And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
Over 20 years ago, a friend and brother in Christ penned an article under this title (Micky Galloway, Guardian of Truth, XXXVIII: 16, p. 8, August 18, 1994). He wrote, “In referring to the backbone of the church I have in mind the firmness, the moral courage, the stand for the truth, the spine of the church itself.” Consider some of the tendencies already presenting themselves among brethren, that take the backbone out of the church.
The trend of political correctness has affected brethren. Some brethren shudder to hear false teachers and their error identified publicly, as sin and the sinner is rebuked. They forget that Jesus and His apostles repeatedly did so, to admonish sinners to repent, and to warn others from following their sinful ways (Matt. 15:7-14; 2 Tim. 4:16-18; 4:14). How can we call people to repentance if we refuse to identify the sinner and his sin? We are glad Paul did not drink the politically correct Kool-Aid (Gal. 2:11-14). I suspect Peter, Barnabas, and the others were glad, too.
Unity in doctrinal and moral diversity has gathered momentum as the rallying cry of brethren no longer content with the old paths (Jer. 6:16). Teachers of error on divorce and remarriage, true worship, the role of women in the church, etc. are warmly received instead of being marked as false teachers who subvert souls with their error (2 Jno. 9-11; Rom. 16:17-18). Tolerance of “sincere differences” rules in too many churches – not because they are the sort of differences allowable under Romans 14, but because boldness to contend for the faith has been replaced with compromise. Instead of calling sinners to repentance, brethren are saying “we cannot judge the matter...it is between them and God.” And so, social drinking, immodest clothing, and adulterous remarriages are accepted, and emboldened. They advise people to “abide in the calling wherein you were called” when it is sinful to do so. Can we no longer judge what is right, and call sinners to repentance (Lk. 12:57; Phil. 1:9-11)?
Present Preaching (2 Tim. 4:2-5)
Some brethren say we cannot really know for certain the truth on crucial Bible subjects (i.e., divorce and remarriage, the plan of salvation). This is reflected in their preaching, which has become intellectual, instead of persuasive. After all, if we cannot know the truth with certainty, how can you persuade people to obey it with a firm assurance of faith? But, we can understand and obey the truth today, just as in the first century (Eph. 3:3-5; 5:17; 2 Pet. 3:15-18).
Others tell us that unless we put greater stress on the positive aspects of Christianity we will surely lose our children and our opportunities to teach the lost. Certainly, we need balance in our preaching and in our lives. However, practical “positivism” often becomes an unwillingness to debate the truth and engage error, lest we become labeled as “negative,” “fanatics,” or “unfriendly.” I wonder how well Jesus and Paul would fair under such a colored microscope of hypocrisy? (cf. Matt. 23; Acts 17:2-3; et al.)
Efforts to “Modernize” the Church
The old Jerusalem gospel is out of date to many brethren. They are searching, and finding, new paths to follow. They have rejected establishing Bible authority (for all we teach and do, Col. 3:17) by using commands (direct statements), apostolic approved examples, and necessary inference. (See Acts 15:7-21, where each of these are used to demonstrate truth). The “new hermeneutic” (new method of interpretation) is really an old apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1). It is spawning repeated departures from a “thus saith the Lord.” Women are serving as elders, preaching from the pulpit, and leading singing. Denominationalists are warmly received as “brethren” in Christ. We are told that doctrine is “not that important” by these change agents in the churches. Funny thing, the apostles of Jesus said doctrine is important (Gal. 1:6-10; 2 Jno. 9-11). Is there any doubt who is right?
The social gospel is a clear attempt to “modernize” the church. Scripture gives local churches the work of spreading the gospel, edifying brethren, and caring for needy saints (Acts 6:1-6; 11:27-30; Eph. 4:11-16). The work of arranging and providing social activity is a work given to the family, not the local church. The local church is not a funnel through which we must pour every good work before it approved by God. As families, let us take our responsibility to develop the social and spiritual character of our children. Let the local congregation do its work of teaching and upholding the word of God.
How much backbone will the church of Christ have in the days and years to come? Only as much as Christians are willing to have. We must each have the courage of faith to take our stand with Jesus and His revealed word, and be ready to suffer dishonor for His name (Mk. 8:34-38; Acts 5:41). Sometimes, even when that dishonor comes from Christians who have lost their spine, and who will not stand for the truth. Let us be bold to teach and defend the truth (1 Thess. 2:2; Acts 9:27, 29; 19:8; 28:31). “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.” (1 Cor. 16:13)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Matthew 10:32-39
1. The gospel plan of salvation includes a “good confession.”
I. CONFESS FAITH IN CHRIST TO BE SAVED, Rom. 10:9-10.
“Confess the Lord Jesus” / Confess Jesus is Lord, Rom. 10:9; Acts 2:33-36.
II. CONFESS JESUS BEFORE MEN: LIVE A LIFE THAT CONFESSES JESUS, Matt. 10:32-33 (Lk. 12:8). Our profession.
A. Live by
Faith, Gal. 2:20; 2 Cor. 5:7.
III. CHRISTIANS CONFESS SIN TO BE FORGIVEN.
A. When We
Sin, We Must Confess Our Sin to the Lord, 1 Jno. 1:7-9.
Conclusion Confessing Christ begins at conversion, and continues throughout life. It includes confessing sins to Lord and each other.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 3:14-21
1. God expects us to be active in our salvation and service to Him, Jno.
6:27-29; Jas. 2:14-17.
I. YES, GOD WORKS IN US.
Power that Works in Us," Eph. 3:20-21; Eph. 3:14-20; 1 Jno. 5:4; Phil.
II. HOW DOES GOD WORK IN OUR LIVES?
Obeying the Gospel, Acts 2:37, 39; 16:13-15; 10:34-35 (Pharaoh, Exo. 7:3;
8:15); Col. 2:11-12.
III. CAN WE DO GOD'S WORK IN THEIR LIVES?
Only Can We – We Must, Jno. 6:27-29; 9:4; Phil. 2:12-13.
Sentence Carried Out
The state of Texas executed a Mexican citizen Wednesday night, for killing his 16-year old cousin. “Ruben Ramirez Cardenas, 47, was given a lethal injection after several federal court appeals failed to halt his punishment for the February 1997 killing of Mayra Laguna, 16. She was abducted from her family’s apartment and beaten to death” (foxnews.com). He also raped his victim. Cardenas said, “I didn't plan on doing this, but I was high on cocaine” (Ibid).
It took over 20 years for this murderer’s sentence to be carried out. A judicial system that works at a snail’s pace contributes to more violence, not less. Solomon said, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Eccl. 8:11). One is emboldened to sin when he believes there will be little or no immediate consequences. The prompt application of justice has any number of applications for us. Here are a couple.
Parents must promptly discipline an unruly child. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him promptly” (Prov. 13:24). Parents will regret threatening punishment for misbehavior, yet not delivering it when the misbehavior occurs. Your child needs consistent parental teaching and correction (Heb. 12:9-11). When children know there will be no punishment for their disobedience, the bad behavior will continue.
A church must promptly discipline an unruly Christian. “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit, have already judged (as though I were present) him who has so done this deed...deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Cor. 5:3, 5). A church that will not apply corrective discipline allows the leaven of sin to influence other Christians. “Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Therefore, purge out the old leaven...” (1 Cor. 5:6-7).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 11/13/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA