And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 19, Number
In this issue:
Through the pattern of divine revelation, the Lord has given every local church work to do. In the New Testament, that work is revealed as 1) Evangelism (preaching the gospel to the lost, Acts 11:22; 1 Thess. 1:8; Phil. 1:5-7); 2) Edification (the spiritual building up of the body of Christ through worship and teaching God’s word, 1 Cor. 14:26; Eph. 4:11-12; Acts 11:22-26; 13:1-2; 20:28, 32); and 3) Benevolence to Christians (giving physical relief to fellow Christians who fall into need, Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-6; 1 Cor. 16:1-2; 2 Cor. 8 and 9; 1 Tim. 5:16). These were the apostolic approved works of the first local church in Jerusalem, and of all subsequent churches of Christ that follow the apostolic pattern of truth that was taught “everywhere in every church” (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor. 4:16-17).
There are brethren who believe and practice differently. They have added many other works to the local church that are not revealed in the Scriptures. Now, elderships of many churches of Christ oversee such works as social gatherings (meals, potlucks, etc.), recreational events (sports, movies, camping, etc.), medical missions, and the financial support of colleges and benevolent organizations. The New Testament is silent on these works by the local church, yet, those who uphold them believe the silence of God’s word gives them permission to practice them, anyway. Simply stated, this is adding the will of man to the word of God – something we are forbidden to do (1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:6-10; 2 John 9).
In defense of such extra-biblical works of by the local church, it has been asserted that the local church is an “aid” that assists individual Christians in doing their spiritual work. This view renders the local church as nothing more than an expedient. It also fails to respect the difference between the individual disciple doing his personal work (Eph. 2:10), and the collective group of Christians working together as a group, namely, the local church of Christ (Acts 11:22; 1 Thess. 1:1; Phil. 1:1; 2 Cor. 8:1-4). Is the local church described in the Scriptures as an aid (a tool to be used by the individual Christian to do his own work), or, does the local church use aids to do its own, God-given work? Scripture rejects the former, and teaches the latter.
1) The local church is distinct from the individual. This is shown by (a) How to address sin (Matt. 18:15-17), by (b) The difference that exists between personal funds and the funds of the local church (Acts 4:34-5:4), and (3) By how to address benevolent needs (1 Tim. 5:16). The local church uses aids (like buildings, electricity, song books, etc.) when it obeys the Lord’s will to assemble and worship (Heb. 10:25; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:18, 20; 14:26). Or again, a bank account is an aid the church uses to apply its treasury to evangelism, edification, and benevolence (Acts 4:35; 2 Cor. 11:8).
2) The local church is not a funnel through which individuals accomplish personal obligations. For instance, parents have the authority and responsibility to educate their children (Eph. 6:3-4). Parents may choose public or private schools, or homeschooling to aid them in educating their children. But, that individual work does not authorize the local church to build and maintain a K-12 school, or fund a college. No such work is given to the local church in the Scriptures. The local church is not an aid by which parents give secular education to their children. Churches that operate and/or fund schools have added secular education to the work God gave the local church, without Bible authority.
Scripture reveals differences between the individual and the local church. The local church is not a mere aid used by individuals to expedite their own work. The local church has its God-given work to do, overseen by its elders. It uses aids to accomplish it. No one has authority to add works to a church’s God-given work, without incurring God’s displeasure (1 Cor. 4:6).
Take one look at me, and you will come to the obvious conclusion that I like to eat. There are very few things in this world I refuse to eat; thus, I am a larger-sized individual. When pondering food and all of the benefits it provides this physical body of mine, I cannot help but think of the spiritual application of food, and the nourishment it too provides.
There is a very clear reference in the Scriptures about the Word of God in relation to food. 1 Peter 2:2 says, “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.” 1 Timothy 6:6 reads, “If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.” One can see here that there is a correlation between nourishment and attaining to the Word of God for growth. Just as we must eat food for the nourishment of our fleshly body, our spiritual body craves the same type of nourishment. The Holy Scriptures give us this nourishment. Even in looking back to the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah said, “Your words were found, and I ate them, and Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart,” (Jer. 15:16). This further exemplifies the relationship between food and the Scriptures.
In Matthew chapter 4, we have the account of Jesus being tempted by the devil. When addressing the devil’s temptation concerning Jesus’ hunger, “…[Jesus] answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” We are not to live by physical food alone; but also by the Word of God (our spiritual bread.)
I cannot help thinking about the necessity of food in my daily life. I would dare not go without eating breakfast or skipping a lunch meal. If this mindset is translated to things of a spiritual realm, why then, can the desire for spiritual food not be as strong as our daily eating habits? We must be craving spiritual bread, just as we crave a juicy rib-eye steak, or a Subway sandwich. In Psalm 119:28, we read, “My soul melts from heaviness; strengthen me according to Your word.” Psalm 1:2 reads, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” When we eat food, we are nourished and provided with strength. Similarly, when we eat spiritual food and meditate on such, we are strengthened and encouraged accordingly.
I encourage you to think about these things the next time you eat. As your physical body is becoming well-nourished and strengthened, have you also properly fed your spiritual soul? Are you hungry in more ways than one?
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Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Review: Preach means 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.
Bible is the Verbally-Inspired Word of God. Jer. 1:7-9; Zech. 7:12; Acts
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.
Nature, Mk. 1:14-15; Lk. 17:20-21.
IV. PREACH BIBLE AUTHORITY, Acts 8:12.
Christ’s Authority Revealed in His Word, Matt. 28:18-19.
V. PREACH THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, Acts 20:20, 26.
A. Not Only What We Like, and Ignore the Rest, Jer. 36:23-24, 28-29.
The Lies of Pornography
Pornography is a classic example of sin’s effects upon those who yield to its temptation. Porn will always take you farther than you wanted to go, keep you longer than you wanted to stay, and cost you more than you wanted to pay. A brief article by Jonathan Saunders, “Pornography is Lying to You” (online at christianconcern.com), outlines a few of pornography’s most prevalent lies:
“Pornography says you can have anything you want. But then you get addicted and you can’t have anything else. It promises freedom, but gives you slavery.
“Pornography says there is no cost. But the reality is it will cost you dearly. It will mess up your relationships and twist your view of sex. It will make you think violence and promiscuity are normal. It will cripple you with guilt.
“Pornography says no one will ever know. But it will leave you with no one to help you. It will enslave you and silence you so that you cannot escape its grip. It will isolate you so that you hide from the people you love the most.
“It promises so much, but underneath the bait there is a hook. And this is the root of the crisis. Not the internet, or pornography’s availability, or lack of education, but the fact that human beings love to swallow lies.
“Unless we start here, we’ll continue to reap the consequences and write post-mortem studies about it.” (Ibid)
We must “put to death” all the sins of the flesh (Col. 3:5).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/25/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA