And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
All of us have probably heard of a brother or a sister in Christ who, when confronted with a severe trial, stayed faithful in spite of hardship. All Christians have their own private struggles to deal with in applying the scriptures to their lives and we admire those who endeavor to remain faithful in difficult circumstances. However, there is an endeavor that all Christians have in common. It is found in Ephesians 4:1-3. All of God’s people have a responsibility to endeavor “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This is a unity which the Holy Spirit makes possible through the word (Jno. 14:26; 16:13; 17:20-21). There is a need for continual emphasis on Paul’s words here.
Some Lack the Characteristics of Ephesians 4:2
Brethren cannot achieve unity in an atmosphere that is foreign to it anymore than a tropical plant can grow in an arctic climate. The reason some efforts towards Bible unity have failed is because of the presence of such attitudes as pride, irritability, impatience, ill-will and the like, and the absence of “lowliness and meekness...longsuffering, forbearing” and “love” (Ephesians 4:2). We should study to better understand these words and how they apply to our endeavor for unity with brethren.
Some Have Based Their Endeavors for
As has happened in the past, some are twisting the scriptures and calling for brethren to agree with and apply clear error. In the past some among us claimed to have found authority for projects involving the centralization of the funds of a plurality of churches in the Bible. The result was unity but not Bible unity. Such brethren and their followers ended up involved in and defending these and other practices which are foreign to scripture (2 John 9). In more recent times have contended for or accepts error on divorce and remarriage. Such strange doctrines as “the guilty party can remarry,” “adultery is simply non-sexual covenant breaking,” and “aliens are not under God’s marriage law” have been taught and defended by an increasing number of brethren among us (Cp. Mat. 19:9). As with past apostasy in teaching, when such things are accepted as truth and put into practice by Christians Bible unity does not result. Rather the unity such brethren achieve is a unity based on error and in direct contradiction to Bible teaching (1 Cor. 5; Rev. 2:14-16).
Some are Promoting Unity-in-Diversity
While bringing results similar to the above, the unity-in-diversity of which we speak here is meant to describe unity among brethren who differ in what they believe the Bible teaches on matters of revealed faith and, as a result, in their application of scripture. In the past it has been used to define unity between brethren involved in the practice of such errors as centralization of church funds or instrumental music in praise to God, and brethren who held the truth with regard to these matters. More recently, some brethren who believe the truth on the subject of divorce and remarriage have advocated unity with those whom they believe to be in error on the subject. Hence, as we stated at the beginning of this paragraph, unity-in-diversity produces results similar to that which results from a united belief of a given error. It accepts and tolerates the obvious existence of error with equanimity. Both in the past and present, brethren have used Romans 14 (falsely) in their efforts to prop up this kind of unity.
In light of the above mentioned facts it is hoped that readers will see the need for a continual appeal to the truth of the Bible (Jude 3). Unity is something that results from a proper study and application of God’s word by God’s people. May we all seek such unity!
-The Way of Truth and Life
Too often, we interpret scripture to fit what we already believe rather than adjust what we believe to scripture.
Those who “cook up” stories often find themselves in “hot water”.
To be almost saved is to be totally lost.
Joe R. Price
The Heritage Church of Christ in Forth Worth, Texas will begin using instruments of music in its Sunday evening services this fall (for details go to http://tinyurl.com/kyopzrd). This is occurring more frequently as churches depart farther and farther from the ancient order revealed in the Scriptures.
An explanation of their decision given by their pulpit minister is posted on their website. The statement reads in part,
“So, wondering what is worship at Heritage like? First, understand a few basic truths. The goal of our worship is to bring us into the presence of God. We come together as God’s people and worship Him. The “how” of our worship is insignificant, the “who” we worship and praise is the most significant!” (Ibid)
True worship does indeed involve coming into the presence of God, being defined as an act of offering reverent adoration and homage to God (Gen. 22:5; Psa. 5:7; 95:6; 99:5, 9). Yet, all worship is not approved by God, as Jesus pointedly applied Isaiah to the religious hypocrites of His day (Matt. 15:7-9). It is not enough to say we are worshiping God in order for God to be pleased (cf. the Samaritans, who “worshiped on this mountain”, but not with God’s approval, Jno. 4:20-22). Worship that pleases God “must” be in “spirit and truth” (Jno. 4:23-24). Therefore, we rightly conclude that true worshipers offer homage to God that is both sanctioned by His word of truth and expressed from a heart of reverent awe and adoration. It is significant how we worship God as well as why we approach Him (the Heritage Church of Christ’s statement, notwithstanding).
We gain some insight into their decision to add instrumental music to their worship services when the statement says, “Churches of Christ have a longstanding tradition of a cappella singing” (Ibid). “Church of Christ tradition” is not a Bible concept and belies a sectarian attitude toward the church. Coming before God to Him worship with singing is not based on “Church of Christ tradition”, but on the solid ground of apostolic tradition of Scripture (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; 2 Ths. 2:15). The use of instrumental music to worship God was added many hundreds of years after the apostolic age, and is a clear departure from worship in the New Testament (Gal.1:6-9; 1 Cor.4:6; 2 Jno.9).
After giving a nod to tradition, the website statement announces, “Starting this fall we will be adding an instrumental service on Sunday evenings. This will give people a choice of worshiping in an a cappella worship service or an instrumental worship service” (Ibid). Now we understand that worship as defined by the Heritage Church of Christ is a matter of personal choice and not a conviction of faith. That is why they say the “how” of our worship is “insignificant”. We would earnestly remind them of Nadab and Abihu, whose “how” displeased God and prompted their death. Not being commanded by God, their “how” failed to approach God in holiness (Lev. 10:1-3).
I emailed John Gann (minister, Heritage Church of Christ) and asked him to explain why they conclude the “how” of worship to be insignificant. His complete reply was, “Thanks for the email. Our web explanation is to give someone a basic understanding of what they will experience at Heritage, not to spark a theological debate.” Either he has no Bible answer or he is unwilling to share it. Either way, his failure to answer speaks volumes (1 Pet. 3:15). God is sinned against when men change His pattern for worship. Claiming “how” God is worshiped is insignificant is of man, not God (Jno. 4:23-24; Mal. 1:6-8).
Scripture Reading:1 Timothy 1:12-16
1. Salvation: General
term denoting deliverance, then the preservation which deliverance
obtains; To rescue, to obtain safety.
I. WHAT SALVATION IS.
A. Salvation is Deliverance, Exo.
14:13; Acts 27:34, Phil. 1:19; Heb. 11:7; Eph. 2:5; Rom. 5:9; 1 Ths. 1:10.
II. SALVATION FROM SIN IS CONDITIONAL, Heb. 5:8-9; 2 Tim. 4:6-8.
A. To be Saved from Past Sins the
Stephen's Defense of the Gospel (Acts 7)
Scripture Reading:Acts 7:48-53
1. Stephen was seized
and brought before the Sanhedrin, where he was falsely charged with
blasphemy, 6:10-15; Acts 7:1 – 1 Pet. 3:15.
I. STEPHEN’S DEFENSE: HISTORY OF ISRAEL FORETOLD AND VALIDATED THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST, Acts 7:1-50.
A. God’s Promises to Israel, Acts
7:2-3,5,17; Gen. 12:1-3, 5-7; Acts 7:8; Gen. 17:1-11.
II. SUMMARY: STEPHEN ACCUSES THE COUNCIL OF REJECTING THE MESSIAH, Acts 7:51-53.
A. Rejecting Christ is a Heart Problem, Acts 7:51; Deut. 10:14-22.
III. REACTION TO STEPHEN’S SERMON, Acts 7:54-60.
A. Sanhedrin: Outraged, they Lose
Control, Acts 7:54, 57-58 (5:33); 8:1.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/24/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA