Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Holding grudges

I’ve had people ask me before if it’s possible to go to worship assemblies and Bible classes, trying to live right but not speak to people because of grudges. The answer is “No!”

In Matthew 5:23-24, Jesus taught that if we want to leave a gift at the altar and have something against our brother, we must first be reconciled to him. The word “reconciled” means to effect an alteration in cases of mutual hostility and yield to mutual concessions.

Jesus said in John 15:17, “These things I command you, that ye love one another.” This was a test of discipleship. The apostle Paul further explained love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 because the brethren were having squabbles among themselves. In 1 Corinthians 13:7, the word “bears” means to “bear up against, hold out against, to endure, forbear.” If we are motivated by love, we will not have to worry about coming to worship angry with one another.

Ephesians 4:26-27 gives us a good maxim to go by: “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil.” This verse is not condemning anger in and of itself, because God was angered. This verse means that when we are angry, we should let it pass quickly lest it corrupt our hearts. While most people are content with not talking with each other, or even moving to another congregation, I implore you, for eternity’s sake, to resolve your problems with your brother or sister.

Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Where the gospel has not been preached

How will a person living in a country where the gospel has never been preached be judged? Paul said in Romans 1:19-20 that the Gentiles were without excuse when they worshiped their idols because the attributes of God were clearly visible to them and they had the concept of knowing there was a higher Being involved.

Also, when we speculate that people who live afar off can make it to Heaven without the gospel, we must consider that  position compared with the word of God. The Bible tells us that Jesus came to deliver us from our sins and that without Him there is no deliverance. When we make the decision that men can go to Heaven without the gospel, that makes the death of Christ vain! We must be very careful when speculations develop about who may go to Heaven and who may not. Remember, we are lost because of sin, not because the gospel has not been preached. Revelation 20:12 says that in the book of life people were judged according to their deeds.

These kinds of questions always seem to put us in the spot of playing God, but we are not God. Genesis 18:25 says that no matter what happens, God will deal justly with all of us. We do not have to guess, we just have to accept in faith the fact that God gives us what we deserve. The best course of action is for someone to obey the gospel and live faithfully!

Kyle Campbell

Thursday, January 16, 2014

An explanation of Psalm 150

Lots of people want to know why the churches of Christ do not use instrumental music in their worship. Before we discuss this psalm, I would like to say that we do not object to instrumental music to be peculiar. Neither do we do it because we necessarily dislike instrumental music. We have convictions based on the scriptures concerning acceptable worship. Matters of religion are not settled by appeals to prejudice, nor by taking a vote. Popularity has nothing to do with truth. The question is settled not by what we like or dislike, but rather by what God requires in worship.

A popular argument for the use of instrumental music goes like this: “God approved its use in the worship of the Jews under the Old Law, and therefore there is divine approval for its use today.” In reply to this, it is not a question of what God did approve under the Old Testament, but what does He now approve under the New Testament. Most of the books of the New Testament deal with the how New Testament took the place of the Old Testament.

Musical instruments are mentioned in the Old Testament about 75 times, many times in connection with singing and worship. But this does not authorize us to use such in our worship under the New Testament which is silent about the use of instrumental music in the worship services. The use of incense is mentioned about 50 times in the Old Testament, but it does not authorize us to use it in our worship services today.

Instrumental music, burning incense, and offering sacrifices are in the same class as far as New Testament worship is concerned. If we can go back to the Old Testament to use instrumental music, may we not also go back to the Old Testament for authority to burn incense and offer sacrifices in the worship assemblies?

Surely one can see the fallacy of going back to the Old Testament to just to “pick up” what we like. One group goes back to the Old Testament for their authority to burn incense in the worship, not finding authority under the New Testament. Another goes back for instrumental music in worship, but rejects the incense in worship. Another group goes back for the Sabbath observance, but rejects Passover, circumcision, animal sacrifices, etc.

In his psalms, David used instrumental music, but he also burned incense, offered animal sacrifices, circumcised his sons, kept the Sabbath, and ate the Passover — all of which would be wrong now under the New Testament. Why take David as an example for using instrumental music in worship and reject him as an example of authority for burning incense, etc.? Is that logically applying the principles of the Bible? Is that “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?

Kyle Campbell

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Should we be tithing?

Paul taught that the Old Testament has been done away (Ephesians 2:14-15; Colossians 2:14-15). In Malachi, after the Jews had returned from Babylonian captivity, they were not following the Old Testament regulations concerning tithing, and Malachi was sent to condemn them (cp. Leviticus 27:30-33; Numbers 18:21-24; Deuteronomy 12:6-7, 17, 19; 14:22-29; 26:12-15).

When the New Testament was instituted at the death of Christ (Hebrews 9:15-17), the Lord no longer required His followers to tithe. Under the New Testament, the only guidance we are given is that we give as we have “prospered” or earned (1 Corinthians 16:1-2), and as we have “purposed” or decided (2 Corinthians 9:7). God doesn’t want someone who is forced to give to Him — He loves a “cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Denominations often enforce tithing. A study in 2006 showed that Pentecostals and Baptists are the ones most likely to believe in tithing to the local church, while Presbyterians, Methodists, and Lutherans are the denominational groups least likely to hold this opinion. Some churches make their members sign a covenant and agree to tithe. If they don’t, they are considered thieves! 

Tithing is unknown in the New Testament. If people really want to follow the Bible, and agree there is a pattern established in the New Testament, then they need to abandon the practice of tithing and simply preach the will of God as it pertains to giving.

Kyle Campbell

Monday, January 6, 2014

Where did Cain's wife come from?

One of the most fundamental questions asked by people new to the Bible is where Cain would have gotten his wife. Genesis 5:4 tells us that during Adam’s lifetime of 930 years (800 after the birth of Seth), he had other sons and daughters. Since he and Eve had been ordered to produce a large family in order to populate the earth (Genesis 1:28), it is reasonable to assume that they continued to have children for a long period of time, under the then ideal conditions for longevity.

Without question it was necessary for Adam’s children to marry one another to serve as parents for the ensuing generation; otherwise the human race would have died off. It was not until the course of subsequent generations that it became possible for cousins and more distant relations to choose each other as spouses. There was no definite prohibition about the incestuous character of brother-sister marriage until the time of Abraham (approximately 2,000 years after Creation), who emphasized to the Egyptians that Sarah was his sister (cf. Genesis 20:12), thus implying to the Egyptians that if she was his sister, she could not be his wife (Genesis 12:13).

In Leviticus 20:17 the actual sanction against brother-sister marriage is addressed. But as for Cain and Seth and all the other sons of Adam who married, they must have chosen their sisters as wives.

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Slipping away

“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip” (Hebrews 2:1). The word “slip,” as defined by Louw and Nida, means “to give up a belief, to drift away from a belief.” While the church, as a collective group of saints, should edify each other (Romans 14:19; 1 Corinthians 3:9-10; Ephesians 2:20-21), most of the emphasis of the New Testament is directed toward individual Christians.

We are to edify ourselves and grow in Christ. Paul wrote, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12-13). Peter added, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ …” (2 Peter 3:18).

It is so sad, however, is to see people in our congregations who are slipping away. Perhaps the saddest is to see teenagers. They only attend when their parents make them, they pay more attention in Bible class to Facebook than to the teacher and the lesson, and they couldn’t care less about participating in the church’s work. Those of us who are older know where it’s headed — apostasy. Churches do have to take care that they worship appropriately and enthusiastically. They have to make sure that classes are taught competently with emphasis on obedience/application. They have to urge young ones to involve themselves in the worship assemblies, teaching classes, and serving others. But above all this, they have to be encouraged to grow themselves. Ultimately, their faithfulness is up to them.

It makes me profoundly sad to stand and preach, knowing that some of our young ones in the audience will leave the Lord and never come back. I may play a part in that, and it must motivate me to be better, but I have to constantly draw the attention of our young ones to “working out their own salvation.”

Kyle Campbell