And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Proverbs 17:10, “A rebuke entereth deeper into one that hath understanding than a hundred stripes into a fool.” (ASV)
Rebuke and the rod each aid in correction and reformation (cf. 2 Sam. 12:7-13; Mk. 6:18; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; Prov. 20:30). The employment of the latter depends on rebuke’s reception.
Rebuke must first be employed to see how it is received. Our proverb implies that it will not even begin to “enter” into the fool. After all, the aim of rebuke is reform and “it is an abomination to fools to depart from evil” (Prov. 13:19). When one is so thoroughly enamored with his own poor judgment that he can conceive of none more capable than himself rebuke is unlikely to help such a person.
By contrast, stripes are not needed by one that has understanding. A simple rebuke penetrates deeply. The word rendered “understanding” must be important in the book of Proverbs as it appears more than thirty times. Why would one that has understanding be so open to rebuke? Let other proverbs where this word appears answer this question. “The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge” (15:14). “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge” (18:15). Knowledge is supremely important to one who has understanding and rebuke a particularly appreciated way of receiving it. This is because, “The prudent man looketh well to his going” (14:15). He knows there is a right way and a wrong way, and is careful to seek the one and avoid the other.
We must infer from this proverb that the two people it mentions demand different degrees of effort. One is easily corrected while the other is still a fool after a hundred stripes. Patience is, therefore, needed when seeking to reform a fool. Slow progress must be accepted.
Our discussion of this proverb brings forth a number of lessons. (1) Rebuke and spanking, though not pleasant and often neglected, are necessary tools of reform and correction. (2) It is good for one to have a tender, truth-seeking heart which is open to rebuke lest he/she behave like a fool. (3) While society may not allow the stripes fools need, our proverb certainly implies that we must make a difference according to the dispositions of people and adjust our speech and actions accordingly (Col. 4:6; Jude 22,23). (4) Parents should recognize that Proverbs 17:10 is speaking about a grown, established fool. Proverbs 22:15 is speaking about a child with some foolishness in its heart. Many stripes have little effect on the established fool while spanking can help a child.
Our text implies the importance of reformation of character. Are you continually trying to better yourself? Do you receive needed rebuke with thanksgiving? Are you behaving like a wise person or a fool?
-The Way of Truth and Life (May 25, 2014)
And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:11-12).
A prophet was a seer and speaker on behalf of God (1 Sam. 9:9). He was a spokesman or mouthpiece for another. For example, Aaron would be the spokesman or prophet of Moses:
“Now you shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth, and I will teach you what you shall do. So he shall be your spokesman to the people. And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God” (Exo. 4:15-16; 7:1).
As Aaron was to Moses, so the prophets were to God, who He gave them His word. In turn, they faithfully communicated it orally and in written form (1 Cor. 14:3, 37). God revealed His message to them and then inspired their transmission of it by putting it into the prophet's mind and mouth (2 Sam. 23:2; Jer. 1:9). Thus, the Scriptures were verbally inspired (1 Cor. 2:13).
While the work of God’s prophets included future-telling, but that was not his only work. The Old Testament prophets often called Israel to repent of sin and turn back to God and His law: “Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets” (Zech. 7:12; Jer. 7:24-26). Similarly, while the prophets of Christ sometimes spoke of future events, they often spoke words of salvation to the lost as well as words of exhortation to strengthen the church. (See John’s prophetic message of “things which must shortly take place”, Rev. 1:1.) This is consistent with Paul’s statement in our text, that Jesus gave prophets for “the work of ministry” and for “the edifying the body of Christ” (Eph. 4:12).
Christ’s prophets taught the lost (cf. Acts 13:1). God draws the lost to Christ by means of the prophetic word that teaches God’s will to the world (Jno. 6:44-45). We confidently affirm that the gospel we preach to the lost is from God and not men. The work of God’s prophets have made it so.
Christ's prophets edified the church. “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men” (1 Cor. 14:3, 5). God’s inspired word strengthens the faint-hearted, urges diligent faith and comforts the faithful. The wit of men does not produce spiritual strength. We must rely on the word of Christ's prophets to build us up in the faith.
The lives of Christ’s prophets were put in jeopardy for doing their work. “Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city” (Matt. 23:34). Let us imitate their faith.
There are no living prophets today. But, we have what they produced, the word of God, which “lives and abides forever” (2 Pet. 1:20-21; 1 Pet. 1:23, 21-25). Christ’s prophets continue to work today, not as living men but through the living word that God gave us through them. The miracle of prophecy has ended, but God's word ("that which is perfect has come", 1 Cor. 13:8, 10) remains.
Scripture Reading: John 14:1-6
1. Do you want to be with Jesus? Phil. 1:21-24
I. WE MUST BE IN “THE WAY” WITH CHRIST.
Christ is Our Path from Earth to Heaven, Heb. 7:25; 10:19-25; Matt. 7:14.
II. WE MUST BE IN “THE TRUTH” OF CHRIST.
Christ has Shown Himself to be the “Way” by Means of His Revealed Truth
(Word), Jno. 1:1-3, 14; Col. 1:3-6.
III. WE MUST BE IN “THE LIFE” OF CHRIST.
Christ (the Way and the Truth) Gives Sinners Life from the Death of Sin,
Jno. 6:63; 1:4; 8:12; 1 Jno.1:1-4.
Scripture Reading: Numbers 13:26-31
1. Ten spies surveyed Canaan and said: “Impossible!” Num. 13:26-31 Caleb and
Joshua surveyed the same land and said: “We are well able...” The
difference? Their faith in God.
I. TO OVERCOME SIN IN OUR OWN LIVES. -Faith in God means we know He gives us:
II. TEACH THE LOST IN THIS COMMUNITY. -Faith in God means we trust God:
III. GROW TO MATURITY AS GOD’S PEOPLE. -Faith in God will cause us to use:
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Both the tragic downing of Malaysian Airline flight 17 over Ukraine and the military conflict in Gaza remind us of the importance of careful and accurate calculations. Whether military generals, heads of state or rebels - miscalculations cost lives. Let us pray for "all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence" (1 Tim. 2:2).
The most serious of all miscalculations are the spiritual ones. The Bible warns us to carefully follow the "good doctrine" of Christ and not miscalculating the momentary advantages of sin (1 Tim. 4:6; Heb. 11:25). For example:
"I thought." Oh, how many souls die in sin and lead others to their spiritual death because they choose to follow their feelings instead of God's word! Paul described himself this way prior to his conversion, "Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 26:9). Something may seem right to us even though God's word describes it as unholy (Prov. 14:12). Test all things by the word of God in order to do what is right and abstain from evil (1 Ths. 5:21-22). A miscalculation will cost your soul.
"I have the right." Many believe since they have the right to do something that it makes it the right thing to do. Pilate expressed this miscalculation to Jesus: "Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?" (Jno. 19:10) He had the power to crucify Jesus, but it was a great sin to do so. Christ's authority is greater than any "right" you have, real or imagined (Mt. 28:18). So, do not overvalue yourself in your own eyes.
"I will never fall!" So said Peter (and the other apostles), "'If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!' And they all said likewise" (Mk. 14:31). The impossibility of apostasy doctrine comforts millions in this self-deception. God cautions against such a prideful miscalculation: "Therefore, let him to thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (1 Cor. 10:13). Beware miscalculations.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/21/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA