Sunday, March 29, 2009

How good are good intentions?

When you look at various religious groups, many of them (with good intentions) want to restore conditions as they were in Bible times. For example, the Pentecostals wanted to be like the first century church, but they "restored" too much, thinking that the correct pattern of the Lord's church could not be complete without speaking in tongues.

How good are good intentions? They are great when they cause us to do the will of God. Cornelius had the good intention of hearing the preaching of the apostle Peter (Acts 10:7-8). If, however, they fall short of those results, good intentions do nothing but condemn the soul. Uzzah had the good intention of catching the ark when it fell, but he was struck dead by God because he was not authorized to touch the ark (2 Samuel 6:6-7).

Will you be ruled by your good intentions or will you check them with the word of God first? Contact us if you would like to study further.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"Many are called, but few are chosen"

The statement which forms the title of this blog entry was made by Christ in Matthew 22:14. He made the remark at the end of the parable of the wedding feast. The guest who lacked a wedding garment was cast into "outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth."

The point of Jesus' parable is that someone must be prepared, but there will unfortunately be few who will prepare. The same point is made in Matthew 7:13-14 which reads, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

What determines whether one is "chosen" or not is their obedience. Someone's salvation depending upon obedience is "taboo" in religious thought today, but Jesus proves that obedience is necessary in Matthew 7:21-23. He said, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." If you want to be "chosen" among God's people, you need to truly obey, not just pay lip-service or do what you feel is right. God demands your submission. Because you love Him, follow Him!

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Two men

The first psalm is a concise analysis between two ways. The fate of the righteous is seen in Psalm 1:1-3. The righteous delights in the law of the Lord instead of the way of the sinner. Because of this, he is like "a tree planted by the rivers of water." The fate of the ungodly is seen in Psalm 1:4-6. The ungodly are like chaff, who are blown away by the wind, and they will not stand in the judgment.

Jesus described the two ways in Matthew 7:13-14. There is a broad way that leads to destruction and a narrow way that leads to eternal life. Will people make the right sacrifices? Will you have this kind of life (1 John 5:10-12)? The Lord knows the way of the righteous, and He knows who are His (2 Timothy 2:19).

Kyle Campbell

Friday, March 13, 2009

The book of life

Have you ever had your name in the newspaper or been interviewed for the news? Did you go out and buy multiple copies of the newspaper or TiVo the interview? Most of us would love having something like this happen to us!

Thinking about this spiritually, there is a book that unfortunately too many don't ever strive to get in. The phrase "book of life" occurs several times in the Bible (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:11-15; 21:27). It first occurred in Exodus 32:32-33, which reflects its Jewish origin. It referred originally to a record or catalog of names (like the roll of an army). It then meant to be among the living, and the name of an individual would be erased from a catalog when he or she was deceased. In these instances it is used as a picturesque way to denote those who are followers of God. If you want to be considered the "friend" of God, you must be in this book.

What must you do to get into this book? You have to obey the gospel, which means faith (John 8:24; Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Luke 13:3, 5; Acts 17:30), confession of Christ as Lord (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10), and baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). At that point, you will be "enrolled," so to speak. God will recognize you as His (2 Timothy 2:19). From that point, you are not always saved. You have to be "faithful unto death" too (Revelation 2:10). We would love nothing more than to help you reach your fullest potential as a human being, so please contact us further for study.

Kyle Campbell

Monday, March 9, 2009

Wisdom from below

"Who is wise and understanding among you?" This question could be difficult to answer. In our own minds, every decision we make is the correct one. Very few, if any at all, do something they feel is wrong. Obviously, there are a lot of people that make a lot of bad decisions. As we know and have discussed in the past, God determines what's right and wrong. Earlier in James, we have observed that faith without works is dead, and claiming to be wise and acting foolishly falls into the same category.

Notice some of the signs that mark the wisdom from below: "If you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there" (James 3:14-16). Webster's Dictionary defines wisdom, in regards to insight, as "good sense." The word here in James had multiple facets. We generally use wisdom exclusively as a positive quality. We almost never use wisdom to describe a person in a negative light. The word James uses was good or bad depending on what it described. The individual that is bitter, envious, or self-seeking used bad wisdom. This wisdom is said to come from the world and is sensual and demonic. Why? Because it causes confusion and every evil thing.

Paul encourages us to "see that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all (1 Thessalonians 5:15). What is good for the group and what is good for you is the same thing; it is doing God's will. Self-seeking has always been condemned under God's law. In the "seven deadly sins," the writer says, "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16-19). Two of these seven fit under self-seeking: a proud look and sowing discord among brethren. Selfishness is what divided God's family. In Corinth, Paul had to tell them to "not think beyond what is written." They were drawing followers to themselves and away from God because they bound where God did not bind and loosed laws God had not set free.

Wisdom from this world can accomplish no good. Good only comes from having the wisdom from above, the wisdom of God. "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace" (James 3:17-18). God is the embodiment of pureness. For an eternity and forever more, God "is light and in Him is no darkness" (1 John 1:5). Whatever God deems as good is good, and anything that falls short of His standard or goes beyond it, is sin by definition. Sin means nothing more than "missing the mark." God's wisdom is gentle because of the peace it brings to its followers. The Philippians were told, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7). This kind of peace can only come from God and His wisdom. Anything else would not have the same effect and would be considered the wisdom of the world.

Jeremy Ferguson

Monday, March 2, 2009

Archaeology: Herodium

While failing to find Herod's tomb itself, excavations near Bethlehem have revealed much of one of his luxurious palaces. An ancient non-biblical writer, Josephus, wrote that Herod was buried at his 45-acre palace, called Herodium, about two miles southeast of Bethlehem.

Following the writings of Josephus, Hebrew University Porfessor Ehud Netzer reported on May 8, 2007, that he discovered Herod's gravesite atop tunnels and water pools, at a flattened desert site, halfway up the hill to Herodium, seven miles south of Jerusalem -- the precise location given by Josephus. Matthew 2:19-20 tells of the death of King Herod while the young child Jesus was in Egypt. Matthew 2:1-16 and Luke 1:5 also refer to Herod.

Kyle Campbell