And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 20, Number
In this issue:
The Scriptures are not ambiguous about when New Testament Christians contributed their money to fund the work of the local church.
To be sure their benevolent relief for the needy Christians in Jerusalem was ready, the apostle gave the Corinthian church the same charge (“orders”) he gave to the churches of Galatia: “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Cor. 16:1, 2). In following this Bible command to give on a specific day, we “lay something aside” “on the first day of the week” so the church has a treasury that is readily accessible for doing this local church’s work.
However, not every church of Christ is content with holding fast this Bible pattern of first-day-of-the-week giving. An increasing number of churches of Christ also provide the option of online giving. The reason the Murrieta, Georgia Church of Christ does this is stated on their website: “Many families are now using debit cards and bank web sites for purchases in lieu of check writing. For your convenience we are now pleased to offer two methods for “Online Giving” to those who are interested” (http://murrietacoc.org/donations/).
Convenience, not faithful commitment to the Bible command, is the stated reason this Georgia church offers online giving by PayPal. Online giving is not and cannot be limited to the first day of the week. To think otherwise is naïve. The rationale of Felix has infiltrated the churches (Acts 24:25).
While explaining their PayPal options they say, “Either method is designed to give to the Murrieta Church of Christ General Fund, however, you can also specify alternative funds (i.e. Building Fund) in the comments section of your donation. Please use the method that is best for you” (Ibid). When Scripture specifies something (when to give, for instance) we may use methods that accomplish what is authorized. But, we may not change (alter, add to or subtract from) the specific commanded action (to another day), then claim we are just using another authorized method that is equally approved. First an action must be authorized before methods may be used to obey it (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). First-day-of-the-week giving is not a method, it is what has been commanded. We use methods (trays, baskets, etc.) to obey the command. Online giving is not another method of obeying 1 Corinthians 16:2. It changes the commandment for the sake of convenience.
Ambassadors for Christ International is an ecumenical organization working in 22 nations with a “wide range of ministries.” It is commonly taught by evangelical churches that Christians are ambassadors for Christ (Got Questions Ministries.) Some churches of Christ also use this terminology. For instance, the Airport Freeway Church of Christ in Euless, Texas, supports “Christ’s Ambassadors,” a ministry that teaches church members “not just to evangelize, but how to evangelize” (this ministry is “overseen by the Hillcrest church of Christ in Gainesville, Texas”).
And, so it goes. The belief that Christians are ambassadors for Christ is prolific. Yet, this usage is not in harmony with the Scriptures. Knowing who is an ambassador and what he does, combined with a careful study of the Scriptures that speak of ambassadors for Christ, solves this misunderstanding and misuse of the word of God.
An ambassador is an official emissary of a ruler who is charged with conveying official messages. He represents the authority of the ruler. We may parallel sending ambassadors to foreign countries to represent the interests of their nations as illustrative of an ambassador and his work.
Those who are intent on saying all Christians are ambassadors for Christ resort to 2 Corinthians 5:18-20:
“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.”
The apostles were chosen by Christ to give testimony of His resurrection to the world. As His witnesses, they were charged with proclaiming to the world the gospel that was revealed to them (Jno. 16:13; Matt. 28:16-20; Acts 1:8; 26:16-18). Divine confirmation (miracles) certified their inspired proclamation of God’s message of reconciliation (Mk. 16:17-20; Gal. 1:11-12; 1 Cor. 2:1-13). The apostles of Christ are unique in their official capacity as His witnesses (Acts 10:38-42). No one today can meet their qualifications (Acts 1:21-22). They alone are the emissaries of Christ. Their words contain the King’s authority (1 Cor. 14:37). They fulfilled their mission. They were persecuted for doing their work, but not broken (Eph. 6:19-20; 2 Tim. 2:8-10). No one today is an ambassador of Christ except His apostles. To say otherwise corrupts both the meaning of the word and the work of Christ’s genuine ambassadors.
Now, back to 2 Corinthians 5:18-20. There, the apostles were given “the word of reconciliation” (the gospel, v. 19) to fulfill their “ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18) by proclaiming the gospel of Christ to the world. God pleads with the world through them (their writings) to be reconciled to God (v. 20).
Christ’s ambassadors, the apostles, have preached the Savior’s revealed word of reconciliation, and by it, how sinners are reconciled to God. Now, Christians teach the apostles’ doctrine, so others may be saved (reconciled to God), Acts 2:37-42; 8:4.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Joe R. Price
Scripture Reading: Joshua 6:1-5
Jericho was 10 mi. NW of Dead Sea and 14 mi. NE of Jerusalem, it was 1000 ft. below sea level (3500’ lower than Jerusalem, Lk. 10:30).
#1 – Being
afraid of God is not enough belief to save you, Josh. 2:8-11; Heb. 11:31;
Jas. 2:19, 25; Acts 24:25.
Salvation is by grace through (obedient) faith, Josh. 6:2; Heb. 11:30.
#3 – Careful
obedience is possible and essential to faith, 6:3-5 (6-11); 1 Jno. 5:3-4.
#4 – Do not
touch what God has cursed, Josh. 6:17-19 (Lev. 27:28-29).
Spiritual victories require you to fight, Josh. 6:20-21; Eph. 6:10-13.
#6 – Your
spiritual battle is straight in front of you, Josh. 6:20-21 (5).
#7 – God’s
judgments are sure, Josh. 6:24, 26; 1 Kgs. 16:34.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon
plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files
Joe R. Price
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:1-13
1. Preparation is vital to
success, Josh. 1:10-11; Isa. 40:3; cf. 2 Cor. 9:3-4.
I. WHEN WE ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THE LORD’S RETURN:
A. We are Being Foolish, Matt.
25:2; Eph. 5:15-16; Prov. 6:6-11; Heb. 6:9-12.
II. WE MUST PREPARE FOR:
A. Death, Heb. 9:27; 2 Kgs. 20:1.
Rom. 6:16-18, 23; 2 Pet. 3:9-10.
III. PREPARATION IS ESSENTIAL.
A. To be a Husband or Wife, Eph.
Conclusion How tragic to be unprepared and miss heaven, Matt. 25:11-12.
Drag Queen Story Hour
That’s right. Why should we be shocked? Last year at the Hudson Park branch of the New York Public Library in Greenwich Village “Harmonica Sunbeam” led the mommy-child audience in song, then read “Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress” by Christine Baldacchino. The book is about a boy who wore a beloved dress to school every day” (“Drag Queen Story Hour Puts the Rainbow in Reading,” May 19, 2017, nytimes.com).
Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) is not just in liberal NYC. “The brainchild of the writer Michelle Tea and Radar Productions,” it is “exactly what it sounds like: drag queens reading stories to children. It began in San Francisco in December 2015 and spread to Brooklyn last summer (2016, jrp), thanks to social media attention” (Ibid). DQHS is organized, with chapters in 25 U.S. cities (including Portland, OR and Vancouver, WA) and the U.K.
The LGBTQ community and it advocates continue to push acceptability of their sinful conduct at the expense of our nation’s children. From tender ages they are deliberately conditioning impressionable minds to call evil good and good evil (Isa. 5:20). The biblical roles of men and women that bring stability to families and societies are discarded for selfish, self-centered, humanistic, and immoral rationales (Eph. 5:22-33; Prov. 31:10-31; 1 Cor. 11:3).
Gender is not fluid. It is fixed by biology (DNA), not ever-changing due to emotions (feelings) (Gen. 1:27; 2:21-22). To teach otherwise denies truth and sensibility.
The downward spiral of our nation gathers steam as it embraces moral relativism. As in the days of the Roman Empire, persecution against the godly increases while the godless advance their agendas (Rom. 1:24-32; 1 Pet. 4:12-16; Rev. 2:8-11). Stand fast, fight the good fight of faith, and fear not. Greater is He who is in us than he who is in the world (1 Jno. 4:4). The Lamb of God will overcome every foe of righteousness (Rev. 17:14). Saints overcome by His blood, by the word of God, and by denying our own lives even to death (Rev. 12:11; 2:10).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/12/2018
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA