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


Volume 18, Number 02

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:

The Danger of Congregational Drift Away from the Simplicity that is in Christ
Joe R. Price

Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. 3  But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted—you may well put up with it! (2 Corinthians 11:1-4)

The Corinthian church was in danger of putting up with the very things that would destroy it. While godly sorrow had worked repentance in the church toward disciplining the fornicator among them, there were still some in the church who had “not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (2 Cor. 2:3-11; 7:8-12; 12:19-21). New warnings were needed and given by the apostle.

Some questioned Paul’s apostleship in an attempt to blunt the force of the gospel he preached (2 Cor. 10:7-11). They did not appreciate his message of absolute truth or the authority by which he spoke (1 Cor. 4:6; 14:37; 2 Cor. 10:8-11). Nonetheless, Paul urged the church in Corinth to “bear with” him in some “folly” as he warned them of imminent corruption. They must be pure and faithful to Christ (2 Cor. 11:1-3)! Then, with an ironic turn of the phrase, he rebuked them because they “put up with” those who were teaching and advancing error (2 Cor. 11:4).

Not unlike the first century, ours is an age of selfish relativism. Secular humanism has long since come of age, and its offspring is postmodernism – a society where “no definite terms, boundaries, or absolute truths exist.”1 Not unlike the Corinthian church, the moral and doctrinal relativism of our day endangers churches of Christ. Some churches are drifting and some have already succumbed to this corruption.

In a world where relativism prevails, the absolute truth of Christ is our sure defense against the deception of Satan. What is the “simplicity that is in Christ” which Paul championed? In Christ we have that which is “single, simple, uncompounded, sound, perfect.”2 There is soundness and genuineness in Christ. His gospel is untainted by moral and doctrinal duplicity and obscurity. The “doctrine of Christ” contains no shades of gray that cast doubt on faith and practice. We “walk in the light” (1 John 1:6-7; 2 John 9-11). Simply put, absolute truth is in Christ: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).

His absolute truth is revealed in the Scriptures so we can “know the truth”, be freed from our sins and truly be His disciples as we abide in His word (Jno. 8:31-32). If Christ’s gospel is not absolute, then no Christian can have certain knowledge that he or she is truly a disciple and truly set free from sin.

Congregations are drifting away from the simplicity that is in Christ. The “pattern of sound words” is given lip service while appealing to and applying Bible authority is relegated to the dust bin of history as out-dated and irrelevant for today’s Christian (2 Tim. 1:13). Let us hear Paul's warning in this light.

Some churches put up with another Jesus being preached (2 Cor. 11:4). For example, a number of churches accept preachers who teach the error that when Jesus was on earth He was really teaching Jews how to follow Moses. For example,

Jesus taught the Jews under the law. He was not teaching any Gentiles, he was teaching them what Moses had to say.

Every preacher and eldership that I know of in the entire Puget Sound – you look at every last one of them – and they agree with what I teach. I do not have a weird approach. So, it’s not going to be an approach that I take that somebody else hadn’t had. It’s an approach that everybody in all of this area takes, and throughout the country, many, many, likewise.”3

This false doctrine is not new. In 1990 Samuel Dawson preached the following about Christ’s sermon in Galilee in Matthew 5-7:

“…a section that obviously is not part of the new covenant teaching. Jesus teaching Jews, bringing them back to the Law of Moses - and He’s going to be reinforcing exactly what Moses said.” (emp., his)

On Matthew 5:19: The new covenant was “not going to be revealed for three more years!”

On Matthew 5:32: “Jesus is teaching the same thing in 5:32 that Moses taught in Deut. 24:1-4.”

Don’t assume that Matthew 5 and Matthew 19 is addressed to Christians:  It wasn’t spoken to Christians.  He was speaking to Jews, and He was saying it in a context of ‘I didn’t come to throw Moses out, I came to get you back to Moses the way you ought to have been.’”4

In truth, Jesus was “preaching the gospel of the kingdom” in Galilee, not the Law of Moses (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; Lk. 4:16-21). To say Jesus was teaching what Moses said is a denial of the real Jesus (John 1:14-18; Mk. 1:1; Lk. 16:16). It is preaching another Jesus.

Congregations that have fellowship with this error (in order to justify unscriptural remarriages by nullifying Matthew 5:32 and 19:3-9 from present-day application) have already drifted from the simplicity that is in Christ. No Scripture allows individuals or churches to endorse and support false teachers (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 John 10-11).

Some churches put up with receiving a different spirit (2 Cor. 11:4). Where the spirit of timidity rules, the errors of sin are left unchallenged and souls are corrupted from the “simplicity that is in Christ”. Remember, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Instead of boldness in Christ to reprove error, drifting brethren and drifting churches are led by a spirit of tolerance to have fellowship with the “unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11). The sin of immodest clothing is not taught against and lovingly corrected (1 Tim. 2:9). The lewdness and lasciviousness of the modern dance is condoned and participated in without objection (1 Pet. 4:3). Social drinking is silently accepted (1 Pet. 4:3).

Brethren who imbibe of the spirit of non-confrontation have abandoned the moral absolutes of Christ for the ear-tickling “peace, peace” when there is no peace. The “simplicity that is in Christ” is forsaken while lost souls are neither warned nor rescued, but comforted in their sin (Jas. 5:19-20; Jude 22-23).

Some churches put up with accepting a different gospel (2 Cor. 11:4). Churches have drifted into believing there are certain gospel subjects that are too complex and controversial to be preached with absolute certainty. We hear explanations that “nobody has 100% doctrinal accuracy” and charges of demanding “100% doctrinal conformity” when we preach absolute truth. (Pray tell, how much sound doctrine can we fail to conform to and still please the Lord; 5%? 10% What a foolish, diversionary quibble! Those who make it have grown tired of “the whole counsel of God”, Acts 20:27.) Controversy always attends gospel preaching; that is the nature of truth (Matt. 10:34-39; Acts 17:6). Some brethren have taken to a style of preaching that offers different options on a controversial topic, leaving the audience to pick for themselves. Dear reader, Paul said, “preach the word”, not “offer multiple choices”!

There is no doubt in Christ. He is absolute, and His word of truth is sound and sure. Satan’s crafty deceptions are avoided and pure minds escape the corruption of error as we remain committed to the “simplicity that is in Christ”. “Buy the truth and do not sell it” (Prov. 23:23). Implant the perfect law of liberty into your heart and continue in it, for it “is able to save your souls” (Jas. 1:21, 25). Nothing else will do.


1 “Postmodernism – A Description”, All About...Philosophy,

2 Analytical Greek Lexicon, Moulton, 40 

3 Lowell Williams, Sermon series on Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage (Part 1), May 9, 2010, Monroe Valley church of Christ, Monroe WA

4 Samuel G. Dawson, Taped sermon: “The Sermon on the Mount, the Law Of Moses, and the New Covenant,” April 15, 1990, Sumner, WA


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


Scripture Reading:  Psalm 1:1-6

1. Our English word "influence" is not in NKJV Bible; twice in NASB (Isa. 2:6; Dan. 8:25); once in NIV (Job 31:21). Yet, influence fills the pages of the Bible!
2. Influence: "the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself", Acts 27:14-18.
3. Christians must continually examine and assess our words and actions (and those of others) in order to nurture good influences and to avoid evil influences.


  A. The Nature of Good Influence.
    1. Preserving, Matt. 5:13 (Mk. 9:50).
    2. Saving, 1 Cor. 7:13-14, 16; 1 Pet. 3:1-2.
    3. Stimulating, 2 Cor. 9:2. cf. Heb. 10:24
    4. Evangelizing, 1 Thess. 1:8.
    5. Posthumous, Heb. 11:4.
  B. Good Influence is Exerted by Setting Godly Examples Others can Follow, 1 Tim. 4:12; Titus 2:7; Matt. 5:16; 1 Thess. 1:8; 2 Cor. 8:1-5, 8.
  C. The Outcome of Good Influence, 1 Pet. 2:11-12; Heb. 10:24; Col. 4:5-6; 2 Tim. 2:15.


  A. Evil Influences Emanate from the Ungodly, 1 Kgs. 18:17-18; 11:3-4; 21:25.
  B. The Evil Influence of Unfaithful Christians.
    1. Spreads, 1 Cor. 5:6-8; Rev. 2:20-21.
    2. Stumbling block, Matt. 18:6-7.
    3. Hinders spread of gospel, 1 Pet. 2:11-12.
  C. The Evil Influence of Evil Associations,     1 Cor. 15:33-34. Leads to...
    1. Misery, Num. 33:55.
    2. Apostasy, 1 Kgs. 11:2, 6-9.
    3. Divine wrath, 2 Chron. 19:2; Prov. 13:20.
    4. Parental shame, Prov. 28:7.
    5. Denial of Christ, Jno. 18:18, 25.
    6. Deception, disobedience, darkness and death, Eph. 5:6-8, 11.

Conclusion - Phil. 2:14-15


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

Jesus: Trailblazer of Our Salvation

Scripture Reading:  John 13:12-17

1. Every spiritual principle God enjoins on us, Jesus did first.
2. Jesus is the Captain (trailblazer) of our salvation, Heb. 2:10 (12:2).
3. We must follow in His steps, Matt. 9:9; 16:24; Jno. 12:26; 1 Pet. 2:21; 1 Jno. 2:5-6.

I. JESUS BLAZED THE TRAIL OF OBEDIENCE, Jno. 15:10; 6:38; 8:29, 55; 14:31.

  A. He Yielded to Authority, Jno. 14:28; 12:49; Phil. 2:8; Matt. 21:25.
  B. He Served the Will of God, Heb. 10:7 (Jno. 4:34); Heb. 5:8-9.

II. JESUS BLAZED THE TRAIL OF SACRIFICE, Jno. 10:17-18 (Matt. 20:28).

  A. Self-Denial is the Essence of Sacrifice, Matt. 16:24; Tit. 2:11-12.
  B. Carrying Your Cross Requires Sacrifice, Matt. 16:24.
  C. The Value of the Kingdom Compels Sacrifice, Matt. 13:44-46.

III. JESUS BLAZED THE TRAIL OF LOVE, Eph. 5:1-2; 1 Jno. 4:19-21.

  A. Our Love Shows We Belong to Him, Jno. 13:34-35 (14:15).


  A. Immediately, Totally, 1 Jn. 1:9; 2 Co. 2:5-11
  B. Always, Lk. 17:1-4.
  C. From the Heart, Matt. 18:32-35.


  A. Temptation to Sin always exist, 1 Pet. 5:8.
  B. Do not Yield to Temptation, Jas. 4:7.
  C. Put Your Faith in the Faithfulness of God,   1 Cor. 10:13.

Jesus calls us to follow His examples, Jno. 13:12-17. Walk the trail the Master has trod.


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  07/20/2015

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