Thursday, January 17, 2019

Obedience

Abraham is a man in which all of us can learn obedience from. There are several examples in which Abraham showed his obedience to Jehovah as we can read about in the book of Genesis. We know for certain the lesson learned about how great his faith in God was when he was commanded to offer up his only son Isaac on the altar. But earlier than that incident, we can learn about Abraham’s devotion to God as the twelfth chapter of Genesis unfolds.


Get Out Of Your Country
Jehovah spoke to Abram at the time and said: “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old...” (Genesis 12:1-4). Abram is a man of 75 years of age when God called him to do four things. 1) To leave his country, which was to leave all the familiar surroundings in which he was used to. 2) To leave his family. 3) To leave his father’s house, which was to leave his nearest relatives. 4) He was commanded to go into a country unnamed in order for his obedience to be tested. We do not read anywhere that Abram questioned God, but that he departed his country just as God had instructed for him to do. I wonder, would we be so devoted to our Lord to forsake all?


Obedience Required Of Us Today
Just as Abraham obeyed God then, we are fully expected to obey Him today. Jesus plainly stated in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” There is so much that we can learn and MUST learn from this one verse that Jesus taught. Jesus warns us that it is not enough for people to merely be religious and prayerful. It is possible for men to pray much and yet not be obedient unto God. Individuals that spend a lot of time in prayer, but do not cultivate the spirit of submission to God’s will, should not expect to be received into God’s everlasting kingdom.

Jesus points out that only he who DOES the will of the Father will be able to enter into heaven. To reject the will of the Father is simply to reject the very message that Jesus was sent here by His Father to give to us. God has a will which relates to all mankind. There are commandments in God’s will that man MUST obey. Also in God’s will, He has promised us many blessings if we will obey Him. If we ever hope to reap the rewards of the will of God, which are His blessings, then we MUST obey His commandments. We can’t have it both ways, that is to receive the blessings and eternal life, while not obeying God’s commands while we live on this earth.

The necessity of DOING the will of the Father is evident. Jesus teaches that doing God’s will is a condition upon which we may hope to enjoy the promise of the Father. Everyone is not perfect, for we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), but we can strive to become perfect in our life (Matthew 5:48). As we strive toward this perfection, we do so by having a desire to obey those things in which God has instructed of us.


What Can We Learn From Examples of Obedience?
God has always required men to obey as we have seen in our example of Abraham (Genesis 2:16). But we also have other examples of required obedience and some of these include: The nation of Israel (Exodus 20; Deuteronomy 6); and the church in which Jesus built (Romans 6:12-18; 8:12-13; Philippians 2:12-16; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 14). When individuals have responded to God’s will to obey Him, then God was pleased to bless those as He has promised that He would do. Enoch was a man that “walked with God” and as a result was eternally blessed (Genesis 5:24; Hebrews 11:5-6). Israel was blessed when they obeyed God (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). Then we can read about how the church also is blessed through obedience (Matthew 25:21, 34-40; Mark 10:29-30; Hebrews 5:9; Revelation 2:10-11). We also learn that God has punished those that have decided to disobey Him. The world in the days of Noah was destroyed because of disobedience (Genesis 6:5-8). Israel (2 Chronicles 36:13-21). The church (Acts 5:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:1-5; 2 Peter 2:4-10). The final consequences are this: If we obey, eternal life (Revelation 2:7; 3:5,12,21; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17). If we disobey, eternal damnation (Romans 2:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10; Revelation 20:15; 21:8; 22:15). Have you determined within your heart to obey the commandments and DO the will of the Lord?

Thursday, January 10, 2019

I Am on the Lord's Side

In our song books we sing a song entitled “Who Will Follow Jesus?” The chorus of that song says: “Who will follow Jesus? Who will make reply, I am on the Lord’s side; Master, here am I.” Those words no doubt are taken from the book of Matthew, chapter 12, verse 30, where Jesus said: “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad.” Jesus plainly taught that we are either for Him or we’re against Him. We cannot serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We’re either on the Lord’s side or we’re not.


Why Be On The Lord's Side?
We must strive to be on the Lord’s side because if we aren’t then there is no hope of eternal salvation! In Matthew 1:21 it says: “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” It is only through Jesus Christ that we can have forgiveness of sins and therefore we all should want to be on His side and follow His commandments. When we are on the Lord’s side we are profited. In 1 Corinthians 15:58 the apostle Paul said: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” When we are on the Lord’s side then we will want to abound in all the work of the Lord. When we love doing something, then we do it to the best of our ability, knowing that our work is not in vain because we are enjoying it.

All of us should look to our service for Christ the same way. We should enjoy being on the Lord’s side and therefore do everything we do with fervent zeal, knowing that our eternal peace will someday be realized, because we were always determined to do ALL the will of Jesus (Matthew 7:21). In addition, when we’re on the Lord’s side, then we will be happy in all things that we do (Ephesians 1:3). We also want to be on the Lord’s side because it is honorable (John 12:26). We will be glorified (Romans 8:17), will have peace (John 16:33), and will reign with Christ forever (2 Timothy 2:12) when we make it known that we are on the Lord’s side!


Who Is On His Side?
Individuals show that they are on the Lord’s side by believing in Jesus to the point of doing His will. In Hebrews 11:6, the Hebrew writer said: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” When we have faith in God, then others will see our faith and be able to see that we are on His side, not Satan’s. When we truly believe in God, knowing that we will be rewarded by our life’s service to Him (2 Timothy 4:8), then we can be effective teachers in His kingdom. 

Not only the believers, but the whole-hearted (Matthew 12:30), and those that overcome the world (Revelation 17:14), will be counted as being on His side. When one chooses to come out from the world and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17) then they are making a statement by letting others know that they are choosing to be on the Lord’s side. Only the faithful, and those that endure to the very end will be on His side forever (2 Timothy 2:12).


In What Should We Be With Him?
When one chooses to be on the Lord’s side then one has chosen to be with the Lord in death (Galatians 2:20; 2 Timothy 2:11), in burial (Colossians 2:12), and in the resurrection (Romans 6:5; Colossians 2:12). When one is baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38), they have chosen to be with the Lord in the likeness of His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6:3-5). Afterwards, one will serve Him in his manner of life (2 Timothy 2:12) and that includes any suffering that may come our way in our physical life (Romans 8:17).  Don’t leave the Lord and return to the ways of the world (Galatians 5:4). Are you on the Lord’s side? Are you determined right now to serve Him daily so that you can spend an eternity with Him in heaven?

Friday, January 4, 2019

What Must I Do To Be Saved?

In Acts 16:16-34 we can read about what led to and the conversion of the Philippian Jailer. Paul and Silas were cast into prison for preaching the truth and for casting out a "spirit of divination" from a fortune telling slave girl. It is interesting to note in verse 18 after Paul had commanded the spirit to come out of her, that her masters only saw that their way of making money had disappeared instead of seeing the work of God. In a rage, they brought Paul and Silas before the magistrates and falsely accused them. As a result they were stripped of their clothes, beaten, and cast into prison where this jailer was charged to keep them safely.


The Earthquake
While in prison, Paul and Silas stayed true to God and were singing and praying to Him. When the earthquake hit, the record says that the doors were opened, and their bands were loosed. The jailer being awakened by the earthquake thought that all the prisoners had escaped and was getting ready to kill himself when Paul exclaimed "Do thyself no harm: for we are all here"(Acts 16:28). Quite opposite of the slave-girl's masters reaction, the jailer realized this was an act of God and fell down before Paul and Silas and said Sirs, "what must I do to be saved?"This is incredible when you think about it. Here is a pagan soldier, who just moments before was unaware of his need to be saved, and now was eager to know the truth and how he could be saved. How good it would be if everyone had the heart of this jailer, who was ready and willing to do whatever it took to be saved.


The Jailer and You
Do you realize that you and I are in the very same situation? We live perched on the edge of forever everyday (James 4:14; Hebrews 9:27). Do you continue to conduct your life as though you will never have to stand before God and answer for your deeds? You will (2 Corinthians 5:10). Do you think God will overlook your rebellion to obey Him? He won't (Revelation 1:8). Our life is short and therefore we should strive to do whatever we can to ensure that we are saved. We should ask "What must I do to be saved?"


Paul's Answer
Paul spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer (Acts 16:31-32). It is only God's word that can take away guilt and remove the barrier of sin that separates us from God (Isaiah 59:2; Romans 1:16). The word of the Lord told the jailer that he had to believe (Hebrews 11:6), but that is not all because belief alone will not save us (James 2:19-24). Paul's answer to the jailer led the jailer to DO what was necessary unto salvation. In verses 33-34, we can see that the jailer's faith in God was not a dead faith, but an active, living, obeying, saving faith. As a result he was baptized for the forgiveness of sins. The burden of guilt was removed and he received God's gift of salvation (Ephesians 2:8). This very same gift is available to you today!


The Jailer Did Not Wait
Unlike many people today, the jailer did not wait to be saved. Once he knew what he needed to do, "the same hour" he was baptized. Are you waiting? If your life is not right with God, why are you waiting? It is a terrible thing to put off a chance for eternal salvation. Won't you make your life right with God, who loves you so much that He sent His only Son Jesus to die for you (John 3:16)? Have you heard the WORD OF THE LORD? If so, what are you WAITING for?

Thursday, December 27, 2018

The Lack of Knowledge

Hosea wrote: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame” (Hosea 4:6-7). God became very angry with the children of Israel because they continually rejected the knowledge, the law that they had received by God. As a result of this rejection to do what was right, God destroyed the children of Israel.

God Laid Down the Law

Long, long ago, God laid down the law for man. From Adam to Jacob God had taught Israel through the Patriarchal law. In Genesis 18:17-19 it says: “And the LORD said, "Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing, since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him, that they keep the way of the LORD, to do righteousness and justice, that the LORD may bring to Abraham what He has spoken to him.” We can see where God gave instructions (knowledge) to Abraham on how he was to command his children and his household after him. Abraham was to make sure they kept God’s way, ensuring that they were doing what was right. Later, God laid down the Mosaical Law that was in effect from Moses all the way until Christ died on the cross. We learn from Galatians 3:23-24 that the law was the teacher to bring man up to the point of Christ. “...we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” However, during these two periods of law that were given by God, man did not always heed God’s commands and therefore, many were destroyed because of their lack of knowledge!

Lack of Knowledge Displayed By Actions

In the Old Testament we can read in several places things that God’s children did that showed a lack of knowledge. In Proverbs 22:6 we can read where the parents did not train up their children properly. Parents, we have been given knowledge today on how to raise our children. Children are to be brought “up in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Have we learned anything from God’s people of old? Are we taking the knowledge that God has given to us and using it properly in this area, or are we lacking? In Judges 6:13,25 we can read where they had idols in their homes. Do we have idols in our homes today that keep us from gaining Bible knowledge? We can read earlier in Hosea 4:1-3 that the families were too involved in the affairs of life, and did not gain the knowledge to do what was right, even though it was offered to them. Are we ignoring God’s word to us and getting caught up in the affairs of life? In Second Chronicles 34 we can read where God’s people “lost the book!” How could they gain knowledge if they didn’t even have “the book?” Can you find God’s book in your home today? Is it put aside on Sunday and looked for diligently just before you run out the door on the way to services the following Sunday?

In many ways God’s people today are not much different than His people of many years ago. In both cases many have a lack of knowledge of God’s commandments because they do not WANT to set the time aside to learn and practice God’s will. What happens to individuals that are lacking in knowledge? They are destroyed! If our actions say “I’m rejecting knowledge”, then we need to change before it is everlastingly too late! Gaining the knowledge of God is not a mystery. We are commanded to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Living Faithfully

We can read in the second book of Timothy where the apostle Paul exhorted young Timothy to live a faithful life unto the Lord. The instructions that he gave him are inspired instructions for us today. Let’s look at this passage of scripture and then I’ll make some comments regarding some of the things that Paul points out. “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier. And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. The hard-working farmer must be first to partake of the crops. Consider what I say, and may the Lord give you understanding in all things. 22) Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:1-7, 22-26).

Endure Hardship

When we are determined to study God’s Word and to apply His teaching in our life, then we will be able to endure hardship. No matter what Satan throws our way, we will be able to overcome. We can never walk in the steps of the Savior if we don’t learn what it is that we must do to walk in His steps. Jesus said: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). He has promised us that if we will take up His yoke, and learn about Him, then we will find rest for our souls. The faithful man of God is the one that really trusts in the Lord and counts on Him to deliver the faithful from the Devil.

Paul explains to Timothy (and to us), that we must endure hardship if we are to be counted worthy of Christ. A soldier of Christ is one that will do whatever it takes to please Him. If we are honestly, sincerely striving to please Jesus, then we WILL NOT get involved with the various affairs of this life which do not promote good, honest, Christian living. We should be busy pleasing our Lord!

Pursue Righteousness

We are encouraged to “pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace”. I just don’t understand why it is that individuals become Christians, and yet never really want to live as a Christian. I used to play baseball and I loved to play baseball from the time I was ten until my mid-thirties. When I put on that uniform and took the field, I was determined to do the very best I could for the team and myself. I practiced hard and played hard as I tried to become the best player I possibly could be. Here’s my point; If I was not determined to do the best I could in baseball, why play? Why should I pretend to want to play baseball if my heart was not really into it? When I became a Christian, I decided to live my life the very best I could for the Lord. In order to do that, to pursue righteousness, and the love of God, it meant that there were some things in this life that I could not do. Being a disciple of Christ means that I have to be careful where I go, what I watch, what I do, what I wear, what I say, and what I think. Paul said in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-- meditate on these things.” 

Correct Those Who Are In Opposition

A faithful Christian who cares about the souls of others will do what they can to correct those who are in opposition to the truth. Sometimes this is not pleasant but must be done so that they may see their error, repent, and escape the snare of the Devil. Remember, if you are ever corrected by a loving saint, count it a blessing, because they care for your soul.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is a distinct member of the “Godhead” (Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). The Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4), and He is distinct from the Father and the Son (John 14:26; Acts 10:38). He was active in creation (Genesis 1:2, 26-27; Job 26:13; Psalm 104:30). He was given to the apostles to reveal “all truth” so that they could preach the gospel or “shew you things to come” (John 16:13). When people believed this preaching, they obeyed and were then saved: “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21).

The coming of the Holy Spirit on the apostles included the ability to work miraculous gifts, such as speaking in tongues in Acts 2:5-12 (cp. 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 for a list of spiritual gifts). These gifts could only be transferred through the laying on of the apostles’ hands (Acts 8:18). Paul stated that these gifts would cease in 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. No one today possesses gifts such as healing or speaking in tongues. The Holy Spirit was given to confirm the word of God (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:1-4). After the word was “once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), the gifts were no longer needed.

The Holy Spirit also indwells in us. He does not do it by physically entering our body, helping us to make decisions or “steering” us in the right direction. The Holy Spirit is in us like God is in us (1 John 4:15) and Christ is in us (Colossians 1:27). As long as you and I live by the Holy Spirit’s law (the Bible), He will dwell within us, and we will be guided by His wonderful precepts. At that point, we will “walk in the Spirit” and produce the fruit of the Spirit in our lives (Galatians 5:16, 22-23). Conversely, if we do not obey, we will “grieve” the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30). Let the word dwell in you and faithfully adhere to it.

Written by: Kyle Campbell

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Obedient Faith

Many denominations believe that we are saved by faith BEFORE we do the action in accordance with God’s command. No doubt you have seen those on television attending a huge denominational service that are invited to come forward at the conclusion of the service and to simply say that they believe in Jesus Christ. By admitting to this, they have “let Jesus come into their heart” and are saved at that point in their life. What we see then is that many denominations that are made by man will try to get us to believe that we are justified by faith BEFORE we obey God! But I ask “where in the Bible does it tell of any person that was saved by belief or faith only?” We know that salvation must depend on something more than belief in Christ only because in James 2:19 it says: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-- and tremble!” We see from this passage of scripture that long ago James wrote to those of his day and to all generations to follow that belief alone will not cut it. Everyone can believe in Jesus but only a few will allow their belief in Him to live through obedient works. The very next verse says: “But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”

Bible Examples of Obedient Faith
Men are justified in God’s sight ONLY when they are obedient to His Word. This has been proven throughout the Old Testament which we have for our learning (Romans 15:4), but is recorded in the New Testament showing that it is just as valid today. In each one of these Bible examples ask yourself this question: “At what point were these individuals justified in the sight of God, before or after their works?”

Abel: Hebrews 11:4 "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks.”

Noah: Hebrews 11:7 “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”

Abraham: Hebrews 11:8 “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.”
Hebrews 11:17 “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son.”

Walls of Jericho: Hebrews 11:30 “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days.”

Obedience to the Faith
We know that each and every one of these individuals had a deep faith in God, a total belief in God, but they were justified in God’s sight ONLY after they DID the action in which they were asked to do by God. Paul wrote in Romans 16:26: “but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.” In closing let’s let James tie it all together for us: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also” (James 2:21,24,26). I encourage you to be determined to be justified by God’s law and not man’s (Acts 5:29)?