And take…the sword of the Spirit, which  is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:17


Volume 17, Number 30

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

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  Bellingham, WA 98228
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Editor......Joe R. Price

Morris Bass
Rick Holt

Aaron Bass
Rich Brooks
Mike Finn
Dan Head


In this issue:

A Different Gospel
Stan Cox

In Galatians 1:6-7, the apostle Paul wrote, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ.”

I often explain this text by noting what the word “gospel” means. The word literally means “good tidings” or good news. The message of the Christ is good news for mankind. Because of His perfect life, his sacrificial death, and his resurrection from the dead, men have the hope of heaven.

Keeping that in mind, consider this paraphrase of our text. Paul basically is saying, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon to a different good news, which is not good news, but a perversion of the good news.”

The lesson is simple, if someone changes the “good news” or gospel of our Lord, it is no longer good news at all! Why? Because it no longer has the power to save!

The “some” of which Paul speaks were teaching that it was necessary to be circumcised in order to be accepted of God. By binding circumcision they were changing the gospel message to one that no longer was “the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek” (cf. Romans 1:16). They were people who believed in Jesus as the Son of God, and believed every aspect of His life, death and resurrection. And yet their change condemned them, and also condemned those who accepted their teaching (cf. Galatians 1:8-9).

This is an object lesson to all who claim that what we believe and teach does not impact our standing before God. How many times have we heard the sentiment, “It doesn’t matter what you teach, as long as you believe that Christ is your Savior”? Paul writes that such is not the case! As our Lord proclaimed, “And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).


They Began to Make Excuses
Joe R. Price

From an early age we learn how to make excuses. (Children can come up with some real winners!) Too bad our excuse-making capabilities do not diminish with age. Adults have years of experience behind making excuses for bad behavior.

Observation teaches us there are two basic reasons for making excuses. 

First, excuses are made to hide what is really taking place. Excuses can be  pretexts for a hidden agenda. In 1 Thessalonians 2:5, the word translated "cloak" means "pretense" or "pretext". An excuse may be a cloak, disguising our true motives, intentions and conduct. This type of excuse is nothing less than a lie. A deception to deflect attention and divert responsibility.

Second, excuses are made to avoid personal responsibility (either for doing what we ought not to do, or for not doing what we ought to do). We often offer excuses designed to get us "off the hook".

Excuses were offered in Luke 14:18-20 by people who declined the invitation to attend a great feast to which they were invited. There is little doubt that the invitation to enter the kingdom of God is in view here, with particular application to Israel's rejection of God's invitation to them to enter the kingdom. The principles seen in this text still apply. How one responds to the gospel invitation is crucial. We must not make excuses for refusing to obey the gospel and thus enter the kingdom of God.

The invitation went out "to those who were invited, 'Come, for all things are now ready.' But they all with one accord began to make excuses..." (Lk. 14:17-18). Let us learn from their excuses so that we do not make excuses and refuse God's invitation to be saved.

"I have bought a field, and I must needs go out and see it; I pray thee have me excused" (Lk. 14:18). The excuse of necessity is offered for not obeying the gospel and entering the kingdom of God (Lk. 14:15). Some people place higher value on the cares of this life than they do on answering Jesus' call of salvation (Lk. 8:14). The value and possession of earthly things simply cannot be offered as a legitimate reason for not obeying the gospel of Christ.

"I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused" (Lk. 14:19). The excuse of other obligations continues to be offered, believing that since we have other things that "must be done" we are somehow exempt from putting the kingdom of God first in our lives (Matt. 6:33). What about our responsibility to Christ? Should I have to keep it before anything else? If you are making this excuse even how, repent of your shallow commitment to the Lord and wholeheartedly do His will.

"I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come" (Lk. 14:20). The excuse that family responsibilities outweigh our obedience to Christ continues to keep lost souls out of the kingdom of God. God does not tell us to abandon our loved ones when we obey the gospel, but He does call on us to love Him more (Lk. 14:26). Do we really believe Christ will accept our excuse that pleasing our family members is more important than pleasing Him? Let us stop lying to ourselves by making such excuses for our disobedience.

Christians must not make excuses for sin, either. Instead, we must acknowledge our failures and confess our sins to the Lord. With genuine repentance and confession, the Lord will forgive our sins (Acts 8:22-24; 1 Jno. 1:9). Then, we will be truly blessed in the kingdom of God (Lk. 14:15). 

-Expanded from original, The Spirit's Sword, March 17, 2002


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

A "Great" Congregation

Scripture Reading:  Acts 4:32-37

NT churches set examples for us that instruct us, warn us and encourage us to be the very best we can be in God's sight.


  A. Hearts and Lives United in the Word of God, 4:31; 1 Cor. 1:10 (Acts 2:41-42, 44, 46; 4:31); 2 Tim. 2:2.
  B. Unity Produces Commonality in Practice, Acts 4:32; 2:44-45.
  C. We Must Endeavor to Guard Our Unity in Christ, Eph. 4:1-3; 1 Cor. 3:1-4; 4:6; Rom. 15:5.

II. GREAT POWER, Acts 4:33.

  A. Power of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles Emboldened Preaching, Acts 1:8; 4:31.
  B. Congregations Rely on their Holy Spirit-Powered Testimony for Certain Truth, Mk. 16:20; Gal. 1:11-12; Eph. 3:3-5; cf. Rev. 2:29.

III. GREAT GRACE, Acts 4:33.

  A. Christians are Greatly Blessed with God's Favor, Eph. 1:3; Rom. 6:14-18; 5:1-2-5.

IV. GREAT SACRIFICE, Acts 4:34-35.

  A. Mutual Sacrifice Meets Needs, Ac 2:44-45
  B. A Full Expression of Love by Helping Each Other in Times of Need, 1 Jno. 3:16-19.


  A. Every Church Needs a Barnabas, Acts 11: 21-24. Heb. 10:23-24; Gal. 6:2; 1 Ths. 5:15

VI. GREAT FEAR, Acts 5:11.

  A. Reverence for God Produces Genuine Character and Authentic Faith, 5:1-2.
  B. Two Reactions, Acts 5:13-14.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Respect for Authority
Joe R. Price

I just watched the video of a pregame moment of silence at a New York Rangers hockey game this past week in respect for the two policemen who were murdered last weekend. We honor their service and extend our sympathy to their families.

Respect for authority and for those in positions of authority is breaking down in America. Not by everyone, but by enough that our attention is being drawn to a growing problem. Those who protect us are increasingly being held up for ridicule, threats and violence. Christians should never be drawn into such sinful attitudes and actions. We know that civil authority is ordained by God for social order and justice (Rom. 13:1-7). We 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). "Honor to whom honor" is due it a hallmark principle by which Christians live (Rom. 13:7). And, we not only give respect to those worthy of it, but also to the harsh (1 Pet. 2:17-20). We know God will bring down those who abuse their authority in His own time (Acts 1:20; Dan. 4:32; Acts 17:26).

Respect for authority is also essential for peaceable, divinely approved order and unity in churches of Christ. God has arranged independent, local churches to be overseen by elders (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:2). When elders and their rule over us is disrespected and refused we contribute to the breakdown of peace, harmony and spiritual cohesion that is to characterize the local church (Heb. 13:17; Eph. 4:1-16; Col. 3:12-17).

Respect for authority begins with respect for God. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments" (Psa. 111:10). Whether expressed through contempt toward those with authority over us in society, or toward those with authority in the local church, our respect or defiance ultimately depends on our respect or disregard for God. The above verse says "the fear of the Lord" leads to wisdom in those who keep His commands. We can measure our respect for God by our obedient submission to His word. That is where respect must begin. 


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  12/28/2014

The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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