Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Why did the angel appear to Cornelius?

In Acts 10:3-6, an angel appeared to a good man named Cornelius. Cornelius was a "devout man, and one that feared God with all his house" and he "gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway" (Acts 10:2).

Most people would say that an angel appearing to them would save them. However, in Acts 10:6, the angel said that Peter would "tell thee what thou oughtest to do." If we combine that verse with Acts 11:14, we see that angel would "tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved." So the angel was not there to miraculously save Peter. He was merely there to direct him to send to Joppa for Peter.

The word of God saves us, not some miraculous manifestation of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or an angel. Peter, much later in his life, wrote, "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit …" The word of God, revealed by the Holy Spirit (John 16:13), saves you! Don't be fooled by people who don't know the scriptures into believing that some great event will occur. If you will study and obey, you can be saved! Don't fall for the delusion that you must "feel" your salvation. Many thousands (or millions) of people have felt thoroughly inadequate or depressed because they never "felt" the Holy Spirit or an angel "fill" them. All we need is to have the indwelling word within us and follow it (Colossians 3:16).

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

"The one who has shown no mercy"

This little light of mine,
I'm gonna let it shine!
All the time! Let it shine!
Hide it under a bushel …NO!
I'm gonna let it shine!

These are the words to a song often taught to kids in Sunday school. They are based on Matthew 5:16 which states, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven." As followers of God, we know that we are not to hid the gospel light shining in our lives but let it bring others from the darkness. How many of us hid our lights under a bushel?

In James 2, the Christians in some places were showing favoritism. When the rich would come to their assemblies they would save the best places for them and force the poor to sit at their feet in a less honorable place. This is a form of hiding your light under a bushel: prejudice.

Jesus spoke in Matthew 7 about the danger of unrighteous judgment: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you. And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from you eye;' and look, a plank is in your own eye? Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye" (Matthew 7:1-5). We realize that the Lord is not ruling out all judging because in 1 Corinthians 6 Paul informs the Christians in Corinth that they can find a righteous man and let him judge what should be done. What Jesus is warning us about is prejudice or unrighteous judgment. You cannot look at someone else and know what is in their heart. Those in James 2 were guilty of prejudice because they thought the rich would be better candidates for salvation than the poor. They did not show mercy to the poor.

The context of Matthew 7 and James 2 are identical. In both cases, they assumed the others were in sin and in need of a lot of help. In James they moved on to people they felt were "better" and in Matthew they willingly overlooked their own flaws. We all need to understand some key points.

James informs us that, "Whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder' Now if you do not commit adultery, but you do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law" (James 2:10-11). In God's eyes, there is no difference in sin. Whether you committed adultery or murdered someone makes no difference to God; they both end with you being separated from God. We often make different levels of sin but this is not the true case. The "plank" in our eyes is our own sin that blinds us to our true condition before God. This "plank" can cause us also to become callous toward our neighbor. Before God we "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). This puts us all on an equal playing field.

When we look at others, whether in the church or the world, we need to see our equal. No matter what they may dress like, how much money they have, or how they behave they are loved by God and should be loved by us as well. As James puts it, "Sp speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment" (James 2:12-13).

To bring us full circle, Christ describes this circumstance in a parable. We often call this parable, "The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant." Let us all reflect on the principles set forth in this passage and not hide our lights under a bushel.

"Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousands talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, 'Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.' And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?' And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses" (Matthew 18:23-35).

Jeremy Ferguson

Monday, October 20, 2008

Our triumph in Christ

In 2 Corinthians 2:14-17, Paul discusses our triumph in Christ. What Paul probably had in mind was the "triumphal procession," which was a time of great rejoicing. When a Roman general would take out his army for war and defeat the enemy, they would enter the city of Rome in what was called a "triumphal entry." This was the highest honor that could be given to a victorious Roman general.

Paul uses the metaphor to show how Christians are an "aroma" of Christ. In the Triumphal Procession, after the parade and before the banquet, the captives taken by the Roman general were put to death. Our obedience is an aroma of life to those who would believe, but it is an aroma of death to people who refuse obedience to Christ. In Christ, we can triumph (1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Romans 8:33-39)!

Would you like to be a "sweet savour" of Jesus Christ? Is your allegiance, worship, and life a stench in God's nostrils? God wants you to have life but only you can see to it that you get it. Contact us for further study.

Kyle Campbell

Monday, October 13, 2008

Who is the Holy Spirit?

The Holy Spirit is a distinct member of the Godhead (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4), and He is distinct from the Father (John 14:26), and the Son (Acts 10:38). He was active in creation (Genesis 1:2, 26-27; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30). He was given to the apostles to reveal "all truth" so that they might be able to preach the gospel (John 16:13). When people believed this preaching, they obeyed and were then saved (James 1:21).

The coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles included the ability to work miraculous gifts, such as speaking in tongues in Acts 2. These gifts could only be transferred through the laying on of the apostles' hands (Acts 8:18). Paul stated that these gifts would cease in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. No one today possesses gifts such as healing or speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit was given to confirm the word of God (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:1-4). After the word was revealed (Jude 3), no additional gifts were needed.

The Holy Spirit also indwells in us. He does not do it by physically entering our body, helping us to make decisions or "steering" us in the right direction. The Holy Spirit is in us like God is in us (1 John 4:15) and Christ is in us (John 14:20). As long as you and I live by the Holy Spirit's law (the Bible), He will dwell within us, and we will be guided by His wonderful precepts.

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Amazing grace!

The good news of the gospel is that God has the power to transform lives. We have undoubtedly known alcoholics, drug addicts, adulterers, thieves, and others who have been converted to Christ. This ability to change people's lives comes from God's amazing grace.

Grace may be defined as God's loving forgiveness, by which He grants exemption from punishment. Grace includes the promise of temporal and eternal blessings to guilty and condemned sinners, without any worthiness on their part. God the Father (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 1:4) and His Son Jesus Christ (John 1:17; Romans 3:24) are the sole sources of grace. The apostle Paul was certainly conscious of the grace of God in his life (1 Corinthians 15:9-10; Ephesians 3:8).

Paul received forgiveness because he was obedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 26:19). When faced with the truth, he believed it and repented. The grace of God is powerful enough to redeem the worst sinner who is willing to believe (Hebrews 11:6), repent (Luke 13:3, 5), confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:10), and be baptized into Christ (John 3:3, 5). Will you obey and share this amazing grace?

Kyle Campbell

Friday, October 3, 2008

Archaeology: Pithom and Raamses

The location of Raamses is now associated with Qantir (Tell el-Dab'a). Pithom was within the Wadi Tumilat, a natural corridor in and out of Egypt, but its exact position is not yet settled.

Ongoing excavations at Tell e-Dab-a (Raamses) have revealed a prosperous ancient city with many monuments, temples, and buildings. Tell el-Retaba is thought to be the most probable location of Pithom, but sufficient excavation has not been done at this site.

According to Exodus 1, the Hebrews were slaves in the Egyptian cities of Pithom and Raamses before the Exodus. The Egyptians forced the Hebrews to make bricks, both with and without straw (Exodus 1:14; 5:7-19).

Kyle Campbell