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


Volume 22, Number 04

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:
Mt. Baker church
Bible Answers

Editor......Joe R. Price


In this issue:

Encourage Children to be Spiritually Minded
Steven Deaton

How can we encourage our youth to be spiritually-minded in this age of materialism and convenience?”

First, don’t spoil them. Giving them everything they want, or nearly everything, or pushing things on them they haven’t even asked for will create a materialistic mindset. Waiting on them hand and foot will make tyrants out of them.

Second, make them work. Teach them to do chores and generally help out around the house. Sometimes this means foregoing play time with friends. Make them get up and get going with the day (Proverbs 26:14).

Third, and this is an overall point, children must have the truth instilled in their hearts from a very young age (Ephesians 6:4). “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). They need to be instructed in the pitfalls of materialism (1 Timothy 6:9-10). Pointing to the wrecked lives of the “stars” in our culture will help to impress on them the emptiness of riches for the sake of riches.

Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, we need to shun materialism and not shirk our duties in this age of convenience. Setting the right example for our children will put an indelible mark on their psyche that will stay with them the rest of their lives. If we are not doing right, we cannot expect them to do right.

We have an uphill task in raising our children. We must approach it humbly, with much prayer and patience. Others who have gone through it before can help us to avoid some of the bigger pitfalls and give wise counsel (Proverbs 15:22). Let us have confidence we can do what the Lord requires of us and that our children will be good people.

- The Gospel Teacher, 9/8/16


Facts You Should Know about Christmas
Joe R. Price

Fact: The birth of Jesus is not called Christmas in the Bible. We believe in and thank God for the birth of Jesus (Isa. 7:14; 9:6; Matt. 1:21-23; Lk. 2:1-20). However, we do not celebrate it on December 25. “Christmas” is derived from late Old English, “Cristes Maesse” (“Mass of Christ”), and the first recorded mention of Cristes Maesse was in 1038 (“Christmas,” Catholic Encyclopedia). The celebration of the birth of Jesus developed over time by the will and wishes of men. It is not in the word of God.

Fact: The New Testament says nothing about celebrating the birth of Jesus as a religious festival and day of worship. It is silent on the matter. This is significant, since Scripture says, “But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed” (Gal. 1:8). We must speak as God’s word speaks, and we must not add to it (1 Pet. 4:11). The apostles of Christ did not preach a gospel that included a religious celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Fact: The New Testament church did not arrange an annual religious festival around the birth of Jesus. Concerning the early celebration of the birth of Jesus, the Catholic Encyclopedia notes, “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feastsOrigen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not  saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the ‘birthdays’ of the gods.” Additionally, “There is no evidence of the existence of a Feast of the Nativity before the 4th century” (Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, III:601).

Fact: Liberius, Bishop of Rome, declared December 25 be celebrated as Christ’s birthday in 354 AD. “There can be little doubt that the Church was anxious to distract the attention of Christians from the old heathen feast days by celebrating Christian festivals on the same days (op. cit. 607). The pagan festivals of the Roman Saturnalia (Dec. 17-24) and the Roman feast of Mithrand (Dec. 25) were co-opted by the Catholic Church to lure people away from celebrating pagan events to secure adherents’ loyalty to Christianity (i.e., to the Catholic Church).

If you celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus, please understand you are doing so because the Catholic Church arranged it and Protestantism perpetuated it. Respectfully, you are not observing it because the New Testament of Christ ordains it, commands it, and approves it, for it does none of these. The religious festival of Christmas derives its authority from men and not heaven (cf. Matt. 21:23-25). 

-Reprint (edited), The Spirit’s Sword, 12/25/2016


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

Faith that Overcomes Doubt
Joe R. Price

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 31:19-24

1. How strong is our faith in the Lord?
2. Endurance in the face of life’s conflict, temptations, and trials is a mark of a strong faith, Prov. 24:10; Gal. 6:9 (Heb. 12:3-6).
3. Doubt is effectively used by Satan to discourage Christians (2 Cor. 2:11).
4. Faith overcomes the world (1 Jno. 5:4).


  A. Aim: Diminish and Destroy Personal Faith in God, Psa. 73:13-18 (Job 3:11); Heb. 3:6, 12-14 (1 Cor. 10:13).
  B. Response: Overcome Doubts by Trusting God’s Sovereignty, Psa. 73:21-28.
  C. Aim: Question God’s Care for Us and His Power in Our Lives, Psa. 22:1-2; Mk. 4:38, 40; Matt. 14:30-32.  D. Response: Overcome Doubt in God’s Care and Power by Trusting God to Deliver Us, Psa. 22:19-21, 24; Psa. 71:1-5; Psa. 77.
  E. Aim: Doubt the Truthfulness and Effectiveness of God’s Word, Rom. 10:16 (Gen. 3:1-5). “The reason people are down on the Bible is that they are not up on the Bible.” (William Ward Ayer)
  F. Response: Overcome Doubt in the Effectiveness of God’s Word by Relying on the Power of Truth, Isa. 55:11; Heb. 4:12; Rom. 1:16; 2 Cor. 4:7.

1. Victory in Christ over Satan, sin, and death.
2. Do not doubt God – Be steadfast, trusting Him, 1 Cor. 15:56-58.
3. Live by faith and fully commit yourself to God’s care every day, 2 Tim. 1:12.


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

Apostolic Preaching in Acts
Joe R. Price

Scripture Reading:  1 Corinthians 4:9-16

1. Jesus sent apostles into the world to preach His gospel, Jno. 20:21; Mk. 16:15.

2. We must receive them to receive Jesus and the Father, Jno. 13:20 (Acts 2:42).

3. Acts records their preaching, informs our faith and confirms our devotion to the gospel.

I. THEIR PREACHING: A COMMANDMENT OBEYED, Acts 10:42; 5:20 (29); 13:5-12.

II. THE REMEDY FOR SIN; Lk. 24:47-49; Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 20:21; 13:38; 10:36-37, 42.

III. JESUS IS CHRIST, Acts 2:22, 36; 3:20; 8:5, 35; 8:12; 9:27; 11:20

IV. THE MESSIAH’S KINGDOM, Acts 8:12; 20:25; 28:23, 31 (Acts 2:33, 36, 47; 20:25, 28; Heb. 10:22-23, 28).

V. WATER BAPTISM, Acts 8:12; 10:47-48; 8:35-38; 2:38; 16:30-34; 19:3-5; 22:16.

VI. THE TRUE GOD, Acts 14:15-18; 17:22-31.

VII. LIFE AFTER DEATH, Acts 2:31-32; 17:18 (32); 23:6; 24:15 (1 Cor. 15:19).

VIII. PERSONAL ACCOUNTABILITY BEFORE GOD, Acts 10:34-35; 17:30-31; 20:21; 26:28-29).

IX. THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD, Acts 20:27, 20; 5:18-20, 40-42.

1.   Apostles faithfully preached “all the words of this life,” 5:20.
2. Like the Pentecost audience, we must “hear these words,” believe, and obey them (2:22).


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Sermon Length
Joe R. Price

The Pew Research Center just released a report billed as “the most exhaustive attempt to date to catalogue and analyze American religious sermons” (“How long is the sermon? Study ranks Christian churches,” AP). Their study analyzed “a database containing the transcribed texts of 49,719 sermons shared online by 6,431 churches and delivered between April 7 and June 1, 2019” (“The Digital Pulpit: A Nationwide Analysis of Online Sermons,” Pew Research Center, Dec. 16, 2019). They found the median length of sermons to be 37 minutes. Catholic sermons averaged 14 minutes, mainline Protestant churches were 25, evangelical Protestants were 39, and historically black Protestant churches were 54 minutes long (Ibid).

Interesting. The study reminds us the length of a sermon, per se, neither commends nor condemns its value. A reading of the sermon on the mount takes about 15 minutes (Matt. 5-7). Ezra preached half-a-day (Neh. 8:1-8). Paul preached until midnight, and “from morning till evening” (Acts 20:7; 28:23). To judge a sermon merely by its length judges by appearance, not substance (Jno. 7:24).

The fundamental goal of a sermon is to accurately and effectively communicate the word of God, and from it, to convince, rebuke, and exhort (2 Tim. 4:2). The topic, the audience, and other factors play into a sermon’s length.

We should not be slaves to an expected sermon length. This diverts our attention away from the sermon’s biblical instruction and exhortation. A preacher friend told of a brother who literally got up and stood at the door (under the clock) when his sermons went beyond noon! Clearly, our meditations should be on God’s word, not on the clock.

Preachers can abuse the privilege of the pulpit. The mind cannot absorb more than the body can endure. Preachers should remember that (and audiences should yearn to hear God’s word). The preacher’s goal is to communicate God’s word, not just to fill up time. Have something to say (from God’s word), say it, and then sit down. Leave your audience wanting more, not dreading your next sermon. 


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  12/23/2019

The Spirit's Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA
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