And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 22, Number
In this issue:
We hear the term “new normal” a lot. It seems during this pandemic and quarantine that there’s an element of people who want us to adjust to a new way of doing things. Thus, people talk about a “new normal” and ways in which we live our daily lives in a society that’s so concerned about catching the coronavirus.
I enjoy learning about history, and what fascinates me is when I see or hear folks who think they invented something “new,” or think that perhaps they are the first ones to “experience” a particular thing. Nothing could be further from the truth! Almost everything we see and hear is just variations on an older theme. “There is no new thing under the sun” (Ecc. 1:9).
As humans, our historic references begin at birth. For this reason, without consulting history books or speaking to those who are much older than us, we often think that our experiences are “new” or unique. They aren’t! For example, we’re not the first generation to experience a pandemic! There have been many pandemics in man’s history. In America’s recent history, we suffered a major pandemic when the Spanish Flu hit between 1918 and 1920. Just a handful of people are alive who lived through this (or their parents), and so it’s doubtful we know someone to talk to about their experiences. We must rely on those who wrote down their memories for us.
Besides this, in keeping with the thought and theme of Ecclesiastes 1:9, were you aware of the fact that ancient cultures had many of the same things we do? For example, ancient Egypt had coin-operated machines, dentists, and surgeons? In addition, some living in Jerusalem in Solomon’s day had the luxury of hot and cold running water! When we think about American history, did you know George Washington’s mother opposed him and his stand with the “colonies” during the Revolutionary War? It’s true! In the 20th century, Irving Berlin wrote an “anti-war song” in 1914 (“Stay Down Here Where You Belong”)! Take note of the date. This “antiwar song” had reference to the conflict of World War I — not the Vietnam War; the period most commonly associated with antiwar songs, protests, and the like! Again, if we ever get to thinking that we’re experiencing something “new” that no one else has, or that we’re somehow living through events never before experienced by men, we need to think again! We’re truly repeating history, or as someone said, our lives are a “reflection” of past events.
This article isn’t intended to be a history lesson. Instead, the points made here emphasize the fact that things haven’t changed that much! Seeing that this is the case, what about man’s soul? What about his spiritual condition before God? Since sin is a perennial problem among us (Rom. 3:23), then wouldn’t it also make sense that the “cure” used in the past for sin would be the same effective “cure” for sin today? Of course, it would! The New Testament declares that Jesus Christ died for our sins (Matt. 20:28, 26:28; I Tim. 1:15), and so if we wish to be cleansed from sin, we’ll need to submit to the will of Christ, the gospel, for salvation (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:16; etc.).
Sadly, we hear folks today who say that we need to “change” the message for a “changing” time. We sometimes hear people tell us that the word of the cross doesn’t have the “effect” that it once did. Why is this? Is it because people are no longer in sin? No (Rom. 3:23)! Is it because people have developed a better way to be saved than through Christ? Of course, not (Jn. 14:6)! Should the message change because people won’t listen to the gospel message? God forbid! The Holy Spirit condemns those who try to change the message by adding to or taking from what was written (Gal. 1:8-9; Rev. 22:18-19).
No friends, things have not changed so much that sin is no longer an issue! Sin is very much a part of our existence on earth. Seeing that this is the case, we need to recognize that God’s antidote, the gospel, is still what we need. We need the same message preached today as was preached on Pentecost, when folks convicted of sin were told, “repent and be baptized … for the remission of sin” (Acts 2:38). We need the same message preached today as was preached on the road to Gaza, when the eunuch was baptized for the remission of sins after hearing Jesus preached (Acts 8:35-39).
We need to hear and obey the message that never grows old! We need to listen and learn how to walk the “strait … and narrow way that leads to life” (Matt. 7:13-14). We need to be taught to love Christ and His word (Jn. 14:15). We need to remember to love our enemies (Matt. 5:44), to love others (Lk. 10:27; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8), and to love our families (Eph. 5:23-33; Titus 2:3-5). We need to be active in teaching others the truth (II Tim. 2:2), and be active in living a holy life (I Pet. 1:15-16).
If you’ve read this far, you know that the lesson in this article is really not all that different from other lessons you have heard before. THAT’S THE POINT! We know that men haven’t changed; therefore, the message mustn’t change! We know that men are in sin; therefore, they need the same “remedy” for sin that folks did years ago. Regardless of outward circumstances, and as hard as times may be to us, we must continue to spread the message that never grows old! Let’s not forget that this is the most important thing! Read Hebrews 11 sometime and see the hardships faced by those in the past. Like the Hebrews, we have not resisted “unto blood” yet (Heb. 12:4), and when this happens, we still will not be facing anything that other people haven’t already faced and overcome (Ecc. 1:9)! As God’s children, let’s move forward in faith (Rom. 1:17; I Jn. 5:4)! Let’s move forward in confidence (Prov. 28:1; Acts 4:29; Eph. 3:12)! Let’s move forward and use our lives to spread God’s message (Rom. 12:1-2)!
-The Old Paths, 29:12, May 17, 2020
The following quotation is from a letter written by a Christian who lived sometime in the second or third centuries:
“For Christians are not distinguished from the rest of mankind either in locality or in speech or in customs. For they dwell not somewhere in cities of their own, neither do they use some different language, nor practice an extraordinary kind of life. Nor again do they possess any invention discovered by any intelligence or study of ingenious men, nor are they masters of any human dogma as some are. But while they dwell in cities of Greeks and barbarians as the lot of each is cast, and follow native customs in dress and food and the other arrangements of life, yet the constitution of their own citizenship, which they set forth, is marvelous, and confessedly contradicts expectation. They dwell in their own countries, but only as sojourners; they bear their share in all things as citizens, and they endure all hardships as strangers. Every foreign country is a fatherland to them, and every fatherland is foreign. They marry like all other men and beget children; but they do not cast away their offspring. They have their meals in common, but not their wives. They find themselves in the flesh, and yet live not after the flesh. Their existence is on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They obey the established laws, and they surpass the laws in their own lives. They love all men, and they are persecuted by all. They are ignored, and yet they are condemned. They are put to death, and yet they are endued with life. They are in begarry, and yet they make many rich. They are in want of all things, and yet they abound in all things. They are dishonored, and yet they are glorified in their dishonor. They are evil spoken of, and yet they are vindicated. They are reviled, and they bless; they are insulted, and they respect. Doing good they are punished as evil-doers; being punished they rejoice, as if they were thereby quickened to life. War is waged against them as aliens by the Jews, and persecution is carried on against them by the Greeks, and yet those that hate them cannot tell the reason for their hostility.”
This quotation is taken from “The Epistle to Diognetus,” paragraph 5. It is accepted as authentic, and its author is classified as a Christian. From it it is obvious that it was not easy to be a Christian in his day. Count your blessings, and daily ask yourself if you are really being a Christian.
-Park Forest Proclaimer, pp.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
"Am I Still in Hell?"
On March 30, the first question Will Carroll asked when he awoke from a two-week coronavirus coma was, “Am I still in hell?” The drummer for the thrash metal band Death Angel believes he went to hell and met Satan while he was comatose. (“Death Angel drummer says he ‘met Satan’ in coronavirus coma,” foxnews.com). He offered up a graphic description of his “encounter.” The report says Carroll’s “time in hell has set his feet on a street called straight: He’s stopped hard alcohol and bong rips, and will only self-medicate with the occasional hard cider and marijuana edible.” (Ibid). Carroll said, “I’m still going to listen to satanic metal, and I still love Deicide and bands like that,” Carroll said. “As far as for my personal life and my experience of what I went through, I don’t think Satan’s quite as cool as I used to” (San Francisco Chronicle Datebook).
We do not believe Carroll went to hell. Neither do we think he had an actual encounter with “a female devil” as he described it. However, his statement reveals an acknowledgment he knows how he lives on earth will impact going to hell. Even the heathen know alcohol and drugs put you on a path headed to hell. (Yet, some Christians think they can moderate the intact of alcohol and other drugs without physical or spiritual consequences, 1 Pet. 4:1-3; Prov. 20:1.)
Hell is real. It is hot, painful, dark, and eternal (Mk. 9:43-48; Matt. 25:30, 41, 46). Those who deny the plain truth about hell treasure up for themselves wrath in the day of God’s righteous judgment (Rom. 2:5-6).
Fear of hell’s eternal punishment is a motivator to repent, turn to God, and put away sin (Matt. 10:28; Rom. 2:5-6, 8-9; Heb. 10:31). But, do not expect a preemptive trip to hell to convince you. God has told us about hell in His word. His word is enough to persuade believers (Lk. 16:29-31).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/21/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA