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 :


          November 2011



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ARE THE JEWS STILL THE CHOSEN PEOPLE OF GOD?


Have you ever given serious thought to this question? You may have done more than consider it. It may be the case that you have even discussed it with others. If you have heard others talk about it, then most likely you have observed three answers. Some vehemently deny that the Jews are still God’s special people. Others just as strongly affirm that they are. And, there are those folks that admit they do not know the correct answer (and may not really care). How does the Bible answer this inquiry?

The Israelites were the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob’s other name was “Israel” (Genesis 32:28), so all of his offspring were known as “Israelites” or “the children of Israel.” They later were identified also as “Jews.”

It is a fact that in the Old Testament era, the children of Israel were the chosen, special people of God. The Lord instructed Moses to tell the Israelites, “. . . if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people, for all the earth is Mine” (Exodus 19:5). Moses later reminded them, “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

What was the significance of the Israelites or Jews being God’s “chosen” people? Jesus was the Messiah, the “Seed” about whom Jehovah had spoken to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, promising that through their “Seed” all nations would be blessed (Galatians 3:16). The Christ came from the Jewish nation, making Him a Jew “according to the flesh” (Romans 9:5). When Jesus told a Samaritan woman that “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22), He did not mean that the Jews are the source of salvation. Only “the God of our salvation” (Psalm 69:18) can provide redemption. By God’s eternal plan, His Son would come to shed His blood, as a lamb without blemish or spot (1 Peter 1:18,19). When He became flesh (John 1:14) in order to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14), He was a Jew. That was the thrust of God calling the Israelites His “chosen” people. They were blessed to be the ones through whom the one-and-only Redeemer came.

So, if we are considering the past, yes, in God’s plan the Jews were His special people before the establishment of the Lord’s church. There are several New Testament facts that we need to recognize. First, in the Christian era the chosen of God are in the Christ, which is also where all spiritual blessings are available. “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, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world . . .” (Ephesians 1:3,4; emphasis mine in all Bible quotes, rdc). In the same manner, Paul addressed the Christians in Colosse as “the elect of God” (Colossians 3:12).

Again, in the gospel age it is Christians, not Jews, who are identified as “the people of God.” Hear Peter’s inspired description of Christians: “But you are a chosen generation a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people . . . who once were not a people, but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy” (1 Peter 2:9,10).

Who are the children of God today? Is it those who are biologically of the Jewish race? No. “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26,27). When one responds to the faith (the gospel) by believing and being baptized into the Christ, he becomes a child of God – a member of God’s family. All of God’s children are in the Christ. Or, said another way, God’s house or family is the church (1 Timothy 3:15).

What about the New Testament’s message about where saved people are located? Salvation or forgiveness is in the Christ (Ephesians 1:7). And to what does the Lord add saved people? To His church (Acts 2:47).

So, in the lingo of the new covenant, the chosen ones of God are in the Christ, God’s children are in the Christ, saved people are in the Christ, and God’s people are identified as Christians. According to the message of the gospel, a person is born into the nation or family of God through a spiritual birth (John 3:3,5). Does that mean, then, that physical Jews cannot be saved? Not at all. Any Jew after the flesh can become part of God’s family just like any non-Jew can. How? By obeying the gospel.





STUDYING OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECY (3)


Let us point out a few more matters to look for or to be aware of as we sink our teeth into the written messages of God’s inspired spokesmen. Here are some facts and principles to keep in mind.

• Not in chronological order – The order in which the 17 books from Isaiah to Malachi appear in our Bible is not chronological. For instance, the Book of Ezekiel comes before the Book of Jonah, but Jonah lived before Ezekiel did. In fact, even within a single prophetical book, things are not always written in chronological order. For example, Jeremiah 28 records the death of a false prophet in the beginning of the reign of Judah’s last king, Zedekiah (28:1), but Jeremiah 36 records that an earlier king, Jehoiakim, tried to destroy a written record of God’s word (36:9- 26). The truth is, the events recorded in chapter 36 preceded the ones that are recorded in chapter 28.

• “Prophetic perfect” – The prophets sometimes employed what is known as “prophetic perfect” language. With such language, a prophet predicted a future event, but because it was certain to happen, the prophet spoke of the event in the past tense – as if it had already taken place. In Isaiah 53:4,5 we read, “Surely He has born our griefs and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” These words clearly refer to Messiah, as proven by Acts 8:32-35. Yet, Isaiah wrote about 700 years before they transpired, speaking of them as if they had already happened. Again, that is called “prophetic perfect” language.

• The Jeremiah 18:7-10 principle – Sometimes the prophets by the Spirit foretold the fall or destruction of a city or nation. But what if the people involved turned from their wicked ways? In other cases, the prophets promised blessings from the Almighty. But what if the people turned from serving Him faithfully? How would the Lord deal with people in those instances when He had already spoken plainly about their doom or blessings? Jeremiah 18:7-10 gives God’s answer: “The instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, to pull down, and to destroy it, if that nation against whom I have spoken turns from its evil, I will relent of the disaster that I thought to bring upon it. And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight so that it does not obey My voice, then I will relent concerning the good with which I said I would benefit it.” These principles may not be stated explicitly in connection with every predictive prophecy, but they always apply. Do you recall what the prophet Jonah preached to the people of Nineveh? “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). But, after 40 days Nineveh was still standing. Why did the Lord fail to carry out the predicted destruction of the city? The Ninevites repented (Jonah 3:5-10). When that happened, the city was spared. That is an example of what I call “the Jeremiah 18:7-10 principle.” Remember it.

• “The day of the Lord” – One on-line concordance that I consulted indicates that this phrase is found 22 times from Isaiah 2:12 through Zechariah 14:1. Whereas “the day of the Lord” can refer to Jesus’ second coming (as in 2 Peter 3:10), in most instances in the Old Testament, this expression refers to a local judgment from Jehovah – a visitation from Him because of the evil of a city or nation. In order to understand which “day of the Lord” is intended in the prophets’ writings, one must note carefully the context of each passage. Here are a few samples of the warnings about an impending “day of the Lord”:

       Isaiah 13:6,9 – fall of Babylon (13:1)
       Jeremiah 46:10 – fall of Egypt (46:1,2,8)
       Ezekiel 30:3 – fall of Egypt & her supporters (30:4-6)
       Amos 5:18,20 – fall of Israel (5:1,4,5)
       Zephaniah 1:7,14,15,18 – fall of Judah (1:4)

In many verses we read the pre-B.C. prophets declaring that the day of the Lord was “at hand” for a particular nation or place of their generation. Such words obviously did not refer to Jesus 2nd coming.

• Variety of themes in a limited context – It is not uncommon to see the prophets “lift up their eyes” to the future and proclaim God’s word on a wide variety of topics, often with little or no attention given to any chronology of those events. A prophet may speak of one topic, then speak of a second one that is unrelated to the first, then come back to the original topic again. Consider Isaiah’s message. In chapter 2:2,3 he foretells of God’s house or church, in 9:6,7 it is the coming Messiah (9:6,7), in 13:1-10 it is the fall of Babylon (in B.C. 538), in 44:28 it is the role of King Cyrus in helping rebuild Jerusalem and its temple (B.C. 538- 516), and then in 40:3,4 it is the work of John the Baptizer, followed once more by references to the coming Messiah (53). So, be aware that in the prophets’ writings the subject matter can change abruptly within a limited context.

• Prophet impostors – Many that are identified in the prophet’s writings as “prophets” were actually false prophets. They were impostors, claiming to speak the Lord’s words, when, in reality, they spoke from their own imagination (Ezekiel 22:28). In contrast to the true spokesmen of God, the pseudo prophets, often from a covetous heart (Micah 3:11), spoke things that they thought the people wanted to hear instead of what they needed to hear (Jeremiah 6:14,15).

As we give serious attention to the message of God’s prophets in the Old Testament era, let us not miss the godly character which those faithful messengers demonstrated. “My brethren, take the prophets, who spoke in the name of the Lord, as an example of suffering and patience” (James 5:10).




SOME IMPORTANT “C’s” OF MARRIAGE


“Marriage,” “husband,” and “wife” are terms that we hear and use on a regular basis. From where do these concepts come? They come from the God of heaven. Marriage exists because our Creator willed it to be so. Though different marital customs exist among distinct ethnic groups or societies, every culture has the practice of marriage.

Marriage is a blessing from God to mankind, and we might add, among all of God’s creation, it is a blessing in which only humans are able to participate. Marriage itself is a good thing (Proverbs 18:22), as God says, “Marriage is honorable among all . . .” (Hebrews 13:4). When it comes to marriage, there are numerous “C” words that go along with it. Let us take a look at some of those concepts.

Crisis – There is a world-wide emergency that is never highlighted by news agencies. The emergency of which I speak is a variety of crises that surround marriage. First of all, there is the crisis of ignorance – a high percentage of earth’s inhabitants have no idea what God’s will is concerning marriage. Such ignorance leads to disastrous choices. A second crisis is the reality that marriages are crashing at an alarming rate. Marriages are failing right and left, even in the Lord’s church. A third crisis that I am embarrassed to admit is that some Christians do not seem to really care what the Bible says about marriage. They have decided already what they are going to do, so they do not want you to bother them with God’s truth! Finally, there is the crisis that some who call themselves gospel preachers preach false messages about marriage and divorce, and thereby influence people to make unsafe decisions.

Creation – When some Pharisees asked Jesus if it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason, the Master replied, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4,5). What did Jesus do? He went all the way back to the creation of humans and what God revealed at that time about marriage (Genesis 2:23,24). How Jesus responded to the question about marriage and divorce makes it plain that marriage is not what some might call “a church ordinance.” Marriage was ordained by our Creator, but it is not the Lord’s church, nor is it part of the work of the church or under the authority of church leaders. The institution of marriage existed several thousand years before the church was established. Marriage is marriage and the church is the church. Let us not confuse those two institutions.

The Christ – A Christian cannot think about marriage without considering the Christ. After all, the relation between husband and wife is compared to the one that exists between our Lord and His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:22-33). The Christ has all authority in marriage matters: He has the final word on all questions pertaining to husbands, wives, divorce, and any other marriage-covenant matters (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 3:17). For those married persons that want to go to heaven, the Christ will be the accepted and acknowledged Ruler in their marriage.

Companionship – The prophet Malachi told the Jews of his day, “. . . the LORD has been witness between you and the wife of your youth, with whom you have dealt treacherously; Yet she is your companion and your wife by covenant” (Malachi 2:14). A man’s wife is his companion, and vice versa. An animal can be a human’s companion, too, but the relationship that exists between husband and wife is the most unique bond that can exist between two humans. Husband and wife do not simply live in the same house or tent. God intends for them to be a team, with each fulfilling the needs of his or her mate. Adam needed Eve and she needed him, too (Genesis 2:18,24).

Covenant – As we just read from Malachi 2:14, beyond being companions, a wife and her husband are in a covenant relationship. They are joined or bound to one another by the God of heaven (Matthew 19:6). There is another aspect of the covenant that some do not know or else choose to disregard. Spouses are not only bound to each another, but it is also true that they are bound to God in the sense that they are under His authority in their marital activities and choices. There would be less cases of divorce if people would take their covenant/agreement more seriously. Entering a covenant is supposed to mean something, right?

Commitment – In every era of man’s history, when humans have taken vows, Jehovah has expected them to keep them (Ecclesiastes 5:4,5). Those who pledge that they will be faithful to their spouse and stay with them for the duration of their lives are duty-bound to keep their promises. When they do not live up to their commitment and decide to “quit” or “get out of” their marriage, they become unreliable, word-breakers. Humans have no right to attempt to separate or destroy that which God has joined together.

May God help us to build strong marriages in which spouses love and honor Him and one another. The Bible is God’s marriage manual. God blesses those who accept and submit to its wise instructions.




GALATIANS 6:9 - “IN DUE SEASON WE SHALL REAP IF WE DO NOT LOSE HEART”


The unmistakable theme of Galatians 6:7-9 is “Sowing and Reaping.” In these three verses, the word “sow” is used three times, while the word “reap” is employed four times. Read it for yourself (all emphasis in all Bible quotes is mine, rdc):

       Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows,
       that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption,
       but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow
       weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

A person must choose: will he sow to the flesh and reap corruption, or will he sow to the Spirit and reap everlasting life? (6:8). You and I understand that even if we choose wisely and determine to sow to the Spirit (6:8) and “do good” (6:10), it is not an easy road to travel. Satan hurls obstacles our way. It is easier to quit than persevere. Thus, the instruction is given: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” (6:9).

I want to reap the Lord’s blessing, don’t you? By “reap” I do not mean earn or deserve, but rather by grace be the recipient of God’s blessing. I want to reap His blessing in this life and then eternal life in the world to come (Mark 10:30), don’t you? There is a time to teach and command what God says (1 Timothy 4:11). There is a time to warn (1 Thessalonians 5:14). There is even a time to reprove and rebuke (2 Timothy 4:2). But, there is also a time to exhort. The words of Galatians 6:9 contain an exhortation coupled with a promise or statement of fact. Look at those words again: “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.”

The Bible makes it clear that our reaping (that is, our desired reaping) is conditional upon our not fainting or losing heart. We have entered the race, so now we must continue to “run well” (Galatians 5:7). We have enlisted in His army, so now we must keep on being “a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). We have been born into God’s family, so now we must continue to be “obedient children” (1 Peter 1:14). We have entered the Lord’s work force, so now we must keep on being “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). We made a wise decision when we obeyed the gospel (Romans 6:3,4), but now we must set our hearts to “keep the faith” and “finish the race” (2 Timothy 4:7).

The Book of Hebrews gives strong exhortation to all Christians to hold fast their commitment. To do that, of course, we must not faint or lose heart. Note these passages from the Hebrews epistle:

       “But Christ as a son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast
        the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end
(3:6).

       “For we who have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning
        of our confidence steadfast to the end”
(3:14).

       “ . . . let us hold fast our confession” (4:14).

       “. . . show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end (6:11).

       “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith without wavering,
        for He who promised is faithful”
(10:23).

Brother or sister, whatever your role in life or in the church might be, do not lose heart! Your road to heaven may include rocks, valleys, and gorges, but do not grow weary in doing what is right! Satan will tempt you to throw in the towel, but you must press on, looking always to Jesus and our ultimate goal of being in heaven with Him forever (Hebrews 12:2). Aren’t we glad that He did not lose heart and give up when He endured such undeserved, merciless treatment at the hands of wicked men?

Elders, do not lose heart. Your work is bearing fruit, and the faithful appreciate you. We need you to keep at it, ever watching for souls (Hebrews 13:17). Deacons, do not grow weary in serving. Your efforts are a much-needed part of the work of the church, and discerning saints are grateful for you. Bible class teachers, you have influence on those whom you teach. You may not see it from one class session to the next, but you are doing a great work. Those who understand your efforts thank God for you. Do not lose heart. Parents, kids are a great blessing, but we all know that at times they can also be a hair-pulling challenge. Hang in there, teach them the truth, live that truth before them, be patient with them, and great will be your reward.

In many ways, I am what some folks call “old school.” I still like stories with a happy ending. Do you, too? Will your life and mine have a happy ending? By that, I mean will we reap eternal life? We will ifif we continue to be faithful and do not lose heart while doing good.


~ Roger D. Campbell ~


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