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 :


              July 2011



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HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT HOMOSEXUALITY? (PART 2)


We read about homosexual activity in Romans 1,26,27: “(26) For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. (27) Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Please observe the following truths about homosexual conduct that are found in this text:
(1) It is a demonstration of “vile passions” (26).
(2) Males being with females is “natural,” but females united with females in sexual union is “against nature” (26,27).
(3) Homosexual conduct is “shameful” (27).
(4) Homosexuality is “error” (27).
(5) Homosexuality has a “penalty” – it deserves to be punished (27): “. . . those who practice such things are deserving of death” (1:32).

1 Corinthians 6:9,10 is another strong message about homosexuality. There it is written, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.” In God’s sight, homosexuality is sinful.

Some people of our day apparently believe that homosexuality is something new. The example of the homosexuals in ancient Sodom proves that this notion is false (Genesis 19:4-7).

Others seem to think that only those of the younger generation ever have a homosexual lifestyle. Not so. Those Sodomites that had unnatural sexual desires for other men were “both old and young” (Genesis 19:4).

Many today suggest that homosexuality is “an alternative lifestyle – all have the right to choose.” It is true that God grants humans the freedom to make choices in this and other matters, but that does not mean that the Lord is pleased with every choice we make. If homosexuality is not acceptable to God, then it is wrong, regardless of how many advocates it may have. We have already seen plain scriptural proof that homosexuality is sinful. God calls it “an abomination.”

“But people cannot help it. They were born that way (with a built-in attraction for those of the same sex).” What have we seen? Homosexuality is a violation of God’s law. God says that homosexual and lesbian relationships are “against nature” (Romans 1:26,27). God holds homosexuals accountable for their conduct. We know that this is the case because the Bible says that fornicators and homosexuals cannot enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). If this were something that was out of a person’s control, then God, our fair and righteous Creator and Judge, would never hold such people responsible. “Being gay” is a choice.

“But many religious leaders are endorsing homosexuality and gay marriages. If such people stand behind those who are gay, then there must not be anything wrong with it.” It is true that some in religious circles are advocating acceptance of homosexual relations. Some denominations now have “ordained” homosexuals serving in some leadership capacity. Human beings, including those that are well respected in religious communities, do not have the authority to decide what is acceptable in the moral realm. That authority belongs only to Jesus, because He has all authority in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). If every religious leader on earth would begin to proclaim that God accepts homosexuality, their spread of such a falsehood could never change what the Bible says, nor could it turn an abomination into an acceptable form of behavior!

What can Christians do about the plague of homosexuality? First of all, this is a serious matter, so we must not be apathetic about it. The situation will not get better by God’s people sitting by and remaining silent. We must speak out! Those homosexuals that do not repent and obey the gospel will be lost forever (1 Corinthians 6:9,10). The same is true for any member of the church that has fallen into this sinful lifestyle.

Second, we must maintain a proper attitude toward those who are homosexuals. Like Jesus did, we must hate the sin, but love the person that sins (Luke 15:1,2). This is not always easy to do. We must not be silent over gay relationships, but at the same time, we must be courteous and never belligerent (1 Peter 3:8). Remember, homosexuality does not condemn a person any more than other sins do. Homosexuals need the gospel just like all other sinners do. By God’s grace, homosexuals can be saved, if they will repent and obey God’s truth. In the first century, there were some saints in the church at Corinth who had been homosexuals before their conversion (1 Corinthians 6:9,10).

The Bible’s message about same-sex relationships is clear. We must kindly, yet forcefully and without apology, sound forth the Bible’s message so that all may know the plain truth about homosexuality.





THE FAILURES OF AARON IN THE GOLDEN CALF INCIDENT


One of the most memorable events in the whole Bible is recorded in Exodus 32 – the Israelites worshipping a golden calf at Mount Sinai. When you think about it, what Israel did on that occasion really was incredible. Why? Because of where it took place – at a site that God had consecrated (Exodus 19:23). Why was it incredible? Because of what Israel already knew – that it was wrong to worship idols (Exodus 20:1-4). It was also amazing because of what Moses was doing at the time – he was on Mount Sinai, receiving the Ten Commandments in written form from Jehovah (Exodus 31:18). Perhaps what made it most incredible was who it was that led Israel in making the golden calf – Aaron, Israel’s first high priest.

When Aaron helped the Israelites make and worship a golden calf, he failed both his brethren and the God of heaven. On this occasion, Aaron failed in the kind of leadership that he offered. Through Aaron’s influence, the Israelites “corrupted themselves” and “turned aside quickly out of the way” that God commanded them (Exodus 32:7,8). In fact, the Bible indicates that Aaron not only played a role in the making of the idol, but he himself was the one who was ultimately responsible for the sin of Israel in this instance. Aaron is the one that told the people to bring their gold to him, then “he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a molded calf” (Exodus 32:4). What were the consequences? “So the Lord plagued the people because of what they did with the calf which Aaron made” (Exodus 32:35). Who made it? Aaron did.

What kind of leadership did Israel deserve to receive from Aaron? Godly leadership that stood committed to guiding the nation in adhering to God’s law. Instead, what they got from Aaron was spiritually weak guidance that helped take them into sin. As a leader, Aaron should have stood against any sinful proposal that the people presented. The people appealed to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us . . .” (Exodus 32:1). Let’s face it: Aaron compromised the truth.

In order to stand against error or sinful practices, leaders of God’s people must have knowledge of His word (Isaiah 5:20). Beyond that, God’s leaders must seek to please Him instead of men (Acts 5:29). Why did Aaron make the golden calf? Because the people wanted it! We must ask, “Aaron, what were you thinking?!” God’s faithful servants seek to please Him and not humans (Galatians 1:10). Furthermore, leaders of God’s nation must have the courage to make the choices that are in the best spiritual interest of the Lord’s Cause. Having knowledge about the proper course of action is essential, but not sufficient. The Lord’s leaders must not allow the spirit of fear to prevent them from doing what is right in the Lord’s sight (2 Timothy 1:7). Aaron had the opportunity to stop Israel from even beginning the disastrous process of worshipping a false god. When he failed to step up and speak out, he failed: he failed both his people and his Lord. Sometimes the leaders of God’s people must declare boldly to those who want to bring in unscriptural practices, “We are going to do what the Bible teaches, and we are not going to add anything to it. And, it does not matter who opposes us, who gets mad, or how many people threaten to leave the congregation. We are going to stick with God’s way because it is right.” Aaron could have done that, too, but he chose not to.

In the golden calf fiasco, Aaron also failed the test of honesty. When Aaron tried to explain to his brother, Moses, about what took place, part of what he said was accurate: “For they said to me, Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him” (Exodus 32:23). On the other hand, Aaron was not totally honest in what he said. He told Moses, “And I said to them, Whoever has any gold, let them break it off. So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out” (Exodus 32:24). So, presto, poof, magic, the calf just came out of the fire. Did Aaron really expect Moses and God to believe such a fairy tale? Here is a lesson to remember. God’s people must have total confidence in the integrity of their leaders. When leaders lose the reputation of being honest, they lose their influence and lose their followship. At times it seems that the devil turns up the pressure on us to lie, but we must not give in to the temptation to do so. Jehovah is a God of truth, and He expects us to be truthful, too (Deuteronomy 32:4).

Aaron failed in another way by not taking responsibility for his actions. He blamed the Israelites for making and worshipping the golden calf, saying, “You know the people, that they are set on evil” (Exodus 32:22). The people? What about you, Mr. Leader? You are the one that told them what to do and then you carved the idol yourself. The people? Aaron, you sound like Adam and Eve trying to blame their sin on others (Genesis 3). Yes, it is easier to point an accusing finger at others, but God’s leaders must be brave enough to admit their faults. God’s people have a lot more respect for leaders that admit their failures than they do for those who deny them or try to hide them. Let us all remember that we personally are responsible for what we do, and the God of heaven holds us accountable for our actions (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Aaron had some real bright spots in his life. His role in the golden calf debacle was not one of them. Let us not forget that this was all recorded in the Bible for our benefit (1 Corinthians 10:7,11).




WHO SAYS THAT CHRISTIANS CANNOT BE HAPPY AND HAVE FUN?


Some people seem to have the idea that Christians should never be happy, never smile, and never have fun. They apparently are convinced that if you are a Christian, then life is pure drudgery, a real burden, and no fun at all. While it is true that the Lord wants us to work (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12) and to be sober-minded in character (1 Peter 1:13), it is not true that happiness and fun times are forbidden for God’s children. The Bible plainly declares, “A merry heart does good, like medicine” (Proverbs 17:22).

It is okay for God’s people to be happy, upbeat people. In fact, that is the kind of people that we ought to be. Here are a few reasons why members of the Lord’s church ought to be the happiest people in the world.

1. God wants us to be happy. “Rejoice always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16). “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4).

2. We have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. The Father “. . . conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13,14). That eunuch from Africa rejoiced after he was baptized into the Lord and had his sins washed away (Acts 8:35-39).

3. God supplies us with all spiritual blessings. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3).

4. We are the Lord’s friends. Before we obeyed the gospel, we were His enemies. “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled” (Colossians 1:21). Abraham was God’s friend (James 2:23), and Jesus told His disciples, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (John 15:14).

5. We have fellowship with the greatest people in the world because we are part of the best family in the world. The church is the house or family of the living God (1 Timothy 3:15). When one obeys the gospel, he/she becomes a child of God and is entitled to the fellowship and blessings of the family of God (Galatians 3:26,27). Those that forsake all to follow Jesus are given houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children. How? Through the great brotherhood that is ready to help and serve them (Mark 10:30; 1 Peter 2:17).

6. We are headed to an eternal house. “For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). Yes, the followers of the Christ have a living hope, looking “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven” for them (1 Peter 1:3,4).

7. Happy saints attract others, but sad, sour saints that are always negative and pessimistic turn others off. The apostle Paul learned to be content, despite facing less-than-ideal situations in life (Philippians 4:11-13). From a Roman prison he time and again exhorted the saints in Philippi to be people of joy. Having that mentality is a matter of choice. I think Paul’s attitude would have moved them to work at being happy, don’t you?

8. When we walk in the light, we know that we are doing what the Lord wants (1 John 1:7). That certainly gives us a sense of satisfaction, a sense of fulfilling our real purpose in life.

So, yes, God’s children need to be happy people. And, it is okay for members of the church to have fun along life’s way. When it comes to fun and happiness, perhaps some reminders will be helpful.

(1) It is alright to have fun, but it is not acceptable to have fun that is a violation of God’s will. In other words, sinful fun is out. The world’s idea of fun is often unlawful behavior, such as drinking parties (1 Peter 4:3,4), drugs, outside-of-marriage sex, gambling, looking at pornography, or even verbally attacking other people in sarcastic, belittling fashion. Works of the flesh close the door to heaven (Galatians 5:19-21).

(2) It is okay to have fun, but it is not okay to become obsessed with having fun (go to excess). Christians must not become fun addicts, acting as “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:4). In all things we must practice selfcontrol and avoid become the slaves of anything (1 Corinthians 6:12). Watch out for addiction in fun activities – things like video games, sports, or even sending text messages to friends.

(3) It is fine to have fun, but it is not permissible to allow fun to interfere with our commitment to God. Our number one commitment must always be to God and His affairs – no exceptions! (Matthew 6:33). When games/sports/fun activities conflict with the times that the church assembles, then one who chooses fun time over God’s time sins against the Lord and His body. Again, those who reduce their contribution in order to have more money to spend on fun activities are not setting their hearts on things above, are they? (Colossians 3:1,2).

(4) It is alright to have fun, but we must not forget that our God expects us to be wise and faithful stewards of the time and funds that He has placed in our hands (1 Corinthians 4:2). Let us not forget the Source of our blessings (including fun time) or the need for us to keep our priorities in order. Let us make sure to keep first things first.




Acts 18:8 – CONVERSIONS IN CORINTH


During the second preaching journey of the apostle Paul that is recorded in the Book of Acts, he spent over one and one-half years preaching the word of God in the city of Corinth (Acts 18:1-11). In a brief fashion, Acts 18:8 reveals what took place there after people heard Paul and others preach: “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”

In this case, the gospel was carried into “new territory” and a harvest came. Is that not exciting?! Let us break down the text and do a simple analysis.

“Crispus” – The name means “curled” [Smith’s Bible Dictionary]. The only other Bible verse in which Crispus is mentioned is 1 Corinthians 1:14, which reads, “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius.” That is helpful information to have at your disposal if you hear someone falsely claim, “Well, Crispus was never baptized.” Oh, but he was. The Bible says so.

“The ruler of the synagogue” – The word “synagogue” is used over 40 times in the New Testament, often in connection with the life of the Christ and the later work of His apostles. “The word synagogue (sunagoge), which means a ‘congregation,’ is used in the New Testament to signify a recognized place of worship [of the Jews practicing Judaism, rdc] . . . They appear to have arisen during the exile, in the abeyance of the temple-worship, and to have received their full development on the return of the Jews from captivity” [Smith’s]. In Crispus’ role as the synagogue’s ruler, “It was his duty to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage” [Thayer, word no. 752].

God wants all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), including those who are the slaves of religious error. We should never think that those who are in positions of leadership in false religions “would never accept the gospel.” Crispus did. So did many Jewish priests (Acts 6:7), Simon the sorcery guy (Acts 8:9,13), and zealous Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9). In modern times, we have heard of workers in Buddhist temples, denominational pastors, and other religious leaders obeying the gospel. Let us never doubt the power of the gospel (Romans 1:16,17), and let us never disregard a potential prospect just because he/she is caught up in religious falsehood.

“Believed on the Lord” – Do not let this expression disturb you. The Bible clearly teaches that justification or salvation is “by faith” (Romans 5:1). In addition to Acts 18:8, other verses in the same book also put the spotlight on believing. “. . . many of those who heard the word believed . . . (4:4). Those same people were later described as “the multitude of them that believed . . .” (4:32). “And believers were increasingly added to the Lord . . . and many believed on the Lord” (5:14; 9:42).

The kind of faith that pleases the Lord is one in which a person trusts in Him and willingly submits to His will. In the New Testament, when the words “faith” or “believe” are mentioned as the single condition of salvation, they are employed as a synecdoche – “a figure of speech in which a part is used for a whole” [www.yourdictionary.com]. Thus, in Acts 18:8, to say that Crispus “believed” means that he did what the Lord requires every person to do in order to be saved. “Believed” stands for all that is included in obeying the gospel. Since God does not show partiality, the requirements of repentance and baptism for the remission of sins that the Jews heard on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:38) applied to the ruler of the synagogue in Corinth, too.

“With all his household” – No, that expression does not include tiny children. Such little ones cannot believe, but Crispus did. Little ones are not capable of receiving the word (Acts 2:41), but Crispus did. And, little fellows are not capable of making a personal decision to be baptized, but Crispus did (1 Corinthians 1:14). Anyone in the “household” of Crispus that joined him in becoming a follower of the Christ was mentally capable of understanding, believing, and obeying the gospel.

“Many of the Corinthians” – In general, there are few that travel the path to eternal life (Matthew 7:13,14). Yet, in Corinth, there were many. That is great, but let us not become obsessed with numbers. Instead, let us be content to keep our hand to the plow and sow the seed. God will take care of the increase.

“Hearing, believed and were baptized” – The same thing was said about people in Samaria when Philip preached there (Acts 8:12). Such statements bring to mind the words of the Master that are recorded in Mark 16:15,16. What about the person that hears the gospel, then responds in belief and baptism? Our Lord says that he “will be saved.” I would not want to be in the shoes of anyone that argues with Jesus’ teaching that baptism comes before salvation, would you?!

I look forward to seeing Crispus and other saints from Corinth in heaven. What a reunion that will be!


~ Roger D. Campbell ~


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