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
The plan of salvation in Christ is good news. We continue to proclaim it to the world, and God continues to save souls with it (Mk. 16:15; Rom. 1:16; 10:13-15). It is the same for everyone (Acts 10:34-35). God saves “all who call upon Him,“ for “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:12-13). How do we call on God for salvation? When does it happen? We surely need to know, for without it we remain lost in sin.
Is a sinner saved before hearing the gospel? No. Faith rests upon credible testimony and evidence; it is not blind (Jno. 20:30-31; Heb. 11:1). “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). The lost must hear God’s word to believe.
Is a sinner saved before believing the gospel? No. Jesus was clear that “you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins” (Jno. 8:24). Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).
Is a sinner saved before confessing faith in Jesus Christ? No. The word of faith we preach says, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus…you will be saved,” because “with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Rom. 10:9-10). The Ethiopian gives us an example of a confession of faith that leads to salvation (Acts 8:35-38).
Is a sinner saved before repenting of sins? No. Repentance is essential to being saved (Lk. 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30). A change of heart toward God and sin against Him comes before salvation (Acts 20:21; 2:38).
Is a sinner saved before being baptized in the name of the Lord? No. Water baptism is commanded of sinners who have heard the gospel and believe it, who have confessed their faith in Christ, and who have repented (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41; 10:48; 16:30-34; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; Col. 2:12-13; 1 Pet. 3:21). We are lost without it.
Lost souls are saved after hearing the gospel, believing it, confessing faith, repenting, and being baptized into Christ, not before. This is how sinners call on God and how God saves them. Doctrines that change God’s plan of salvation fail to save the lost and give sinners false hope (Gal. 1:6-10).
A pertinent and probing question is, “Why should we change God’s plan of salvation by rearranging its order or by leaving out anything God commands?” (Why would we ever do that? 1 Cor. 4:6; 2 Jno. 9)
Joe R. Price
Truth is under attack in this present age. Absolute truth is rejected (that’s nothing new, Jno. 18:38). Those who stand up for God’s truth are disparaged as haters, bigoted, and biased. The truth about creation, biological genders, man-woman marriage, life’s sanctity from conception, sin, and salvation in Christ are examples of the raging battle between truth and error.
Make no mistake, the battle against error is a battle for souls (2 Cor. 10:3-6). Yet the masses want you to believe it is just quarreling about matters of choice and personal preference. And, some Christians have taken the bait and accepted the false narrative that moral and doctrinal issues are just matters of personal opinion.
Christians who “contend earnestly for the faith” run the risk of being charged (by brethren) with engaging in sinful contentions (Jude 3; 2 Cor. 12:20-21). Maybe this contributes to the silence of watchmen who ought to speak out in the face of error and spiritual danger (Isa. 62:6; 56:10). We must discern when to contend for the faith and when not to be drawn into “disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth” (1 Tim. 6:4-5). We must distinguish between the “disputer of this age” and the “good soldier of Jesus Christ” who is fighting “the good fight of faith,” lest we fawn over the former and scold the later (1 Cor. 1:20; 2 Tim. 2:3; 1 Tim. 6:12).
Consider some of the traits of the disputer of this age set in contrast to one who contends earnestly for the faith. By observing these contrasts we are better equipped to “prove the spirits, whether they are of God” (1 Jno. 4:1; 1 Thess. 5:21-22).
1) The disputer of this age “does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Tim. 6:3). He spurns the “word of the cross” and relies on the sophistry of human wisdom and reasoning (1 Cor. 1:18-20; 2:1-4). By contrast, one who contends earnestly for the faith will “hold fast the pattern of sounds words” that comes from the apostles (2 Tim. 1:13).
2) The disputer of this age uses flattery and smooth speech to persuade and deceive unsuspecting hearts. The result of his oratory eloquence is division and the spiritual obstacles that hinder obedience to Christ (Rom. 16:17-19). By contrast, the contender for the faith speaks the truth of the gospel plainly for all to see and hear (2 Cor. 2:17; 4:2).
3) The disputer of this age inflames strife with foolish, untaught concerns (2 Tim. 2:23). Ensnared by not knowing (being ignorant of) the truth, he pridefully thinks himself wise (2 Tim. 2:24-25; 1 Tim. 6:4). By contrast, the Lord’s servant does not display a quarrelsome spirit but is gentle and patient, attempting to teach and save some (2 Tim. 2:24-26). Do not confuse teaching the gospel with boldness as a lack of gentleness (some made that mistake about the apostle Paul, 2 Cor. 10:1-2). Boldness exhibits the gentle strength of faith that does not yield to the flesh’s urgings to quarrel (2 Cor. 10:3; 2 Tim. 2:24).
4) The disputer of this age relies on human wisdom to persuade instead of the simplicity of the gospel (1 Cor. 1:19-25; 2 Cor. 11:3-4). Human intelligence and eloquence may be impressive but it is not an asset when it refuses to submit to “the word of the truth of the gospel” (1 Cor. 2:1, 4; Col. 2:20-23). The good soldier of Christ finds his wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of truth in Christ, not in the philosophies and intellectual exploits of men (Col. 2:2-3, 8).
Do not confuse those who contend earnestly for the faith with the disputer of this age. May we always hold up the hands of the former and turn away from the latter (Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 1:8).
The struggle against error must be engaged for the sake of truth and souls (Gal. 2:5). “Preach the word; be urgent in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure the sound doctrine; but, having itching ears, will heap to themselves teachers after their own lusts; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:2-4).
-Rewrite of original
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
If We Leave Our First Love
Scripture Reading: Revelation 2:1-7
We face times of temptation, trial, discouragement, and doubt, Acts 14:22.
I. LOSING LOVE FOR CHRIST, Rev. 2:4-5.
Christ (the Bridegroom) is Our First (supreme) Love, Eph. 5:23-24, 30-32.
II. REKINDLING OUR FIRST LOVE, Rev. 2:5.
Remember from Where You Have Fallen, Rev. 2:5; Heb. 10:32; Gal. 5:7.
III. THINGS WE CAN DO TO RETURN TO OUR FIRST LOVE.
Hear the Wake-Up Call, Rom. 13:11-14
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Religious Discrimination Continues
Joe R. Price
The U. S. Supreme Court sided with California churches this week and set aside a lower court’s ruling that rejected their challenge to “Governor Gavin Newsom’s pandemic-related ban on indoor religious services, siding with a church that defied the policy and challenged it as unconstitutional religious discrimination. The decision followed a similar action by the justices on Nov. 25 that backed Christian and Jewish houses of worship that challenged New York state restrictions in coronavirus hot spots” (reuters.com).
Meanwhile, our neighbors to the north did not fair as well. This week in Canada “a Manitoba court has ruled that a Winnipeg church will not be exempt from public health orders and is not permitted to hold drive-in worship services” (cbc.ca). The church and its leaders have been fined over $32,000 for allowing parking lot services. According to the report, the Chief Justice Glenn Joyal said the church could not provide evidence of why the drive-in service is necessary. (Ibid) Apparently, Canadian churches would have to prove their legitimacy to the community before being considered for exemption from the ban.
Like America, Canada says freedom of religion is a constitutionally protected right. Yet, its court is forcing a church to justify its worship practice to the state before they can gather at a place of worship. When Christians are forced to prove the value of their worship to the courts of unbelievers or cease gathering, then religious freedom is being ruled over by men. That is when Christians must obey God instead of men (Matt. 22:21; Acts 5:29). The past year has shown we are closer to such pressures becoming a reality in America than many had thought possible.
The Canadian justice who gave this ruling said alleged violation of the Charter of Religious Rights and Freedoms would be adjudicated later. Regardless, let us pray for brethren everywhere that our faith prevails over fear.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 12/13/2020
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA