And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
The church of Christ is not denominational. To denominate is the name or classify a part of the whole. Christian denominations see themselves as a branch of the Christian Church, distinguished by church government, doctrine and practice. But, Jesus prayed for the unity of believers, not creedal and traditional divisions made by men (Jno. 17:20-21; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:4).
The church of Christ is not a cult. We have heard this charge, but it is false. We follow Jesus Christ, not any man (Eph. 1:22). The only orthodoxy we are concerned with is a “thus saith the Lord” from the Scriptures, not the creeds and confessions of men (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Jude 3-4). The only way to the Father is Jesus Christ and His New Testament is the only truth that saves sinners (Jno. 14:6; 8:31-32; Rom. 1:16).
The church of Christ is not a social laboratory. We do not experiment with doctrines and practices, changing and morphing to adapt to the will and wishes of society. We have come out of the sins and religious errors of the world and have no desire to return to them (2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; 1 Pet. 4:1-6). The moral and religious standard we stand upon and aspire to is the verbally inspired, unchanging word of Christ (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Cor. 2:10-13; 2 Pet. 1:3-4; Heb. 1:1-2).
The church of Christ is not a youth activity center. The local church of Christ is not a social organization, it is a spiritual body that belongs to Christ (1 Cor. 12:12-31). Many churches of Christ have strayed from this Bible pattern. The local church has a divine charge to arrange the spiritual edification of every member, including young people. This edification is accomplished by worshiping God and by instruction and exhortation from God’s word (Acts 2:42-46; 20:32; Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Cor. 14:26). Edification is spiritual, not social in nature. Social activities are the role and responsibility of the home, not the local church (1 Cor. 11:34; Eph. 6:4). So, you will not find basketball courts, ball fields, youth rallies and other such things being promoted and provided by faithful churches of Christ, because these are the additions of men (1 Cor. 4:6).
The church of Christ does not define fellowship as eating common meals (1 Cor. 11:20-22, 34). Potlucks are fun, but they are not spiritual fellowship. They are not the work of the local church. Fellowship among Christians exists as we share the spiritual work and worship of our common faith (Acts 2:42; 2 Cor. 8:4; Phil. 1:5).
Is the church you are a member of a church of Christ?
A cornerstone to seeking God with honesty and integrity is that we must remove anger and resentment from our hearts. There is nothing that will keep us away from God more certainly than a failure to forgive those who have wronged us. Jesus said simply in Matthew 6:15, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” It is only the merciful who will receive mercy. Matthew 5:7 is proof of that when Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” James also writes about this in James 2:13, “For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
There is so much more to a truly merciful spirit. A merciful spirit is not one who that will grudgingly forgive others when they come to us for mercy; in other words, there should be no resentment towards the other when we forgive. Jesus called upon us to be people of character, that we will not rest until broken relationships are mended, even if we have to be the ones who take the initiative. The circumstances do not matter, whether the relationship has been broken by our own sin, or by that of the other party, or (as is usually the case) a certain amount of wrongdoing on both sides. In all cases we are to seek the other person out and do all we can to repair what has been broken. Remember Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus preaches, “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” Or look at Matthew 18:15 where Jesus says, “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.”
Paul wrote in Romans 12:18, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” The beginning of the verse tells that being merciful requires doing so much more than we think is necessary. If God had thought of nothing more than what He “had” to do, He certainly would not have given His Son’s life to repair our relationship with Him. It was, after all, we who had broken the relationship, yet His love did not complain about having to do more than was “necessary” to fix it. He willingly offered Jesus without any form of resentment.
But think about this also: quite often we are wrong in our judgment that the other person has done anything to us that needs to be forgiven. When looking at granting forgiveness on those who wrong us, we need to guard our hearts against condescension. Perhaps it is actually we who need to be forgiven. Or perhaps we have simply misjudged the other person’s actions and everything that has occurred has been a misunderstanding. Having a forgiving spirit means not only being eager to forgive, but eager to believe the best in others and being humble enough to admit it when we’ve overestimated the wrongs that others have done.
-The Gospel Teacher (June 10, 2018) lawofliberty.com
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 4:29-32
forgiveness of our sins in Christ is the greatest act of love and grace we
will ever experience, Psa. 32:1-2; Rom. 5:8-9.
I. WHAT TO DO TO BE FORGIVEN OF SIN.
A. Sinners Must Acknowledge Sin and Repent, Lk. 15:7, 10, 17-21.
II. WHAT FORGIVING SOMEONE LOOKS LIKE. Lk. 17:4; Heb. 10:17-18
Requires Us have Compassion for the Sinner, Lk. 15:20 (4-5).
III. WHAT FORGIVENESS DOES NOT LOOK LIKE, Lk. 15:25-30.
Someone is not an Angry Concession, Lk. 15:25-30.
IV. FORGIVING IS AN ACTION OF FAITH, Lk. 17:5 (3-4).
A. Take Heed:
Jesus Warns of Difficulty of Forgiveness, 17:3; Eph. 4:31-32.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Scripture Reading: Matthew 18:4-9
A cause of sin; “a trap-stick (bent sapling), i.e. snare…--occasion to
fall (of stumbling), offence, thing that offends, stumbling block”
I. HOW I BECOME A STUMBLING BLOCK.
A. By Minding
the Things of Men instead of God, Matt. 16:21-23; Rom. 8:6-8 (Col. 3:1-2).
II. IDENTIFYING STUMBLING BLOCKS FROM THE SCRIPTURES.
People from Coming to Jesus is a Stumbling Block, Matt. 19:13-15; 3 Jno. 9-10.
III. THE SPIRITUAL DANGER OF BEING A STUMBLING BLOCK, Matt. 18:6-9.
Blocks in the World are Inevitable, Matt. 18:7.
New Normal is Same Old Immorality
The so-called New Morality of the 1960’s (the fruit of humanism, evolution and worldliness) was supposed to be the zenith of moral and social freedom, ushering in tolerance and personal fulfillment.
The post-modern, humanistic philosophy of no moral absolutes, with which we have been bombarded over the past half-a-century (in the classroom, in politics, in business, in entertainment, etc.), has many in America licking the bottom of the barrel. It has produced a hateful, arrogant, spiteful lot of self-centered citizens. Comedians spew vile, filthy epithets to the laugh and applause of mindless followers (Eph. 5:4). People pay good money to be entertained by the immoral treatment of others. Unnatural sex acts are honored and held up as paragons of virtuous, healthy expressions of love (Rom. 1:24-27). If ever there was a time for America to collectively “come to herself” and repent like the prodigal and Nineveh, now is the time (Lk. 15:17-19; 11:32; Jonah 3).
Those who oppose the “New Morality” (which is the same old immorality that has always existed) with the Old Calvary gospel are called homophobic, biased and sexist. Such scornful descriptions serve only to inflame bias, they do not establish truth. Christians must not shrink back in faithless fear before such threats. We must be bold in Christ to stand against the devil and fight the good fight of faith (Heb. 10:32-39; Eph. 6:10-13; 1 Tim. 6:12).
We take heart that the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Colorado wedding cake baker who expressed his religious belief by refusing to make a celebratory cake for a gay couple. Still, the Supreme Court only ruled that he had been unfairly treated by the Colorado Commission that heard the case. It did not rule on the merits of the case itself. Whatever the outcome of future court cases, Christians will continue to press for God-defined morality and not yield to the immorality of the world.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/11/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA