And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 22, Number
In this issue:
Jarrod M. Jacobs
The title of this study is composed of three small words. Yet, these words are significant in meaning and application. When we read II John 9, we learn that if someone (“whosoever”) transgresses, he is not living in the doctrine of Christ, and does not have God! In contrast, living (“abiding”) in the doctrine means he “hath the Father and the Son.”
To not have God means this person is not in fellowship with God. The relationship that might be enjoyed with God has been destroyed. Thus, abiding in the “doctrine of Christ” is a serious commitment, and there are real consequences for disobedience. Too, we must remember our study from II John 8. This statement in verse nine is not made to people living outside of the body of Christ. Those who are not Christians don’t have God anyway (Isa. 59:1-2; I Pet. 3:12)! The warning of verse nine is to Christians, just as is verse eight. Yes, Christians can move from “having God” to “not having God” if they ever decide to not abide or live in His doctrine. Thus, we learn once more that salvation is not completed in a moment in time, but salvation is a lifestyle. It is the result of daily decisions. We must “walk in the light as He is in the light” (I Jn. 1:7)! We must do this daily, and in so doing, we “have God.”
To not have God means our soul is in jeopardy of being lost in Hell. It is not a game or a joke to not have God. It is not a minor infraction or a mere “slip-up.” We must stop making a mockery of God and sin and realize that sin is why Christ came to this earth in the first place (Gen. 3:15; Isa. 53; Jn. 18:37; Jn. 3:16; etc.)! Sin is compared to a disease (Isa. 1:5-6), and we need the Great Physician to heal us!
Therefore, let us examine our lives. First, if you are not a Christian, then you are not in fellowship with God in the first place. Believe on Christ (Jn. 8:24), repent of your sin (Acts 17:30), confess Christ (Rom. 10:10) and be baptized (I Pet. 3:21)! Then, continue to “walk in the light” (I Jn. 1:7). Abide or live in His word (II Jn. 9), and then enjoy the fellowship of God! If you have walked away, then you do not have God (II Jn. 9), but thankfully, you can repent and return to Him (Acts 8:22; I Jn. 1:9). Examine yourself (II Cor. 13:5). Are you in fellowship with God? If not, then let’s talk and get things corrected today while we have the opportunity (II Cor. 6:2)!
Joe R. Price
A T-shirt slogan caught my attention recently. It said, “I can do all things through a verse taken out of context.” Amen! Keeping verses of Scripture in context is crucial to understanding their meaning and then properly applying them (Jno. 8:31-32; Eph. 3:3-4).
What is Meant by Context?
Synonyms for the word “context” include perspective, background, framework, circumstance, and environment.
The value of context is straightforward, whether we are reading a newspaper article, a law, or the Bible. “The meaning must be gathered from the context. Every word you read must be understood in the light of the words that come before and after it. Many passages will not be understood at all, or understood incorrectly, without the help afforded by the context” (“Hermeneutics: The Eight Rules of Biblical Interpretation,” apologeticsindex.org).
Brother Bobby Witherington elaborated,
“Context” is defined as (1) “the parts directly before and after a word or sentence that influences its meaning . . .” (2) “... the immediate environment, attendant circumstances or conditions; background” (World Book Dictionary). Hence, generally speaking, “context” denotes the “immediate environment” in which a Scripture appears — especially, the verses which precede or follow a particular verse. Moreover, “context” may also include the paragraph, or chapter, or the overall subject matter of the book in which a Scripture appears. Also, the broader context may very well include the particular covenant of which a reference is a part, and on occasion may even be affected by the prevailing culture at the time a given Scripture was penned. In other words, “context” may include the “immediate environment” (the Scriptures before and after), or it may include a much broader background” (“Looking at the Context,” Truth Magazine, August 28, 2012).
Brother Witherington went on to share examples that show the necessity of respecting context:
1. Mark 10:9: “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Based on this Scripture, a mother of Siamese twins reportedly refused to allow surgery to separate the children, and she justified her refusal by citing this passage! However, in context, the Lord was referring to “a man” whom God has “joined to his wife” — this is the union which Jesus said “let not man separate.” This verse, taken out of context, could be misused so as to prohibit surgery to separate Siamese twins, or even splitting wood with which to build a fire!
2. Matthew 19:14: “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” A large number of people cite this reference when they are called upon to justify infant baptism. However, “baptism,” either for infants or adults, is not mentioned even once in this entire chapter. What is mentioned is the fact that some brought “little children” to Jesus that he might “put His hands on them and pray.” In this case, neither the text nor the context says a word about infant baptism.
3. 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel . . .” Baptist preachers (and others) often cite this verse in order to prove that baptism is not a requirement for salvation. However, the purpose of baptism is not the object being considered in the “immediate environment” (context) of this passage. Contextually speaking, there were “contentions” among some at Corinth, some saying “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Paul knew that the validity of baptism is not determined by who does the baptizing, and he did not want to be a party to their partyism. Moreover, Paul’s principle mission was “to preach the gospel” — it was not to baptize. He had baptized “Crispus and Gaius” and “the household of Stephanas,” but he was thankful that he had personally baptized only a few at Corinth, “lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name.” However, the fact remains that all who obeyed the gospel at Corinth had heard, believed, and were baptized (Acts 18:8)! Moreover, even in the context of 1 Corinthians 1:17 Paul revealed that in order for one to be “of Christ” (a Christian!) two things had to occur: (1) Christ had to be crucified for that person, and (2) that person had to be baptized in “the name” of Christ. Hence, the seven verses before 1 Corinthians 1:17 gives the context for that verse, and they also necessarily infer that one must be baptized!” (Ibid)
Knowing the context of Scriptures is crucial to “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Otherwise, we will read into the text what is not there or take from it what is – to the detriment of our souls (2 Pet. 3:16-17).
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
"What's So Great About Love?"
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 13:8-13
qualities of love, Matt. 22:40; Gal. 5:22; 1 Cor. 12:31; 1 Cor. 13:8.
I. LOVE THINKS WHAT MUST BE THOUGHT.
refusing to think (keep account of) evil, 1 Cor. 13:5.
II. Love learns what must be learned.
is Humble, Willing, and Eager to Learn and Grow in Love for God and Others,
III. Love says what must be said.
Speaks the Truth of God, Eph. 4:15.
IV. Love does what must be done.
Acts Like God:
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Politicians and the Bible
Joe R. Price
It has not been uncommon throughout American history for political leaders to use biblical quotations to advance themselves and their agendas. (President Trump recently took a photo holding a Bible in front of a burned church building to do just that.) When they do, we expect them to use God’s word in context just like anyone else (see “Context, Context, Context” in this bulletin).
In her acceptance speech for the Democrat Party Vice-Presidential nomination this week, Kamala Harris quoted and applied 2 Corinthians 5:7 to herself. She said, “I accept your nomination for Vice President of the United States of America. I do so, committed to the values she (her mother, JRP) taught me. To the Word that teaches me to walk by faith, and not by sight” (Harris, “Transcript: Kamala Harris’ DNC speech,” cnn.com). We do hope she knows that faith comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10:17).
The context of the verse is clear. To walk by faith means to follow God’s word, which pleases Him (v. 9) by doing His will (v. 8, 12). We can measure Harris’ claim to walk by faith by comparing her political policies with the faith (which is the gospel, Gal. 1:11, 23). Please note these two policies:
Kamala Harris supports abortion. The DNC Platform says, “Democrats believe every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion” (2020 Democratic Party Platform, p. 42). She would restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood (the nation’s largest abortion provider) (Ibid, 32). The faith says we owe everyone love (Rom. 13:8). Killing unborn children is not love; it is murder (Rom. 13:9).
Kamala Harris supports LGBTQ as a civil rights issue (Ibid, 42). The faith says LGBTQ conduct is sin (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
This information is given for your consideration and decision. Harris is not walking by faith, despite her claim. We hope she knows the context of the verse she used also says Christ will judge whether she walks by faith or sight (2 Cor. 5:10). That goes for us, too.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/24/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA