And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
John was in prison because he preached the truth. It was pointed, provocative, and unyielding in its application. “For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife; for he had married her. For John said unto Herod, ‘It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother’s wife’” (Mark 6:17-18).
Some say we should not discuss the marital situation of conversion prospects when we are teaching them the gospel. We are told this can wait until after they are converted. Several scriptural problems arise for the person who uses this approach to convert the lost as well as for the gospel prospect.
First, this ignores the scriptural fact that God’s marriage law applies to all men and women who marry. "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” has application to all men and their marriages (Matt. 19:4-6, 9; Heb. 13:4). “It is not lawful” to marry another man’s wife, as Herod had married Herodias, his brother Philip's wife (Mk. 6:17-18). Their sin was adultery (Rom. 7:2-3). John thought it crucial to rebuke the sinners’ sin if there was any chance for them to reform their lives through repentance and obedience to the truth. How can one ignore the unlawful marriages of the lost while at the same time trying to win them to Christ? The lost cannot be saved by ignoring the very sins that cause them to be lost.
Next, the very concept of repentance is forfeited when one ignores or redefines the sin of adultery in the lives of gospel prospects. Repentance must come before being baptized into the name of the Lord (Acts 2:37-38). Therefore, we dare not say, "We won’t address certain sins that exist before baptizing the sinner. He or she can deal with that afterwards”. Would we take the same approach with the suspected thief? Or the child molester? Or the rapist? Failure to address sin in the lives of potential converts fails to expose them to all of the plan of salvation. We are deceiving ourselves if we think otherwise (2 Tim. 4:2; Lk. 13:3; Acts 17:30; 2 Cor. 7:10).
Finally, by baptizing a person who has not repented of his sins we join hands with the Pharisees who compassed sea and land to make a disciple, yet because of their tradition-bound doctrines succeeded only in making another son of hell (Matt. 23:15). We must be about the business of making “sons of God” by teaching and urging obedience to the gospel (Gal. 3:26-27). Instead of trying to find loopholes through which sinners may squeeze, let us follow the example of John the Baptist. When a marriage is not lawful before God we must urge the sinners to repent in order to be saved. Will we succeed? Sometimes, but not always (Matt. 7:13-14). John lost his life for telling the truth to sinners. Can we do any less and consider ourselves faithful to Jesus?
-The Spirit's Sword (I:47), Jan. 4, 1998
We live in a world that pressures those who believe in moral and ethical absolutes to remain “open-minded.” That is, we are to consider the feelings and opinions of others and refrain from insisting we are correct regarding controversial matters. However, as a Christian, I must refuse to play this game, and I refuse to apologize for what I believe and practice.
I believe God exists. Just because I believe in God and reject evolution does not mean I have not learned and considered the arguments on both sides. I am a product of the public school system, and took a two-semester course in Biology in a public university. I have heard the argument for evolution a number of times. After weighing the evidence, I choose to believe in God and the Six-Day model of creation set forth in Genesis 1-2. My mind is made up on this issue.
I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I have heard many of the arguments that reduce Jesus to everything from a mere historical figure to a myth. I have spent a great amount of time looking at the evidence (John 20:30-31). My mind is made up on this issue.
I believe baptism (immersion in water) is necessary in order for one to be saved (Mark 16:16; Acts 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). I used to believe differently. I would not have left my former religious affiliation if I had not been convinced otherwise. I have spent many years studying, preaching, and teaching on this subject. My mind is made up on this issue.
I believe it is not only possible, but it is necessary, to be a non-denominational Christian. Despite the pleas and arguments of the churches of men, the Lord’s true church that we can read about in the New Testament is not a denomination, nor a part of denominationalism. The Lord only built one church (Matthew 16:18) and will only save one church (Ephesians 5:23). My mind is made up on this issue. I have left denominationalism never to return.
I believe homosexuality is a sin and marriage is for one man and one woman for life. I have heard the emotional arguments set forth to the contrary. I have considered this subject from the biblical, social, and biological points of view. My mind is made up on this issue.
Is it possible for me to wrong about my beliefs? Of course it is! Perhaps I have been taught incorrectly. Perhaps I have been taught incompletely (Acts 18:24-26). Perhaps I have not spent enough time studying the Scriptures on a particular topic. If I discover I am wrong about a matter, I need to change my convictions regarding that subject!
However, does it really take all that long to arrive at a correct understanding of the existence of God, the days of creation, the deity of Christ, the necessity of water baptism, the Lord’s true church, homosexuality, and marriage? No, it does not. In fact, there are some things we are expected to grasp and understand in a short amount of time (Hebrews 5:14-6:3). These things need to be settled so we can go on towards maturity.
Brethren, do not be ashamed of the fact that you have convictions which are grounded upon the bedrock of eternal truths set forth in the Word of God. Do not fall in the trap of our current society. The Lord intends for His people to understand the truth (Ephesians 5:17) and to take a firm stand in that truth (Ephesians 4:14).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: John 6:60-66
1. God's truth
is often uncomfortable as it convicts sin, Jno. 16:8.
I. SOME COMFORTABLE LIES.
Only Saves." "...very full of comfort".
Moral People will be Saved."
are Many Ways to Heaven."
is no Hell (Eternal Punishment)."
Remarriages are Acceptable."
Saved Always Saved."
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Psalm 28
1. Jan. 12-Feb.
10, 2016: My eleventh preaching trip to India.
I. LESSONS AND REMINDERS FROM THIS TRIP.
Remember to have Compassion: Comforting those who Suffer, Col. 3:12.
Listen to the Heavens
Scientists this week announced the discovery of gravitational waves in space, proving part of Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity. Scientists say these gravitational tremors prove space ebbs and flows, sort of like the ripples caused by a rock dropped into water. Scientists are able to translate these cosmic waves into sound waves, so that they may literally listen to the heavens ("Gravitational Waves Detected, Verifying Part of Albert Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity", Robert Lee Hotz, wsj.com). Amazing stuff indeed.
This causes us to reflect on Psalm 19:1-4:
1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. 2 Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. 4 Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun."
David was not talking about turning gravitational waves into sound waves, but he was saying the heavens speak to us of God's glory and wondrous power. The creation speaks of its Creator. We ought to listen to what the heavens say about God.
"Let the heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples see His glory" (Psa. 97:6; 50:6). God's righteous character is portrayed in the order and constancy of the heavens. The apostle of Christ affirmed God's "eternal power and Godhead" are "clearly seen" when we view creation (the heavens and the earth, Gen. 1:1), "being understood by the things that are made" (Rom. 1:19).
Go out and look heavenward. Listen closely. Can you hear what it is saying about the Creator?
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 02/15/2016
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA