And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Already at a Church Near You
Joe R. Price
A businessman is advancing the idea of putting a McDonald’s franchise in a place of worship. The McMass Project wants to raise $1 million on the crowdfunding website, IndieGoGo, to achieve this goal. As of November 28 they had raised $104. McMass is the brainchild of Paul Di Lucca, a creative director at the church branding agency Lux Dei Design.” “Christianity is unable to capture modern audiences,” Di Lucca told NBC News. “There’s a lack of innovation and lack of design thinking in Church communities” (foxnews.com). “It’s time for churches to engage with entrepreneurship,” writes the group. “By combining a church and a McDonald's we can create a self-sustaining, community-engaged, popular church, and an unparalleled McDonald's restaurant” (“A McDonald’s in a church? McMass wants one”, news.com.au). The McMass group is looking for a church with which it partner. Sooner or later they will find one.
Most members of churches of Christ are properly horrified by such a concept. Yet, it is just one more example of adapting to the will of the people – something that not a few churches of Christ already do. The social gospel is alive and well in many churches of Christ. For example:
1) Many churches of Christ already have “McPotlucks”. They have convinced themselves that spiritual edification and fellowship is achieved by feeding the stomach. So, these churches have their “multi-purpose” rooms for their “potluck fellowship” gatherings. The Bible is clear that feeding the body is the role of the family, not the local church (1 Cor. 11:22, 34). Why do the “McPotluck” churches recoil at McMass? They just are not that far down the road of digression yet. Don’t worry; the next generation (or two) will go there.
2) Many churches of Christ already have “McMedical Missions”. They think by healing the body they get a foot in the door to heal souls with the gospel. The work of local churches of Christ is to sound forth the word of the Lord, not to bait and switch people with free vaccinations, medical clinics and dental exams (1 Ths. 1:8; Acts 8:4; 1 Cor. 2:1-2). What is the difference between McMass luring people with burgers and fries, and medical missions luring people with medical aid? There is no difference. But someone asks, why shouldn’t a church operate a hospital or other medical mission? Because general benevolence is not authorized by the New Testament as a work of local churches (Col. 3:17).
3) Many churches of Christ already have “McSports”. They organize softball teams, basketball teams and more. They call it “fellowship”, but it is recreation, not fellowship with Christ (1 Cor. 1:9). If churches can arrange sports, why not arrange a restaurant, too?
We urge brethren who are offended by McMass to be equally offended by similar unscriptural innovations they have already accepted.
Free Will and Predestination
Joe R. Price
The Bible teaches both the free will of man and God’s election or predestination. The creeds and doctrines of men have misdefined these Biblical concepts, leaving an impression there is a conflict between the two. The “whole counsel of God” reveals the harmony of truth between God’s election and man’s free will (Acts 20:27; Gal. 1:6-10).
Many teach people either have no free will (fatalism) or limited amounts of it. The Bible teaches every person with moral capacity has the freedom of will to choose whether or not to obey God (Rom. 7:7-12).
God has elected (predestined or set in place) to save “whoever fears Him and works righteousness” (Acts 10:34-35). Before the world was created, God predestined that sinners would be saved “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3-4, 7-12). God set in place the plan of human redemption (Eph. 3:10-11).
God also determined human beings would have freewill; the ability to choose whether or not to obey God (Gen. 3:1-6; Josh. 24:15; Matt. 11:28). With free will comes responsibility for our choices (2 Cor. 5:10).
God did not predestine the man (which individual will be saved and which individual will be lost). God predestined the plan (how men would be saved). “Whoever” fears God and works righteousness will be accepted by God (Acts 10:34-35; see also, Eph. 1:3-12; Rom. 8:28-30; 10:9-17).
Still, some refuse to accept the truth about predestination and free will. They believe if a person has not been personally selected for eternal life (by God’s election), then he is eternally damned. They tell us there is nothing he can do about it. That is not what the Scriptures teach. God has chosen to save a particular group or class of people: those who are “in Christ”. It is now up to each person to choose to be a part of God’s elect by believing and obeying Christ (Acts 10:35; 13:48; Gal. 3:26-27; Titus 1:1).
We may illustrate it this way: On the first day of school a teacher tells his students that some will pass and some will fail his class. He then describes the things necessary in order to be among those who pass. At the end of the school year, just as the teacher said, some pass and some fail. The teacher predetermined the outcome before the class began by giving the criteria for success. But, that did not mean the teacher selected which individual students would pass or fail (independent of anything they did in the class). It was up to each student to decide whether or not to be in the passing group or the failing group. If a student fulfilled his responsibility, he passed the class. Similarly, God elected (chose) before He created the world to save all who are “in Christ”. Now, it is up to each person to choose to be in Christ. A sinner chooses to be “in Christ” by exercising free will (believing and confessing faith, repenting and being baptized, Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:37-41; Gal. 3:26-27). He is then numbered among the elect (the saved, Acts 2:47; 1 Pet. 1:1-2).
So, God’s part in our salvation is His gracious plan of redemption that is accomplished in the death of Christ (Eph. 1:4-6). Man’s part is faith in Christ (Jas. 2:14-26; Matt. 7:21-23). These two combine to complete the equation of human salvation: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-33
please God without faith, Heb. 11:6.
I. LIKE THE APOSTLES, AT TIMES WE WILL FIND OURSELVES "IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEA" Matt. 14:24-27 (Jno. 6:19).
Storms of Life Come to Us All, 14:24, 22; 2 Tim. 4:16-18 (Heb. 13:5-6); Mk.
6:48; Psa. 11:4; 18:1-3.
II. FAITH WITHOUT FEAR, Matt. 14:28-33.
emboldens us, Matt. 14:29; Heb. 11:7, 23-27, 28-29, 30ff.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 38:1-8
you struggling with the guilt of sin? If so, you are not alone. There is
a remedy that removes guilt.
I. THE GUILT OF SIN SHOULD ALERT US TO DANGER WHEN SIN IS COMMITTED.
A. When We
have been Trained by the Truth, cf. 1 Tim. 4:1-2.
II. THE GUILT OF SIN LEADS TO BEING CONVICTED OF OUR SIN.
A. This is the Spirit's Work through the Gospel, Jno. 16:8-9. Acts 2:22, 36-37; 24:25; Heb. 8:10-12; Psa. 119:11, 36
III. T HE GUILT OF SIN IS REMOVED BY CONVERSION, Acts 3:19.
of Refreshing, cf. Isa. 35:3-7.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
The Fantasy of Faithlessness
An atheist group has targeted southern cities with billboards urging children to reject God as fantasy. Their sign shows a girl writing a letter to Santa that says, “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales” ("Atheists' Christmas Billboard Campaign Targets Bible Belt", Carrie Dedrick, christianheadlines.com). Billboards will be placed close to church locations and residential areas. "Even children know churches spew absurdity, which is why they don't want to attend services. Enjoy the time with your family and friends instead," said American Atheists President David Silverman. "Today's adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It's OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it's definitely OK to tell your children the truth." ("American Atheists' Billboard Campaign in Bible Belt: 'Skip Church' This Christmas and Stop Listening to 'Fairy Tales'", Stoyan Zaimov, christianpost.com).
The absurdity being spewed out is the lie that there is no God. It is foolish to blind oneself to the evidence this world presents that God is real, having divine nature and possessing eternal power (Psa. 14:1; Rom. 1:20-22). Jesus really lived, died and was raised from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-8). The words and works of Jesus testify that he is "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16; Jno. 9:1-4).
God is not childhood fantasy. Atheism is the real fairy tale - the sheep in wolves' clothing that denies God and personal accountability to Him. Atheism devours faith and strangles hope.
Yes indeed, we must be teaching our children the truth: The truth that God is real; The truth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God; And the truth that denying God only produces despair and eternal death. Your obligation to God is not due to your parents. It is due to God Himself, the Almighty and True.
"For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty" (2 Pet. 1:16).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/08/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA