Friday, March 28, 2014

Was it God's fault?

When the mudslide occurred in Washington State a couple of weeks ago, which killed 17 people as of this morning, there were probably many who were tempted to blame God or at least wonder why God would have allowed such a destructive force to act upon people He loves. This discussion is not helped by the terminology “act of God” whenever something like a hurricane, tornado, flood, or mudslide occurs.

When God created the world, He proclaimed His creation “good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). However, it was not very long until sin entered the world through Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-7). When sin entered the world, the world was cursed (Genesis 3:17-18). So all the problems on the earth can eventually be traced back to the result of sin, not the uncaring attitude of God.

But God can use the bad events in people’s lives to bring about His ultimate purposes. For instance, one purpose of suffering in history has been that it leads to repentance. Only after suffering, only after disaster, did Israel, do nations, do individuals turn back to God. It is an unfortunate fact that humans often only learn the hard way.

If God were to use force to prevent evil, He would take away freedom. To prevent all evil, one must remove all freedom and reduce people to puppets, which means they would then lack the ability to love and desire God. All suffering contains at least the opportunity for good. But not everyone actualizes that potential. Not all of us learn and benefit from suffering; that is where free will enters the picture. Don't blame God for evil -- it's not His fault. Instead, lean on Him for strength and resiliency.

Kyle Campbell

Monday, March 24, 2014

The will of God

Perhaps the most important element of doing the will of God is honesty and open-mindedness. So many have said, “It’s just your opinion,” or “I’m too old to change what I believe.” This is easy to say if you don't really care to study. Peter commanded, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

The word “answer” means a verbal defense or a speech. “Reason” means an answer or an explanation. We have to know why we believe. Without reason, we cannot live up to the command in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

I have never raised an ear of corn by myself in my life. I do not tell a farmer who has raised corn all his life how to farm corn. He would laugh in my face and I would deserve it. But look how many people believe something with no way of knowing whether they are wrong or right. All they have to go on is what their preacher says.

We must have the disposition that we are going to be right before God in order to do what the Bible says. If you do not have that zeal to be right, nothing will matter. If you are not honest or have an open mind to change what you believe if you are shown that it is wrong, then why bother?

Kyle Campbell

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Am I going to Heaven?

Many like to ask the question, “Are members of the church of Christ the only ones going to Heaven?” However, this is not a very good question. The better question to ask is, “Am I among the number of those who are going to Heaven?” Jesus said in Luke 13:24, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.” In Acts 2, when Peter preached the first gospel sermon and 3,000 obeyed (Acts 2:41), were they members of a denomination? No, they were members of the Lord’s church (Matthew 16:18; Acts 20:28).

So how does one know they are going to Heaven? The Bible says that the steps to salvation include faith (John 1:12; Mark 16:16; Hebrews 11:6), repentance (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30), confession of Jesus (Matthew 10:32; Romans 10:10), and baptism for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Peter 3:21). After someone has become a steward of the grace of God (1 Peter 4:10), they must be faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2; Revelation 2:10). If they fall back into sin and do not repent, they are lost (2 Peter 2:20-22).

One must always remember that a kingdom is reproduced by its seed. Genesis 1:12 says, “And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” In Luke 8:11, we are told that the “seed is the word of God.” Therefore, just as physical seed produces only the plants which it is supposed to, so the word of God produces only the kind of Christians God desires. When one “obeys from the heart that form of doctrine” (Romans 6:17), and are faithful, they will go to Heaven.

Kyle Campbell

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The fulness of the Godhead

Colossians 2:9 says, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” Jesus Christ is far more than an inspired prophet, an extraordinary moral teacher, or even some kind of supernatural Being. The very substance of God exists in Jesus the Messiah in His coming in the flesh, His life on earth, and His resurrected body.

Paul, in addressing the Colossians, takes aim at a popular doctrine that grew out of the first century: Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a term that designates a variety of religious movements that stressed salvation through “gnosis” or “knowledge.” Although Gnosticism did not reach full bloom until the second century, it existed in its earlier forms for half of the first century. 

This naturally led to a seriously defective view of Christ. In Gnosticism the old Greek philosophical dualism had assumed a religious form. The philosophical distinction between the realm of reality and that of apparition now took a new form as God (the light) and matter (the evil), existing in constant antagonism. Therefore Jesus as pure Spirit could not really have had a material body — He could not have come in the flesh!

The declaration that the very essence of deity was present in totality in Jesus’ human body was a direct refutation of Gnostic teaching. Colossians 1:19 had said, “For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.” What a fantastic picture of Jesus! We see Him on the pages of scripture as a man, but He, in reality, is completely and fully God.

Kyle Campbell

Friday, March 7, 2014

Abstinence and a better life

Fornication is condemned in no uncertain terms in the Bible. “Fornication” in the New Testament means, among other definitions, sexual contact between two people who are not married. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Fornication is a sin (1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:9-10, 13, 18; Galatians 5:19). Those who commit this sin will be punished by God.

Now it should be enough that God condemns fornication, but we need to consider another angle. A National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that adolescents who decide to be abstinent have substantially lower levels of sexual activity and better life outcomes when compared with similar adolescents who do are not abstinent. Specifically, adolescents who pledge to be abstinent are less likely to experience teen pregnancy, are less likely to be sexually active while in high school and as young adults, are less likely to give birth as teens or young adults, are less likely to give birth out of wedlock, are less likely to engage in risky unprotected sex, and will have fewer sexual partners. In addition, abstinence is not associated with any long-term negative outcomes.

Proverbs 13:15 says, “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” Those who choose to violate God’s commandments by committing fornication will be condemned. But those who fornicate also open themselves up to a much sadder existence as well. Keep yourself pure until you marry.

Kyle Campbell

Saturday, March 1, 2014

"Thy kingdom come"

When Jesus, in Matthew 6:10 and Luke 11:2, used the phrase “Thy kingdom come,” He was speaking of the same kingdom that John the Baptist spoke of in Matthew 3:2 and that the Lord Himself mentioned in Mark 9:1. This is the same kingdom that was established on Pentecost in A.D. 30. However, is this phrase now outdated?

The reference to the kingdom or the church “coming” is past. However, we must realize that there still remains another kingdom for Christians. That is the eternal kingdom. Paul referenced this kingdom in 1 Corinthians 15:24. The earthly kingdom (the church) and the eternal kingdom are not identical kingdoms. The kingdom or the church is now a heavenly kingdom existing in an earthly context; it is an eternal kingdom intruding into time.

We can and I believe should pray for the coming of this kingdom, when the heavens and the earth will be burned up and the judgment of all mankind will take place (2 Peter 3:10). Peter said we should hasten, or truly and earnestly desire, this day to come to pass (2 Peter 3:12). It is only then that God’s people will know the true meaning, feeling, and purpose of His kingdom.

Kyle Campbell