And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 21, Number
In this issue:
Invites you to
Saturday at 6:00
PM | Friday, Monday & Tuesday at 7:00 PM
My Life in Fellowship With God
(From I-5 take Exit # 255 and go East 4.2 miles)
For more information please call (360) 752-2692
Just prior to Jesus taking His last breath on the cross, He said, “it is finished…” (John 19:30). The cross not only was the cruel backdrop for the mangled body of Jesus, it was the finish line for accomplishing the will of the Father in Heaven. “Knowing that all things are now finished,” Jesus fulfilled Scripture by saying, “I thirst” (John 19:28, Psalm 69:21). Foreordained death, and prophetic Scripture merged to cross the finish line of the cross.
But, was the complete work of man’s salvation completed at the cross? The resurrection had not occurred yet, and without that event occurring after the cross, man’s salvation could not be accomplished. As Paul writes, “…and if Christ hath not been raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17). The death and resurrection of Christ were necessary components for justification from sin. God raised Jesus, “who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:24).
While Jesus was finishing His suffering portion on the cross, no other sacrifice for sin would be needed in the future (Hebrews 10:10). However, salvation for man was not completed or finished apart from His resurrection from the dead.
Some look to Jesus’ finished work on the cross as eliminating any effort of man in his own salvation. To many, adding human effort to salvation takes away the already finished work of Jesus on the cross. Such a view, however, fails to distinguish between Jesus’ death and resurrection as the only foundation for salvation, and man’s obedience of faith as the essential response to Jesus’ already finished work.
Jesus conveyed this essential distinction when He commanded His apostles to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation. Jesus added, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth, shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16). Jesus emphasizes not only the necessity of man’s response to the good news of salvation in being saved, but He also distinguishes between the saving and condemning responses. Jesus clearly teaches us that one shall be saved if he or she believes and is baptized. The Gospel, which reveals the saving message built upon the foundation of Jesus’ death and resurrection, must be believed. One must believe in Christ, and be baptized into Him for the remission of sins (cf. Acts 2:36-38, Galatians 3:26-27). Jesus certainly was not discounting His own finished work of salvation by revealing the essential saving response from man. Paul exhorts Christians to “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). The Holy Spirit is not guiding Paul to degrade Jesus’ work of salvation by emphasizing human effort, but He is showing how man is to work in response to God’s work. It is God who works in us through His word to create the proper mindset, and action that pleases Him. We must then work it out in our own salvation.
After Jesus’ finished work, and man’s response in belief and baptism, the Christian must “put away…the old man” with its deceitful lusts, and “put on the new man” (Ephesians 4:22, 24). Being raised with Christ in baptism unto a new life, the Christian must live that new life according to righteousness, and the holiness of truth. Man cannot add to God’s salvation in Christ, but he must respond in obedience if he or she is to be saved.
Paul commands Christians to be “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). We might be left in the dark concerning how we were to go about obeying this command if it were not for Paul’s enlightening statement in a similar context: “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16). We now see the practical connection with the unseen Holy Spirit and His revealed Word. The Holy Spirit reveals the mind of God in the words we read (cf. I Corinthians 2:10-13). Letting the word of Christ dwell richly in us, we are filled with the Holy Spirit.
When we study the work of the Holy Spirit, we see a definite connection between the Holy Spirit and the revealed word of God. Like a woodsman using an ax to bring down a big tree, the Holy Spirit accomplishes His work in the hearts of people through the instrumentality of the Word. Notice with me some works of the Holy Spirit which occur through the application of the Word of God in our hearts and lives.
The Holy Spirit CONVICTS. Jesus promised when the Holy Spirit comes He would “convict the world in respect of sin…” (John 16:8). Paul instructs elders of the local church to “hold to the faithful word which is according to the teaching that ye may be able…to convict the gainsayers” (Titus 1:9). The elders connect with the Holy Spirit in His work of convicting the sinner when they drive home the truth of the faithful word in the sinner’s heart.
The Holy Spirit GIVES LIFE and FREEDOM. Paul writes, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death” (Romans 8:2). The Spirit works in giving life, and the life is characterized as being one that is free from the bondage of sin. The law of the Spirit of life is communicated through the Word. Jesus said, it is not the flesh, but “it is the spirit that gives life…the words that I have spoken unto you are spirit, and are life” (John 6:63). The words spoken not only give life, but if you abide in the Lord’s word, you shall “know the truth and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:31-32).
The Holy Spirit SANCTIFIES. Peter speaks of God’s foreknowledge “in sanctification of the Spirit” (I Peter 1:2). Jesus asked the Father to “sanctify” His apostles “in the truth” and added, “thy word is truth” (John 17:17). We connect with the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit and the truth when we submit in obedience to the Word. The Corinthians were “washed,” “sanctified” and “justified” in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God” when they submitted to baptism through the authority of God (cf. I Corinthians 6:11, Acts 18:8).
The Holy Spirit STRENGTHENS. Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Ephesus is that they “may be strengthened with power through the Spirit in the inward man” (Ephesus 3:16). John reminds us our inward strength is connected to the word of God: “I have written unto you young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you and ye have overcome the evil one” (I John 2:14).
Remember, the Spirit works, and we connect with His spiritual work through a working Word: “…when ye received from us the word of the message, even the word of God, ye accepted it not as the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word of God, which also worketh in you that believe” (I Thessalonians 2:13).
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
“I see Jesus on this rock!”
A Lynchburg, VA woman walking in the woods passed by a rock ledge and was convinced she saw the face of Jesus (‘I see Jesus!’: Virginia woman captures image of Christ in the rocks on the rock,” Caleb Parke, foxnews.com). She has posted a video of the rock on YouTube.
Nobody knows what Jesus looked like. The “face of Jesus” she saw resembles the Byzantine images of Jesus that became common in the west many centuries after Jesus lived. The rock formation she saw is not a genuine replica of the face of Jesus. Of that we can be certain.
The Scriptures tell us the outward appearance of Jesus was not impressive (Isa. 53:2). It was His character, conduct and teaching that caused people to want to see Him. Some were just curious, while others earnestly wanted an audience with Him. Philip urged Nathanael to “come and see” for himself whether Jesus of Nazareth was the One of whom Moses and the prophets wrote (Jno. 1:45-46). Certain Greek proselytes of the Jewish faith said, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus,” and the Lord used this occasion to teach them (Jno. 12:21-26). (Why do you want to “see” Jesus?)
Some think they have actually seen Jesus. They claim visions, dreams, experiences, and revelation as their proof. Then they convince the naïve and unsuspecting that it is so. But, Scripture says God speaks to us now by His Son (Heb. 1:1-2). The place we “see” Jesus today is in the Scriptures. He is the “Word” whose words and works reveal the Father (Jno. 1:14-18; 12:48-50; 14:7-11).
Like Zacchaeus, we should want “to see who Jesus was” and overcome every obstacle in order to get a clear look at Him (Lk. 19:3-4). We must see Jesus for who He is, the Christ, the Son of the living God. God’s blessings do not come because we think we see images of Jesus in rocks, clouds, or anything else. No one today has personally seen Jesus. Evidence of who His is compels our faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (Jno. 20:29; cf. 1 Pet. 1:8-9).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 04/11/2019
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA