And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
Every year about this time, the question of whether to celebrate Christmas comes up. The Bible answer depends upon whether one is asking about the religious celebration of the birth of Christ, or about celebrating the seasonal holiday of goodwill.
There is no Biblical support for a religious observance of the birth of Jesus. Yes, the Bible records His birth, and we are the first to thank God that our Savior came to earth. But, the fact that the Bible records the historical account of the birth of Jesus does not approve a religious holiday to observe it. That developed over time from the religious traditions of men. There is no evidence of a “Feast of the Nativity” in the New Testament; It was the fourth century before such emerged. "Christmas" means the "mass of Christ," and was originally used of the special mass that was conducted to honor Christ's birth. Clearly then, it is a Catholic expression, originating with ceremonies of the Catholic Church. Despite the best of intentions, the religious celebration of Christ's birth is an invention and addition of men. It is not ordained by God in His inspired word, the Bible.
Things that some people hold religiously can be practiced non-religiously (for example: circumcision, Acts 16:1-3; washing hands, Mk. 7:1-4; eating of meats sacrificed to idols, 1 Cor. 10:27). It is possible to celebrate the holiday of Christmas in non-religious ways. As a festive, joyous expression of goodwill, the seasonal traditions of Christmas can be kept by all. While doing so, we should be careful not to give our endorsement to the religious additions of men (2 Jno. 9-11; Gal. 1:6-9).
Some will call us "scrooge." Others may say we do not believe in the birth of Jesus. That is not true. We honor the birth of Christ, but we will do so God’s way, not man's way. We must not think God will accept whatever we want Him to accept from our hands, including a religious observance of the birth of His Son. Do you remember Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2)? If one can give Bible authority for the religious observance of the birth of Jesus, then we will retract what we teach on this subject, and start offering God religious observance of Christ’s birth. If that cannot be done, will you abandon the traditions that add to God’s word? Instead of branding us heretics, join hands with us in being careful not to add to God's word.
21 I will praise You, for You have answered me, and have become my salvation. 22 The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. 23 This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. 24 This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:21–24, NKJV)
We often hear verse 24 quoted and applied to the first day of the week, the Lord’s day of worship. Without question, the Lord set the first day for assembled worship (Acts 20:7). Yet, the thanksgiving of this passage transcends the day of our weekly assemblies. It speaks of a day that evokes rejoicing and praise every day, including the first day of the week. “We will rejoice and be glad” in the day of God’s marvelous work of salvation, that He accomplished when He set Christ as the chief cornerstone of His temple, the church. The great day of Jesus Christ’s resurrection declared Him to be the Son of God, the very truth upon which He built His church (Romans 1:4; Matthew 16:18). His ascension, and exaltation at God’s right hand, declares the power to save us is in Him, and Him alone (Acts 2:32-36; 4:10-12).
God made the day of salvation. It is accomplished in Jesus Christ. That day is marvelous in our eyes. Let us rejoice, and be glad in the day “the Lord has made.”
Sword Tips #1239 (November 16, 2017)
1 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” (John 3:1–2, NKJV)
Nicodemus had heard the teachings of Jesus, and he had apparently seen some of His miracles (or their effects). From this, Nicodemus rightly concluded that Jesus had come from God, and that God was with him. From the context, we are not amiss to conclude that Nicodemus was an early believer (John 2:23). He was a Pharisee, and a ruler of the Jews (John 7:50). This indicates the influence of Jesus’ words and deeds was already beginning to reach the upper echelons of Jewish power. Although this night visit implies an element of fear on the part of Nicodemus, it also shows him acting on the conclusion he drew from the words and signs of Jesus. He did not withdraw from Jesus, criticize Him, or obstruct His work. This “teacher of Israel” went directly to Jesus to investigate for himself. We must never allow our place in society, our degree of education, or the authority we hold over others to prevent a humble investigation of Christ and His gospel. Pride would have prevented this night visit. Is pride keeping you from going to Jesus, learning from Him, and following His word? Remember, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5).
Sword Tips #1219 (October 27, 2017)
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plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
God’s “One-derful” Plan for Unity (Part 2)
Scripture Reading: Psalm 130:1-8
Review Part 1: Psa. 133:1; Jno. 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:9-10.
I. GOD’S PLATFORM OF UNITY, Eph. 4:4-6.
Body: Unity of Relationship (Eph. 2:16; 3:6; 1 Cor. 12:12-13)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:5-12
Leaven: Influencing agent, 1 Cor. 5:6; Gal. 5:9
I. THE LEAVEN OF THE PHARISEES.
Pharisees Disputed, Denied and Challenged (tested) Jesus, Mk. 8:11-12 (1-9);
Matt. 16:1-4; Lk. 12:1.
II. THE LEAVEN OF THE SADDUCEES.
Sadducees were Materialists, Denied the Spirit World, Acts 23:8; Matt.
22:29. Rom. 1:21
Allegations and Verification
Fervor over exposing sexual harassment in our country has reached a fever pitch. Movie moguls, TV hosts, journalists, senators, congressmen, and politicians have resigned over alleged, and admitted wrongdoing. Without question, we oppose sexual harassment. Its perpetrators should face proper legal consequences. Yet, it is starting to appear that the mere allegation of wrongdoing is enough to ruin a man’s reputation and career. Some are comfortable believing one is guilty until proven innocent. There is little doubt that some are politicizing harassment allegations. It ought not be so. It is being reported today that an allegation of sexual harassment has been made against Senator Chuck Schumer. Schumer categorically denies the allegation, and has filed a police report to investigate possible criminal activity (“Schumer Files Police Report After Fraudulent Document Emerges,” Eileen Sullivan, nytimes.com).
We should learn some lessons as these events unfold.
1. An allegation of wrongdoing is not the same as verification of wrongdoing. It was alleged that Jesus had a demon (Jno. 8:48-49). The apostles of Christ were defamed as evildoers (1 Cor. 4:12-13; 2 Cor. 6:8; 2 Tim. 2:9). Honor demands that we discern the difference between allegation and verification. Only then can we judge righteous judgment (Jno. 7:24). An allegation of sin does not prove it has occurred.
2. Be careful not to rush to judgment before getting the facts. For example, an accusation against an elder is not to be received, unless verified by two or three witnesses (1 Tim. 5:19). Timothy was warned not to hastily approve or condemn others (1 Tim. 5:22). Be deliberate. Get the facts. Don’t be rash.
3. The rumor mill is an evil substitute for the truth. Tasty tales about others are often swallowed indiscriminately (Prov. 18:8). Gossip and talebearing has devastating results: “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, but through knowledge the righteous will be delivered” (Prov. 11:9).
4. Trust in the truth is eroded when false allegations are accepted as true. Take pleasure in righteousness, speak the truth, and be sure not to believe a lie (Eph. 4:25; 2 Thess. 2:11-12).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/18/2017
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA