A monthly publication by the Klang Church of Christ, containing articles written by bro. Roger D. Campbell, to help educate, edify, encourage and equip the saints of God.


I S S U E   N U M B E R :


            August 2011



Return to Contents Page

GOD KNOWS


Have you ever stopped to consider everything that the God of heaven knows? Time and again in the Bible we read about His marvelous knowledge. It amazes us and causes us to be in awe of Him.

The Bible declares that “God is greater than our heart, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20). The Psalmist also pointed to the Lord’s unlimited knowledge: “Great is our LORD, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5). In our arrogance, we may sometimes boast of our knowledge. When we do that, we must sound so foolish to the One that created us, as the level of our knowledge is microscopic to the nth power in comparison to what the Almighty knows!

God’s knowledge of all things includes the activities of the past, present, and future. Since God knows how this world came into existence, let us take His word for it. Men may argue with what God tells us in Genesis 1, they may scoff at it, they may try to block it out of their minds, or they may try to hinder others from accepting it, but God’s truth still stands: “. . . He who built all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). The Godhead, and only the Godhead, was present at the time this world came into being. Wise men and women accept what God tells us about the earth’s beginning because He knows exactly what took place.

God knows everything that is happening at the present hour, too. How silly the prophet Jonah was for thinking that he could flee “from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:3). No one can do that, my friend! We might be able to hide some things that we do from some people part of the time, but we can never hide anything from the all-seeing eyes of our Lord: “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him who whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:13). Even as you are reading this sentence, God sees every action of every human everywhere in the universe, whether it be good of bad. The Bible says that He will judge each of us for “every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

God’s knowledge of the future is equally unlimited. That is why He could foretell the names of future kings (such as Cyrus, Isaiah 44:28) and amazing future events (such as the virgin giving birth to the Christ, Isaiah 7:14). Note this, however. While it is true that God knows in advance what will happen, His knowledge does not violate or hinder humans’ freedom of choice. Humans make their own decisions. God knows in advance what those choices will be, and He may or may not approve of them, but He never overrides people’s freedom to make them.

Consider another aspect of God’s knowledge as it relates to our service to Him. God knows just what humans need for their spiritual well-being. He charged the Israelites, “And you shall do what is right and good in the sight of the LORD, that it may be well with you . . .” (Deuteronomy 6:18). God knows what is best for us. People may think that their way is right, they may feel that their path is a good one, and they may be committed to what their heart tells them is the way to go, but in reality, “. . . the way of man is not in himself; It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps” (Jeremiah 10:23). The truth is, God, and God alone, knows what is best for us. He knows exactly what we need in the spiritual realm.

God not only knows what information is needed for our spiritual education and edification; He also knows how to communicate that to mankind. Men are often critical of the Bible, faulting it for not containing information about certain topics that they think it should include. Are there some subjects about which we would like to know more? Of course, but we must never doubt God or His word simply because the Bible does not give us details about a particular topic. God has never promised to satisfy man’s curiosity about everything under the sun. What God has done is give us His word to be a light for our paths (Psalm 119:105). That word “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16,17).

The Lord also “knows those who are His” (2 Timothy 2:19). And, when His children struggle or are hurting, He knows that, too. He not only knows about our trials, but He cares. So what does He tell us to do? “Cast(ing) all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

God knows. He knows all that happens, He knows what we need, and He knows what we face in life. Let us commit our souls to Him (1 Peter 4:19).





KING JEHOSHAPHAT’S EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN GOD’S PEOPLE


Jehoshaphat, the son of Asa, was the fourth king in the history of Judah. Like everyone that has lived on the earth except Jesus the Messiah, he was not faultless. Yet, as we read about his life and reign in 2 Chronicles 17-20, we cannot help but notice his attempts to influence the Lord’s people to serve Him faithfully. What do we see in Jehoshaphat’s life?

Here is Jehovah’s general assessment of the kind of person that Jehoshaphat was: “Now the LORD was with Jehoshaphat, because he walked in the former ways of his father David; he did not seek the Baals, but sought the God of his father, and walked in His commandments and not according to the acts of Israel” (2 Chronicles 17:3,4). A person’s character is determined by his heart. What kind of heart did Jehoshaphat possess? “And his heart took delight in the ways of the LORD,” as he had prepared his heart “to seek God” (2 Chronicles 17:6; 19:3). If Jehoshaphat was going to be able to influence Judah in a positive, helpful way, then he must begin by being the right type of example – one that strove to please God.

What specific actions did King Jehoshaphat take in order to help the nation of Judah be on the right spiritual path? Early in his reign “He removed the high places and wooden images from Judah” (2 Chronicles 17:6). There was no room among God’s people for idolatry. Hearts that are divided between the one, true God and anything or anyone else will never produce the spiritual fruit that the Lord wants to see from His people. Jehoshaphat understood that.

God’s people will never do what is right until they know what is right. Jehoshaphat put in place a nationwide teaching program that was intended to provide the proper spiritual education that the people of Judah needed so badly. “Also in the third year of his reign he sent his leaders . . . to teach in the cities of Judah. And with them he sent Levites . . . and with them . . . the priests. So they taught in Judah, and had the Book of the Law of the Lord with them; they went throughout all the cities of Judah and taught the people” (2 Chronicles 17:7-9). What an exciting undertaking! Give Jehoshaphat credit. He saw what needed to be done, he organized the teachers, and he put the teachers to work teaching the right message throughout the whole nation. Good things happen when God’s people make a serious effort to learn and teach the Book!

We further read that Jehoshaphat “went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim, and brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers” (2 Chronicles 19:4). Church leaders, are you paying attention to what the king did? He went out and worked among the people! And what was his intent? To bring them back to Jehovah. He obviously saw that they had gone astray, leaving them in spiritual peril. What could be done? He got personally involved! He did what he could to bring them back to where they needed to be, which was fully devoted to the Lord. Restoring the erring is a work that deserves our greatest efforts today, too (Galatians 6:1,2; James 5:19,20).

Jehoshaphat charged those men that were involved in carrying out judgment in the land to do so “in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart” (2 Chronicles 19:9). He warned them to do their jobs the right way and exhorted them, “Behave courageously, and the LORD will be with the good” (2 Chronicles 19:10,11). So, in that process the king delegated authority, he held people accountable for their conduct, and he used proper mental motivation to encourage them to do what needed to be done. Jehoshaphat realized that getting the nation to buy into the notion of doing things God’s way at all times was not a one-man job. He got others involved, and he made sure that they knew that it had to be done the right way each time. Church leaders, are we listening?

Later during Jehoshaphat’s rule, when foreign nations came up to battle against Judah, Jehoshaphat had a potential crisis on his hands. He was afraid. The Bible says so. Despite that fear, he “set himself to seek the LORD, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:3). Then, after God’s messenger told Jehoshaphat and the people not to fear their adversaries, “Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the LORD, worshiping the LORD” (2 Chronicles 20:18). God’s people are blessed when their leaders humbly lead them in praising and honoring Him!

But what could Judah do to prepare for the armies that were bearing down on their land? Here is what Jehoshaphat told them to do: “Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (2 Chronicles 20:20). In short, stick with God and His word. Trust in the Lord and He will get you through this. Brothers and sisters, regardless of the challenges that we face in life, trusting in the Lord with all of our heart must be our approach (Proverbs 3:5). How wonderful that Jehoshaphat understood that salvation was not in him, but in the Lord God. How blessed the people of God were to hear him affirm that truth and demonstrate it in his life.

We are perplexed when we read that Jehoshaphat more than once made the horrible choice to support and help ungodly kings from the Northern Kingdom. But, overall he had a heart that delighted in God’s ways, and he set his heart to doing his best to help strengthen God’s people. Let us learn from him.




WHAT WOULD LIFE BE LIKE WITHOUT THE LORD?


What a horrible thought! I cannot imagine trying to make it through life without having "the good Shepherd" (John 10:11), Who is the "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16), in my corner. But, what if? What if Jesus had never come into this world "to give his life a ransom?" (Mark 10:45). What if I had refused to believe and obey the gospel? Or, what if in the past I became a follower of God’s Son but later decided "to turn from the holy commandment?" (2 Peter 2:21). Friend, what kind of life would that be, if we had to live it without the Lord or chose to live without Him?

It would be a life without true meaning. Jesus came that we might have life, and that we might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). Aren’t we thankful that He did?! Jesus once told His apostles, ". . . without Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). But on the other hand, as the apostle Paul said, we "can do all things" through Him! (Philippians 4:13). The "whole" of man is to fear the Lord and keep His commandments. The Bible says so (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Yes, without the Lord, our life would be a life without true meaning.

It would also be a life without a totally reliable model to imitate. There are a lot of really fine people in this world. Some of them are worthy of imitation because they demonstrate in their lives wonderful behavior, pure speech, or a respectful attitude. Such rare people are a good pattern to follow most of the time. If you have read the Bible, then you know that no mere human is perfect. No mere human is a good example in every aspect of living all of the time. Each person makes mistakes. The Bible says that "all have sinned" (Romans 3:23); but not Jesus. He "committed no sin," and that is why He, and He alone, is One about Whom we can say to ourselves and others, ". . . you should follow His steps" (1 Peter 2:21,22). Take Jesus out of the picture and there would be no completely reliable pattern to follow.

In addition, life without the Lord would be a life without direction. Where am I going in my life? Where should I be heading in life? Jesus said, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life" (John 8:12). Following Jesus is the path of light. Through His word, the Lord provides a lamp for our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). Jesus has "the words of eternal life" (John 6:68). Without Him, we would have no clue about how we should walk.

We also know that life without the Lord would be a life without forgiveness. The wages of sin is death because sin separates a person from God (Romans 6:23; Isaiah 59:1,2). We could never come up with a scheme by which we could save ourselves. Thank God that He loved us so much that He sent Jesus "into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). The Bible says that in Jesus "we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Because Jesus is the only Savior, the only "name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12), without Him we could never enjoy the forgiveness of sins. Without such redemption, we would always carry about the burden and guilt of sin in our heart. How horrible it would be to have to face life without the Lord and His marvelous salvation. We should continually express our gratitude for all that the Lord has done to provide the remission of sins.

It is further true that a life without the Lord would be a life without hope. People that live without hope are miserable indeed. Jesus is the hope of the world: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the commandment of God our Savior and the Lord Jesus Christ, our hope" (1 Timothy 1:1). Through Jesus we can live "in hope of eternal life" (Titus 1:2). Christians have been begotten by God to possess a lively hope. That hope is to obtain the inheritance that the Lord has prepared – "an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven" (1 Peter 1:3,4). That is the only hope that is really worthy of man’s interest and effort.

What would my life be like without the Lord? It would be a life without true meaning, a life without a totally reliable model to imitate, a life without direction, a life without forgiveness, and a life without hope. The great thing is that none of us has to live such an empty and vain life without the Lord and His blessings. The choice is ours: we can either live life with Him, or live without Him. Let us choose wisely, for this choice will determine our eternal destiny. To live with Him, of course, means to live according to His will. Are you doing that?




Acts 2:42-47 – A GLIMPSE OF THE EARLY CHURCH


In fulfillment of His promise (Matthew 16:18), our Lord established His church in the city of Jerusalem on the first Day of Pentecost after He rose from the dead. There had never been a day like it in human history. On that day about 3000 people accepted the gospel message and were saved from their sins when they repented and were baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38-41). What an exciting start for the kingdom of God!

But what happened after those initial baptisms? What did the new converts do? In the last six verses of Acts 2, we get a glimpse of some of the things that were going on in the early church. Here is what is recorded in Acts 2:42-47:

(42) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43) Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. (44) Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, (45) and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. (46) So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, (47) praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

1) Those early disciples continued. They continued steadfastly (2:42). The thought is that they were constantly diligent; they were persevering. Being baptized into the Christ brings to an end the old life outside of Him, but it is only the beginning of the new life in and with Him. Every member of the church should be ready to continue steadfastly in the way of the Lord.

In what did the early saints continue in a steadfast manner? In the apostles’ teaching, in fellowship, in the breaking of bread (the Lord’s Supper, 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:20), and in prayers. It is obvious that the early disciples did not simply have their names on a membership list. They were personally involved in the Lord’s Cause.

2) In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, the church was reverent, as fear came on every soul (2:43). Serving God “acceptably with reverence and godly fear” (Hebrews 12:29) is what God expects of each of us.

3) We further see that the church was united, as the members were “together, and had all things in common” (2:44). We later read that they were “of one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32). Such unity is both powerful and priceless.

4) The early church was blessed with generous members. How did they demonstrate their generosity? They sold their possessions and shared them with those that needed them (2:45). Many continued to display a spirit of generosity, selling their possessions and turning over the proceeds to the apostles so that those who were lacking physical necessities might be aided (4:34,35).

5) First-century members of the church spent time with other Christians in public assemblies, but they also gathered in social settings outside of those worship assemblies. They ate meals together and were glad to be able to associate with one another (2:46). Congregations in which members do not enjoy being together and rarely spend time together in more relaxed, social meetings, often struggle to have and maintain an atmosphere that “feels like a real family.” A careful reading reveals that those early saints were spending time together on a daily basis (2:46). What a blessing!

6) In the early days of the church in Jerusalem, the saints were happy people. They ate food with gladness and simplicity of heart (2:46). Why shouldn’t members of the Lord’s body be happy?! We have a Savior in which to rejoice. We are forgiven of past transgressions, blessed immensely in the present, and have a matchless hope of great things to come in the future.

7) We also see those new-in-the-faith disciples praising God (2:47). Praising the Creator never becomes boring or “gets old” for those that are in love with Him and appreciate all that He has done for mankind. “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name” (Hebrews 13:15).

8) It is obvious that the early church was a teaching church. On a daily basis the Lord was adding saved people to His church (2:47). People are saved when they believe and obey the gospel. That can only happen after people have been taught the good news (Romans 10:13-17). So, since conversions were taking place every day, we conclude that the early church was actively spreading the word. Today do we match their zeal?

When we read those last few verses of Acts 2, we may find ourselves silently nodding in approval of all the good things that were going on. It is not enough, though, just to make a list of what the early church did. Let us learn from the early saints and strive to put into practice what they did so well.


~ Roger D. Campbell ~


Copyright © Jurong Church of Christ. All Rights Reserved. 120 Boon Lay Drive, Singapore 649924.                 Mandarin website