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
Discipleship is to be marked by spiritual growth from one’s infancy in Christ to “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). The passing of time ought to show progress from being a babe (who must be taught God’s word, and how to use it) to becoming a mature Christian (who teaches others): “For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food” (Heb. 5:12). Spiritual growth from infancy to maturity occurs by learning the word of God, then using it to make clear decisions concerning good and evil (Heb. 5:13-14).
Spiritual maturity is not measured by the passing of time, but by how we are using the passing of time. The passing of time, per se, does make one a stronger, more mature Christian. Even though the “multitude of years should teach wisdom,” it is not always so (Job 32:6-7). By redeeming our time to learn God’s word, we can grow stronger in our faith and in our faithful service to the Lord. The use of our time in spiritual service and godly endeavors shows spiritual growth. Neglecting one’s opportunities to learn and grow in God’s word shows the very immaturity we must move beyond (Heb. 5:12). Do you excuse yourself from Bible learning opportunities (like Bible classes)? Or, do you prioritize the occasions you have to learn and grow in the knowledge of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:18)?
Spiritual maturity is observable. Spiritual maturity is seen as one uses the word of God to discern good and evil. “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” (Heb. 5:13-14). The skillful use of God’s word to make careful decisions to do good and to avoid evil is a mark of maturity.
Spiritual maturity is expected of every Christian. Every child wants to grow up to adulthood. Even so, Christians who feed on the milk of the word want to “go on to perfection” (Heb. 5:12; 6:1). Spiritual growth is a process to which we continually devote ourselves. Failure to grow and mature prevents us from doing greater spiritual work (like teaching others). God expects us to grow. Therefore, we must demand it of ourselves. Learn the word of God, live it and teach it to others. These are among the traits of the growing Christian.
Proverbs 3:5-6, “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Proverbs chapter three is a text where the intended audience is young people. Being that I am still a young person, I read over Proverbs three quite frequently and thus, this short text is one of my favorites. Each time I read it, I learn something new. Specifically verses five and six truly hit home to me each time I diligently study. There are so many important ideas and concepts to note through these verses.
Verse five tells us that we must trust in the Lord with all our heart. This does not mean that most of the time we should be trusting in the Lord, rather, all the time with all of our heart. What does it mean to trust in the Lord? First and foremost, it means we must put our total faith in Him. When we put our total confidence, faith, and hope in Christ, we are trusting Him, which is what the writer of Proverbs tells us to do. He then goes on to say for us, as humans, to not lean on our own understanding. Put simply, it is that humanity which makes fallible. God is not human and He is infallible. We must not be self-righteous or go through this life with the attitude, “I do not need God.” We are told to lean on God and His Son for understanding, which is found through His everlasting, unfailing, and unchanging scriptures.
Verse six mentions that in all we do, we ought to acknowledge the Lord. Colossians 3:17 tells us that whatever we do in word or deed, to do all in the name of the Lord. This means that in all we do, we do it by the authority of Christ, acknowledging Him in all things. With such recognition and trust in the Lord, the last part of verse six is a summation of these two verses. If we trust in the Lord with all our heart, if we do not lean on our own ideas and understandings, and if we acknowledge Him in all we do, the Lord will direct our paths. We can have the sure confidence that the Lord’s path is correct. What a blessing it is to have that very confidence in the Lord.
Though this whole chapter is intended for young people, its message and applications apply to all. Each day, I encourage you to think about the choices you are making, and whether you are putting all of your trust in the Lord. I encourage you to think about who or what you put your confidence in. I encourage you to always keep the Lord at the forefront of your mind, trusting and acknowledging Him in all you may do, so that He will direct your path in the way of truth.
Joe R. Price
We use “Caesar” here to refer to civil government, remembering that Jesus said, “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). When the Herodians tried to ensnare Jesus as an enemy of the state, He responded with one of the best remembered statements of His entire life. What does it have to do with you and me today? In whatever country the Christian finds himself a citizen, God’s word marks out unalterable things which “belong to Caesar.”
The basic thing belonging to Caesar that citizens are to render is subjection. Fundamentally, this is because God established civil government in the first place. “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Rom. 13:1).
Subjection to government takes several forms, some of which are discussed in the Bible.
1) Obey its laws. This obedience is to be given to all levels of government (1 Pet. 2:13-14). The apostle Paul displays this obedience in his defense before Festus (Acts 25:11). We are to do more than merely obey those laws with which we agree. Only when civil law violates divine law are we obligated to forego the former (Acts 5:29).
2) Respect for our leaders. That is hard to do, given the corruption that is so common in politics. No harder though, I suppose, than it would be to honor Nero, the Roman Emperor around the time this commandment was given (1 Pet. 2:17).
3) Pay taxes. Yes, this is an obligation endorsed by Jesus (Matt. 22:17-21).
4) Our prayers. We owe it to our leaders to pray for them. God rules the nations (Acts 17:26; Jno. 19:10-11). As God’s people, we petition Him on behalf of our rulers. In this way, God’s people affect the affairs of the nations.
Civil government exists for our benefit (Rom. 13:3-4). When Christians “render to Caesar” his due, we are obeying God (Rom. 13:2).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Psalm 89:1-7
1. Strange fire is unauthorized
worship, Lev. 10:1-3
I. STRANGE FIRE OFFERED AS WORSHIP TO GOD.
A. The Jeroboam
Model of Corrupt Worship, 1 Kgs. 12:25-33.
C. Instrumental Music in Worship Today, 2 Chron. 29:25; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; Jas. 5:13.
Seattle Considers Banning Gay Conversion Therapy
King5News reported earlier this week that “The City of Seattle is one step closer to banning so-called treatments to change a gay person’s sexual orientation or gender identity to straight. A Seattle City Council committee unanimously passed legislation Tuesday to ban the controversial practice for minors. It’s a sign it likely will pass at full council next Monday. The legislation has support from the mayor (who is openly gay, jrp) and LGBT advocates” (“Seattle closer to banning gay conversion therapy,” king5.com). The law would prohibit licensed mental health providers from practicing conversion therapy on minor children. Currently, five states outlaw this therapy to minors.
One proponent of the measure said conversion therapy is “bigotry” and “a castration of the mind. It’s a murder of the mind” (Ibid). Opponents noted at the committee meeting that such a law is ultimately directed at parents, and is an assault upon the rights of parents to teach and guide the religious and moral training of their children.
We ask, shall Christian parents be guilty under this law for trying to convert their 17-year-old homosexual? And, what of the Christian who teaches the 16-year-old gay he needs salvation from his sin? It sounds like the apostle Paul would be in violation of such a law (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).
The hypocrisy of the anti-conversion therapy advocates is clear. They endorse LGBT rights among minors, intervening in school curriculum at an early age to teach children to “self-identify” and question their birth-gender. Yet, they would silence those who teach children to understand and accept their birth-gender, and to view heterosexuality as the natural order of humanity (Rom. 1:24-28). Gender exists from birth. It is not self-defined, nor is it fluid (Gen. 1:26-28).
It is not bigotry to point out simple biology. Nor is it “abuse” to help minors and adults establish in their minds and conduct choices that acknowledge what nature has made abundantly clear. Be prepared, Christians. This battle for truth has arrived. We cannot be silent (Acts 4:20).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 07/31/2016
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA