Thursday, September 27, 2012

Can you follow Jesus?

Most people, at least the ones who read this blog, would say they want to follow Jesus and go to heaven. Regrettably, a lot of people want to praise Jesus far more than they want to obey Him. In order to obey Him, He said in Matthew 16:24, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

The above-cited passage presents two challenges. The first is to deny yourself and the second is to take up your cross. This means a radical change of loyalty compared to your past life. The Lord further illustrated this by saying, “And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:59-62).

Simon carried the cross of Jesus in a physical way (Luke 23:26), but we carry it in a spiritual way by sacrifice to the cause of Christ. It can be a burden to live faithfully, but accepting the challenge and persevering to the end means eternal life.

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The crown without the cross

In Matthew 16, after Peter’s confession of Christ, Jesus speaks of how He must be delivered up, suffer many things, die, and be raised the third day (Matthew 16:21). In vs. 22 Peter rebukes Jesus and says, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” Jesus follows by saying, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men." What a shocking thing this must have been to Peter who was only trying to be a friend to Jesus and show his love for Him. Of course, Peter had did not fully understand what Jesus had to do.

In a way, Peter was trying to get Jesus to accept the same as Satan in Matthew 4:8-10. Satan showed Jesus all the kingdoms of the world and told Jesus He could rule over it if He worshiped him. Jesus told Satan the same thing He told Peter: “Get behind me Satan!” The similarity between Satan and Peter is that they both wanted Jesus to have the crown without the cross. Peter had different reasons than Satan, but was still in error even though he had good intentions.

Imagine for a moment if Jesus did have the crown without the cross. What would be our condition? Hopelessly lost without a way of redemption! This is why Satan wanted Jesus to have the crown without the cross: so that all creation would be condemned! Ephesians 1:7 says, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” Why are we able to have redemption in Christ? Because He went to the cross! And since we can have redemption if we obey Christ (Hebrews 5:9), we have the opportunity to go to heaven and be with our King, who took the crown with the cross!

Jonathan Glaesemann

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two different results

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” A lot of members of churches of Christ remember that years ago many were baptized in gospel meetings, and as the result of members teaching others.

As much as we reminisce about times past, the truth is, there are still countless thousands of people who obey the gospel, which is based on the cleansing blood of Jesus. Hebrews 4:12 said that the word can divide between the joints and marrow. Our intensive knowledge of anatomy confirms that it takes a strong, sharp tool to separate the two. Spiritually, the gospel can accomplish this in the hearts of people who hear it.

In Acts 2:37, the people who heard Peter preach were “pricked in their hearts.” The  gospel did this! In Acts 7:54, the people who heard Stephen’s response were “cut to the heart.” The gospel did this! In Acts 2, the people repented of their sins and obeyed the gospel. In Acts 7, the people rushed Stephen and stoned him. The same response produced two different results.

What kind of response will it produce in you? Proverbs 15:5 says, “A fool despiseth his father’s instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.” Proverbs 15:32 says, “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding.” The people listening to Stephen didn’t care about the truth -- and they killed him. People now who don’t care about the truth are consigning themselves to the devil’s hell (Matthew 25:41). Don’t be one of them! Obey the “perfect law of liberty” and be “blessed in … deed” (James 1:25).

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Building a foundation

A lot of children begin their study of the Bible with passages like Matthew 7:24:27: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.”

A good foundation takes a lot of high-quality material to build. If you go cheap, the foundation will suffer. A spiritual foundation takes a lot to build too. You do it through careful study, like Timothy. Remarking about Timothy, Paul said, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15). This kind of devotion takes a strong attitude toward the Bible, like what was seen with the psalmist. Psalm 119:97 says, “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.”

Just like the foundation of a structure can be ruined, so can a spiritual foundation. Sin can crack a spiritual foundation. How can we keep from the damaging effects of sin? Again, turn to the word! “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalms 119:11). Keep your foundation in great shape, and it will anchor you for life and eternity.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"What can man do to me?"

“The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 118:6).

This is a good question: “What can man do to me?” Let’s not get the psalmist wrong in his point he is trying to make. Man does have the ability to make us suffer in more ways than one. He can inflict pain whether it is to the body or to the mind. He can do a lot of damage physically but this is all he can do. Compared to God, what man can do to us is very little. Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Man can’t do this -- only God!

So is the Lord on your side? If He is we shouldn’t be afraid of what man can do to us because in the end, if we suffer by the hand of man God will heal us and give us everlasting life which will make those afflictions seem very small (2 Corinthians 4:17). However if the Lord is not on your side, you need to join His side today! Then it will not matter what happens to us in this life. If we are living for God we can have the hope of eternal life that God will give to us in the end. It’s just something else man can’t do.

Jonathan Glaesemann

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Leaving the faith

Something that is very sad for a Christian is seeing people who are dear to them leave the faith. One of my close friends, who was also a gospel preacher, divorced his wife unscripturally and remarried several years ago, and it broke my heart. Even sadder was his response regarding the Bible’s teaching on remarriage and adultery: “I never really believed that stuff anyway.”

Despite Calvinistic doctrine which teaches that once someone is saved, they are always saved, falling away is a real fear. The Hebrew writer said, “Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1). Peter said, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them” (2 Peter 2:20-21). Leaving the faith introduces the prospect of an eternity spent in hell, a place of outer darkness and torment (Matthew 8:12; Luke 16:23).

The admonition of Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:13 is critical: “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.” The temptation to leave the faith can be overcome by grounding yourself in the reliability and believability of the Bible, the work and character of Christ, the comfort of beloved Bible passages, and the fellowship of faithful saints. Don’t let go and turn your back on God and other Christians who love you. Strengthen yourself against falling from the will of God.

Kyle Campbell