And take…the sword of the Spirit, which  is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:17


Volume 21, Number 38

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

1860 Mt. Baker HWY
Mailing Address:

       P.O. Box 30821
  Bellingham, WA 98228
       (360) 752-2692

Bible Classes..........9:30 AM
Worship..10:30AM; 6:00PM

Bible Classes.........7:00 PM
All sing last Wednesday

Web sites:
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Editor......Joe R. Price

Morris Bass
Rich Brooks

Aaron Bass
Shane Bass
Mike Finn
Dan Head


In this issue:

When the Lord Jesus Returns
Joe R. Price

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (1 Thessalonians 4:16, NKJV)

With clarity and authority the apostle affirmed the events of the return of Jesus. Paul systematically explained what will happen on that great day.

The return of Jesus will be personal (“the Lord Himself will descend”). There will not be a representative standing in His place.

The return of the Lord will be visible. Just as He ascended, so shall He “descend from heaven” (Acts 1:9-11). The rapture theory of an invisible presence of Jesus and the unseen catching away of saints is false doctrine.

With a shout He will command the dead to rise (Jno. 5:28-29). The archangel will lead Christ’s angelic attendants in this moment of transcendent power and victory over the grave (2 Thess. 1:7).

The trumpet of God will sound, signaling liberty from death and the gathering of God’s people (1 Cor. 15:52; cf. Lev. 25:9-10; Num. 10:3). Then, the dead Christians will rise first (before the living Christians, 1 Thess. 4:15).

Paul’s context concerns informing and comforting Christians about the saints who die before Christ returns (1 Thess. 4:13-15). Truly, every person will be resurrected from the dead when Jesus returns (1 Cor. 15:21-22). But, this passage gives particular comfort to Christians about departed saints as it assures us that death will not deter our hope of eternal glory. Every Christian will share in the Lord’s glory on that great day (Col. 3:4; 2 Thess. 1:10).

Christians do not sorrow without hope when death comes, because we anticipate that Day of glory and eternal reward (2 Tim. 4:8). 

(Sword Tips #1678, adapted)


Rhetoric and the Christian
Joe R. Price

Words matter. They carry power that can soothe the soul and inflame the spirit (Prov. 15:1; 25:11). “The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness” (Prov. 15:2). Jesus said there is a corresponding measure of responsibility and accountability for the words we use (Matt. 12:36-37). We must think before we speak, lest our words wound rather than heal and weaken rather than strengthen (Jas. 1:19-20; Eph. 4:29).

America’s social and political climate is being inflamed by hot rhetoric from both sides of the aisle. (And, lest we forget, religion has always had its rhetorical flash points, and still does.) So, what is rhetoric, and what is its place in society generally, and in communicating the gospel specifically?

The English word rhetoric means “the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the exploitation of figures of speech and other compositional techniques” ( Its synonyms include “oratory, eloquence, power of speech, command of language, expression, way with words, delivery, diction” (Ibid).

Rhetoric is not inherently evil. Apollos, for example, was an “eloquent” man (orator, skilled in speech) who was “mighty in the Scriptures” (Acts 18:24). No doubt this ability served him well when he learned “the way of God more accurately” and “vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:26, 28). However, it is a problem when human wisdom is advanced through rhetorical flourishes that impress and persuade (1 Cor. 1:17). Paul did not draw attention to “eloquence or human wisdom” when he preached for fear that people’s faith would rest on the man and not in the power of God and His word (1 Cor. 2:1-5, NIV). Again we say, words matter. They carry power (Jas. 3:5-8). When our words are driven by emotion, human will, and man’s wisdom they can and will lead people away from the truth, away from peace, and away from salvation in Christ.

One of the difficulties with distinguishing helpful rhetoric (that focuses on facts and truth) versus disruptive rhetoric (that insights and inflames) is the tendency to assign impure motives before listening to what is said. We close our ears (minds) to meaningful dialogue, understanding, and progress when the rhetoric of someone with whom we disagree is only viewed as bombast and insincere pomposity (hot air).

Sometimes rhetoric is used intending to shut off communication, to label, and to intimidate. That is dishonorable and unjust. For example, to say someone is a “homophobe” because they have a Bible-based opposition to the sin of homosexuality has a chilling effect on meaning discussion. That sort of rhetoric stigmatizes, intimidates, and quarantines all who do not accept same-sex marriage as loving conduct.

The Pharisees are an object lesson for us to learn how not to treat others this way (Lk. 7:39; 15:1-2). Our words are to be humble and gracious when we answer those who oppose the truth, not caustic and bombastic (Col. 4:5-6; 2 Tim. 2:24-26). It is not a virtue to be disagreeable when we disagree with others.

As we choose our words we ought to be aware of the attitudes and values of heart from which they spring, as well as what our words actually express (Matt. 12:34-35). Why? “For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:37). 


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

Entering God's Presence
Joe R. Price

Scripture Reading:  Hebrews 10:19-25

1. We encourage regular attendance at worship assemblies to enter the presence of God to praise, worship, and serve Him, Heb. 10:19-25; Psa. 95:1-2. (because of Jesus)
2. By understanding how Jesus brings us into God’s presence teaches us why we assemble.


  A. His Sacrifice (offering for sin), 10:19-20; 9:26; 10:5-10; 9:12-14; 13:9-15.
  B. His Service (High Priest), 10:21 (4:14; 6:20); 9:24; 2:17; 7:27; 10:12-14; 9:6-20.

II. SO WE CAN ENTER GOD’S PRESENCE, Heb. 10:19, 22-25.

  A. Enter God’s Presence with Boldness, 6:19; 4:14-16.
  B. Let Us Draw Near to God (10:22):
    1. With a true heart, 6:22.
    2. With full assurance of faith.
    3. With cleansed hearts (conversion).
  C. Let Us Hold Fast the Confession of Our Hope (10:23) 6:23; 3:14; 4:11; Heb. 6:11-12.
  D. Let Us Consider One Another to Stir Up Love and Good Works, 10:24. How?


  A. Says Attending Worship Assemblies is about Others as Well as about Me.
  B. We are Not Here to Pretend to be Faithful to Christ.
  C. We are Not Here as a Social Gathering.

Psalm 100: The how and why we come into the presence of God.


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

How to Assess My Spiritual Growth
Joe R. Price

Scripture Reading:  Philippians 3:12-16

1. “Continuous improvement is better than delayed perfection.” (Mark Twain)
2. God expects us to continually develop spiritually, knowing that “perfection” is about maturity toward heaven, Phil. 3:12; Heb. 12:23.


  A. Good Nutrition, Jno. 6:35, 48-51 (63).
  B. Spiritual Exercise, He. 5:13-14; 1 Tim. 4:7-8.
  C. Disciplined Lifestyle, 1 Cor. 9:24-27 (Heb. 12:1-2); 1 Jno. 1:7-2:2.


  A. Markers of Growing Weaker Spiritually and Away from Christ:
    1. My heart is dull toward God’s word, Matt. 13:15 (Acts 28:27).
    2. My love for God is growing cold, Matt. 24:12; 1 Jno. 5:3 (Matt. 22:37-39).
    3. Prayer has become an afterthought, Lk. 18:1, 8; 1 Thess. 5:17.
    4. I am frustrated over doing good, Gal. 6:9.
    5. I am growing eager to satisfy the flesh, 1 Tim. 5:11 (indulgent); Eph. 4:22; 1 Pet. 2:11.
  B. Markers of Growing Stronger Spiritually and Closer to Christ:
    1. I speak and live the truth in love, Eph. 4:13-15 (Matt. 12:34); Eph. 4:25.
    2. I am faithfully doing my part as a member of the body of Christ, Eph. 4:16; 1 Cor. 12:14-27.
    3. I am working for the Lord, Heb. 6:10-12.
    4. I am diligent to be holy and live in grace, 2 Pet. 3:14-18 (2 Tim. 2:1-2).
    5. I am putting off old man of sin and putting on new man of Christ, 1 Pet. 2:1-2; Eph. 4:20-24.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Is Civil Disobedience Sin?
Joe R. Price

The Bible says sin is the transgression of God’s law (1 Jno. 3:4). God’s law says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Rom. 13:1). Therefore, yes. We sin against God when we violate the authority (laws) of governing authorities.

It’s relatively easy to obey when government is benign. But, what if the “governing authorities” are unjust, evil, and oppressive? Do you suppose these traits existed during the rule of Nero, Domitian, and other Roman emperors? Most assuredly. Peter wrote during Nero’s reign, “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good…Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:13-14, 17). While we have liberty in Christ from all men, we do not use that to justify wickedness, but we to submit ourselves to the constituted authority “as bondservants of Christ” (1 Pet. 2:15-16).

When competing loyalties arise between God and government, we must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). By doing so we trust God to execute His vengeance on the wicked nation while He secures the faithful ones unto eternal glory. (This is the message of the Revelation.)

What if the government commands me not to preach the gospel and charges me with “hate speech” for doing so (2 Tim. 4:1-5)? What if the government removes my ability to protect myself and my family from harm (1 Tim. 5:8)? What if the government says I must bow at the altar of secularism and atheism (Rev. 13:15-17)?

The answers? I must continue doing God’s will with faith and humility, assured that God will right every wrong (2 Thess. 1:7-9). “Repay no man evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:17-18). 


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  08/12/2019

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