sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
Volume 23, Number
church of Christ
1860 Mt. Baker HWY
P.O. Box 30821
Bellingham, WA 98228
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Mt. Baker church
Editor......Joe R. Price
In this issue:
Kingdom Righteousness (1)Noteworthy News:
The Search for Truth
Kingdom Righteousness (1)
Joe R. Price
Christians are citizens of the kingdom of God’s Son (Col. 1:13). So, our
righteousness must “exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees”
(Matt. 5:20). Christ taught this righteousness on a Galilean mountain (Matt.
5-7). Please meditate on His “instruction in righteousness” with me (2 Tim.
challenges us to inspect our attitudes toward others and the words they
prompt us to use (Matt. 12:33-37). Brotherly kindness and love (attributes
Christians add to our faith, 2 Peter 1:5, 7) go far beyond not murdering a
person. The apostle John assures us that “whosoever hates his brother is a
murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1
John 3:15). Jesus expects citizens of the kingdom to follow a path that
leads from hate to harmony. Unjustified anger, contemptuous words, and
hateful conduct bring a judgment that endangers souls. So, we must be
careful how we speak to others (and speak of them to others). We must remove
animosity, contempt, bitterness, malicious speech from our hearts and mouths
(Eph. 4:31). Kindness must prevail to be a faithful follower of Jesus (Eph.
4:32). Remember, “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in
it breaks the spirit” (Prov. 15:4). Furthermore, the perverse tongue
condemns the soul.
ability to reconcile a problem begins with admitting our part in
contributing to the problem. Without taking personal responsibility we
cannot correct the wrong. That is what Jesus teaches here. Your “brother has
something against you” – you have done something that caused a dispute.
Accept your responsibility for the hostility between you and your brother
(or parent, sibling, neighbor, etc.). Take the initiative to repent and
reconcile. An unwillingness to correct our faults against another person
prevents acceptable worship. We cannot mistreat others and expect God to
accept our worship. Furthermore, eternal judgment awaits such unloving,
challenges us to get to the heart of the matter when identifying and turning
away from sin. Of course, adultery remains a sin as it was under the Law of
Moses (Exod. 20:14; Rom. 13:9). Even the first covenant called on Israel to
love the Lord God with all their heart (Deut. 6:5). Jesus drills down to the
root of this (and every) sin; the heart’s desires and impulses (1 John
2:15-17). Lustful looks at a woman are adultery in the heart, and so is the
act. The heart is the source of sin. Sin lurks in the recesses of the
heart’s desires, emotions, and motives (Gen. 4:7; Matt. 15:19-20). God’s
word has the power to pierce the heart and reach its thoughts and intents
(Heb. 4:12). By doing so, it convicts us of our sins and calls us to repent
(change our heart, Acts 2:37-38; 26:20). Jesus vividly described the
severity of repentance: “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out
and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your
members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your
right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is
more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole
body to be cast into hell (Matt. 5:29–30).” Jesus will forgive our sins when
we repent (Acts 17:30; Matt. 11:28-30). And drastic steps are necessary to
repent to avoid sin’s eternal punishment.
created, arranged, and sanctified marriage for man and woman (Gen. 2:21-25).
Over time, people failed to honor marriage by introducing all kinds of
corruption that defiled this holy union, including polygamy (Gen. 4:19),
homosexuality (Gen. 19:5), adultery (2 Sam. 11:2-4), and divorce (Mal.
2:13-16). God restrained man’s cheapened disregard for marriage through the
Law of Moses, placing restrictions on plural wives, divorce, and remarriage
(Exod. 21:10; Deut. 21:15-17; 24:1-4). Yet, in the days of Christ, marriage
continued to be minimized as a relationship easily discarded and replaced
with a legal document (Matt. 5:31; 19:7-8). Jesus applied His authority over
marriage, affirming its sanctity and exclusivity. The person who divorces
his (or her) spouse for “any reason except sexual immorality (fornication)
bears responsibility for the sin of separating what God joined, and the
future sin remarriage produces (Matt. 5:32; 19:6). Only the reason of sexual
immorality (fornication) suffices to put away a spouse without causing her
to commit adultery through remarriage (Matt. 5:32). And the person who
marries one who has been divorced (put away) also commits adultery (Matt.
19:9). Jesus calls on everyone to honor marriage as God gave it instead of
dishonoring it and losing our souls (Heb. 13:4).
Citizens of the kingdom of heaven are people of integrity. They keep their
Jews had invented ingenious ways to circumvent honesty while still claiming
to be honest. They thought they could swear by the temple and free
themselves from their pledge. But, they said an oath made by the temple’s
gold obliged one to keep it (Matt. 23:16). Jesus said they were blind fools
for making such false oaths (Matt. 26:17, 18-22). It is intriguing and
pertinent that today’s passage (that emphasizes the integrity of keeping
one’s word) immediately follows Christ’s declaration of the sanctity of
marriage (Matt. 5:31-32). The marriage vow is for life (“until death we do
part”), and yet too many break their vow and think they are freed from their
obligation made to and before God (Matt. 19:6; Rom. 7:2-3). The Christian’s
word is trustworthy and dependable in all matters. Playing word games to
evade the truth and our moral responsibility makes us no different from the
scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 5:20). Let your word be your bond. People
notice, and so does the Lord (Matt. 5:13-16; 1 Pet. 2:12; Ps. 15:4).
(To be continued)
17 Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I
did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to
you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by
no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever
therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches
men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever
does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of
heaven. 20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds
the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means
enter the kingdom of heaven. -Jesus
(Matthew 5:17–20, NKJV)
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
The Search for Truth
Joe R. Price
Pilate’s retort, “What is truth?” dripped with sarcasm (John 18:38). Now as
then, people dishonestly manipulate information into whatever “truth” they
want to adopt, advocate, and advance. We are not immune to this temptation.
Consider these examples in the news: Election outcomes, Covid-19,
Afghanistan, and General Milley. All these prompt strong feelings and
opinions. The same is true of Bible topics: Baptism for salvation, divorce
and remarriage, immodest clothing, social drinking, etc. God’s word is
truth, so it will guide Christians in assessing truth and fiction (John
17:17). Consider a few ways to “buy the truth” (Prov. 23:23).
Don’t rush to judgment (Prov. 18:13). Partial information is not the
proper basis for final decisions. Bias toward a person or topic leads to
over-generalizations and unwarranted conclusions. Having a pat answer to
every issue may belie a prejudiced heart unwilling to consider any
alternative. An attitude that says, “I’ve made up my mind, don’t confuse me
with the facts,” causes disruption, distrust, and division instead of
knowledge, respect, and peace (Heb. 12:14).
Get all sides of the story. “The first one to plead his cause seems
right, until his neighbor comes and examines him” (Prov. 18:17). The Bereans
listened to Paul’s preaching, then confirmed it by searching the Scriptures
for accuracy (Acts 17:11). When we refuse to hear and investigate we are
bound to make serious mistakes in judgment.
Reject hearsay (Prov. 16:28). Primary sources are essential for accuracy
in journalism (and for every seeker of truth). Righteous judgment rejects
appearances and demands objectivity from known facts (John 7:24). Private
agendas hide key details that pervert justice while advancing a cause. Truth
is open to all (2 Cor. 7:2).
truth-seeker. It requires honesty, humility, and fairness. The result of
acquiring the truth is “wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Prov.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated.
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