And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. (2 Peter 1:5–7, NKJV)
The “very reason” upon which Peter builds his case for spiritual growth is that we have been given “exceedingly great and precious promises” (2 Pet. 1:4-5). Christians have heeded the gospel call to be “partakers of the divine nature” by escaping the corruption of sin that is in the world (2 Pet. 1:4). As a result, we have great and valuable promises of an eternal kingdom (2 Pet. 1:10-11).
Our previous conversion to Christ is not a reason to ignore our spiritual growth. In fact, it is the very reason we must give all diligence and add to our faith these qualities of the divine nature: Virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. These traits define and strengthen our personal faith. As our faith abounds in these qualities we become useful and fruitful in knowing Christ, and are given entrance into heaven (2 Pet. 1:8, 10-11).
When we choose not to grow in faith (whether through neglect or deliberately refusing to do so) we lose our spiritual sight and forget our cleansing from past sins (2 Pet. 1:9). Thus, it may be said of heaven, “If we will not grow, we will not go.”
Let us “be even more diligent” to make our call and election sure by increasing our faith in the Lord (2 Pet. 1:10). Then, we will be fruitful and protected against stumbling (2 Pet. 1:8, 10).
20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:20–22, NKJV)
The resurrection of Christ is the keystone of the gospel. Without it, the entire structure of human redemption from sin and death through Jesus Christ crumbles to the ground (1 Corinthians 15:14-19). With it, Christ is powerfully declared to be the Son of God (Romans 1:4). His resurrection from the dead proves all the dead will be raised (1 Corinthians 15:12-13). (Please note that this passage addresses bodily death and bodily resurrection.) Christ’s resurrection from the dead is described as the firstfruits – the beginning – of the resurrection of all the dead (Acts 26:23). Under the Law of Moses, the firstfruits of harvest were dedicated to the Lord, indicating the full harvest was a blessing from His hand (Exodus 23:19; Leviticus 23:10; Deuteronomy 26:1-11). In like manner, Christ’s resurrection assures us that all who experience physical death as a result of Adam will be raised from the dead (Genesis 3:19). Jesus said the time will come when “all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth” (John 5:28-29). Death will not end your existence. You will be raised from the dead to either eternal life or eternal condemnation (John 5:29). Get ready for your resurrection by always following Jesus Christ.
23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming. 24 Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:23–26, NKJV)
All who die will be raised from the dead because Jesus was raised (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). The resurrection of the dead will be orderly, not haphazard or random. Christ’s empty tomb signaled His defeat of physical death and began the resurrection of the dead. When Jesus returns, those who are His, as well as those who are condemned, will be raised (John 5:28-29). With the resurrection completed, judgment will occur, and Christ will deliver the kingdom to God the Father (Acts 17:31, Hebrews 9:27). Here is a prominent and pivotal truth: Christ will not return to establish the kingdom. When He returns, He will deliver the kingdom to the Father. The kingdom of God exists today; it is the church of Christ (Matthew 16:18-19; Mark 9:1; Acts 1:8; 2:1-4, 29-36, 41, 47). The end or conclusion will occur when Christ comes and raises the dead. If the kingdom begins when Jesus returns, then that is not the end. But, when Christ returns all enemies will have been vanquished, the last one being death itself. When Christ returns, the King and His kingdom will be victoriously presented to God the Father.
25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. 27 For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. 28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:25–28, NKJV)
Jesus Christ is reigning at the right hand of God, “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come” (Ephesians 1:21). He is King today, and will continue to reign until death – the “last enemy” – is destroyed at the resurrection of the dead. Only God the Father, who gave all authority to the Son, and to whom the kingdom will be delivered, is exempt from being under the Son’s powerful authority (Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-23). Christ’s return will be the grand summation of God’s plan of human redemption. The delivery of the kingdom to God the Father will usher in the everlasting kingdom in which righteousness dwells and over which God will reign forever and ever (2 Peter 1:11; 3:13; Revelation 21:22-22:5). The gospel calls us to submit to the authority of Christ with full, obedient faith. By doing so we are preparing to live with Him forever when He returns (John 14:1-6).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-8
Thessalonians had been called into the kingdom by gospel preaching (Acts
17:7), 1 Thess. 2:12.
I. WORTHY OF THE KINGDOM, 2 Thess. 1:5.
Worthy. “to deem entirely deserving” (Strong’s), Jno. 5:28-29.
II. TRAITS NEEDED TO BE COUNTED WORTHY OF HE KINGDOM, 2 Thess. 1:3-5.
Growing Faith, 1:3; Rom. 10:17; 1 Pet. 2:1-3; Heb. 5:11-14; Lk. 17:5-10.
III. THE DAY OF CHRIST’S RETURN WILL BE A DAY OF RESOLUTION, 2 Thess. 1:6-12.
Righteous Retribution, 1:6, 8-9; Rom. 12:17-21.
Darkness Revealed behind Facade
It is not news that many Hollywood stars burn out morally, emotionally and financially. We periodically hear of that the façade of glitz and glamour has evaporated into a morose pit of chaos, despair, and even death. I was reminded of this when I saw the latest “tell all” interview of actor Johnny Depp. The Rolling Stone interview had the tag line, “Multimillion-dollar lawsuits, a haze of booze and hash, a marriage gone very wrong and a lifestyle he can’t afford – inside the trials of Johnny Depp” (rollingstone.com). The profanity-laced article observes, “It's estimated that Depp has made $650 million on films that netted $3.6 billion. Almost all of it is gone.” Two marriages ending in divorce, multiple arrests, an extravagant lifestyle (reported spending $30,000 a month on wine), alcohol, drugs, lawsuits, etc. – these are among the self-inflicted “trials” of Depp. It is not a pretty sight.
These are not the sort of people Christians should gush over and imitate (Eph. 5:1-7). Yet, even now, Christians love to be entertained by the immoral, laugh at the profane, and become absorbed in the exploits of the godless. With no knowledge of God in their self-absorbed worlds, their worldly influences are hurtful to society and to Christians who willingly expose themselves to these influences (1 Cor. 15:33-34).
Our values must be noticeably different from the world (Jno. 18:36; 2 Cor. 6:17). We must covet what is wholesome and good instead of coveting this world’s treasures and its fleeting fame (Lk. 12:15-21). All the world’s wealth and fame cannot save your soul (Matt. 16:26). Instead of living for the moment and its material advantages, we must lift our eyes heavenward and set them on heaven’s treasures (Col. 3:1-3).
This world will disappoint, deceive, and mislead you. Christ never will. He is the way to the Father (Jno. 14:6). He is the giver of rest to your soul (Matt. 11:28-30).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/24/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA