And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
When Peter drew his sword in Gethsemane to fight against the mob that came to arrest Jesus, the Lord said, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword" (Matt. 27:50-52; Jno. 18:10-11). Jesus would later commission His apostles to spread His message, not by the force of the sword, but by preaching the word of the cross (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20; 1 Cor. 1:18-25). His apostles taught Christians to wield the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" against the enemies of the faith (Eph. 6:17, 10-17; Jude 3-4; 1 Pet. 3:15; 2 Tim. 4:2-4). Followers of Jesus Christ do not defend and advance the faith by military might, but by the power of the truth of the gospel (Rom. 1:15-17; Col. 1:5-6). Those who used military might in the past to attempt to do so acted only with the approval of men and not God (Gal. 1:6-10). We completely disavow the Roman Catholic Crusades of the past and every other attempt to defend and secure the faith using military and political force. Such is carnal, and a reprehensible perversion of the gospel (2 Cor. 10:3-4).
Muslims deny that Islam spread by means of force and violence. But, from its inception, Islam was spread by the sword. Shortly after Muhammad's death (632), "The banner of Islam was raised by a great general, Khalid ibn-Walid, 'the sword of Allah'...with the zeal of a new convert, he charged across the peninsula (Arabian, jrp) in a lightning campaign and in a few months had united the tribes under Medinese rule" (Understanding Islam, Thomas W. Lippman, 109).
The sword ruled from the days of Muhammad to the Sultans and beyond. Wars inside Islam and outside against the infidels consolidated and advanced Islamic power from the seventh century through the seventeenth century. Indeed, within 12 years after the death of Muhammad the Muslim faithful had brought about the "submission" of the Arabian peninsula, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Persia and Jerusalem, not by a message of peace, but by death and the threat of death (Unveiling Islam, Caner and Caner, 69). Within one hundred years Muslim warriors had brought northern Africa and Spain under submission to Allah (Caner, 71). The Battle of Tours (732) in France halted the Islamic advance into Europe.
The gospel of Christ exhorts Christians to engage in a spiritual battle against "principalities, against powers, against the rules of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places" (Eph. 6:12). This war is fought and won with the power of the Lord as we take up "the whole armor of God," an armor that consists of spiritual defenses and weaponry (Eph. 6:10-11, 13-17). The "weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds," because "we do not war according to the flesh" (2 Cor. 10:3-4). This warfare is personal, as each Christian is called to grow and be strong in resisting the temptations of sin, "strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man" (Eph. 3:16; 1 Cor. 9:26-27).
Islam also speaks of a struggle against what it perceives to be evil. Yet, its definitions of evil and its struggles against it have been and continue to be marked by carnal conflict, as well as calls for an inner struggle of purity.
Jihad ("struggle," "holy war") has become a part of our vocabulary since September 11, 2001. You will get a variety of definitions of this term depending on the source you consult. According to Robert Spencer, "Muslims often maintain that Western commentators have distorted the concept of war in the Qur'an--the jihad" (Islam Unveiled, Robert Spencer, 19). He says some Muslims separate "greater jihad" (that involves an individual's inner spiritual struggles) from "lesser jihad" (which involves outward struggle against enemies of the faith). Most Muslims concern themselves with the greater jihad as they live their faith (Ibid.).
There are ongoing attempts to rehabilitate the image of Islam from the glint of the sword to the struggles of the heart. Division exists within Islam over the use of violence to advance the Muslim faith. Make no mistake, though, Islam sanctions the so-called "lesser jihad." Take, for example, this modern-day statement from Sheikh Omar Bakri: "The Koran lays down that the Muslim must be capable of bearing arms and should be ready for the Jihad" (cited by Spencer, 19). Or this, from a seventh-century governor of Iraq, who wrote after a battle, "The Great God says in the Koran: 'O true believers, when you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads.' The above command of the Great God is a great command and must be respected and followed" (cited by Spencer, 20). This ruler was referring to Sura 47:4 in the Qur'an: "When you meet the unbelievers in the battlefield, strike off their heads and, when you have laid them low, bind your captives firmly." Another passage says, "Fight for the sake of God those that fight against you, but do not attack them first. God does not love the aggressors. Slay them wherever you find them. Drive them out of the places from which they drove you. Idolatry is worse than carnage" (Sura 2:190-191). (Remember, Islam considers Christians to be idolaters. Therefore, slaying Christians is consistent with their faith.) From the start of Islam and for centuries thereafter, submission to Allah was exacted under threat of the sword (see Sura 9:5).
Present-day jihadists believe the western infidels are aggressors against the faith, therefore, attacking and killing them is warranted. They cut off heads because that is what the Qur'an says to do - they are following Allah's will, given to them by the Prophet. These jihadists are "radical" only in the sense that other Muslims are unwilling to actually follow what the Qur'an says should be done to the infidels who will not repent and submit. An objective analysis of its authoritative documents and its history leaves one to conclude that Islam is not the peaceful religion it is often said to be.
Muslims are lost in sin and in need of the salvation only Jesus Christ gives (Acts 4:12). Islam is not compatible with the Bible. Christians and Muslims do not dwell within a large tent of "shared faith" and religious ecumenism. Muslims are lost. since they follow a false belief system fostered by a 7th-century false prophet (Muhammad) who claimed to be the Last Prophet and Final Messenger of God (Allah). Islam adheres to a false and faulty religious book (the Qur'an) that entrenches its devotees in fables, not truth (Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Tim. 1:3-4; 6:19-20). Only the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, can save these lost souls (Rom. 1:16; Matt. 28:18-20).
The Qur'an says, “If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (Submission to Allah), Never will it be accepted of him; and in the Hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (their selves in the hell fire)” (Quran 3:85). Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jno. 14:6). There is no compatibility here.
Do not lose heart. The Lamb of God will overcome all who fight against Him, "For He is Lord of lords and King of kings; and those who are with Him are called, chosen and faithful" (Rev. 17:14). Go with God; not Allah.
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Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:121-128
1. v. 105-112:
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Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12:18-24
1. Without a
Scriptural understanding of the church of Christ, Christians are doomed to
repeat the history of division and apostasy that has plagued God's people
through the ages. Hosea 4:6; 1 Tim. 4:1; Jude 3-4
I. THE CHURCH OF CHRIST.
Church Belongs to Jesus, not Us. Matt. 16:18; Acts 20:28; Eph. 1:22-23;
II. THE LOCAL CHURCH...
A. Is Not
the Building. Jas. 2:1; 1 Cor. 11:18, 20; 14:26; Heb. 10:25.
According to a published report, the British news agency Sky News has obtained "tens of thousands of documents, containing 22,000 names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of Islamic State jihadis" ("ISIS registration forms list names, contact info for 22,000 jihadists", Stuart Ramsay, foxnews.com). Names, nationalities and other personal information of jihadis in the UK, northern Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Canada and the United States have been turned over to authorities.
This calls to mind that the God has a record of those who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. This record is very valuable, since "Only those written in the Lamb's Book of Life" will enter the eternal city of God (Rev. 21:22-27). And, "anyone not found written in the Book of Life" on the great Judgment Day will be "cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15, 11-14). We want our names in this Book!
The names of Christians are written in the Book of Life according to Paul in Philippians 4:3. Therefore, we urge you to become a Christian and have access to the eternal city of God, escaping the eternal fire of hell. Now is the time to be saved and be added by the Lord to His church - to be identified among the saved (Acts 2:47).
The Lord knows those who belong to Him. Knowing this comforts us and persuades us to put away sin and pursue righteousness. "Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: 'The Lord knows those who are His,' and, 'Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity'” (2 Tim. 2:19). "The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him" (Nahum 1:7).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 03/16/2016
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA