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


Volume 22, 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:
Mt. Baker church
Bible Answers

Editor......Joe R. Price


In this issue:

Joe R. Price

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. 3 For we ourselves were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful and hating one another.” (Titus 3:1–3, NKJV)

Reminders. We all need them. They reinforce what we already know, encouraging us to persevere, to be on guard, and to grow spiritually. Paul had just exhorted Titus to “speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). Now he teaches him to remind Christians of sound attitudes and actions of faith.

1) We must remember to be submissive (v. 1-2). Obeying civil authority reflects the submissive lifestyle of the saint, equipping us for good works that cannot be successfully condemned (cf. Titus 2:8; 1 Pet. 2:11-12). Being submissive requires “showing humility to all men.” It takes moral strength to be humble, to be peaceable and gentle instead of speaking evil of others.

2) We must remember we once lived in sin (v. 3). Our salvation in Christ is not a license to be dismissive or condescending toward those who are still captives of sin. Recalling our previous sins (and forgiveness in Christ) is an incentive to remain vigilant in faith and responsive to help others escape evil. Do not be drawn back into foolish disobedience and selfish desires.

The love of God in Christ compels us to be kind and careful to maintain good works that honor God and serve others (Titus 3:4, 8).

Remind them…”  

-Sword Tips #2053


Preacher of Performer?
Joe R. Price

The October 11, 1999 issue of Newsweek discussed the political clout of celebrities and how they use it (“Stagecraft and Statecraft,” Newsweek). It contains a statement about what defines candidates and what draws the public’s attention to them. Though discussing politics, its ring is far too familiar as it reminds us of some attitudes toward gospel preaching:

Experience has become almost a negative – as if it connotes stale thinking. In politics or business, the pitch trumps the résumé almost every time.”

The Scriptures do not present preaching the gospel as a performance. We certainly read of eloquent speakers in the Bible, but that is a far cry from performing on stage (Acts 18:24). Gospel preaching is the communication of God’s powerful word of salvation to a world lost in sin (Mk. 16:15; Rom. 1:15-16). Unfortunately, the appeal of approval can seduce preachers away from godly motives to self-centered satisfaction (Acts 8:9-11). Preachers are not immune to prideful desires (1 Jno. 2:16). The temptation to flatter people for personal profit, coupled with a talent for oratory, can be a powerful and spiritually deadly combination (1 Thess. 2:4-6). Thus, the apostle Paul repeatedly emphasized it is the message and not the messenger as the focal point of God-approved gospel preaching (1 Cor. 1:18-24; 2:1-5; 2 Cor. 2:17; 4:1-5; Gal. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:2-5).

The purpose of gospel preaching is not to entertain an audience. It is not to please men (Gal. 1:10). It is not to scratch itching ears (2 Tim. 4:3-4). It is not to promote personal agendas (Phil. 1:16). It is to proclaim a saving message to a dying world (Mk. 16:15; Matt. 28:19-20; Col. 1:28-29).

A gospel preacher is not a celebrity, and the pulpit is not his stage. He is not and should not try to be a showman. It is his job to display Jesus Christ to the world, not himself (Gal. 3:1). When the focus of preaching is upon the preacher, his stories, humor, and personal experiences, gospel preaching suffers – and so do souls.

The work of gospel preaching is to “preach the word,” to “convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:2). Inspired Scripture must be our message (2 Tim. 3:16-17). This work is accomplished by the sincere and clear proclamation of divine truth, not by comic relief or personal promotion (Phil. 1:15-18).

The Newsweek article summarized,

Celebrities, with the help of the media, tend to trivialize politics by turning it into entertainment. Their presence further subordinates substance to performance, and encourages the media to review how something ‘plays’ rather than to analyze what’s being said.”

That still sounds familiar over 20 years later. People see the point when it comes to politics; Political performance often eclipses substance. Can we see the point when it comes to gospel preaching? When preaching becomes entertainment, it trivializes the gospel and erodes an audience’s investigation of the biblical accuracy of the message (Acts 17:11-12). Calculating how a subject will “play” before deciding to preach is not gospel preaching (Gal. 1:10; 1 Thess. 2:4).

Fellow preachers, we must put Christ on display when we preach, not ourselves (1 Cor. 2:2-5; Gal. 3:1). Fellow Christians, accept no less than faithful gospel preaching that proclaims “the whole counsel of God” urgently, both “in season and out of season” (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 4:2. Do not turn your ears away from the truth (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Gospel preaching leads to salvation (1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 1:16). Celebrity performances do not.

-The Spirit’s Sword, October 10, 1999  edited (JRP)


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

Excuses, Excuses
Joe R. Price

Scripture Reading:  Ecclesiastes 5:4-7

1. Little children learn to make excuses for their conduct. Like children, we make excuses to God, Eccl. 5:4-6.
2. Bible is full of people who made excuses, Exo. 32:21-24; 1 Sam. 15:19-21; Lk. 14:17-20; Matt. 25:25.
3. Without excuse when Christ and truth are rejected, Jno. 15:22; Rom. 1:18-20.


  A. “I Didn’t Know,” Acts 17:30-31 (Acts 3:17; 1 Tim. 1:12-13; Acts 17:30, 22-23).
  B. “I Didn’t Have Time,” Eph. 5:16 (Lk. 14:18-20).
  C. “I Did Some Good Things,” Matt. 7:21-23 (Mk. 10:17-22; Acts 10:1-2; 11:14; Gal. 6:3).
  D. “I Was Better Than Others,” Gal. 6:4; Lk. 18:9 (2 Cor. 10:12-13, 18; Matt. 7:3); Jno. 21:20-21.

1. Pride and selfishness tempt us to make excuses for not doing our duty to God.
2. Failing to do our duty (good) is sin. It does not exempt from God’s righteous punishment, Jas. 4:17 (Rom. 2:5-6).
3. We know God’s will. Let us obey it instead of making excuses to ourselves, others, the Lord Jesus, and our heavenly Father.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

Is Online Giving Bible Approved?
Joe R. Price

Covid-19 restrictions have impacted local churches of Christ, causing the use of new expediencies to accomplish our God-directed activities of worship and edification. Outside worship assemblies and internet-based Bible classes are two that come to mind.

One trend that began before Covid-19 is online giving on church websites. We earnestly pray churches of Christ will not use this approach to giving. (Some already have, including at least two non-institutional churches of Christ.)

Why this objection? The practice fails to follow the Bible pattern of giving on the first day of the week. “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Cor. 16:2). Soliciting, giving, and receiving contributions anytime (online or not) rejects this binding example of when to give (1 Cor. 4:16-17; 11:1; Phil. 4:9). If we can ignore this apostolic-approved example, let us also ignore and no longer bind the apostolic-approved example of eating the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Thursday night communion anyone? (For more, see “When Are Examples Binding?” here on

Are we against convenience? Not when it conforms to Bible authority. Are we opposed to innovation? No, given the same caveat. Are we against using the internet as an aid? No, but aids are used to accomplish authorized activity (1 Cor. 6:12; 10:23). Giving is indeed authorized by Christ, and the day is specified. The pattern to follow is giving on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:2). Do we just like to be contrary? Hardly. But we intend to take Colossians 3:17 seriously: “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” This is our common faith, from which we must not depart.


Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.  10/04/2020

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