Thursday, August 29, 2013

What's in a name?

Everything is in a name, if that name is “Jesus Christ”! Why? Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.”

When the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to say there was “no other name … by which we must be saved,” think of all the names this eliminates from being able to produce salvation.

It eliminates the name “Abraham,” thus Jews could no longer rely on physical ancestry to Him for their salvation. John made this clear from the beginning of his ministry in Luke 3:8: “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father,’ for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” To be saved eternally, Israelites must obey Jesus.

It also eliminates the name “Mohammed” from being able to procure eternal salvation. Whatever good this man accomplished, or whatever good is accomplished in or through his name, the pardoning of sins is not among those accomplishments.

It also eliminates the name “Mahatma Gandhi” from being able to save souls from eternal damnation. There is no doubt or debate that this man did a tremendous amount for Hindus and Muslims in India and South Africa, and for all men in a sense. But, all the good that he accomplished was for this life, for no soul is saved in the name of “Gandhi.”

It also eliminates the name “Confucius” from being able to provide eternal security. Confucius lived between 551 and 479 B.C. His philosophy championed strong family loyalty -- even to the point of ancestor worship, and eminent respect of children for their parents and wives for their husbands. He is perhaps the most oft-quoted philosopher of all time, and no doubt had many good and morally profitable teachings, but did not and cannot “save” anyone.

It also eliminates the name “Nietzsche” (Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, 1844-1900) the German philosopher famous for “the death of God” argument; and the name “Nostradamus” (Michel de Nostredame, 1503-1566), the French pharmacist (then called “apothecary”) who published volumes of prophecies which some claim predicted many modern events. However popular or unpopular these philosophers and “prophets” may have been in their times, or in ours, does not make their names powerful enough to produce the salvation of men’s souls. The same can obviously be said for any philosopher, scientist, or proclaimed “prophet” save “the Prophet” (cf. Deuteronomy 18:15,18; John 6:14), Jesus Christ.

But, this also eliminates “Joseph Smith” (the proclaimed “prophet” of The Book of Mormon), “Mary Baker Eddy” (the prophet and founder of the Christian Scientist), “L. Ron Hubbard” (the “prophet” and founder of the Church of Scientology), “Martin Luther” (from which the Lutherans derive their name), “John Calvin” (who put forth the doctrines of predestination which became “Calvinism”), “John Wesley” and “Charles Wesley” (Anglican clerics whose foundational doctrines came to be Wesleyanism), and “Thomas Campbell” or “Alexander Campbell” (this son and father, who, along with others such as Barton W. Stone, sought to “restore” the church back to the New Testament pattern, rather than to simply “reform” it). None of these names, whatever their contributions to or detractions from the gospel, are “the name” through which salvation comes! Why?

It’s actually very simple. None of them died on the cross and were raised from the dead! And, none of them became “the very corner stone” of our salvation and association with God in the church. Therefore, being baptized in their name(s) accomplishes nothing (Matthew 28:19-20; John 12:48). Don’t follow any man, follow “the man, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).

Adapted from Philip Strong

Monday, August 26, 2013

Being "contemporary"

Many in the religious world, usually young Christians, hail themselves as “contemporary” worshipers. The hallmarks of their worship typically include rock concerts, short devotionals, or “devos,” some food, furnished by the church, and socializing in a party-type atmosphere, which is advertised as “God-centered.” The truth of the matter is that they wish to be entertained with a little “God” sprinkled in as to make them feel good about Christ. Typically, these individuals have a shallow understanding of the Word of God and their lives are lived not knowing what is truly written.

I challenge Christians to understand that we are contemporary as well! Our lives are lived in the hear-and-now. We have knowledge and technology today which is more advanced than the ones in ancient times. I also challenge Christians to realize that we live in a world today where the message of salvation is still as alive today as it were 2000 years ago, making it contemporary as well. While Time magazine may want to claim that God is dead, Hebrews 4:12 firmly states that “God is living and active” in lives. We can still see evidences of that today.

The evidence surrounds us. “For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they were without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:19-23).

There are many in the world who claim to be “contemporary” Christians and wear it as a badge that they’re different than other Christians when in reality, they have chosen a little food for their belly, a little song for their heart, and some time with other worldly friends under the guise of Christ, even though they do not truly know who He is through their own chosen ignorance.

A true Christian is truly contemporary regardless of age or century -- not contemporary through ignorance or self-indulgence -- but in following Christ as we have been instructed by example, command, and studious interpretation.

Lance Byers

Friday, August 16, 2013

"A Day of Rage"

As of the publication of this article, over 700 people have died in violent and bloody protests throughout Egypt, as Muslim Brotherhood backers clashed with fellow Muslims, security forces, and Christians in what was designated a “Day of Rage.”

The point of this article is not to engage in a political discussion, but merely to comment on the perceived need to use violence to achieve a desired result. A peacemaker is one who actively works to bring about peace and reconciliation where there is hatred and enmity. Jesus said in Matthew 5:9, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Christians are to “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another …” (Romans 12:10). As far as enemies are concerned, Paul wrote, “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not”
(Romans 12:14).

No true follower of God or Christ would use physical violence to produce a political result. True followers of God seek peaceful resolutions to earthly problems. They do not kill or destroy. The Lord said, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (Matthew 7:17-18). The “evil fruit” of death and destruction promptly shows that the protestors are not of God, but of the devil.

Kyle Campbell

Movie night!

Several times throughout the year, a religious group located close to us advertises “Movie Night” as a part of their activities. Although I enjoy movies as much as the next person, the Bible does not teach that the church is responsible for this kind of activity.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:12, “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” So Paul states that the church’s work is comprised of edification (perfecting the saints), benevolence (work of the ministry), and evangelism (edifying of the body of Christ). Aside from benevolence, the work of the church or the kingdom is spiritual, not social (Luke 17:20-21; John 18:36). The gospel of Christ is not a “social gospel,” and the church of Christ is not a “social institution.”

Paul taught that the home is to be the center of social activity -- not the church (1 Corinthians 11:20-22). The increasing tendency to socialize church services and church work by having “fellowship banquets,” a social hour with refreshments after the service for various groups, a church dining room or cafeteria stocked with coffee and doughnuts to entertain visitors and accommodate social functions, serving refreshments between Bible classes and worship to attract greater attendance, providing basketball courts and video games to court young people, and even watching movies on a big screen is purely sectarian and leads directly to what Paul condemned in the Corinthians. Every person should be impressed with the need to follow God’s instructions for His church (Hebrews 8:5). That is all that we claim and all for which we plead. If you would like to participate in worship services which reflect the New Testament pattern, please worship with us this Sunday.

Kyle Campbell

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Speaking in tongues

One of the most important facts to notice about tongues is that it was only one of several gifts (1 Corinthians 12:8-10). These gifts were needed to reveal and confirm the word of God. These gifts were imparted by the laying on of the apostles’ hand (Acts 8:14-17). Tongues also could be controlled; they were not ecstatic utterances (1 Corinthians 14:26-40).

Most importantly, 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 teaches us that these miraculous gifts were destined to cease. When the New Testament was completed, the purpose of miracles had been accomplished. Miracles then ceased because there was no longer a need for them. The complete (”perfect”) is contrasted with the incomplete (”part”). First Corinthians 13:8 says that prophecy, tongues and knowledge must vanish or cease.

Some of our denominational friends want to apply this “perfect” to Christ, but this does not fit the context. The words “that which” are used instead of “He who.” “That which” grammatically fits miracles. Also, “in part” and “perfect” are in opposition to one another. “In part” will be “done away” (vs. 10). We have a full revelation of Christ and nothing about Him shall be “done away” (1 John 1:1-4). But “in part” does fit miracles. Likewise, the whole discussion in 1 Corinthians 12-14 pertains to spiritual gifts and how they should be exercised so as to teach the unbeliever and edify the believer. Christ or His coming is not under consideration here. However, the completed revelation versus the incomplete revelation is in context.

Kyle Campbell

Thursday, August 1, 2013

The power of sex

A few years ago, Catholic Church scandals rocked the organization to its core. Moreover, public schools have halted an abstinence-based sex ed programs because the focus on marriage was considered insensitive to children from non-traditional families. Apparently, what upset many parents was the way its message was wrapped around the basic tenet of waiting for marriage.

These stories disgust every person who tries to do their best to live morally. While everyone will be accountable for their own sins (Ezekiel 18:4, 20), one has to wonder what effect the Catholic Church’s position on celibacy for priests and nuns has had in this scandal. Regarding abstinence, in our society it is almost as if we look at sexual promiscuity as a God-given right. Society will do its best to provide birth control to allow, even encourage children to engage in sexual relationships.

Marriage is honorable among all men (Hebrews 13:4). One of the marks of apostasy in the early church was the forbidding of marriage (1 Timothy 4:3). Among many other points of error, the Catholic Church is wrong when it demands celibacy from priests and nuns. Sadly, this has encouraged men to fulfill their sexual desires in wicked and unlawful ways.

God provided for the fulfillment of sexual desires. Paul wrote, “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Corinthians 7:2). Fornication is any sexual activity outside the boundaries of marriage. God clearly condemned this sin (Romans 1:29; 1 Corinthians 6:13, 18; 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3).

God designed marriage to fulfill the desires that men and women have, and thereby removing the temptation to commit fornication. Our society and schools sell us the idea that our children can have “safe sex.” But God says the only “safe sex” is found within marriage. Will you listen to God or to the world?

Kyle Campbell