And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 18, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
The apostle Paul exhorts us, as he did the Christians in Philippi, to be sure we live in harmony with the honor and attributes of the gospel of Christ (Phil. 1:27). Personal inventory of our faithfulness to Christ is always proper and needful (2 Cor. 13:5). As the “light of the world” and the “salt of the earth,” we are called upon to be exemplary in word and deed (Matt. 5:13-16; Eph. 4:1).
Do our words reflect reverence, wisdom and kindness (Eph. 4:29; 1 Pet. 3:10)? If others describe our speech as harsh, rude, abusive, profane, worldly and/or irreverent, we certainly have not set a godly example which reflects the honor of Christ and His gospel. Remember, brethren, our words will either justify us or condemn us on the last day (Matt. 12:37).
Does our clothing befit those who profess godliness (1 Tim. 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 3:3-4)? With summer weather upon us, we have again arrived at the time of year when less clothing is the norm, not the exception. But for the Christian, it must be different. Modesty knows no season; it is always in style to the Christian man or woman who intends to bring honor to the gospel by his or her choice of attire.
Does your recreational activities show your devotion to God (1 Tim. 4:7-8)? We look forward to summer vacations, sports and relaxation. But, let us not forget that Christians never take a vacation from serving God and worshipping Him (Matt. 6:33; Lk. 9:23; Jno. 4:24). If we do not remember God in our plans, how can we convince others (much less, ourselves) that Christ is the “first love” of our life (Rev. 2:4-5)?
Do we “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27)? We honor Christ when we are united by His gospel. In turn, He honors our unity in the faith as a proof of our salvation (Phil. 1:28).
As you are about to depart on your plane ride to your selected destination you have been dreaming about for months, you hear the unexciting flight attendants say something to this effect, “Ladies and gentlemen, in the event of a crash landing or freak incident, please make sure your seat belt is securely buckled, look up and obtain the oxygen mask above you, and then you may help others. Your safety is very important to us. Thank you!”
Because most of the time I tune this mundane speech out and begin listening to some classic rock, the few times I listen to the instruction in its entirety, I can clearly see some spiritual applications for us as Christians.
First, “in the event of a crash landing or freak incident,” suggests that occasionally and very seldom do incidents occur. Acknowledgement and preparation of the worst-case scenario will always benefit us. In this scenario, the crash or freak incident would represent judgment day. We must always be ready for judgment day, just as we are prepared for a plane crash, because we never know when it will occur (Matt. 24:36, 42-43; 1 Cor. 16:13; 1 Thess. 5:6). In being prepared for a crash, we must first acknowledge they do exist. Spiritually speaking, this is true too. In being prepared for judgment day, we must first acknowledge there will be a judgment day; it is not a fable.
Secondly, in the event of a crash landing, whom are we supposed to help first? The answer is, ourselves. With regards to judgment day, who should we be worried about first? The answer is, ourselves. In the event of a crash, it makes absolutely no sense to go help others, knowing you yourself are not safe and will not live. This lesson should also be applied spiritually. In preparation for the Day of the Lord, we need to be concerned about ourselves first. In no way is this being selfish. This is what we ought to do (Matt. 7:5).
After you yourself are safely secured and buckled, what do you do then? That is the time to help others and assist others. Once you are secure, safe, and fully prepared, you should help others get to that same place of comfort and state of mind. As Christians, we ought to help others as we can, in full acknowledgement that we must make sure in helping them, we are not being hypocritical. How unwise and irresponsible would it be to help others in a crash landing, when you yourself aren’t in a safe place?
With regards to our salvation, it is imperative that we first look inward to ourselves by comparing ourselves to the word of God (2 Cor. 13:5). Then we can look outward to aid others. Our salvation is the one thing in life we have the right to be selfish about.
Note: Tanner Bass will be working with the church this summer to preach, teach classes, write articles and study with Joe. We are confident this preaching and training opportunity will benefit him as well as the church. We look forward to working together with him. –Joe
Hear Tanner's sermon, "Romans 12" from Sunday night, July 03, 2016.
Joe R. Price
“And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).
So comments the Holy Spirit on the activities of the early Christians. They were full of zeal and enthusiasm, dedicating themselves as faithful disciples of Jesus. They were attentive to living for Christ. Let us commit ourselves to showing the same attentive devotion to Christ as did our primitive brethren.
They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine. They were convinced that the apostles of Christ were speaking the word of God, and that it deserved to be believed and obeyed (1 Thess. 2:13). What they taught was the end of the matter in all things pertaining to life and godliness (1 Cor. 14:37; 2 Pet. 1:3). We, too, must obey all of the apostles’ doctrine (Gal. 1:6-10).
They continued steadfastly in fellowship. They did not define fellowship as “food, fun and frolic.” In the New Testament, fellowship among saints is spiritually defined, describing the participation and sharing of Christians in God-given worship and work (Gal. 2:9; Phil. 1:5; Phil. 4:15). Like them, we must devote ourselves to this same kind of participation and sharing today.
They continued steadfastly in the breaking of bread. This was not a common meal, it was the Lord’s Supper (Acts 2:46; 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:20). The weekly memorial of Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world was not neglected; it was vigorously observed.
They continued steadfastly in prayers. They knew the power of prayer and were bold to approach God with supplications and thanksgiving (Acts 4:24-30; 12:5).
If the Holy Spirit were to describe our devotion to Christ, would He say that we continue steadfastly?
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Hebrews 4:14-16
1. If Satan
is not real, neither is sin and death.
I. SATAN, TEMPTATION AND YOU.
Entices us to Sin by Using Our Strong Desires (lusts), Jas. 1:13-14.
II. RESISTING TEMPTATIONS OF SATAN.
Temptations can be Resisted, 1 Cor. 10:13; Eph. 4:27 (6:11-13).
Censoring Religious Liberty
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution says, in part, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof...” America was built upon freedom of religion. We hasten to note that the New Testament of Christ does not guarantee freedom of religion by civil authorities. Indeed, Christians have come under persecution from governing powers for their faith since the early days of the church (Acts 12:1-4; 22:4-5; 26:9-11; Rev. 13:15-17).
This is not to say that Christians in America, since we are granted such freedom by our governing authorities, should not avail ourselves of said rights. Paul appealed to Caesar for justice and for the protection from evildoers his innocence deserved (Acts 25:11-12). We have God’s approval to avail ourselves of the religious freedom afforded us by this nation’s laws.
Still, when government infringes on our faith, we have a moral obligation to obey God instead of men (Acts 5:29). For example, this week a federal judge struck down a Mississippi law that would have allowed “county clerks to cite their religious convictions to avoid issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples” (“Mississippi: Judge Rules County Clerks Must marry Same-Sex Couples,” Veronica Neffinger, ChristianHeadlines.com). When lawmakers or judges impose restrictions upon the free exercise of religion’s morality, we must continue to practice our faith, even at the expense of freedom. The constitution we honor is the gospel of Christ. It bears greater authority than any document conceived by men. Its authority and influence reaches into eternity. Therefore, let us be sure we are in agreement with the gospel of Christ – even when it means we will be in disagreement with the laws of men.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/05/2016
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA