And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 16, Number
In this issue:
About the time that you think that you have heard it all, something comes up and hits you in the face. While I am sure that there are many things that have not crossed my ears as of yet, this one “takes the cake” for now!
In a discussion the other day it was mentioned that a man made the statement of “It’s my church and I will do what I want to do!” It is hard to believe that there are individuals who actually believe that the “church” is theirs. Maybe it is because they have been there since the start of that congregation or someone in their family has. Maybe it is because they want the pre-eminence of which we are warned about in 3rd John 9. Whatever the reason may be that they believe that the “church” is theirs – is an invalid reason and sinful thinking. They need to fall on their knees and repent as James 4:10 teaches us that we are to humble ourselves before the Lord. Trying to take ownership of something that is not ours is not a sign of humility.
There are individuals who believe that they are more righteous than others and become “arrogant, self-righteous sinners” as a result of their foolishness (James 3:16). No doubt this attitude will result in division within the local congregation. When any individual tries to “push their agenda” instead of humbling themselves to the Lord, problems will arise. Those who are willing to stand for the truth with the proper attitude will fight this irreverence.
Many local congregations have been split over personal opinions and self-seeking individuals. Humility is a trait that is missing in many today and yet is a trait that is necessary to be in a position to receive mercy on the Day of Judgment. Why is it so hard for some to understand this?
James 3:13 states, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” We are to know God’s word and be able to rightly divide His word (II Timothy 2:15). If we would do this we would understand the dangers of self-seeking and not humbling ourselves before the Lord. Also, we would understand the meaning of Ephesians 5:15-21 where Paul in writing to the Ephesians states we are to walk with wisdom, redeeming the time understanding what the will of the Lord is. In so doing we are to give thanks always to the Lord and SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER IN THE FEAR OF GOD!
Jesus stated in Matthew 16:18 “…on this rock I will build my church…” He has all the right to call it His church because He purchased it with His blood. Where does anyone else get the authority to call it “my church?” Jesus also stated in Matthew 28:18; “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” No where do we see that any of us has the authority to even state that a local congregation is “my church.”
Brethren it is time that some of us got off of our elevated egos and fell to our humble knees praying to God seeking forgiveness and present ourselves to our brethren we have wronged with a repentant heart. Time does not erase sin and neither does miles. Heaven will only hold those that can get along in humility with one another and before the Lord serving Him in His Body as a faithful servant!
-The Way of Truth and Life, April 21, 2013
During a trip to Italy in the ‘90’s we visited a very old church building which is now used only for social functions. While we realize that this old structure was most likely never used by New Testament Christians, it nonetheless holds some lessons for us. This is because it was at one time used for professed spiritual purposes. Hence, the validity of the following points:
1. There is a Difference Between the Social and the Spiritual. People often blur this difference by calling social occasions “fellowship.” Giving something a Bible name does not make it any more biblical than calling a dog a cat makes the dog feline. The church building we have mentioned was used for professed spiritual purposes. It is now used for social purposes. The two are different (cp. Acts 2:46; 1 Cor. 11:20-34).
2. Social Emphasis Crowds Out Spiritual Emphasis. Our example is, admittedly, extreme. In the case we are considering the social has crowded out the spiritual completely. However, our point is valid. When churches build fellowship halls and gymnasiums, sponsor meals and recreation, or involve themselves in teaching human psychology to improve the hearers’ self-esteem, answer their “felt needs,” etc., (It is to be feared that much so-called preaching and personal work done by some Christians today differs little in content from what is said in some counseling sessions in psychologists’ offices), their purpose, work, and appeal have ceased to be purely spiritual (Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 11:20-34).
3. The Church Has Something Distinctive to Offer. Anyone can offer what the old church building in Italy now offers. It provides nothing peculiar. The New Testament church was started and is added to by the preaching of “Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Cor..2:2). This message is the only answer to the spiritual needs of man (Jno. 14:6; Acts 4:12). It relates directly to the reason for Christ’s death (Jno. 3:16), and to the purpose of the church’s existence (cp. Acts 11:26; 1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 4:11-13; 1 Tim. 3:15). Because of the distinctiveness of this message churches should take care to not cloud or in any way detract from it. If a church is of Christ, it will involve itself solely in His work (Phlp. 1:27; Gal. 1:9; 2 Jno. 4-6, 9-11).
Let us remember the difference between the spiritual and the social. God has revealed a place for each (cp. Acts 2:46; 16:13-16; 1 Cor. 11:22). When churches introduce social appeals and programs into their work they are adding works foreign to scripture and starting down a road which has led many to totally abandon the spiritual mission God has given the church.
-The Way of Truth and Life (4:18), May 5, 2013
Scripture Reading:2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Rom. 5:10-11: “the restoration of the favour of God to sinners” (Thayer).
I. THE MEANS OF RECONCILIATION, 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Col. 1:20-22.
A. God has Reconciled Us to Himself through Jesus Christ, 2 Cor. 5:18-19; Col 1:20-22; Jno. 3:16; 1 Jno. 4:8; Dan. 9:24.
II. MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION, 2 Cor. 5:18-20.
A. The Gospel is the Message
(word) of Reconciliation, cf. Eph. 2:13, 16-18; Mk. 16:15 (Acts 1:8); 2 Cor.
4:7, 15; 5:20.
III. MOMENT OF RECONCILIATION, 2 Cor. 5:20-21 (17); Rom. 5:11.
A. Urgency of the Plea to be
Reconciled to God, 2 Cor. 5:20; Heb. 3:7-8.
The Conversion of Saul (Acts 9)
Scripture Reading:Acts 9:1-6
1. The great persecutor is forever
changed: Saul goes from faithless to faithful, from persecutor to
preacher, from antagonist to apostle.
I. SAUL ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS, Acts 9:1-9.
A. Saul Continued Persecuting the
Disciples, 9:1; 22:3-5; 26:9-12 (Phil. 3:6).
II. SAUL IN DAMASCUS, Acts 9:10-25.
A. Jesus Sent Ananias to Saul,
Acts 9:10-16 (22:12).
III. SAUL IN JERUSALEM, Acts 9:26-30; 22:17-21; Gal. 1:18-20 (15 days).
A. Living Down a Bad Reputation,
IV. THE CHURCHES THROUGHOUT PALESTINE, Acts 9:31-43.
A. Christ’s Strategy for Peaceful
Unity and Growth, Acts 9:31; 2 Cor. 1:3-5 (Heb. 2:3-4).
Saul’s life of sacrifice and service begins, Phil. 3:4-7 (2 Tim. 4:6-8). Gal. 2:20
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Catholic Sainthood for Two Popes
Joe R. Price
The Roman Catholic Church honors men in direct violation of the words of Jesus Christ: “Do you call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven” (Matt. 23:9). Catholics venerate men and women as “saints” and pray to them. (The Catholic definition is a gross perversion of God’s word, which defines every Christian as a “saint”, 1 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 1:1.) Prayer is an action of worship (Matt. 6:5-13). It is entirely consistent, therefore, to conclude that Catholics worship men when they pray to saints.
The Catholic pope made an announcement Friday that practically assures Catholic sainthood for two previous popes, John XXIII and John Paul II. Among other things, that means they have worked miracles. Normally, two miracles must be authenticated by the Church, but in John XXIII’s case, one will be sufficient. One such “miracle” attributed to John Paul II concerns a woman whom we are told had “a cerebral aneurism that was inexplicably cured on May 1, 2011 -- the day of John Paul’s beatification, when 1.5 million people filled St. Peter’s Square to honor the beloved Polish pontiff...Her family prayed to John Paul, and the aneurism disappeared” (FoxNew.com). That means the Catholic Church believes a dead man (John Paul II) was prayed to, who heard and answered those prayers by working a miracle on the living. The Bible says there is one mediator between man and God, Jesus Christ – not Mary, not John XXIII and not John Paul II (1 Tim. 2:5). Therefore, we totally reject the Catholic premise that saints, when petitioned in prayer, mediate on behalf of the living and miraculously answer such prayers.
The age of miracles ended with the completion of the revelation, confirmation and inspiration of the New Testament of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 13:8-13; Jude 3). The issue is not whether God answers prayer today; He does. But, answered prayers are providential, not “miraculous” (Matt. 6:25-34; 7:7-11; 1 Jno. 5:14-15). Furthermore, God does not hear and answer Catholic prayers to dead “saints” whose merits enable divine responses on behalf of the living. Prayer to Catholic saints is not Biblical.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/07/2013
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA