And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 19, Number
In this issue:
Can you imagine a New Testament Christian saying this? Hopefully not, however, denominationalists have normalized and approved social drinking for generations. A growing number of brethren have already yielded to this pressure, and alcohol’s temptation. Other brethren (including elders and preachers) say they cannot condemn “having a drink or two in the privacy of one’s home.” (If not, then why not have three or four, or a half-dozen? Who sets the limit? In such cases, it is no longer God’s word that is defining the sin, but man.) They have relegated this to a matter of personal judgment (misusing Romans 14). Make no mistake; Drinking at home, at parties and at other social events is beginning to be accepted by brethren. Being wise in their own eyes, evil is being called good, and good is being called evil (Isa. 5:20-21).
Here are just some of the reasons not to take the first drink of alcohol (or ingest any other mood-altering, mind-numbing drug), must less defend doing so:
When asked about certainty in life, Benjamin Franklin said, “Certainty? In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.” While this quote is humorous and is an attempt to mock taxes, what was spoken about death is true. We are certain that death is inevitable, inescapable, and typically unpredictable. This topic is one that I have found many people are afraid to talk about, have many questions about, and also can have an inaccurate understanding about. As with any topic regarding spiritual things, it is absolutely essential to use God’s words to define what is true, and accept them for what they are; the truth (Psalm 119:160).
Let us look at an example of a recorded death in the Bible and make some applications from it. In John 11, we have an account of Lazarus, who became very ill (vs. 1). After some time, Jesus had an exchange with His disciples and said, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him. Then His disciples said, ‘Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.’ However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus said to them plainly, ‘Lazarus, is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him” (vs. 11-16). We then read that Lazarus had been dead for four days (vs. 17). There is no doubt that Lazarus was dead, because ultimately, our Lord Jesus said so. Additionally, Martha, the sister of Lazarus said there was a stench because he had been dead for four days (vs. 39). In the account, Jesus and His disciples proceed to the city of Bethany, and Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead, by demanding “with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth!” (vs. 43). This account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead is not a story. It is not fiction. It is a miracle performed by Jesus, and it is true. It is history. If we deny that Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, do we also deny that He Himself arose from the dead?
What then, do we learn from this account, as well as from other parts of the Bible addressing death and what comes after?
We learn in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 that Christ also has risen from the dead and “has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (vs. 20). We also learn that, “in Christ all shall be made alive” (vs. 22). This idea is also presented in John 11:25, when Jesus says, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” Even though our flesh will be put to death, we will live again when Christ returns. Christ is referring to the comparison between dying in Him while here on earth, and the future resurrection of the body from the dead. We also read that the last enemy which will be destroyed is death (1 Cor. 15:26). We know that Christ has authority over death.
We learn in John 5:28-29 that those who are dead already, will hear the voice of our Lord upon His return. There will be one resurrection that will occur that we read of in the Scriptures. In this resurrection, two outcomes are presented, as John writes. The resurrection of life, for “those who have done good,” and secondly, the resurrection of condemnation to “those who have done evil…” Good and evil, of course, are clearly defined by God in His inspired word to us; not defined by what we feel is good or evil.
(To be continued in next week’s bulletin.)
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Scripture Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16
1. Preach: To
herald; announce, to make known, to proclaim, to publish. Bible preaching is
not: Creedal, testimonial, traditional, to please men, partial, human
wisdom, Jer. 6:13-16; 2 Tim. 4:3-4.
I. PREACH THE WORD, 2 Tim. 4:2.
A. The Bible is
the Verbally-Inspired Word of God. Jer. 1:7-9; Zech. 7:12; Acts 1:16.
II. PREACH JESUS, Acts 8:35 (1 Cor. 2:1-2).
A. Cannot Preach Jesus without Preaching the Scriptures, Acts 8:32-34, 6; Heb. 5:8-9.
III. PREACH THINGS CONCERNING THE KINGDOM, Acts 8:12.
A. Its Nature,
Mk. 1:14-15; Lk. 17:20-21.
IV. PREACH BIBLE AUTHORITY, Acts 8:12.
Authority Revealed in His Word, Matt. 28:18-19.
V. PREACH THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, Acts 20:20, 27.
A. Not Only What We Like, and Ignore the Rest, Jer. 36:23-24, 28-29.
An anti-biblical “morality” has gained momentum in our country over the past two decades. The following is but one example of this not-so-new immorality. In a May, 2017 Gallup poll, when asked, “Do you think marriages between same-sex couples should or should not be recognized by the law as valid, with the same rights as traditional marriages?,” 61% said they “should be valid,” and 37% said they “should not be valid.” In 2005, “separate polls found 68-28 and 56-39 against the idea of legalizing homosexual ‘marriage,’” a complete flip in public attitude (“Gay ‘marriage’ receives highest approval rating ever in Gallup poll,” Peter LaBarbera, lifesitenews.com). The same study showed “60 percent of Americans responded that ‘gay or lesbian relations’ are ‘morally acceptable,’ and 37 percent said they are ‘morally wrong.’” (Ibid)
The aforementioned article continued to say: “Gallup records 2012 as the first year showing more Americans in favor of homosexuality-based ‘marriage’ than against it. That is also the year that then-President Barack Obama famously switched his stance to support ‘gay marriage,’ months before his re-election later that year. Whatever factors are behind the massive and rapid public opinion shift, it cannot reasonably be challenged that Americans have strayed far from the historic, Judeo-Christian (biblical) understanding of homosexuality as a sinful behavior.” (Ibid)
God defines morality; Not popular opinion and legal mandate. The Bible says, “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exo. 23:2). People tend to go with the flow rather than stand against the advancements of sinful error and evil conduct. The gospel calls on Christians to have moral courage in the face of opposition to truth and moral purity (2 Pet. 1:5). While we must continue to love sinners and try to save them, we must also abhor sin (read 1 Cor. 16:13-14; Eph. 5:11; Rom. 12:9; 1 Pet. 3:13-17; Jude 20-23). The battle against the host of wickedness continues. Put on God’s armor, stand in Him, and prevail (Eph. 6:10-17).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/11/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA