And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
In referring to the backbone of the church I have in mind the firmness, the moral courage, the stand for truth, the spine of the church itself. There are certain “straws” that we should be alarmed about because they are breaking the church’s back. What are some of these “straws”?
Sin is Ignored
Worldliness is not rebuked and lukewarmness is prevalent. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul rebuked the Corinthians because fornication was among them and they were not alarmed. The apostle Paul tells them, “And ye are puffed up and did not rather mourn, that he that had done this deed might be taken away from among you” (1 Cor. 5:2). Lukewarmness is not to be tolerated. God certainly will not tolerate it. Revelation 3:16 says concerning the church at Laodicea, “So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold I will spew thee out of my mouth.”
Lack of Conviction
Men either act from conviction, because they believe a thing with all their heart, or from convenience, because a thing is as easy to do as not to do and there is an advantage to be gained from doing it. Why do you attend the assemblies? Is it because you want to worship God (cf. Jn. 4:24)? Is it a matter of conviction (cf. Heb. 10:24-25) or are other things more appealing because they are more convenient? Have you obeyed the gospel from the heart (Rom. 6:17) or have you not found a convenient time?
Conviction is illustrated in the decision of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego as they spoke to king Nebuchadnezzar. When asked if “is it of purpose … that ye serve not my god nor worship the golden image which I have set up?” These brave young men responded, “… be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Dan. 3:16-18). These were determined to do what was right regardless of the consequences. May the Lord increase their kind.
Changes in Preaching
Efforts are being made to change our preaching, remodel the gospel, and modernize the church. I was in the audience when a young man spoke disparagingly of those who would preach on such things as “adultery, instrumental music, and institutionalism.” This young man stated that “these things are not relevant to salvation anyway.” Others have stated, “God does not expect us to be completely, doctrinally correct.” Statements such as these emphatically illustrate the truthfulness of the apostle Paul’s statement to Timothy, “Preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lust; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables” (1 Tim. 4:2-4).
What is the Cause of Such Dangerous Tendencies?
Possibly it is success which makes it easy to outgrow our plea for simple New Testament Christianity. Maybe it is that we have less opposition. Once it was hard to be a Christian because of great hardships and persecutions which apparently strengthened the early church (Rom. 5:3-5). There is little indoctrination that is certain to result in tragic consequences. The church is filled with people who know little about the doctrine of Christ and thus fail to abide in His doctrine (2 Jn. 9). Maybe compromise with our religious neighbors in attributes toward doctrine and morality has shared in causing these modern trends within the church.
What is the Solution?
The solution is greater respect for the authority of the scriptures and more firmness in practicing New Testament Christianity. Consider: Jude 3; Ephesians 4:14-15; Titus 1:13-14; Galatians 1:6-9. From these it is evident that truth is fixed, unaltered, and unchangeable. Preaching truth may disturb some. Yet Paul told Timothy to preach the word (2 Tim. 4:2). Paul commanded the Ephesians to “stand” (Eph. 6:13-14). One cannot stand for something and not stand against something, for truth stands against error.
There is a valuable lesson to be learned from the past. Apostasy soon came in the first century church as was prophesied (1 Tim. 4:1-3; 2 Thess. 2:3-4). What has happened can happen again if we allow too many worldly straws to collect on the backbone of the church.
-The Railroad Avenue Church of Christ Bulletin (XVII:05), September-October, 2014
Scripture Reading: Psalm 110:1-4
promised to prepare a place for His disciples, Jno. 14:2-3.
I. JESUS IS GOD'S PROPHET TODAY. Deut. 18:15, 18
Predicted and Fulfilled. Isa. 61:1-2
II. HIGH PRIEST OVER THE HOUSE OF GOD. Heb. 10:21 (Zech. 6:13)
Appointed by God. Heb. 5:1-6
III. JESUS IS KING OVER HEAVEN AND EARTH. Matt. 28:18
Coronation. Dan. 7:13-14; Eph. 1:20-23
C. The Final Enemy to be Defeated will be Death. 1 Cor. 15:25-29; 1 Cor. 15:50-58.
Scripture Reading: Romans 1:28-32
1. Paul has charged the Gentile world with being under God's wrath for
rejecting God (1:18:21). In turn, God gave them up to uncleanness (1:24),
vile passions (1:26) and a depraved mind (1:28).
I. CHARACTER ASSASSINS.
Of Men, Rom. 1:29-30.
II. SINS OF SELF-IMPORTANCE.
Violently Arrogant, Rom. 1:30; 1 Tim. 1:13; Acts 9:1; 26:11; Rom. 12:18-21.
III. INVENTORS OF EVIL THINGS, Rom. 1:30.
A. These Go
Out Looking for Trouble, cf. Prov. 1:10-16; Jer. 4:22 (Prov. 7:5-7).
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Preventing the Spread of Sin
The family of Ebola-infected Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan has been isolated for 21 days by order of authorities in Dallas, TX in an effort to contain and eliminate the threat of transmitting the virus (“Family of Dallas Ebola patient quarantined”, USAToday.com).
Christians understand the danger to physical health that infectious diseases pose. We take precautions to minimize contamination and prevent spreading the disease. Why then are so many Christians opposed to practicing local church discipline when a sinning Christian refuses to repent? Are they unaware that just as Ebola can infect others, sin is infectious and contact with it is harmful?
Sin has an evil influence. When left to its own devices, sin spreads to the hearts and lives of others. We should not boast that the sins other Christians commit cannot affect us: “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?” (1 Cor. 5:6). The solution when a Christian refuses to repent is for the local church to “purge out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump” by “put(ting) away from yourselves the evil person” (1 Cor. 5:7, 13). A church that will not correctively discipline the unrepentant Christian is allowing sin’s infectious influence to spread.
Sin’s danger is minimized and ignored as long as the unrepentant sinner is not “taken away from among” the church (1 Cor. 5:2). The intent of this drastic action is restoration (of the lost) and prevention (of more sin). Thus, the sinner is isolated in an attempt to bring him or her to repentance and salvation (1 Cor. 5:4-5; 2 Ths. 3:14-15). This objective was achieved in Corinth (2 Cor. 2:3-11; 7:8-10). We must have faith it can be achieved today as well.
Using corrective discipline to save the lost and protect the saved also proves the obedience of the church (as in the case of Corinth, 2 Cor. 2:9; 7:11-12). It is not easy to “withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly”, but it is necessary (2 Ths. 3:6). The goal is to save the lost and protect the saved. Our faith in Christ compels us to do what He commands, knowing it will accomplish God’s purposes.
Sin is deadly. We will do what is necessary to prevent the spread of Ebola. W must follow God’s plan to prevent the spread of sin and death in the local church.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 10/06/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA