said Herod should not have married Herodias, for you see, she was “his brother Philip’s wife.” So, Herod put John in jail. While John was in prison, Herod held a birthday party. Due to a promise made to the daughter of Herodias, and her demand that she have John’s head on a platter, the forerunner of Christ was executed (Mark 6:17-29). Many lessons can be learned from the life of John. If you haven’t studied his life lately, do so. You will be blessed, for as Jesus said, “Among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). Let us consider some lessons from his death. Why was John killed?
John was killed for rebuking sin and preaching repentance (Mk. 6:17-20). The work of John from start to finish was to warn of sin, urge repentance, and thereby prepare people for the Messiah’s kingdom (Lk. 3:2-14). John got specific with the sinner about his sin. Sometimes people repented at such preaching, while others rejected it (Matt. 21:31-32; Lk. 7:29-30). Too often we play “ring around the rosy” with the sinner and his sin. “You might hurt his feelings,” “we cannot afford to lose him,” “imagine how it will affect his family” and similar objections are given today in opposition to the kind of preaching John did. Would we have opposed John and his preaching?
Herod and Herodias did! They were in adultery and were unwilling to cease their sin. Instead, Herodias urged his arrest and wanted him dead (Mk. 6:17, 19). Why didn’t John just back off? Why not just “live and let live?” Today, many continue to respond like Herodias and Herod when the same sin of adultery is rebuked and repentance is sought. Still others take the attitude that we ought to just say nothing and let each person “work out his own salvation”. Well, working out one’s salvation does not mean ignoring sin, it means obeying the gospel (Phil. 2:12). We cannot ignore sin. John died because he loved truth and souls more than himself.
John died because of a rash oath (Mk. 6:21-26). The culprit was Herod. Spellbound by the dancing of Herodias’ daughter, he rashly promised her up to half of his kingdom. Seeking and obtaining her mother’s advice she demanded John’s head on a platter. Rash though it was, Herod kept his promise and killed the prophet.
Our words can have far reaching consequences. The wise man warns “Do not be rash with your mouth” and to “let your words be few” (Eccl. 5:2-3). Further, he said to pay the vow you make, concluding it is better not to vow that to vow and not pay (5:4-5). Too often we say more than we should. Tongue control would keep us and others out of a great deal of trouble (Jas. 3:2-6). Our word should be our bond, but be careful what you bind yourself to with your words. “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (Jas. 1:19). John died because Herod could not control his passions or his tongue. Be careful, lest your rash speech cause the death of souls -- yours and others’.
John died because of peer pressure (Mk. 6:26-28). All of a sudden, Herod was under a lot of pressure to kill John! The woman he was married to wanted him dead. And, Herod had promised much before many. Now he had to deliver in order to save face (v. 26). So, with sorrow, he killed a righteous man (v. 27-28).
That is how peer pressure works. It often presses us to do something we know is wrong, but in order to please those around us we give in and commit the sin. This needs to stop. After all, who must we be most interested in pleasing, our worldly peers or our Lord (Gal. 1:10)? Giving in to peer pressure corrupts souls and defiles consciences. Often, at the very moment we give in, our conscience is telling us we are sinning (Rom. 14:23). “Evil companionship corrupts good morals,” and since evil companions are not interested in righteous conduct, wisdom demands that we sever ties with those whose influence will only drag us down into the depths of sin (1 Cor. 15:33-34; Prov. 1:10-19). John died because Herod surrounded himself with people to whom he could not say “no.” Surround yourself with people who will help you say “yes” to God and His will. Do not put your soul to death by giving in to evil peer pressure.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 28:18-20
1. The Great Commission gives
marching orders to the apostles and to all subsequent disciples, Matt.
28:18-20 (Mk. 16:15-16; Lk. 24:47).
I. CHRIST’S AUTHORITY IS UNIVERSAL, ENCOMPASSING EVERYTHING, Matt. 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:25-27.
A. All Authority was Given by the
Father, Jno. 5:19-23, 26-27.
II. CHRIST’S AUTHORITY MAKES DISCIPLES, Matt. 28:19-20.
A. Disciples are Made by Teaching,
Jno. 6:44-45; Rom. 10:17; Eph. 4:20-21.
III. CHRIST’S AUTHORITY IS UNIVERSALLY REVEALED IN HIS COMMANDS, Matt. 28:20.
A. Observe All the Words of
Christ; Matt. 17:5; Heb. 2:3 – Matt. 4:17, 23; Acts 1:3-8; Jno. 13:20; Jno.
16:12-15; Mk. 16:19-2o; Lk. 1:1-4.
1. The great authority of Jesus
Christ is exclusive – Head of the church and Ruler over all men.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Joe R. Price
38-year-old Boston Marathon bomb victim Heather Abbott faced the decision of keeping her badly wounded foot or having her leg amputated below the knee. She chose amputation. “She picked the second option, viewing life with a prosthesis as the most assured path back to the active lifestyle she lived before the April 15 bombings” (“Tough Choice for Victim of Boston Bombing,” The Wall Street Journal). “‘I really think I’m going to be able to live my life in a normal way, eventually, when I get that permanent prosthesis,’ Ms. Abbott said” (Ibid). We wish her well.
Jesus said, “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell” (Matt. 5:30). Surrendering things once precious to us in order to escape eternal punishment is graphically portrayed by Jesus. Cutting away everything that causes you to sin is a profitable amputation.
Spiritual amputations are just as traumatic as physical ones. Yet, such procedures are profitable in the long run. To successfully accomplish this spiritual surgery in our lives we must follow the Lord’s instruction.
1. Amputation requires careful identification of the source and snare of sin (Matt. 5:28-29). We must see sin clearly for what it is and what it does as it eats away the soul unto damnation (cf. 2 Tim. 2:17-18).
2. Amputation, though sever, will save your soul (Matt. 5:29-30). Christ’s use of hyperbole shows the painful result of the fruit of repentance. Yet, through such repentance comes spiritual cleansing and renewal (2 Cor. 7:9-11).
3. Amputation is necessary to surrender sin for salvation (Matt. 5:29-30). Choosing amputation can only occur when we clearly see its benefit; life rather than death. We must “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us” to run the race before us (Heb. 12:1).
4. Amputation avoids the suffering of hell (Matt. 5:29-30). The pain of repentance is momentary but hell’s fire is forever (Mk. 9:45-46). Heaven will not be attained with our lives full of sin’s putrid presence. We must be holy as our Father is holy (1 Pet. 1:13-16). Cut away every sin, now!
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 04/28/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA