And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 24, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
6 Therefore I remind you to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. 7 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:6–7, NKJV)
Even with a miraculous spiritual gift from God, Timothy needed encouragement to courageously kindle its use. Although such miraculous gifts have passed away, we still need boldness to speak the truth and stand for righteousness.
The cancel culture with its woke ideology attempts to silence voices of reason and faith. These are the sort of people who tried to silence early Christians with threats, imprisonments, beatings, and death (Acts 4:17-21; 5:40; 8:1-4; Heb. 10:32-34). Power, love, and soundness of mind are attributes of faith that embolden sincere hearts to speak the truth in love, and to speak the words of truth and reason with all boldness (Rom. 1:16; Eph. 4:15; Phil. 1:20; Acts 26:25).
Being the salt of the earth and the light of the world requires us to speak out against sin in all its forms. Any system that oppresses minorities should be called to account for its prejudicial sins (James 2:1; Rom. 13:8, 10). Any system that legalizes killing unborn babies should be called to account for facilitating sin (Rom. 13:9). Any system that legalizes same-sex marriages and other forms of fornication should be called to account for sanctioning sin (Matt. 19:4-6; Heb. 13:4). Any system that teaches children they are not their biological gender should be called to account for such corruption (Gen. 1:27).
People form systems of government, economics, education, etc. Societies become corrupt when people choose to live in sin. God’s people must not call evil good and good evil (Isa. 5:20). We must abhor evil and cling to what is good (Rom. 12:9). That requires courageous faith as we live in this present evil age (2 Pet. 1:4-5; 1 Cor. 16:13). -Sword Tips #2010 (edited)
Joe R. Price
Many people believe in the doctrine of “illumination” as part of the Holy Spirit’s work. Christians are being given false assurances that the Holy Spirit personally guides and influences them apart from the word He revealed.
“Illumination is the Holy Spirit’s work as he enlightens the human mind with spiritual understanding in order that man might grasp the revealed truth...The Spirit still illumines the mind and heart of every serious student of God’s Word so that he may discover truths hitherto unknown to him” (Hershel Hobbs, The Baptist Faith and Message, page 21).
This doctrine says we can understand the Scriptures only as the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds with understanding. It asserts (but does not prove from Scripture) the Holy Spirit leads a person to understand the Bible in a personal and individual way separate from the Scriptures. (Jesus repeatedly said, “Have you not read?” not, “Have you not been illuminated by the Holy Spirit?”) This Calvinistic doctrine of illumination is deemed essential before you can even understand Scripture because (according to that collection of error) you are totally depraved and incapable of anything good without it.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also teach an “illumination” doctrine. As a Mormon friend put it, “It is my contention that Timothy could not have ‘rightly divided the word of truth’ without revelation through the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Alma Allred, Allred-Price Exchange on the Nature of Revelation). Mormonism teaches one must receive a personal revelation from the Holy Spirit to understand God’s written revelation.
Both of these approaches to understanding Scripture makes God responsible for either “enlightening” a person or keeping that person “in the dark.” The person’s role in learning truth is minimized and a false hope is fostered as people are urged to expect personal guidance from the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit’s work of helping people know God’s truth is accomplished by (1) The truth He revealed (John 16:13; Gal. 1:12), (2) The truth He miraculous validated (Mark 16:20; 1 Cor. 2:4-5; Heb. 2:3-4), and (3) The truth He inspired that was preached to the world (Col. 1:5-6, 23; 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Pet. 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16). He continues His work through the Scriptures today. No Scripture teaches a separate function of “illumination” by the Holy Spirit before one can understand the Bible.
Illumination comes as we are educated in God’s word. This is how we gain knowledge and understanding of His will. God expects us to educate ourselves and be led by the Spirit by hearing, receiving, studying, and learning His word (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31; 2 Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:11-12; Eph. 3:3-4; Neh. 8:8).
You can understand the Bible. God wants us to educate ourselves in His word so we will obey Him in faith and be blessed (Matt. 7:24-27; James 1:25). Do not wait for some additional “illumination” from the Holy Spirit. Follow the illumination of God’s word and you will walk in the light (Psalm 119:105; 1 John 1:5-7).
Joe R. Price
25 These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. (John 14:25–26, NKJV)
Jesus taught His apostles God’s commands. They were to obey them because they loved Jesus, as must we (John 14:15). By doing so, His abiding presence was assured, even as it is to us when we obey His word (John 14:19-24).
Jesus promised He would not abandon the apostles as orphans but would come to them by the Spirit of truth (“another Helper”) whom the Father would give them (John 14:15-18). Jesus assured His apostles that what He taught them in person would continue with them through the work of the Helper (the Holy Spirit). The Spirit would reveal “all truth” to the apostles and give them an accurate recall of all Jesus taught them (John 16:12-13). We are reading and keeping Jesus’s word when we read and obey the apostles’ teaching (John 14:23).
Jesus promised the apostles the Father would send them the Helper, which He did (Acts 1:4, 5, 8; 2:1-4). Jesus promised His apostles the Holy Spirit would empower them to know all Jesus taught them, which He did (Heb. 2:3; Gal. 1:11-12). When we read their writings we can understand what they knew of God’s plan to save us in His Son (Eph. 3:3-5). We love Jesus and have fellowship with Him by keeping what the apostles taught (John 13:20; 14:23-24). -Sword Tips #1531
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Jesus: The Fullness Dwells in Him
Scripture Reading: Colossians 1:13-20
the fullness dwells in (is permanently in) Jesus Christ, Col. 1:19.
I. THE FULLNESS OF PREEMINENCE, Col. 1:14-23.
-Preeminence in All Things, Eph. 1:20-23.
II. THE FULLNESS OF HIS NATURE.
Deity, Col. 2:9; Heb. 1:3; John 5:23.
III. THE FULLNESS OF AUTHORITY, Matt. 28:18; Isa. 9:6-7.
Power to Command Righteousness, Heb. 1:8-9.
IV. THE FULLNESS OF SALVATION, 1 John 4:14.
Fullness of Grace, John 1:14, 16-17.
V. THE FULLNESS OF BLESSINGS, Eph. 1:3.
A. Because He is the Head of His Church, Eph. 1:22-23; Matt. 16:18-19 (Acts 20:28); Acts 2:47; Eph. 1:22-23 (3); 4:13-16.
VI. THE FULLNESS OF TRUTH, John 1:14; 14:6.
Supreme Respect for and Submission to His Word, Col. 3:17; Gal. 1:6-9; 2
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Free Speech and Speaking Truth
Joe R. Price
Christians in America have been mostly free to speak the gospel without risk of obstruction and oppression for almost 250 years. Many brethren in other countries do not enjoy this privilege. But times have changed in this country. Cancel culture tries to silence any opposition. The open exchange of ideas is threatening to them. This week’s news of Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter has the woke crowd in an uproar. Time will tell whether a renewed wave of free speech splashes across cyberspace.
Christians should not expect attempts to censor and silence the gospel to disappear. Far from it (Acts 4:17-21; 5:17-20, 25-29, 40-42). Charges of disinformation, bias, and bigotry will continue to be leveled against those who quote, believe, and follow the Bible. The recent attempt in Finland to criminalize quoting Scripture that condemns homosexuality is one example (The Criminalization of Christianity in Finland). Fortunately, that effort did not succeed. No doubt, other attempts will be made.
What are Christians to do in the face of censorship and potential penalties for speaking the truth of the gospel?
(1) Do not stop speaking the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
(2) Conduct yourself honorably when others call you an evildoer (1 Pet. 2:11-12; Col. 4:6).
(3) Pray for open doors and boldness to speak the truth (Eph. 6:19-20; Acts 4:29).
(4) Do not be afraid of their threats. Instead,. sanctify the Lord as God in your heart and be ready to give a defense of your hope (1 Pet. 3:13-17; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). Act in faith, not fear (1 Cor. 16:13-14; Heb. 13:5-6). Do not be discouraged.
(5) Never be ashamed of Christ and His words (Mark 8:38).
(6) Reason from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2, 11, 17). Emotions, fears, and threats drive the mob. Our faith is in Christ and the truth of His word (Acts 19:9).
We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37). Faith has overcome the world (1 John 5:4). The victory is Christ’s. Be on His side (Rev. 17:14).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 05/04/2022
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA