And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 23, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)
In the Roman Catholic Church, an imprimatur is “a license granted by a bishop certifying the Church’s approval of a book to be published” (thefreedictionary.com). The word is more generally used to denote “a mark of approval or distinction” (merriam-webster.com). No such ecclesiastical certification was issued by churches of Christ in the New Testament.
Today’s verse affirms our conduct must imitate the apostles of Christ to the extent they also imitate (mimic) Christ. Some scoff at binding apostolic approved examples today. “Where is your apostle badge?” is sarcastically asked when an appeal is made to apostolic examples to authorize practices. (Why such cynicism toward a request for Bible authority?)
The apostles not only left us their inspired words, but they also left us examples to follow. Jesus said, “He who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me” (Jno. 13:20). Apostolic examples help us pattern our conduct after the will of Christ. By following their examples we are assured of the Lord’s favor (Phil. 3:17).
How can one possibly think the Lord is pleased by refusing to follow the apostles’ examples that imitate Christ? “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:9).
The “imprimatur” of heaven is the apostolic doctrine, taught by their words and their examples (Acts 2:42). We are morally obligated to follow their examples because they have heaven’s approval (2 Thess. 2:15; 3:4, 9).
-Sword Tips #1766, with edits
(1 Corinthians 7)
Joe R. Price
No small amount of controversy and division has resulted from mishandling 1 Corinthians 7. We can understand and benefit from this text by respecting its immediate context (Corinthian concerns about marriage) and its broader context (subject of marriage).
The Christians in Corinth had written Paul about marriage, and chapter 7 is his reply as one who had the Spirit of God and was counted trustworthy (7:40, 25).
Marriage prevents fornication (1 Cor. 7:2-7). Marriage protects the purity of man and woman. The marriage bed is undefiled (Heb. 13:4). With marriage comes the mutual responsibility to address these God-given desires; failure to do so is sin (1 Cor. 7:3-5).
To the unmarried and widows (1 Cor. 7:8-9). This group is no longer restrained by marriage vows and marriage’s lifelong obligation (Rom. 7:2-3). They have either never entered a God-approved marriage, they have put away their spouse for the cause of fornication (and free to remarry, Matt. 19:9), or their spouse has died. Paul’s preferred all had the self-control to refrain from marriage (due to the present distress he later discussed, 7:7, 26). But he understood some could not do so (7:9). Marriage is available to this group.
To the married (1 Cor. 7:10-11). Paul charged the married, “A wife is not to depart from her husband…and that the husband leave not his wife” (ASV). His charge accords with the command of Jesus: “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6). The word translated “depart” (chorizo) in 1 Corinthians 7:10 is also used in Matthew 19:6 (“separate,” NKJV). Scripturally married people are under obligation to maintain their marriage. The sin of ending one’s marriage is not to be compounded by then marrying another person. One who sunders (chorizo) his or her marriage must “remain unmarried, or else be reconciled” (7:11). While Jesus gave an exception for cause that allows remarriage in Matthew 19:9, that exception is not in view here. The one who puts away his wife for a cause other than fornication puts asunder what God joined together. He violates Matthew 19:6, 9. He cannot remarry without increasing his sin.
To the rest (1 Cor. 7:12-16). Having addressed all the married, Paul now addresses a subset of married people: Christians who are married to unbelievers. While the Lord had not dealt specifically with this consideration, the inspired apostle would now. Paul says these are legitimate marriages before the Lord, therefore, if the unbeliever is content to live with the faithful Christian, do not end the marriage (7:12-13). The Christian brings a godly influence into the home that should not be underestimated (7:14). Since the Christian has never been enslaved to his or her spouse, if the unbeliever is not content to live with a Christian, “let him depart” (7:15). Christians are not to “become slaves to men” by yielding to the will of the unbeliever instead of the will of God (7:23). While a believer is not to end his or her marriage with an unbeliever, it may be that the unbeliever departs. We are bondservants of Christ and He has called us to peace (7:15-16).
“Let him depart” does not give the believer the right to remarry. That subject was already addressed in verses 10-11 to the married, which includes believers married to unbelievers. Those who use 1 Corinthians 7:15 to approve remarriage after desertion do so in violation of Matthew 19:6, 9, and 1 Corinthians 7:10-11.
A foundational principle (7:17-24). Christians walk with God and continue to do so in every non-sinful condition or relationship in which we find ourselves when called (saved) by the gospel. Whether circumcised or not, whether slave or free, whether married or single, one can “remain with God in that state in which he was called” (7:24, NKJV). This does not give permission to remain in a sinful marriage relationship (such as the adultery of an unscriptural remarriage, Matt. 19:9). We have been bought at a price (blood of Jesus) and must not become slaves of men (7:23).
The present distress (7:25-40). The present state of turmoil persuaded Paul to advise one possessing self-control to remain single (7:8, 17, 20, 24, 26-27). Given the context of distress, Paul wanted to spare the saints the added trial and distraction marriage presents (7:28, 32, 35). One with a marriage obligation should not end it. But, given the present distress, if one was not obligated to a spouse, he should not seek a wife (7:27). Since God-approved marriages are not sinful, the option to marry was available to those free to do so (despite the distress, 7:28). The marriage bond is for life. After it is ended by death the liberty of marriage in the Lord is granted, but not commanded (7:39-40).
1 Corinthian 7 assures us of the blessedness of marriage while looking practically at its divinely stated responsibilities and constraints. Properly handling this text helps prevent sin, promote godly homes, and produce an abiding allegiance to Christ.
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Come Over and Help Us
Scripture Reading: Acts 16:6-10
Acts 16:6-10: Paul’s 2nd journey. Called by the Lord to take the
gospel to Macedonia.
I. COME OVER AND HELP PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE LOST, Acts 16:9-10. (Mk. 16:15; Acts 8:4)
II. COME OVER AND HELP THE CHURCH
By Your Faithful Worship Attendance, Heb. 10:24-25. Eph. 4:16; 1 Cor. 14:26
By Being a Trustworthy Worker, Phil. 2:19-23. [Timothy]
1. Do not hoard the gospel, withhold your presence from worship, and hide your talents from doing the Lord work to help save the lost and strengthen the church.
2. “Come over and help us.”
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Tiger Woods Rollover
Joe R. Price
Golf legend Tiger Woods was involved in a single-car accident Tuesday morning in Los Angeles. Traveling downhill, the SUV he was driving careened across the median and rolled over before coming to a stop across the highway. We are thankful Woods survived and hope he has a full recovery. Let’s take a few lessons away from the event.
1) Remember our mortality. When hearing of the crash, one man said, “You think guys like Tiger and Kobe Bryant are untouchable, but they’re not. I just hope he’s all right” (Reactions Pour In After Rollover Crash Leaves Tiger Woods Hospitalized, newsmax.com). No one is untouchable. David wrote, “Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am” (Psa. 39:4). Facing our mortality helps us put our hope in the Lord before life on earth ends (Psa. 39:7, 13).
2) Life is unpredictable. We may have control of some things, but even that is limited. Cars have braking systems, yet, like the hillside curves in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, life’s curves and momentum can overtake us in an instant. We ought to do good and say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (Jas. 4:15, 13-14, 17). To ignore God and think we rule over life is arrogant evil (Jas. 4:16).
3) The gospel saves souls. Tiger’s seatbelt worked, and the airbag deployed, saving his life. Will we use the gospel when sin’s destruction buffets us? Jesus will save us from sin and eternal death when we believe and obey His gospel (Rom. 1:16-17; 6:23; Acts 4:12; 10:34-35; Heb. 5:9).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 02/28/2021
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA