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
Four men, having viewed the same event, will recall and highlight some of the same events and include things unique to each one’s vantage point and purpose for the recall. The same can be said for the first four books of the New Testament. Consider Luke’s opening remarks as he explains his purpose and method of writing (along with the “eyewitnesses” of Christ’s life, the apostles):
“Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed.” (Luke 1:1-4)
The first three books of the New Testament are known as the synoptic gospels. The term “synoptic” means “presenting or taking the same or common view” (M-W Dictionary). Matthew, Mark, and Luke are synoptic gospels since they contain the same general view or approach to the life of Christ. The gospel of John is no less important than these three, but it views the life of Christ from a different point of view. By these four accounts we may know for certain what we have been taught about Christ is sound and that our faith is sure (Jno. 20:30-31; 2 Pet. 1:16).
“Our Anglo-Saxon word “gospel” (Gr.euangelion) means “good news.” The gospel is God’s good news to the world (Arndt and Gingrich, 318). Each of the first four gospels records the story of Jesus, each writer using his own style, and each inspired by the Holy Spirit.
Events are recorded by one writer which may not appear in the writings of another, but it all a record of Christ’s life.
“The Gospel According to Matthew” means the story of Christ, as told by Matthew. THE GOSPEL, in the strict sense as we think of it, (Rom. 1:16, etc.) is probably the idea in Mark 1:1: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” Even though the style and emphasis of each author is different, the subject is the same—JESUS CHRIST, THE SON OF GOD. While all four writers have written to establish this fact, The Gospel of John emphasizes this truth (Jno. 20:30, 31)” (What is in the Book?, Hoyt Houchen, 1).
Matthew, Mark, and Luke present the life of Jesus Christ from the same general approach or point of view. These first three books of the New Testament harmonize to give us a good understanding of the words and works of Jesus. The gospel of John presents the life of Christ from a different point of view. John selects certain events from the life of Jesus as evidence that He the Christ, the son of God. The first four books of the New Testament contain the good news of Jesus Christ and are inspired by God for our learning and our faith.
The gospel according to Matthew was written especially to a Jewish audience to show that Jesus is the Christ. Matthew presents Jesus as the Messiah, the King of the Jews. Matthew contains much of what Jesus taught about His kingdom, which Jesus identified as His church (Matt. 16:18-19). The book of Matthew ends with the resurrected Christ sending His apostles into the whole world to teach the gospel, make disciples, and continue teaching them to observe His commands (Matt. 28:19-20).
The gospel according to Mark shows Jesus as a man of action. It gives us a series of “snapshots” of the life of Jesus. Mark was probably written to a Roman audience. It shows Jesus living a life of both service and sacrifice. Mark describes the Son of Man as a Servant on the move; constantly doing the will of the Father. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Mark also presents Jesus as the Son of God who sacrificed Himself to save sinners, “So when the centurion, who stood opposite Him, saw that He cried out like this and breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this Man was the Son of God’” (Mk. 15:39). The gospel of Mark helps us “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15).
The gospel according to Luke is an accurate and carefully arranged account of the life of Jesus (Lk. 1:1-4). Luke, the “beloved physician,” wrote to a Greek named Theophilus about the works and words of Jesus (Col. 4:14; Lk. 1:3; Acts 1:1). He includes a number of events about Jesus that are not contained in Matthew and Mark. Luke portrays Jesus as the Son of Man, showing how He lived among men and women, how He valued men and women, and what He did for us all.
The gospel according to John presents Jesus as God. John’s purpose is clearly stated in John 20:30-31: “And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” Three words are important in this passage: signs, believe, and life. John contains a selection of seven miracles (signs) of Jesus that testify and support the truth that He is the Son of God. The word “believe” is the key word of the gospel, occurring 98 times. The “life” Jesus gives sinners is abundant salvation (Jno. 10:10). “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (Jno. 17:3).
The accounts of Christ’s life establish our faith in Him. Thank God for each one.
Reprint, “Why are there Four Gospels?” The Spirit’s Sword, edited, JRP
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
What the Devil Wants
Scripture Reading: Ephesians 6:10-13
We wrestle against the devil and the forces of evil, Eph. 6:12.
I. THE DEVIL WANTS YOU, 1 Pet. 5:8.
2. Darkness where there should be light, 2 Cor. 4:3-4; Jno. 3:19-21;
3. A place to stand where no ground should be given, Eph. 4:27 (25-26);
1 Cor. 16:13; Col. 2:6-7.
4. Confusion where there should be order, 1 Cor. 14:33; Jas. 3:13-16
5. Peace where there should be war, Jer. 6:14; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Matt.
6. War where there should be peace, Jas. 4:1; Gen. 13:8; Rom. 12:16-18,
7. Senselessness to abound when people should come to their senses, 2
8. Tolerance toward sin where there should be resistance, Jas. 4:7; 1
Pet. 5:9; Jude 3.
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
The Cancel Culture
Joe R. Price
For a time last week, Target stopped selling the book “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” by Abigail Shrier in response to two Twitter complaints. The book explores the recent transgender phenomenon among teenage girls. Target reversed its action after a public outcry against limiting free speech. The ACLU wants to ban the book (so much for liberty), while “Grace Lavery, a professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, went further, tweeting: ‘I DO encourage followers to steal Abigail Shrier’s book and burn it on a pyre’” (Does the ACLU Want to Ban My Book?, Abigail Shrier, wsj.com).
Book banning. Book burning. Social media shaming. A culture war has been raging in America for a long time (that is not news). This is another skirmish in the broader battle. But it reminds us of the power of truth and the lengths to which evil will go to silence truth.
Today’s “cancel culture” is reminiscent of those who killed God’s prophets in the Old Testament, who killed Jesus Christ, and who killed His servants (Acts 7:51-60). Liars who are “stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears” always resist the truth of God that the Holy Spirit revealed and certified to be genuine (Acts 7:51; Jno. 16:8-13; Gal. 1:11-12).
Make no mistake. The cancel culture wants to silence the truth of the gospel. Many view the moral clarity of God’s word against abortion, the LGBTQ agenda, and racism as “hate speech.” They are warped and self-condemned. Nevertheless, we must be aware (and beware) of these attempts to cancel truth from the public square. There are people whose aim is to silence the message of God’s truth. We must continue “preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence” (Acts 28:31).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 11/22/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA