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
God’s anointed 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 (Lk. 1:30-33). Jesus is King today (Acts 2:33-36).
And yet, there are many who do not believe the kingdom of Christ was established during the days of the New Testament, or that it exists today. They look for a kingdom that is yet to come. Are they correct? “What does the Scripture say?” (Rom. 4:3; Gal. 4:30)
● Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom, Matthew 4:23 (Lk. 9:11); 13:10-11; 18-29
● Jesus announced the approach of the kingdom, Matthew 4:17; 12:28.
● Jesus identified the kingdom as His church, Matthew 16:16-19.
● Jesus identified the nature of the kingdom as spiritual (Jno. 18:36; Lk. 17:20-21), superior (Dan. 2:44) and eternal (Lk. 1:33).
● Jesus prophesied the establishment of the kingdom in his listeners’ lifetime, Luke 12:32; Mark 9:1 (Lk. 24:49; Acts 1:6-8; 2:1-4, 47).
● The apostles proclaimed the present existence of the kingdom, Acts 20:25; Colossians 1:13; Revelation 1:9 (1 Ths. 2:11).
● The kingdom is composed of those who have received remission of sins, Revelation 1:5-6; 5:9-10.
● Salvation depends upon entering the kingdom, Luke 16:16; John 3:3-5.
● Our daily goal must be to put the kingdom of God first in our lives, Matthew 6:33; Luke 9:62.
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 Pet. 1:10-11). We urge you to obey the gospel call and enter the kingdom of God (Acts 2:37-41, 47; Col. 1:13).
Joe R. Price
Joe R. Price
You are not a “church of Christ”; that is denominational-speak. You are not the church. You are a Christian – a member of the church of Christ. The church of Christ is not composed of churches. It is made up of Christians, added to the church by the Lord himself (Acts 2:47). To think otherwise is also thinking like the nations (denominations) around us. There is one body (the church) and many members (Christians) of the body (1 Cor. 12:12, 14).
The Scriptures teach a pattern of Christians gathering into independent, local churches or congregations to worship together and to do particular work as a group. Thus, we read of the “church of God which is at Corinth” and “the church of the Thessalonians” (1 Cor. 1:2; 1 Ths. 1:1). The organization of the local church is complete and sufficient when it has “bishops and deacons” along with “all the saints” in that place (Phil. 1:1; Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2). The work of local churches is completely fulfilled when each church is working to save the lost (evangelism), to build up the saved (edification) and to relieve needy Christians (see 1 Ths. 1:8; Acts 11:26; 13:1; 4:32-35).
The individual and the local church are not the same. There is a clear difference between the work and responsibility of an individual Christian and that of the local church. For example, a Christian who has widows is obliged to care for her, but the local church is not charged with her care. It, on the other hand, is charged to care for “widows indeed”, 1 Timothy 5:16. The individual and the local church have distinct roles and works here. The same distinction is clear in Matthew 18:16-17, where the action of individuals precede the action of the church.
What does all of this mean to us? First, it means that authority for individual action is not equivalent to authority for local church action. The perversion of Galatians 6:10 and James 1:27 to include local church action in these verses which direct individuals to do good to all men is unwarranted in the text and when pressed, has divided the house of God. Brethren have insisted on pressing upon local churches action and work that is individual in scope. They insist local churches can practice “general benevolence” toward the lost even though the New Testament pattern of benevolence by a local church is limited to Christians (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32-37; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:25-27; 2 Cor. 8:1-4; 9:1, 12-13).
Secondly, it means that Christians do certain things when we “come together in one place” “as a church” that are designed especially for the assembly of the church (1 Cor. 11:20, 17). Consequently, we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:24-25). The church comes together to worship in fellowship together with God. For example, Paul waited seven days in Troas to gather with the disciples on the first day of the week to break bread. Though he was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem, it would not do for him to eat the Lord’s supper on his own (Acts 20:16, 6-7). The church comes together to eat (1 Cor. 11:33). While worship is individual, the Lord designed the assembly of the church for us to have fellowship in prayer, song, breaking bread, giving and teaching God’s word (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:26). May we always “come together as a church” for edification and not condemnation (1 Cor. 14:26; 11:34).
Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1-6
Saul’s encounter with Jesus compelled Saul to ask a fundamental question: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” Acts 9:6
I. “LAUNCH OUT...LET DOWN YOUR NETS...”, Lk. 5:1-11.
A. Jesus was Looking for Faith,
not Fish, 5:4, 5, 6-7. 8; Lk. 6:46.
II. “GO AND SELL ALL YOU HAVE...GIVE TO THE POOR...FOLLOW ME”, Matt. 19:16-22.
A. Jesus was Looking for a Heart
that Would Repent and be Completely Devoted to Him, 19:21. Lk. 13:3, 5
III. “TELL WHAT GREAT THINGS GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU”, Lk. 8:38-39.
A. Jesus is Pleased when We Confess Him to Others, Lk. 8:39; Matt. 10:32-33; Mk. 8:38; Rom. 10:9-10; 1 Tim. 6:12-13.
IV. “GO, WASH IN THE POOL OF SILOAM”, Jno. 9:7 (10-11).
A. Jesus Says Go to the Water and
be Baptized, Mk. 16:16; Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5; 1 Pet. 3:21; Acts 22:16.
V. “COME TO ME...” Matt. 11:28-30
A. Learn and Live: The Essence of Discipleship, Eph. 4:20-24, 25-32; Rom. 13:11-14.
VI. “GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL THE NATIONS”, Matt. 28:19- 20.
Scripture Reading: Matthew 19:23-30
1. One who trusts in riches will not be
saved, Matt. 19:23-25.
I. GOD IS ABLE TO SAVE MAN FROM HIS SINS.
A. God’s Grace, Eph. 2:1, 4-9;
Acts 15:11; 2 Tim. 1:9; Tit. 2:11; Rom. 3:24; Eph. 1:6-7; Rom. 5:20-21; cf.
1 Tim. 1:12-15.
II. GOD IS ABLE TO BUILD A CHURCH.
A. Man cannot Build a Body of
III. GOD IS ABLE TO GIVE US AUTHENTIC TRUTH BY WHICH TO LIVE.
A. Man Is Incapable of Correctly
Directing His Life, Jer. 10:23; Prov. 14:12; 1 Cor. 1:21.
IV. GOD IS ABLE TO KNOW AND JUDGE THE HEARTS OF MEN.
A. Why is it that Men Continually
Try to Judge the Hearts of Others? Matt. 7:1-2; 1 Cor. 2:11; Gal. 5:13-15;
Matt. 7:15-20; Jno. 5:24; Gal. 6:1-2; Eph. 5:11; 2 Jno. 9-11.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
A Great Mystery
As of this writing (six days later) there is still no definitive evidence that explains what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 with its 239 souls. No wreckage has been found. No survivors. No eyewitnesses. Right now, what happened is a great mystery.
A more profound mystery has been revealed to the world. The “mystery of Christ” – God’s redemptive plan to save sinners – has been revealed from heaven to Christ’s apostles and broadcast for the whole world to know (Eph. 3:1-7). God’s plan to redeem sinners in his Son had been hidden (“which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men”), but it has “now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets” (Eph. 3:5). Paul explained this mystery in Ephesians 3:6: “that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the gospel”. It is no longer a mystery; Christ is the Savior of all mankind.
This great “mystery of godliness” is summarized in 1 Timothy 3:16:
“God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory”.
Jesus is deity and was declared to be so by the Spirit of God (Jno. 1:29-34). Angels announced his entry into the world and his apostles preached his name (power) to the nations (Lk. 2:8-14; Matt. 28:18-20). The gospel they preached produces faith that saves all who call on his name (Rom. 1:16-17; 10:12-17). Jesus Christ has ascended to God’s right hand and now reigns as Messiah over his kingdom until he returns in conquering judgment over sin and death (Acts 1:9-11; 1 Cor. 15:23-28).
Why did God plan and execute this great mystery to save sinners in his Son, Jesus Christ? There is no mystery here: Because He loves us so (1 Jno. 4:9-10; Eph. 2:4-7).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/22/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA