And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 22, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies and before those who
seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, My fierce anger,’ says the
Lord; ‘And I
will send the sword after them until I have consumed them. 38 I will
set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from there the king and the
princes,’ says the Lord.
39 ‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back
the captives of Elam,’ says the
Jeremiah pronounced God’s judgment against Elam, one of several denunciations from God’s prophet of the idolatrous, oppressive nations surrounding Israel (Jer. 46-51). God’s judgment was executed against Elam as the Medes and Persians enveloped it. But, God had additional plans for the region of the lower Tigris River.
In the “latter days,” God would grant deliverance to “the captives of Elam,” but not from the conquerors who consumed their territory. God would bring them salvation from the tyranny of sin through Christ Jesus. Notably, Elamites were present on Pentecost when the apostles preached the good news of salvation in Jesus, who is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:9-11, 34-36). The “latter days” of Jeremiah’s prophecy had begun, and the gospel was freeing souls from sin, including its “captives of Elam” (Acts 2:16-17, 21, 37-41). God established His throne in Elam, not with an earthly rule of Jesus on a throne in Jerusalem, but by the gospel. Christ, the king, reigns in righteousness over His kingdom in people’s hearts (Lk. 17:20-21; Heb. 1:8).
The gospel of Christ will free you from sin’s bondage, too (Rom. 1:16-17). Are you ready to be truly free (Jno. 8:31-32, 36)? If so, believe and obey Jesus like the Elamites on Pentecost.
The book of Hebrews is a warning against apostasy. The Jewish Christians who originally received this epistle were tempted to abandon their new faith in Christ to return to following the Law of Moses. The writer undertakes a series of brilliant arguments to turn them away from this disastrous path.
If these Christians returned to the Law of Moses, they would join their fathers in missing out on the rest promised by God (Heb. 3:12-4:11). They must heed the lessons recorded in the Old Testament Scriptures. The writer specifically appeals to Genesis 2:2 and Psalm 95:7-11 in making his argument, then says, “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
The word of God is living. The Bible is not a collection of outdated religious writings. It is a timeless message that speaks to all people everywhere. The Scriptures are alive because they have been breathed out by God (2 Tim. 3:16). The Bible gives us eternal life and equips us to accomplish God’s will because it “lives and abides forever” (1 Pet. 1:23). Christians are always finding something useful in their daily Bible reading because they are partaking of the words of life (Phil.2:16).
The word of God is powerful. God’s word does not lie dormant or inert, but carries within itself the mighty power of its Author. When God speaks, things happen. “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, and do not return there, but water the earth, and make it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Is. 55:10-11). Just as God’s spoken word contained the power to bring the physical universe into existence, His written word has the power to save souls from sin (Rom. 1:16). The word of God “effectively works in you who believe” (1 Thess. 2:13). The truths set forth in Scripture are established and eternal. “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven” (Ps. 119:89). The promises found in the Bible are eternal and will be kept. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matt. 24:35). The Scriptures constitute the perfect guide for our daily lives, keeping us away from the paths of sin and apostasy.
The word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword. The writer presents a physical object to impress us with the power and effectiveness of God’s word – a sword (Eph. 6:17; Rev. 2:16; 19:15, 21). In the ancient world, a double-edged sword was the sharpest and most lethal weapon that could be used.
With His word, God is able to cut like a surgeon’s scalpel, slicing through the joints and marrow and penetrating man’s heart. God’s word always cuts and convicts man of his sins. The reaction depends on the heart that has been cut. The preaching of the gospel caused the Jews of Pentecost to be “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). Three thousand of them were saved that day. The same gospel caused Stephen’s audience to be “cut to the heart,” but they turned on him in anger and killed him (Acts 7:54-60).
We can hide our thoughts and plans from others, but God’s word exposes the sin in our life. Many people hate the Bible because it condemns their sin and promises God’s wrath and punishment. King Jehoiakim cut the scroll of God’s word with a penknife as it was being read to him and threw it in the fire (Jer. 36:22-23). Many people today like to cut out portions of the Bible they find disagreeable. However, man’s penknife is no match for God’s two-edged sword! God’s word is not confined to ink and paper. It is living, active, eternal truth.
These Hebrew Christians were about to condemn their souls in departing from the gospel to return to the Law of Moses. The writer did not make emotional appeals, threats, or promises. He simply reminded them of the truths contained in their Scriptures. He used the greatest weapon at his disposal – the living, powerful, cutting word of God.
God’s word will do the same thing for us today. It has the power to pull down the strongholds of error and every argument that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and His eternal truth (2 Cor. 10:4-5). It will light our paths as we navigate through this world of darkness and error (Ps. 119:105), leading us to our eternal home in Heaven. (Knollwood Reminder, 10/11/20)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
God With Us
Scripture Reading: John 5:18-23
Prophetic announcement of God visiting humans is fulfilled in Jesus, Matt.
1:23 (Isa. 7:14); Jno. 1:1-3, 14.
I. JESUS KNEW PEOPLE’S HEARTS, Jno. 2:23-25 (Matt. 12:25; 9:4).
A. An Attribute of God (Deity), Psa. 94:11; Prov. 15:11; Jer. 20:12; Acts 15:8.
Jesus Knows Our Hearts, Heb. 4:13.
II. JESUS FORGAVE SINS, Mk. 2:5-12.
“Who Can Forgive Sins But God Alone?” 2:7, 10-12.
III. JESUS ACCEPTED WORSHIP (Matt. 4:10).
His Healing Power Produced Worship, Matt. 8:2; Jno. 9:35-38.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Joe R. Price
The Christian Post reported Thursday that “China and the Vatican have renewed a controversial agreement on the appointment of bishops, drawing criticism from rights groups who warn the deal will further hamper religious freedom in the communist country” (“Controversial Vatican-China deal renewed: ‘The Holy See decided to dance with the wolf,’” Leah MarieAnn Klett, christianpost.com). The article said, “The deal, the details of which have never been published, permits the Chinese government to propose names for new bishops to the Vatican through its state-approved Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, with the pope having veto power on the decision. In turn, the Vatican recognizes the legitimacy of bishops previously appointed by the Chinese government and excommunicated by the church.” (Ibid)
One of Catholicism’s fatal flaws has always been the assimilation of local norms and then claiming it is advancing the gospel. Now it seems, they are willing to assimilate communist China’s approved bishop to the Vatican to maintain the Church’s standing in China (which has an estimated 10-12 million Catholics).
The Catholic Church is a kingdom of men like all the others. It is not the kingdom of God. If it were, it would not defer to any government’s dictates concerning its bishops. God set those terms, not men (Acts 20:28; 14:23). But then, Catholicism corrupted the church’s organization long ago (cf. Acts 20:29-30; 1 Tim. 4:1-3).
May Catholics see Rome’s compromising corruption of the gospel and accept the Bible truth that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (Jno. 18:36; Col. 1:13-14).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 10/25/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA