Sunday, August 31, 2008

Archaeology: Boghazkoy, the Hittite captial

The ancient, large capital city of the Hittites has been recovered about 90 miles east of Ankara, Turkey. The rule of the Hittites extended to Syria and Lebanon.

Although the Hittites are mentioned 48 times in the Old Testament, almost nothing was known about them until modern times. One hundred years ago, critics thought the Hittites were an imaginary people made up by the biblical authors.

Finding the Hittite Empire forced that claim to be withdrawn and supported the biblical record. The find also helps explain the language, history, and literature of people who appear in the Old Testament and rule in the 2nd millennium B.C.

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Ellen and Portia wed

Last week, news broke that Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi had wed. I'm sure these are both nice women, but the word of God says that gay married is unlawful. Many thousands of years of ago, God condemned homosexuality when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:24-25; Jude 7). In the New Testament, God still condemned homosexuality. Paul said that the Gentiles had turned away from the natural use of women (Romans 1:26-27). He also said that the Corinthians who practiced homosexuality would not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). If we want to go to heaven, we cannot practice homosexuality nor endorse someone who practices it (Romans 1:32).

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Armor up!

"Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11). Peter urges them, based on the fact that they will not live forever on this earth, that they conduct themselves differently. Just like someone who is journeying through a foreign country does not entangle himself with the lifestyle of that place; likewise, the Christian does not entangle himself with those things that would stop him from going home. Because of this, they were to flee these types of lusts. But there is something else I want us to look at for a moment.

The word "war" in this text isn't just a battle for an hour or for a few days. The word stands for a campaign of an army; a battle that lasts for possibly years and sometimes never stops. When we use this context, Peter is talking about a war that Satan wages upon us daily with the lusts we addressed already. This is the kind of brutality we fight against everyday. Our response to the call of war … armor up (Ephesians 6:10-18)!

Shane Millard

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Archaeology: the ancient flood

Accounts of a massive flood are found in many cultures around the world. The Gilgamesh Epic (the saga of an ancient Babylonian king, Gilgamesh) includes an expanded flood story on Tablet 11, similar to the flood story in Genesis 6-9. The best known copy of the Epic was found at Nineveh on a series of baked clay tablets.

Tablet 11 of the Gilgamesh Epic tells of a great flood brought upon the earth by the wrath of gods and includes a hero who is told to build a ship, to take every kind of animal along, and to use birds to check if the water had receded.

Copies of the Epic and other flood stories have been found in the Near East. The popularity of the flood theme argues for its historicity and supports the flood of Noah's time.

Kyle Campbell

Monday, August 4, 2008

To see as the Lord sees

Some of us walk through the woods and see only fallen logs, broken branches, and a few stumps among the trees. Others move along the same path but, through different eyes, find themselves in a wonderland of hidden creatures -- great and small.

What will you make of your life? The Lord has destined you for greatness. Isaiah 43:7 says, "Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him." The Lord has sent His only begotten Son to be the sacrifice for your sins (John 3:16). By obeying Him, you can be cleansed from the defilement of unrighteousness (Revelation 7:14). When you take this step, you have entered into the greatness possible outcome of your existence (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Samuel was told by the Lord  that "man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart" (1 Samuel 16:7). What will He find when He looks at yours? Will He find one willing to be molded by the gospel? If you would like to study further, please contact us.

Kyle Campbell

Friday, August 1, 2008

"Do not hold the faith … with partiality"

Continuing in our study of James, the author next addresses the subject of partiality. In their assemblies, men with "gold rings, in fine apparel" and men "in filthy clothes" (James 2:2) were coming in. This is not an unusual demographic for God's people. Still today people from diverse economic backgrounds come to worship God. The gospel is for all. James does not bring up these things to discuss the two types of men coming into their assemblies, but rather how these men are received.

The Christians had begun to "pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say to him, 'You sit here in a good place,' and say to the poor man, 'You stand there,' or, 'Sit here at my footstool'" (James 2:3). This is something that still exists in our assemblies today. Some people's "Sunday best" are not as good as others. The seats of honor no longer exist, but often those who do not look as nice as everyone else are not asked to wait on the Lord's Supper or to lead prayers, etc. Outward appearance, provided the person is modest, should not be a factor.

God shows no partiality (cf. Romans 2:11). God is perfectly just. He rewards those who do His will and punishes those who do not without any regard to anything other than His Word and their obedience to it. This lesson was learned the hard way by Jonah.

"Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 'Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry out against it; for their wickedness has come up before Me.' But Jonah arose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord. he went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid the fare, and went down to it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of the Lord" (Jonah 1:1-3). Jonah fled because he did not want to preach repentance to those in Nineveh. Nineveh was the capitol of Assyria, the enemy of the Israelites. As we read through the account, Jonah eventually does go and preach to those in Nineveh. The entire city repented and dressed in sackcloth and ashes. This displeased Jonah and made him very angry (Jonah 4:1-3)! Jonah did not want them to repent and obtain forgiveness. They were his enemies! God taught Jonah the same lesson we must learn from James 2: not to show partiality with God's word.

Sometimes when we are taking the gospel to the world we show partiality. As we pass by our fellow man we pick and choose those whom we talk to. Often we only talk to those we are most comfortable with, people from similar backgrounds, ethnicity, culture, etc. In the parable of the soils we find four kinds of soil: wayside, thorny, stony, and good. As we read this parable let us take note that the sower did not stop and try to discover the type of soil on which he was sowing; he just sowed the seed. From reading the parable in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 18, the only deference between the soils is the end result. The birds only came and ate the seed after the seed was sown, the thorns grew up around the plant, and the stone was buried below the surface and could not be seen from above the soil. All four of the soils would have looked identical upon first glance. With time and application of the seed, the soils revealed their characteristics. The same should be applied to teaching God's word.

Upon first seeing someone, no judgments can be made. No one can look at anyone else and read their heart. We must take the word to everyone. With time and the introduction of the seed, we can tell what type of soil the person is, but it takes effort and time to find this out. Only with time can the cares of this world snatch the seed from one's heart, choke them spiritually, zeal to wear off, or hopefully, roots to take hold and that person blossom. Each individual and God are the only ones that can determine the results of the word in their lives.

God promises that His word, "shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11). As Paul wrote concerning his and Apollos' teachings, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6). Let us all be zealous and take the word to the world without worry of the type of soil the person may be! May we all use God's righteous judgment when it comes to dealing with others and not stereotype them and destroy our souls.

Jeremy Ferguson