Welcome to this edition of Good News, the monthly newsletter of the Fairview Park church of Christ! We hope that you find the articles below helpful, edifying, and true to the Bible. If you find the articles helpful in your Bible study, please forward this e-mail to a friend. May God bless you as you study his word!
Not With a Loyal Heart
by Jacob Hudgins
“And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart”(2 Chr 25:2)
What a legacy! Amaziah was the king of semi-faithfulness. The divine verdict on his life is that “he did what was right in the sight of the Lord”—God gives him credit for the faith he had and good works he did. “But not with a loyal heart” adds an entirely new dimension—that despite some righteousness, his lack of continued faithfulness tarnishes his legacy and jeopardizes his soul.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence”(Matt 23:25)
The Pharisees were masters of the outward. Whether it was straining gnats out of their drinks, elaborately washing their hands, or praying long prayers on street corners, they appeared immaculate. Yet their religion—the changes in their lives and the devotion they professed—was merely cosmetic! “For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence”(Matt 23:25). He paints an even more disgusting portrait: “For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness”(Matt 23:27). The corruption inside them—the dirty dish and dead men’s bones—identified who they were far more than the outward appearance.
“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing”(2 Tim 4:8)
What hope there is in these words! Paul is nearing his death, and he knows it: “the time of my departure is at hand”(2 Tim 4:6). We stand in awe of his confidence, and perhaps are a little jealous of the fact that he can say so boldly “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”(2 Tim 4:7). Yet in describing the reward that awaits him, he stresses that such a life and such a hope can be had by anyone. Paul says, amazingly, that the Lord will give a crown “not to me only”—there is hope for us too!
The water coolers of the ancient world were abuzz. “Have you heard about that crazy desert preacher?” “ I hear he lives on bugs!” “I hear he called the Pharisees a brood of vipers!” “Do you think it could be the prophet—or Elijah resurrected?” John the Baptist caused quite a stir in his time, and developed quite a following. His preaching was startling, convicting, passionate. Even Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist”(Matt 11:11).
She was older than her sister, but her sister was more beautiful. Her husband had to be tricked into marrying her because he preferred her sister. As if her sense of inferiority while growing up were not enough, she then had to continue to compete with her sister for the love of her husband. Through bearing seven children, she never seemed to get the attention or affection of her husband. What can we learn from Leah’s sad story?
Paul never forgot that his past made him an outrageous choice for an apostle. “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God”(1 Cor 15:9). His past was a terrible black mark against him, marring his work and tarnishing his credibility. Yet in Christ he found salvation and a place in His amazing work: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me”(1 Cor 15:10). Grace pushed Paul to work “harder than any of them”.