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
Every season presents particular challenges to Christians to live morally, to be devoted to God and to offer Him true worship. For example, winter brings temptations to join in the false worship of celebrating the birth of Jesus. Spring offers us Easter and its false service to God. Summer brings its own set of temptations to forsake God and righteousness.
As summer begins we have a good opportunity to review and renew our priorities as children of God:
Ø I will not take a vacation from worshiping God.
Worshiping God on the first day of
the week ought to be a given (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:25; Jno. 4:24). Planning a
vacation also means planning our worship. Summer fun cannot mean we neglect
Ø I will give as I have been prospered.
If we get a paid vacation, God has
prospered us. With such increase comes the privilege and responsibility to
give (1 Cor. 16:2). We will give cheerfully and without neglect at all times
(2 Cor. 9:7).
Ø I will only engage in moral activities.
The grace of God teaches us to live
“soberly, righteously and godly” (Tit. 2:12). Therefore, we will respect God
through holy conduct and not view vacation as a time to carelessly and
foolishly disregard God’s will through immoral actions (1 Pet. 1:13-17;
Ø I will be modest at all times.
Modest clothing is not defined by
one’s location or activity. Since our clothing is to be marked by
“shamefastness and sobriety”, our hearts must contain these attributes (1
Tim. 2:9). Christians know the world does not set the standard for decent
dress. Summer is the time when the world “takes it off” – but after all,
that is what the world is about (the lust of the flesh and the lust of the
eye) – that is what the world does (1 Jno. 2:15-16). But, Christians will
not let the world define their modesty.
Ø I will be thankful to God for His blessings.
A vacation can easily turn into
something that is all about us. But, Christians remember that God is the
giver of all good things, and so is always prayerfully grateful to Him.
Remember to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing” while on vacation (1 Ths.
Ø I will obey our parents.
Children generally have more free time during the summer. Parents, monitor your children’s activities this summer. Let them play, but also give them chores for which they are responsible. It will do them good. Children, be respectful and obey your parents (Eph. 6:1-3).
I’m sure you can add to this list. Whatever the season, Christians will “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). This must be our priority every day.
Joe R. Price
In answering His critics with an appeal to Scripture, Jesus made the needed application and stated that “the Scripture cannot be broken” (Jno. 10:34-36, esp. v. 35). What does that mean, and why should it matter to us?
We know very well that people violate (break) the law of God – all have done it – it is called “sin” (1 Jno. 3:4; Rom. 3:23). That is not the sense in which Jesus used “broken” in verse 35. Here, the word is luthēnai (from luo) and means “to loosen, undo, dissolve” (Thayer). It is used in Acts 27:41 of the stern of a ship being “broken up” by the waves. Jesus boldly stated what many still refuse to grasp; Scripture cannot be deprived of its binding authority. Inspired Scripture contains God’s authority, and no amount of deflection or distortion eliminates that authority over men.
Naturally, those who wish to obscure the authority of Scripture tell us the Bible is from men and not God. But, in John 10:35, Jesus calls Scripture the “word of God”. So, we will believe Jesus on the authorship of Scripture.
Those who deny Bible authority also tell us we cannot all understand Scripture correctly. However, Jesus gave no indication of that when he used Psalm 82:6, quoting it and applying it in John 10:34-36. Since the authority of Scripture is binding, we necessarily conclude it is also understandable. Christ’s apostle boldly commanded us to understand the will of the Lord (Eph. 5:17). Claiming ignorance or an inability to know is vain; “Scripture cannot be broken”.
Like the stones they took up to stone Jesus, men and women futilely cling to things intended to undo the binding authority of Scripture. Some of these vain things include:
1. Opinions. Elevating human opinion above the word of God is the height of arrogance. “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Cor. 3:18-19). Instead of relying on personal opinion, we must demand a “thus saith the Lord” for all we believe. “Scripture cannot be broken” by our opinions.
2. Feelings. Closely linked to opinions, emotions often prevail over the “truth and reason” of God’s word (Acts 26:25). When they do, we forfeit the guidance from above for the satisfaction of emotional relief. “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Prov. 14:12). Trusting in one’s own heart is foolish (Prov. 28:26). Our feelings do not have authority over God’s word. “Scripture cannot be broken” by our feelings.
3. Creeds. When men move away from Scripture they will gravitate to some codified form of authority to justify their religious practices. Creeds identify and separate one sect from another. Creeds do not unity believers (statements to the contrary notwithstanding). Clarity of truth and unity in Christ are possible through Scripture without any creed (Jno. 17:20-21; Eph. 4:4-6). Creeds move people away from the authority of Scripture instead of supporting that authority. Creeds have no divine authority. “Scripture cannot be broken” by creeds.
4. Traditions. Scripture is apostolic tradition (see 2 Ths. 2:15; 3:6). But, traditions that transgress the word of God must be thoroughly rejected (Matt. 15:1-3). We must hand down what comes from God. “Scripture cannot be broken” by human tradition.
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:5-7
What a blessing to be forgiven of sins, Psa. 51:1-4, 12.
A. God Hates
Divorce, Mal. 2:16; Matt. 19:4-6; 1 Cor. 7:10-11; Heb. 13:4; Rom. 7:2.
II. MAKE YOUR MATE YOUR PRIORITY (unselfishness), Gen. 29:18-20.
Christ Loves Church, Eph. 5:25-29.
III. AVOID HURTFUL WORDS WITH YOUR MATE (tame the tongue), Jas. 3:5-8.
A. Hearts are Exposed in Marriage, Gen. 2:23; Eph. 4:29-32; Jas. 3:9-12.
IV. BUILD MEMORIES WITH YOUR MATE, Eccl. 9:9.
Memories of a Shared Faith, 1 Pet. 3:7; Prov. 5:15-20; 2 Tim. 4:8.
1. Live joyfully in
God’s blessing, Eccl. 9:9.
You be the Judge! (Acts 4)
Scripture Reading: Acts 4:5-12
Jesus teaches us we will have to judge many things, including what is
right by using righteous judgment, Lk. 12:57; Jno. 7:24.
I. THE FIRST ARREST, Acts 4:1-4.
Message is Interrupted by Arrest 4:1-3.
II. BY WHAT POWER (NAME) HAVE YOU DONE THIS? Acts 4:1-7
A. Not by
the Political, Religious or Moral Power of Man, 4:5-6; 3:12.
III. THEY HAD BEEN WITH JESUS, Acts 4:13.
deny the miracle, 4:14-16.
IV. “DO NOT SPEAK
IN THE NAME OF JESUS!” Acts 4:17-18
Conclusion Thousands judged the gospel to be true, 2:41; 4:4. Will you?
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Visit the Orphans
Joe R. Price
To “visit” orphans in James 1:27 means “to look upon or after, to inspect, examine with the eyes...in order to help or to benefit” (Thayer). Individual Christians have a directive from God to relieve the fatherless.
There are about 400,000 children currently in the foster care system in America, and of those about 100,000 are available for adoption (“The Orphan Crisis in America”, christianpost.com). We will not debate the pros and cons of foster care here. Our point is this: When and where there are orphans, God expects Christians to see the need and help as they have the ability to do so. If this is not an application of Jesus’ words, then their meaning escapes me: “for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in” (Matt. 25:35).
God’s care and provisions for the fatherless are stated throughout the Old Testament. God “administers justice for the fatherless” and commanded Israel to do the same (Deut. 10:18; 24:17). The judges of Israel were to see that justice was applied in their cases (Psa. 82:3). Israel’s failure to attend to the fatherless and instead, oppress this powerless group, occasioned God’s wrath against her (Isa. 1:23-24; 10:1-4; Jer. 5:28-29; Ezek. 22:7). God watches and relieves orphans. So should we (Psa. 146:9; Isa. 1:17).
James 1:27 is a directive to individual Christians, not local churches. To assign to churches the support of orphans is to hand over individual responsibility to the collective group, thereby abandoning personal duty. We have no right to do that. Each individual bears his own responsibility for individual obligations (Gal. 6:5). (See the difference between the individual and the church in 1 Timothy 5:16.)
Let us also recall the spiritual significance of adoption. Lost in sin, sinners have “no hope” and are “without God” (Eph. 2:12). When one obeys the gospel (hear, believe, confess faith, repent and be baptized, Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:37-38), he or she is saved and adopted into God’s family (Gal. 4:5). Redeemed in Christ, Christians have all the blessings of being children of God. We have God as our heavenly Father and we are heirs of the eternal inheritance He gives His children (Gal. 4:6-7).
The fatherless are at the mercy of others for their very survival. Help them, and you will be doing the good work of God, who is “a father of the fatherless” (Psa. 68:5).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/02/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA