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
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29, NKJV)
Jesus is the good shepherd who gave His life for His sheep (Jn. 10:11). He knows His sheep and is known by them (Jn. 10:14). Jesus used the language of Ezekiel to explain His relation to His followers: “‘You are My flock, the flock of My pasture; you are men, and I am your God,’ says the Lord God” (Ezek. 34:31).
Today’s passage addresses the security of believers. The Shepherd has the power to protect His sheep; that is beyond question: (1) Jesus speaks to His sheep, 10:27; (2) Jesus knows His sheep, 10:27; (3) Jesus gives them eternal life, 10:28; (4) His sheep are secure in His hand and in the Father’s hand, 10:28, 29. At the same time, His sheep make choices that contribute to their security in Christ: (1) His sheep hear His voice, 10:27; (2) His sheep follow Him, 10:27. Sheep are exposed to danger when they wander from the shepherd’s care. The same is true of Christians who stray from hearing and following Christ’s word (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Christians can fall away from Christ and be lost (Gal. 5:4; 1 Cor. 10:12). Falling away from Christ does not happen because Christ cannot save His sheep. It occurs when sheep refuse to hear and follow the Shepherd (1 Cor. 5:1-5). Hear and follow the voice of Jesus and be secure in Him. -Sword Tips #2051
1 Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! 2 Sing out the honor of His name; Make His praise glorious. 3 Say to God, “How awesome are Your works! Through the greatness of Your power Your enemies shall submit themselves to You. (Psalm 66:1-3, NKJV)
Singing is a “joyful shout” to God (James 5:13). All the earth has reason to raise its voice in honor and praise of God’s mighty name. Singing is not whispering, humming, or whistling. It is a full-hearted expression of joyful praise to God. The Scriptures teach Christians to speak to one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (Eph. 5:19). While doing so, we should not forget we are speaking to God with our songs of praise and worship (Ps. 66:3). (1) Worshipful singing is not entertainment. Christ’s New Testament says nothing of choirs performing for an audience. Instead, everyone sings to one another (Eph. 5:19). (2) Worshipful singing is with the spirit and understanding (1 Cor. 14:15). It is not timid and half-hearted. We sing praises to God’s greatness, His righteousness, mercy, love, truth, and justice with fully engaged minds. “For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding” (Ps. 47:7). (3) Worshipful singing in the assembly of the saints is a moment of teaching and admonition (Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12). Christians blend their hearts of faith in united songs of praise that instruct, strengthen, and warn us to follow the Lord faithfully. Even as the earth is taught to sing to the Lord, His people lead the way in joyful praise. -Sword Tips #2353
This question was asked via email this week. It is a good Bible question that deserves a Bible answer, free of prejudice and the wisdom of men. “What does the Scripture say?” (Rom. 4:3)
One could just as easily ask, “Is one lost if he is not a member of the church that belongs to Christ?” as to ask, “Must one be a member of the church of Christ to be saved?” When we use “church of Christ” biblically we are not using it in any Protestant denominational sense. There are no denominations in the New Testament. Therefore, we reject them today as unnecessary and without Christ’s approval (Matt. 28:18-20; Col. 3:17; Gal. 1:8-10). You are mistaken if you think of the church of Christ as a denomination. If you do, then you are likely to misunderstand the Bible answer given here.
The expression “church of Christ” means what it meant in the New Testament, namely, “the church that belongs to Christ.” It is a statement of possession or ownership, reflecting the relation that exists between Christ and the church. Jesus built the church; it is His (Matt. 16:18). He purchased His church with His blood (Acts 20:28). He is the Head of His church and it is His body (Eph. 1:22-23). There is one body that belongs to Christ, and He is the Savior of the body, His church (Eph. 4:4; 5:23).
When a sinner hears, believes, and obeys the gospel of Christ, his sins are remitted (forgiven, blotted out, washed away). He is saved (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-41; 3:19; 22:16). When this happens, the Lord adds that saved person to His church, “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).
Thus, in the New Testament, the church of Christ is composed of those who are saved. They have been called out of sin by the gospel and added to the church by the Lord. (The word “church” means the “called out” ones.) These saved people are Christians, disciples of Christ (Acts 11:26).
It is entirely right and Biblical to answer “yes,” one must be a member of the church of Christ to be saved. Saved souls compose the church of Christ. Christ saves His body, the church (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23). Be saved by Christ according to His gospel, and He will add you to the church of Christ (Acts 2:47).
-Reprint, The Spirit’s Sword (June 1, 2014)
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Joe R. Price
Defining “woke” can be confusing. One author summarized it this way, “In brief, ‘woke’ is the term used to explain an awakening to issues of race, gender, and sexual injustice” (Jack Kettler, “Are You Woke?”). It implies one has been in the dark, asleep, and ignorant regarding issues of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Instead, the woke have awakened to prevailing social injustices (according to those who profess wokeness). Being woke was born from progressive liberalism (political and theological) that seeks fundamental transformation on “issues like LGBTQ rights, the environment, and racial inequality” (Ibid.).
Wokeism is rooted in secularism and has flourished in the wake of postmodernism. In the woke world, “the intellect is replaced by will, reason by emotion, and morality by relativism” (Gene Edward Veith, Jr.). Absolute truth no longer exists in the “woke” mind, only “my” truth (my authentic self), perceived grievances, group identity, and mistrust. Like Pilate, truth is indeterminate (“What is truth?,” John 18:38). Gender becomes fluid (based on how people feel and think of themselves) instead of biological fact. Racism becomes “systemic” and institutional instead of individual (Acts 10:28; James 2:1). Cancel culture silences those who disagree. Reasoning from facts and truth becomes “disinformation” (Acts 17:2-4; 24:25).
What are Christians to do in the face of wokeism? 1 Peter 3:13-17 provides one of numerous biblical answers. (1) Be ready to suffer for righteousness (v. 13-14). (2) Do not fear their threats (v. 14). (3) Sanctify the Lord in your heart and equip yourself to give a defense of your hope (v. 15). (4) Act to keep a good conscience even when you are slandered as evil (v. 16-17).
Evil is good, and good is evil in the woke world (Isa. 5:20). But God’s truth endures and prevails (Jn. 17:17; Heb. 4:12-13). Be courageous. Live by faith, trusting in God’s word of truth.
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 09/15/2022
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA