And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 19, Number
In this issue:
The value of the soul who is daily seeking to please God by following His commandments as He has clearly labeled for us, as well as striving to progress spiritually, is truly irreplaceable. To progress in a spiritual sense means many things for us as Christians. We have a choice to either work toward progressing ourselves spiritually, or not. This is an individual responsibility put upon each child of God.
First, progress can be defined as “forward or onward movement towards a goal, destination, or an objective.” It is very clear that a biblical application can be made from this. Paul says in his letter to the Philippian church, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind... ” (Phil. 3:14-15). He then goes on to say to join him in his example because he is a pattern, as well as Christ is, for us to follow. The goal that Paul was saying he was pressing toward is reaching heaven, our upward call. This goal can only be reached by growing and progressing spiritually, as we have been instructed (2 Pet. 3:18; 1 Pet 2:2; Heb. 6:1). Look even at the example of our Lord when he was a child. Luke says that Christ “kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and found favor with God and men” (Luke 2:40-52). Because Christ was growing in wisdom and seeking spiritual progression daily, He pleased God. God expects the same from us.
If we are not progressing, growing, and maturing daily as Christians, I ask then, what does it mean we are doing? It must mean we are stagnant or regressing. We cannot afford to be regressing spiritually, or be in a state where we are not growing. No matter your age, your race, your gender, or how long you have been a Christian, each individual is responsible for his own growth spiritually. No one can do it for you! There is no limit or cap to spiritual growth and progression, either. It is something we must always be working on. We hear the term often, “I am a work in progress.” Similarly, in a spiritual sense, we are a work in progress too. We always will be.
So what does this mean for us? We must daily be seeking to grow and mature in the Scriptures as we have been commanded. Examine yourself daily, set a spiritual goal or two, plan how you will achieve this goal or goals, and execute. Along the way of working towards fulfilling this spiritual goal, you will grow and please God through your progress as a Christian. Through all things, never forget the ultimate goal we are striving for is what Paul mentioned. If we miss heaven, we have missed life as God intended it to be lived.
A series of parables are recorded in Matthew 13 in which Jesus taught the nature of his kingdom, which is his church (Matt. 16:18-19). Repeatedly he said, “The kingdom of heaven is like…” as he “spoke many things to them in parables” (Matt. 13:3, 24, 31, etc.).
The first parable Jesus taught was the sower and the soils, in which we learn the gospel contacts different types of hearts when it is preached, which determines whether or not good fruit will be borne.
Another parable Jesus taught was the wheat and the tares (Matt. 13:24-30). In this parable, a man sowed good seed in his field, but during the night the enemy sowed tares (a false grain which looks similar to wheat). The wheat and the tares were allowed to grow together until the harvest, when the separation would occur.
This parable has given rise to an application Jesus never made nor intended. Some use this parable as proof that sin in a church should not and cannot be confronted and rooted out (because, they say, Jesus said to let the wheat and tares grow together). Discipline of wayward Christians should not be applied, according to them, in certain cases. That is not at all what Jesus and his apostles taught (1 Tim. 5:20; 2 Thess. 3:6)
The interpretation of this parable is given in Matthew 13:36-43. In it, Jesus reveals its meaning and settles the matter.
1) The field is the world (Matt. 13:38). If the foregoing explanation were correct, the field would have to be the church; it is not.
2) The good seed are the sons of the kingdom (Matt. 13:38). Christians live in the world but are not of the world (Jno. 17:15-19).
3) The tares are the sons of the wicked one (Matt. 13:38). The servants of the devil are in this world, too (2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:1-3).
4) The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels (Matt. 13:39). A judgment day is coming for all people.
5) The end of the world will be the day when the sons of the kingdom are separated from the sons of the devil (Matt. 13:40-43). The sons of the kingdom of God (Christians) live among sinners in this world, but the Son of Man will gather up the wicked of the world for punishment in the last day (see Matt. 13:47-50).
6) The “kingdom” of verse 41 is the “field” of verse 38 from which the tares are removed. Without doubt, this earth is the Son of Man’s kingdom; he rules over it and will judge all in it (Matt. 28:18).
Nowhere does this parable condone sin by Christians, or teach we are impotent to deal with it. (A study of Matt. 18:15-17; 1 Cor. 5 and 2 Thess. 3:6-15, and other passages makes this clear.) In fact, the parable warns all, including those who go back to the sins of the world, that they face the judgment of eternal death (Heb. 10:26-31).
-Revised, The Spirit’s Sword (XI:07), 1/13/08
Local churches are not marketing resources for the social activities and projects of individual Christians. We regularly receive mail from organizations (including brethren) asking this church to advertise their activities (college camps, college lectureships, etc.), or to fund their projects (things like medical missions, educational projects and trips, etc.). We know of churches that have used their bulletin boards and websites to advertise youth camps. Our question is simple: Is it the work of the local church to provide any form of advertising and promoting social, recreational or educational activities? What scriptural support is given to do such a thing?
If it should be explained that these event announcements are sent to local churches because the mailing addresses of the members are unavailable, then our point is sustained. The local church is being viewed and used as a venue through which to market social activities (like college camps and other purely social occasions).
We have long (and scripturally) taught that the work of the local church is spiritual, not social (1 Cor. 11:22, 34; Eph. 4:11-16). Yet now, non-institutional churches of Christ are more frequently advertising and promoting activities that are not the work of the local church. If a church can advertise a youth camp, why not advertise and promote any other privately-funded and provided activity? By what authority may local churches become mouthpieces for the social activities of Christians (Col. 3:17; 1 Thess. 5:21)? In the absence Bible authority, such actions should cease.
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Scripture Reading: John 8:2-12
1. Prejudice develops only one-perspective, and fails to consider any
variation, Jno. 7:52 (1:46).
I. SOME COME TO JESUS TO LEARN, Jno. 8:1-2; Matt. 11:28-30.
Crowds of People Heard Jesus Gladly, Mk. 12:37; Lk. 8:15; Acts 17:11-12; Mk.
11:9-10 (Psa. 118:25-26); Jno. 6:68.
II. SOME COME TO JESUS TO ACCUSE HIM, Jno. 8:3-6.
have Prejudiced Minds and Evil Motives, Lk. 11:52-54; Jno. 8:3-6 (esp. v.
6); Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22; 19:15-21 (17:6-7).
III. SOME LEAVE JESUS, AND REMAIN IN THEIR SIN, Jno. 8:7-9.
Exposed their Sin, Yet they would not Repent, Jno. 8:7; Matt. 23:26.
IV. SOME LEAVE, BEING FORGIVEN BY GOD AND WITH FAITH IN JESUS, Jno. 8:10-12.
Judgments of Men v. Judgments of God, 8:10-12.
The Richest People
Forbes puts out various “Richest People” lists, one of which I came across this week - “The Richest Person in Every State” (forbes.com). Forbes says their reporting of these rich folks “offers another marker of the entrepreneurial drive that pushed the country to 50 states in the first place” (Ibid). Of course, Forbes reports business news, where success and failure is measured by profit and loss. We would expect them to regard the wealthiest as the most successful.
We also know it is the love of money, not money itself, that is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). The difficulty for the rich person entering the kingdom of God is not their money per se, it is measuring material possessions as their true fulfillment, meaning and measure of life (Lk. 18:22-25).
Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses” (Lk. 12:15). Jesus has an entirely different list of the richest people.
The richest people are those whose souls are saved. “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26) Billions of dollars are worthless to save even one soul. Your soul is more valuable than everything else combined. Why waste it by valuing things more that the salvation of your own soul.
The richest people are “rich toward God” (Lk. 12:21). They lay up treasures in heaven instead of on this earth (Matt. 6:19-21). Their heart is in heaven, not on the corruptible things of this life.
The richest people are those who value the reproaches of Christ of greater value than this world’s treasures. Like Moses, they “look for the reward” to come, accepting the momentary trials of faith as they look to eternity (Heb. 11:24-26).
Are you on God’s “richest people” list? (1 Tim. 6:17-19; 1 Pet. 1:3-5)
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 04/30/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA