And takeÖthe sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Invites you to our
April 26 - May 1, 2015
Bring your Bible and join us in learning Godís word and will for our lives!
I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
Most of us have lost something valuable at one time or another Ė a pet, a wedding ring, etc. Like the woman who lost a silver coin, we ďsearched carefullyĒ until we found it (Lk. 15:8-10). Do you remember the joy and relief when you found what was lost? Jesus used such a scene to impress on us the value of a single soul. With three "lost" parables in Luke 15, Jesus taught how heaven views lost souls - and how we must view them.
God shows love and compassion toward sinners. Jesus showed divine concern when He taught the tax collectors and sinners who gathered about Him (Lk. 15:1). The scribes and Pharisees did not share His care for the lost. They could only see the horribleness of sin in those troubled souls. All they could do was speak against the sinners. And, they also spoke against Jesus for His contact with them (Lk. 15:2). True, they were sinners. And yes, sin is horrible. Yet, the scribes and Pharisees had forgotten what must never be forgotten; they also were sinners in need of Godís mercy and forgiveness! All of us have sinned, therefore, all of us need Godís merciful forgiveness (Rom. 3:23). God is ready, out of His loving compassion, to save every sinner who repents (Lk. 15:7).
Jesus taught three of His most well-known parables to explain how we ought to respond to Godís merciful attempts to save the lost: The lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. Each parable drives home lessons that shape us into the image of Christ as we apply them to ourselves and how we respond to sinners.
The lost sheep parable teaches of God's compassion for the lost (Luke 15:3-7). It pictures the courageous shepherd leaving the ninety-nine sheep to search for and find the one lost sheep. God is distressed when men and women sin. Heaven rejoices when even one sinner repents. Do we? If so, then let us be searching, seeking, and trying to save the lost.
The lost coin parable teaches us the value of the lost soul (Luke 15:8-10). The value of souls prompted Jesus to leave heaven "to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lk.19:10). But some will not diligently seek the lost. They are content with those already saved (ďIf we can just keep the saved ones saved...Ē). Of course we want to see the saved endure to the end (Matt. 10:22). That is not a compelling reason to avoid searching for even one lost soul.
The parable of the lost son teaches of God's mercy and man's response to His mercy (Luke 15:11-32). Like the wasteful son returning to his father, sinners were going to Christ and receiving God's mercy. The scribes and Pharisees were like the complaining elder son, unwilling to rejoice when sinners repent. They were unmerciful, and so they scorned Jesus' mercy. Even now, some Christians find it hard to rejoice when a sinner repents. The repentant sinner is kept at armís length because of past hurt. (Who has been hurt by the sinner more than God? Since He readily forgives and receives, who are we not to forgive?) The "sinner" is looked down upon with suspicion and reservation instead of joyful acceptance and renewal. The elder son must not be our role model. Jesus is our example for how to react when sinners repent.
The cherished hope of the Christian is built upon unwavering faith in Jesus Christ. His redemptive sacrifice and present exaltation in heaven gives us unyielding resolve to trust His every word and reverently obey Him. Jesus Christ will come again and take us to our eternal, heavenly home. Be at peace in your heart.
Sword Tips #424 (March 24, 2015)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: John 11:28-37
1. We face
times of sorrow in life.
I. JESUS WEPT OVER THE PERSONAL SORROW OF OTHERS, Jno. 11:30-38.
A. God Knows
Our Sorrows, cf. Exo. 2:24-25; 3:7-10.
II. JESUS WEPT BECAUSE JUDGMENT WAS COMING, (Jerusalem), Lk. 19:41-44.
A. A Just Judgment did not Prevent His Sorrow, Matt. 23:37-39; Rom. 9:1-3.
III. JESUS WEPT AT TIMES OF GREAT DISTRESS, Lk. 22:39-46.
A. During such Times, the Earnestness of Prayer Combines with Agony, Heb. 5:7; Lk. 22:45; Heb. 12:1-4
IV. JESUS GRIEVED OVER HARD HEARTS.
A. Distress, Heaviness, Sorrow when Hearts are Hard toward Him and His Merciful Truth, Mk. 3:1-6; Eph. 4:29-30.
V. WE SHOULD WEEPÖ
A. Over Our Own
Sins against God and Others, Matt. 5:4; Jas. 4:9; 2 Cor. 7:9-10.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
"I'm a Christian - Really!"
Recently Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) minister John Shuck posted an article on the Friendly Atheist blog defending his personal belief system ("I'm a Presbyterian Minister Who Doesn't Believe in God", Friendly Atheist, patheos.com). On his personal website he says that God is a symbol, the Bible is of purely human origin, life on earth is the result of evolutionary processes and not creation, humans do not have immortal souls nor will consciousness survive death, there is no "end" in human time, and although Jesus is a historical figure, the stories about him are legends (Shuck and Jive). Shuck says, "In short, I regard the symbols of Christianity from a non-supernatural point of view" (patheos.com). No kidding.
Shuck is offended when people say he is not truly a Christian: "And yet, even though I hold those beliefs, I am still a proud minister. But I donít appreciate being told that Iím not truly a Christian" (Ibid). He wonders out loud why "so many people think my affirmations are antithetical to Christianity?" (Ibid)
What does define a person as "truly a Christian"? According to Shuck and many others, not much more that whatever you want it to mean. He says being a Christian is the product of man, nothing more: "I think of Christianity as a culture. It has produced 2,000 years of artifacts: literature, music, art, ethics, architecture, and (yes) beliefs. But cultures evolve and Christianity will have to adapt in order to survive in the modern era" (Ibid).
In contrast, Jesus said, "If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (Jno. 8:31-32, ASV). According to Jesus, the one who knows and follows "the truth" is freed from sin and genuinely His disciple. Clearly, that leaves out Mr. Shuck and all who join him in his self-defined belief (which is really nothing more than unbelief).
The truth of the matters is this: We must adapt ourselves to the truth of Jesus Christ to truly be a Christian.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/29/2015
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA