And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
We cannot overstate the importance of what happened of the Day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2. Many firsts occurred that day, which continue to impact the lives of Christians, as well as the whole world.
The first day of the week. It is notable that Pentecost (also called the Feast of Weeks) was on the first day of the week (Lev. 23:15-16). From that day forward, we worship on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7).
The first gospel sermon preached by the apostles (Acts 2:4, 11, 22). The gospel had been preached in promise, and prophetically (Gal. 3:8; 1 Pet. 1:10-11). Jesus preached the gospel of the kingdom (Matt. 4:23). Now, His apostles use the keys that opened the door to the kingdom, by preaching Jesus as Lord and Christ (Matt. 16:19; 18:18; 1 Pet. 1:12).
The first time the plan of salvation was preached to the lost. Jesus commissioned His apostles to preach salvation to the world (Mk. 16:15-16). On that day, sinners who believed Jesus is the Christ, were told to repent and to be baptized for the remission of sins, and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:37-38).
The first conversions. About 3,000 souls believed, and obeyed the apostles, and they were saved that very day (Acts 2:41).
The first church came into existence. The church of Christ was composed of “about three thousand souls” on that day (Acts 2:41). The Jerusalem church became the first local congregation of Christians. There would be more (Acts 8:4; 9:31).
The first kingdom worship is recorded. After their conversion and salvation, the Christians continued to worship together (Acts 2:42). Theirs was not a flash-in-the-pan conversion; it was a life-changing, life-absorbing decision.
The first acts of church benevolence occurred. Shortly after Pentecost, the church began caring for its own, by giving and distributing as any among them had need (Acts 2:44-45).
Churches of Christ are involved in many works that cannot be found in the New Testament. We do not intend to be one of them. These churches advertise, arrange and conduct youth rallies, youth trips, and associated recreational activities. Some of them have senior groups that take senior members to visit local tourist sites. Some churches participate in sports leagues, like the North Garland Church of Christ, that “hosts a every year in late spring early summer. This is an easy going, that exists to encourage ” (northgarlandchurch.org/softball/). (The “fun and fellowship between churches” is with local denominations in the league.) There are churches of Christ that operate preschools and K-12 schools, and many that arrange all sorts of social activities. Many of these churches have soup kitchens, food and clothes pantries, etc., to give physical relief to their communities.
It is not new that churches do these things; They have been practiced by denominations for a very long time. Like Israel’s demand for a king (to be like the nations around them), these churches of Christ have chosen to be like the denominations around them (1 Sam. 8).
For a church to be a New Testament church, it must follow the pattern of work revealed in the Scriptures. A local church cannot add to the New Testament pattern for its work without incurring God’s condemnation (Gal. 1:8-9; 2 Tim. 1:13).
In striking contrast to these modern innovations of human will and wisdom, the Jerusalem church of Christ in Acts 2 was wholly engaged in spiritual work (Acts 2:42-47; 1 Cor. 4:6). In Acts 2, we find the approved work of the first local church of Christ. Churches of Christ must do the work approved in Scripture. They must not add additional work for which God never asked and approved in Scripture.
The work of edification (Acts 2:42). The church was being built up through its worship together. The church grew spiritually by teaching God’s word, by their fellowship of giving, by eating the Lord’s supper and by prayer. Notice the spiritual nature of edification. They did not grow because they got together to do “fun” things like softball and camps. They grew by learning and obeying God word, not by “food, fun and frolic” (Acts 20:32).
The work of benevolence (Acts 2:44-45). The Christians were expressing their mutual care for one another by freely sharing their goods, and even by selling them so the daily needs of their fellow Christians would be supplied. In the New Testament, without exception, when churches worked in benevolence, they relieved needy saints (Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Rom. 15:26-27; 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8-9).
The work of evangelism (Acts 2:46-47). Souls were being saved and added to the church daily. This means the gospel was being preached (Rom. 10:13-17). The church’s work is to spread the gospel to save souls (1 Thess. 1:8).
churches of Christ to return to doing God-approved work, and to abandon
every work devised by human wisdom. These additions distort and defile
the church for which Christ died. Without Bible authority, we dare not
act presumptuously (Col. 3:17; Psa. 19:13).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: 2 Samuel 24:21-25
We possess many blessings that cost us nothing. Do we appreciate them? Do we show our respect, appreciation and thankfulness? Or, because they cost us nothing, do we take for granted our blessings and advantages?
I. YOUR LIFE DID NOT COST YOU ANYTHING.
Cost Your Parents, cf. Gen. 3:16-19; Ezek. 16:4-6; Eph. 6:4; Heb.
12:9-11; Eph. 6:1-3; Prov. 6:20-24.
II. YOUR SALVATION WAS GIVEN TO YOU FREELY, Psa. 68:19-20; Isa. 55:1-2; Eph. 2:9.
Your Salvation Did Not Cost Your Life, Gal. 1:4; Rom. 5:8; Heb. 2:9-10.
III. YOUR DISCIPLESHIP WILL COST YOU EVERYTHING, Lk. 9:23.
Living in Christ Will Cost You Everything, Lk. 14:33, 25-32.
Conclusion: A faith without thankfulness, is a faith yet rooted and
grounded, Col. 2:6-7.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: James 4:13-17
Events like the Las Vegas shooting grab our attention, and demand that we think on things that are too often ignored, or pushed aside (“out of sight, out of mind”).
I. LIFE IS BRIEF, Jas. 4:14.
Plans are Often Made Without Thought of Life’s Brevity, 4:13-14 (Rom.
1:13; 2 Cor. 1:17); Prov. 27:1; Lk. 12:15-20.
II. DEATH IS CERTAIN, Jas. 4:14; Heb. 9:27.
Preparations to Avoid Death, Eccl. 2:14; 7:2; 9:2-3; Lam. 1:19.
III. JUDGMENT IS SURE, Matt. 25:31-33 (Heb. 9:27).
Responsibility and Accountability, 2 Cor. 5:10 (Matt. 25:15, 19); Rom.
IV. ETERNITY IS LONG, Psa. 90:10.
Life on Earth is Measured by Time, but Eternity is Timeless; Matt.
25:46; Rom. 2:7-10.
is the Time to Repent and Be Saved, cf. Lk. 13:1-5; Acts 2:38, 40;
"There Ought to be a Law…"
The Las Vegas mass murder has been met with the predictable calls for gun control, and stricter laws to prevent such an act from ever happening again. There is now talk about outlawing bump stocks (which turn a semi-automatic gun into an automatic gun). Fine. But, concluding more gun laws will prevent murder (including mass murder) is naïve, misinformed, and completely fails to address the root of the problem. One had just as well outlaw rocks because innocent people have been stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60).
The existence of a law does not prevent someone from violating it, but informs you when some has done so (Rom. 3:20). If that were true, there would be no criminals in the world. Laws identify criminal activity, but the human heart decides whether to obey the law.
There are divine laws in place which, when obeyed, prevent murder (and the hate from which it comes). Here are two of them:
1. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37). Totally loving God will forever prevent hating and murdering others, for “God is love” (1 Jno. 4:7-8). One cannot love God and hate others, (1 Jno. 4:20-21).
2. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matt. 22:39). Obeying this simple commandment of God will banish hate from the heart, and its murderous actions toward others.
someone says, “There ought to be a law…”, we would do well to remind
them (and ourselves) that there already is a law – God’s law. When we
choose to obey His law, it will vanquish hate it all its forms. The
trouble is not that we do not have enough laws. The trouble is that
people refuse to honor and obey the law of God.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 10/08/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA