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I Will Put My Law Into Their Heart

A Jewish male was circumcised the eighth day of his life and that act was a sign that the child was already bound by the covenant God had made with Israel (Ex. 34:28; Gen. 17:11-14). But an eight day old baby has no knowledge or understanding of being in the covenant, either of it’s requirements or of it’s promises. As the Jewish child grew, he was then taught the covenant by his parents. This training was to be meticulous, from the time of rising in the morning till the lying down at night (Deut. 6:7-12; Ex. 12:26,27). But the instruction came after the child was already in the covenant.

Under the New Covenant, before one is ever added to the kingdom of God, he must be taught. While all men are amenable to the New Covenant (Matt. 28:18,19; Mark 16:15,16), not all are in the position to obey it. For example, a man who does not believe that Jesus is the Christ cannot obey the Lord. Nevertheless, the Lord calls all men to submit themselves to His covenant or will (II Thess. 2:14). This call comes in the form of hearing the gospel. Paul wrote, “how shall they hear without preacher…faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:13-15)? Of their own volition, then, men either choose to obey or reject God’s will.

In contrast, Israel was largely a reluctant, disobedient, gainsaying and stiffnecked people (Ex. 32:9; Rom. 10:21). Today, every person truly obeying the gospel does so willingly. It is a personal choice made out of free will. No man or woman can be coerced to be a Christian by sword or gunpoint. No one can twist your arm because obedience comes from the heart (Rom. 6:17). You do not inherit salvation from your parents (cf. Ezek. 18:20). You are not born into the kingdom of God by natural birth but by a new birth (John 3:3). This new birth is one that is out of water and the Spirit (John 3:5), or, freely and willingly obeying the Spirit’s command to be baptized (Mark 16:15,16). It is the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Pet. 3:21).

When Jeremiah prophesied that they “shall no more teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother saying Know the Lord: for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them” he was describing this characteristic of the new birth. The Jew had to be taught later that he was a Jew and what all that meant. But the Christian is made aware before he becomes a Christian and submits himself to God’s covenant willingly. It is true that Christians must still grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (II Pet. 3:18; Matt. 28:20) but they have already been born into the kingdom willingly.

Another component that needs to be seen is that those who know the Lord, in Jeremiah’s prophecy, know Him because He forgives their iniquities and remembers their sin no more (Note the word “for” in Jer. 31:34). Under the Old Covenant sins were remembered again every year (Heb. 10:1-4). But with the blood of Christ remission of sins were found even under the first covenant (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:15).

Now Jeremiah also wrote that God was going to write the law in the heart and in the inward parts (Jer. 31:33). We should be careful not to misunderstand this. It should not be understood here that this was going to be something entirely new. For God had already required of the Old Testament saints that they keep the word of God in their heart. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment in the law, He did not give something new but quoted the Shema Israel (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark 12:29,30; Deut. 6:4,5). The Shema required of the Jews that they love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul.

God has always required that the saints’ heart be involved in the sincere and effectual service of Jehovah. Quite often God had said that the words of the law should be laid up in their heart. For example: “Lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul” (Deut. 11:18); “Bind them continually upon thine heart” (Prov. 6:21); “write them upon the table of thine heart” (Prov. 7:3); “the law of God is in his heart” (Psalm 37:31); “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8); “ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law” (Is. 51:7).

Their gifts for the building of the tabernacle was to be made from items the children of Israel gave willingly from the heart (Ex. 25:1,2; Ex. 35:5). The law required that one should not hate his brother in his heart (Lev. 19:17). God through Moses warned them to guard their heart against deceit (Deut. 11:16). He warned them that if they did not serve the Lord with joyfulness and gladness that curses would come upon them (Deut. 28:45-47). David was a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). On and on the list could go.

It is wrong, then, to understand Jeremiah’s prophecy to say that God puts His word directly in the Christian’s hearts in a way different from that under the Old Covenant. We, too, can harden our hearts just as Israel of old did (Heb. 3:8). Paul expressly warns Christian’s against an evil heart of unbelief (Heb. 3:12). If our heart-soil is not good and honest, the word will not take hold (Luke 8:15). In short, we can fall under the same condemnation Israel did if we reject His word (Heb. 4:11, 12).

Generally speaking, there was a veil on Israel’s heart to keep them from seeing the truth (II Cor. 3:13-16). They rejected Him (John 1:11). They gave Him over to wicked hands to have Him crucified and slain (Acts 2:22-24). They were stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears and always resisted the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:51).

But we have a new and living way made possible by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19,20). Therefore, we are to draw near with a true and in full assurance of faith (Heb. 10:22). “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:14-17).

Eric L. Padgett

A Man Called Demas

The apostle Paul was resigned to the fact of his impending death and martyrdom (II Tim. 4:6-8). During this time awaiting his death, Paul pens his final epistle and addresses it to his good friend and co-worker Timothy. In the final words of this epistle, the apostle Paul identifies several people by name (II Tim. 4:9ff). This was a common practice of his. It is instructive to examine the people Paul mentions, what he has to say about them and their lives. Let us focus our attention on one man, a man called Demas (4:10).

The name Demas means something like “popular” or “governor of the people.” It is believed by some to be a shortened form of “Demetrius” or “Demarchus.” Some commentators identify the Demetrius of III John 12 with Demas. Most commentators assume that his home is Thessalonica, because this is where he goes when he leaves Paul and because he is found with Aristarchus who, the scriptures reveal, was from Thessalonica (compare Col. 4:10-14, Philem. 24 and Acts 20:4). Demas is always mentioned in connection with Mark, Luke and Aristarchus, Paul’s fellowlabourers (Philem. 1:24).

Paul mentions Demas on a couple of other occasions. He is mentioned in the epistle to the Colossians along with seven other men, namely, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Marcus, Jesus called Justus, Epaphras and Luke (Col. 4:7-14). These men were with Paul in his first Roman imprisonment (Acts 28:16-31). In 60 or 61 A.D., then, Demas is a faithful companion to the apostle Paul along with these other men while he is imprisoned at Rome in his own hired house.

During his two years under house arrest, the apostle Paul also wrote the epistle to the church at Ephesus and the letter to Philemon. He also wrote the epistle to the Philippians a little later during this time. Demas is also mentioned in the letter to Philemon along with four other of the men with Paul in his imprisonment. Three of the men named above are not mentioned in this epistle, suggesting that they were unknown to Philemon. This also implies that Demas was known of the brethren in Collosae, which suggests that at some point he had labored there and was familiar with them.

In those two letters he is not singled out to be either praised or condemned, as is Luke, for example, who is called the “beloved physician” (Col. 4:14) or Epaphras whom Paul says labored fervent in prayers and had great zeal (Col. 4:12,13). He sent his greetings to the brethren at Collosae (Col. 4:14) and, in the epistle to Philemon, he is referred to as one of Paul’s “fellowlabourers” (Philem. 24). He always closely attached to Luke and in a more distant way to Mark and Aristarchus.

It is Paul’s final reference to him for which he is most remembered. In this reference, seven or eight years later, we are told that he had “forsaken” Paul “having loved this present world” (II Tim. 4:10). Much has been written about what this means exactly. The most obvious and natural meaning is that Demas left the apostle and went back home to Thessalonica out of a love for this world and its pleasures. One tradition says that he became a priest in a heathen temple, which we certainly hope is not the case. It is mentioned in a marginal note and has nothing to commend it to be true.

On the other hand, in the second century, Polycarp alludes to Paul’s reference to Demas’ actions when he says that Paul and the apostles “loved not this present world” but rather suffered martyrdom (Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, 9:1,2). Perhaps, now that the threat of death was so palpable, as Paul faced certain death, Demas lost his courage and fled. He loved this present world more than that to come. There is a contrast to be made between his loving this present world and Paul’s statement that a crown of life awaits those that love His appearing (II Tim. 4:8; cf v. 10).

But those who argue that Demas left the faith might be adding more than the Text allows. All that the Text says is that Demas abruptly forsook Paul, but it doesn’t say he forsook Christ, made shipwreck of the faith or taught false doctrine, etc. His departure may have been more like that of John Mark who departed from Paul and Barnabas and returned to Jerusalem and “went not with them to the work” (Acts 13:13; 15:38). Perhaps Demas was worried, weary and weak and left just as did John Mark. As Gill observes, “he might forsake the apostle, and yet not forsake Christ and his interest, or make shipwreck of faith and a good conscience: his faith might be right, though low, and his love sincere, though not fervent.”

Demas is always held up as one who departed from the faith or was lost into the world again. This is the plain reading of the Text. But maybe he temporarily lost his way and could no longer continue. If they are right who say Demetrius of III John 12 is to be identified with Demas, then, like John Mark, Demas regained his footing and again became profitable in the work of the Lord (II Tim. 4:11).

Eric L. Padgett

Good Soldiers Keep In S. T. E. P.

On occasion, the apostle Paul used the imagery of warfare to depict the Christian life. He reminded the Corinthians that though it is not a carnal war, nevertheless we do engage in warfare, spiritual warfare against spiritual powers (II Cor. 10:3,4). At the close of his life Paul would say he had fought a good fight (II Tim. 4:7). He warned us to put on the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:16). And when he wrote to his friend and young gospel preacher, Timothy, he warned him to war a good warfare (I Tim. 1:18) and to fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12). Furthermore, he urged him to be a good soldier of Jesus Christ (II Tim. 2:1-4). With this imagery in mind, let us observe that good soldiers keep in S. T. E. P.

First, good soldiers of Christ are Strong. Paul admonished Timothy to be Strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (II Tim. 2:1). To be strong, we must exercise ourselves unto godliness (I Tim. 4:7,8). We do this as we study to show ourselves approved unto God (II Tim. 2:15). Also, we grow in strength when we go through trials (II Cor. 12:10), as the trying of our faith works patience (James 1:2,3). Remembering that God does not want us to have the spirit of fear but of power (II Tim. 1:7) because, as we grow in grace and knowledge, we know that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (II Pet. 3:18; Phil. 4:13).

In the second place, good soldiers of Christ Teach others (II Tim. 2:2). This is the plain where battles are fought and won in the Christian’s life. It is the human mind and heart which are affected in this battle. The sword of the Spirit, the word of God, is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of the soul and spirit and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of he heart (Heb. 4:12). When the gospel is heard honestly, it affects the heart (Luke 8:15; Acts 2:37). Our mission is to teach all nations the gospel of Christ (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16).

In the third place, good soldiers Endure hardness (II Tim. 2:3). In all war, combat conditions are never pleasant. This is true of spiritual warfare, as well. So Paul informs us that all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12). If we are not suffering persecution, then we are not living godly in Christ. Jesus said beware when all men speak well of you (Luke 6:26). Peter warned first century Christians that they would face severe, fiery trials but that they should not think of that as being strange or anomalous to the Christian condition (I Pet. 4:12).

Finally, Paul said that a good soldier Pleases Him who called him to be a soldier (II Tim. 2:4). A soldier is not a free agent. He is not only a soldier but a servant and amenable to his Master’s will. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (I Thess. 2:4). “Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him” (II Cor. 5:9). Therefore, we cannot afford to get entangled in the affairs of this life lest the cares, the riches, and the pleasures of this life choke the life out of us (Luke 8:14).

A good soldier, then, keeps in S. T. E. P. He is Strong in the grace which is in Christ Jesus. He Teaches the gospel to those with whom he comes in contact. He Endures the hardships that living the Christian life will bring. And he Pleases the Lord as he strives to carry out His commands.

Onward Christian soldier; keep in S. T. E. P.

Eric L. Padgett

HEAVEN

Is heaven your passion? Really your passion? In Philippian letter, Paul had just described how he pressed toward that heavenly prize, pressing, ever pressing to attain unto the resurrection of Christ (Phil. 3:7-14). Like the one who found the pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had to buy that one pearl (Matt. 13:45). He cast aside all the things that could be counted as gain in this life so that he might reach that heavenly goal (Phil. 3:7,8). Paul made several points in this context that need to be stressed.

First, as Christians, our life, or conversation, is in heaven. As we often sing, “This world is not my home, I’m just a passing through, My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I just can’t feel at home in this world anymore.” With the hope of heaven before us, how could we feel at home here? In many ways, this is the devil’s domain as he influences and beguiles so many (II Cor. 4:4). Just as Jesus prayed and desired to be back with the Father (John 17:1-16), so we, too, should have a desire to be with Him (Phil. 1:23; Heb. 12:1,2).

Our heart is in heaven because that is where our treasure is (Matt. 6:21). That is where what we value most is. While we live in this world, we know that we must stay separate from it (II Cor. 6:17,18). Those “Christians” who are indistiguishable from the world really do not long for heaven. Old testament saints looked and longed for a heavenly city and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims in the earth (Heb. 11:13-16). Our affections should be set on things above and not on things on this earth (Col. 3:1-3).

Second, we know that Jesus is coming again. Knowing this, we look for Him, we wait patiently, we anticipate the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:42-44). Peter said we look for and haste unto the coming of the day of God (II Pet. 3:12). We look for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Tit. 2:13). We are assured of His return because we know He was raised from the dead (Acts 17:30,31). He left so that He could prepare a place for us in those heavenly mansions and is coming again to receive us unto Himself (John 14:1-4).

When the Lord returns we know also that our vile bodies will be changed. Our bodies are vile, or humble, or lowly, because they are subject to decay and deterioration that sin brought with it (Rom. 5:12). The creature was made subject to vanity but we wait, groaning and waiting for the adoption, that is, the redemption of our body (Rom. 8:20-23). Our bodies will not be exchanged as some like to read it, but they will be changed (I Cor. 15:50-53).

Our bodies will be made like His glorious body. We do not know what we shall be but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2). All the suffering and vanity to which we are now subjected is not worthy to be compared to the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall we also appear with Him in glory (Col. 3:4).

The Lord has the power to do all this and subdue all things unto Himself. He will gather together in one all things in Christ (Eph. 1:9,10). The exceeding greatness of His power was demonstrated when He raised up Christ to His own right hand in heavenly places and it is that same power with which He will raise us up at the last day (Eph. 1:18-21). It is the same power which quickens us from being dead in sins and which delievers us from the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:1-3).

Eric L. Padgett

The Image of the Invisible

The apostle Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians in order to stem the tide of a menacing heresy greatly affecting the churches in the region (cf. 2:4, etc.,). What is known of this particular heresy comes through the themes which Paul stresses in his epistle. This heresy, among other things, apparently diminished the authority and supremacy of Christ and His work of redemption and distorted the role of knowledge. Paul’s epistle to the Colossians and the Laodiceans responds to these errors.

In part, Paul’s response to these errors is to describe the magnificence of Christ. His description is nothing short of astounding. This brief description gives us only a literary glimpse into the glory of God, we see only the hinder parts as it were, yet we still tremble and shake in fear at His majesty and glory. Even more, we rejoice and are thankful to share in this glory with Him (1:12). Let us turn our minds to fathom the breadth and height of these glories.

First, Paul describes the Lord as the image (icon) of the invisible God (1:15). Not only is the Lord the image of God but He is also the “express image” (kharaktar) of His person (Heb. 1:3). Once Philip asked the Lord, “Show us the Father and it sufficeth us” (John 14: 8). Jesus replied “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me” (John 14:9). Jesus said “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” As Paul observed, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). It is only through Jesus that we can truly know the Father.

Next, Paul states that the Father has made us suitable to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (1:12). This is no small task seeing that our sins separate us from His holiness (Is. 59:2). But we have been made meet, or suitable, through His Son Jesus Christ. This inheritance is incorruptible, undefiled and fades not away and is reserved in heaven for us if we remain faithful (I Pet. 1:4). Indeed, it is that everlasting kingdom of Christ which has been prepared from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34).

Third, that kingdom of His Son is a Kingdom of Light (Col. 1:12,13). As Christians, we are called out from under the power of darkness and into His kingdom of His marvelous light (I Pet. 2:9). This is because God is light, clothed in unapproachable light, and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5; Psalm 104:2; I Tim. 6:16). Being the image of God He is also the brightness of the glory of God (Heb. 1:3) and His glorious gospel brings the light of truth (II Cor. 4:4).

Fourth, He is the firstborn of every creature (1:15). The point that Paul makes here is that Christ occupies a special place in the world with God. The firstborn received special privilege and was given the place of preeminence (Psalm 89:27; cf. Deut. 21:15-17). This does not mean, as some try to interpret, that Christ had a beginning or was created. This cannot be since Paul further states “for by Him were all things created” (1:16).

Thus, Jesus is the Creator of all things. John wrote that all things were created by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made (John 1:3). John also shows that Jesus, the Word, was with God and was God (John 1:1,2). In the beginning, God said “Let Us…” (Gen. 1:26). That “us” included the Son, as well. Paul said God created all things by Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:9).

Therefore, He is before all things. The Lord is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the ending (Rev. 1:8). He is the first and the last (Rev. 1:11). Micah says that His goings forth have been from of old, even from everlasting (Micah 5:2). Moses said that God was from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:1,2). Jesus, Himself, said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Paul quotes Psalm 102:24-27 and applies it to Jesus Christ in Hebrews 1:10-12. Paul further states that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8). Not only is He before all things, but by Him all things consist. He upholds all things by the word of His power (Heb. 1:3).

Finally, Paul says that it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell (1:17). That is, all the fulness of the godhead was present in Jesus bodily (Col. 2:9). Everything that is God was in Jesus. That is why He is head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.

Eric L. Padgett

“I Am Ready”

The apostle Paul, heading for Jerusalem, was warned often that bonds and afflictions awaited him there (Acts 20:23). While he was in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit guided the prophet Agabas to once again graphically warn Paul that he would be bound and delivered into the hands of the Gentiles (Acts 21:11). Because of this, all of Paul’s companions urged him not to go (Acts 21:12). But Paul firmly responded, “I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:13). Paul said he was ready. Are we?

Paul said he was ready to die for the name of the Lord. During his second and final Roman imprisonment, he knew his time was short and he had prepared himself mentally and emotionally for that eventuality (Acts 21:13). He said, “I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Tim. 4:6,7). Though we, in this age, in this country, may never face the opposition Paul did, we must have the same attitude (i. e., I John 3:16; Rev. 2:10).

In saying he was ready to die for the name of the Lord, he also indicated he was ready to preach the gospel. Paul wrote the letter to the Rome church of Christ saying he was ready to preach the gospel to them there (Rom. 1:15). Being prepared to preach requires effort. Paul told Timothy, a young gospel preacher, “study to show thyself approved unto God” (II Tim. 2:15). Even though the apostle Paul was inspired, he still wanted to study (II Tim. 4:13). If Paul and Timothy needed to study, then we most certinly will need to, as well.

Studying will also help us be prepared to give an answer for the reasons for the hope that is in us (I Pet. 3:15). When Paul stood before Felix, he reasoned of righteousness, temperance and judgement to come. Upon hearing this, Felix trembled (Acts 24:25). Many on the day of Pentecost were pricked in their hearts when they heard the gospel for the first time (Acts 2:37). The apostle Paul spent weeks teaching and defending the gospel with the Thessalonians Jews and some of them believed (Acts 17:2-4). We, likewise, must be able to defend what we believe.

We must also be ready to hear. The scriptures implore us to keep our feet when we go into the house of God and “be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools” (Eccl. 5:1). James told us to be swift to hear, slow to speak (James 1:19). How many times did the Lord condemn those whose ears were dull of hearing (cf. Matt. 13:14)? Most people are willing to talk, but really few are ready to hear.

In order to be the kind of Christians we need to be, that God wants us to be, we must be ready to every good work (Tit. 3:1). We must be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Jesus warned His disciples to be ready and “watch” (Mark 13:37). We need to be filled with the fruits of righteousness (Phil. 1:11) and the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22,23).

We must also be ready to avoid temptation (Mark 14:38). In being prepared, we must put on the whole armor of God so that we can stand (Eph. 6:13). The devil is not going to sit idly by; he is active. He will go about as a roaring lion on one hand, seeking to devour and as an angel of light on the other seeking to deceive (I Pet. 5:7; II Cor. 11:14). We have to be prepared so that we can recognize his attacks as they are being set up and meet them.

Finally, we must be ready for the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:44). We know neither the hour or the day when the Son of man will return (Matt. 25:13) but we do know He will return because He was raised from the dead (Acts 17:30,31). Therefore, the Lord could return at any moment and it will be a most unfortunate day if we are not prepared when He does. If we are not prepared, we will be like the five foolish virgins who did not prepare and were locked out. They cried, “Lord, Lord open to us” (Matt. 25:11). But the Lord responded, “I know you not.”

Are you ready?

Eric L. Padgett

Great Statements From The Book Of Romans

1:16 – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation

2:16 – In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

3:23 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

4:8 – Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

5:8 – But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

6:4 – Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

7:4 – Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

8:31 – What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

9:33 – As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.

10:17 – So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

11:26 – And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:

12:1 – I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

13:14 – But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

14:12 – So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

15:4 – For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

16:17 – Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

The apostle Paul via Eric L. Padgett

It’s WAR!

Jesus said “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). It is true that Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6). And it is true that He is our peace (Eph. 2:14-15). He came so that we might have peace with God through Himself (Rom. 5:1). Yet there is never really a true peace until there is first a complete and total victory over the enemy (cf. Matt. 12:29). As Alexander Campbell observed, “Hence the Prince of Peace never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while he lived. He drew it on the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away” (“Religious Controversy,” Millennial Harbinger, 1830).

The apostle Paul said we are engaged in a war but it is not a war after the flesh, that is, not a physical war with material weapons (II Cor. 10:3). But it is a war, nevertheless. It is a spiritual war. Since the beginning of time, satan has attempted to lead a rebellion against the God of heaven. Down through the ages, beginning with Adam and Eve, he has enlisted men in this battle, most of whom unwittingly joined his ranks. The god of this world has beguiled people into being a friend of this world, which makes them the enemy of God (James 4:4).

Paul described his work as an apostle as pulling down strong holds, casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ (II Cor. 10:4,5). These things are much harder than taking up a sword and trying to remove an enemy from a geographical territory. We are trying to remove sinful, rebellious thoughts from people’s minds and replace them with obedient, righteous thoughts (I Peter 4:1; Phil. 2:5; etc.).

As Christians, we also fight the good fight of faith (I Tim. 6:12; II Tim. 4:7). In order to fight this fight to win, we must array ourselves with the appropriate armor. When David went out to fight Goliath, he could not wear Saul’s armor, for he had not proved them (I Sam. 17:39). In order to win this battle, we must put on proven armor, the whole armor of God (Eph. 6:13). That is, our loins girt about with truth, having on the breastplate of righteousness; our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; taking the shield of faith, and taking the helmet of salvation and, last but not least, the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17). These are the weapons that win this war.

Paul said this spiritual war involved casting down imaginations. In Noah’s day, man’s ability to imagine got him into serious trouble. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). Man has, down through the centuries, devised every kind of sin imaginable. Paul said of the ancient world, that “when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21,22). Romans chapter one lists many of the horrendous sins that man has devised (Rom. 1:19-32). We fight to cast down these imaginations in ourselves and in others.

When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet to the nations (Jer. 1:5), He put His words in his mouth and said that he set him over the nations and kingdoms to “root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant” (Jer. 1:10). This “pulling down” was accomplished by means of his words, inspired words, the word of God. Just as the Lord defeated the devil in the temptation with the word of God (Matt. 4:1-11), so we defeat the devil by the sword of the spirit, the word of God.

Not only did the Lord defeat satan with His words, He triumphed over and spoiled principalities and powers, and made a shew of them openly, through His cross (Col. 2:14,15). It had been prophesied even in the garden that the woman’s seed, Jesus (Gal. 4:4), would bruise the serpent’s head, that is, give it mortal wound (Gen. 3:15). Jesus came into this world for this purpose–to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8; cf. John 12:31; 16:11; Heb. 2:14,15).

One of the great scenes in all the Bible is found in the book of Revelation. In chapter twelve we have a scene of a great battle and though satan attacks the Lord’s church, he is defeated, unable to prevail, cast out and cast down (Rev. 12:1-10). In chapter twenty, the devil, though he persecuted the camp of the saints, the church, is cast into the lake which burns with fire and brimstone (Rev. 20:19-21). The good news is, we know who wins this one. All we need to decide now is for which side do we fight.

Eric L. Padgett

GLORIOUS

In contrasting the old covenant with the new (II Cor. 3:6ff), the apostle Paul described their relative glories. The comparison left the old covenant wanting by that measure. Paul wrote:

For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious (II Corinthians 3:9-11).

Paul described the old covenant as a ministration of condemnation, while the new he described as a ministration of righteousness. While the old covenant was glorious in its own right, the new far exceeded the old in glory.

The word “glory” most used in the Old Testament comes from a root word meaning “heavy” or “weight.” By extension, it means that which has substance and hence is used of that which is substantial, including abundance, wealth, greatness, power, brightness and majesty. Both the Old and New Testament words for glory have a variety of uses.

Glory cannot be separated from God’s nature (I Chron. 29:10-13). All nature itself, that is, the material creation, declares the glory of God (Ps. 19:1). The whole earth is full of His glory (Is. 6:). His glory is set high above the heavens (Ps. 8:1; 113:4). He is the God of glory (Ps. 29:3). God’s glory, as is every attribute of His nature, is eternal (I Pet. 5:10). Contrast this to man whose glory fades away as does the grass (I Pet. 1:24). The Lord is jealous of that glory and will not share it with dumb idols (Is. 42:8). Yet, it is just this glory in which His people are allowed to participate (John 17:22), and which prophets and angels have desired to more fully understand (I Pet. 1:10-12).

God’s glory manifests itself in moral nature, as well. Moses once requested to see the glory of God (Ex. 33:18). In granting his request, the Lord allowed Moses to see only His hinder parts for no man can look into the face of glory and live (Ex. 33:20). As Moses was safe in the cleft of the rock (Ex. 33:22), the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, passing before him and declaring “The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation” (Ex. 34:6,7). As Moses saw the glory of God, the Lord spoke of His great moral attributes.

Furthermore, after Moses had ascended into the mount to receive the tablets of Law, the skin of his face shone, reflecting the glory of God in whose presence he was, so that Aaron and all Israel were afraid to come to him (Ex. 34:30). Because of this, Moses put a vail upon his face so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the glory of his countenance (Ex. 34:35; II Cor. 3:7). The apostle Paul observed that this was not only to placate the fears of the Israelites (Ex. 34:30) but also to cover the fading glory of the old covenant, as his face ceased to shine at some point after not being in God’s presence (Ex. 34:29; II Cor. 3:13). And sadly, he observed, that vail was still over their eyes, or rather their hearts, blinding their minds to the truth of the Lord (II Cor. 3:16).

But Christians have no such vail over their eyes or hearts and look into the face of the Son of God and reflect His glory or rather are changed into same image with ever increasing glory (I Cor. 3:13). In this life we are transformed by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:1,2; Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:10) and we share in His glory (I Pet. 1:8). We shall also share in His glory after this life is over (John 17:24; I John 3:2; Col. 3:3-4; Rom. 8:17; Phil3:20,21).

It is the glorious gospel of Christ that shines in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ (II Cor. 4:4-6). No matter what we suffer in this life, it cannot even begin to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). The afflictions we suffer in this life are light compared to the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17). In heaven, the glory of God and of the Lamb will give us light (Rev. 21:23). Glorious indeed!

Eric L. Padgett

O Ye Corinthians

The culture of Corinth was well known for its pursuit of pleasure. To be a Corinthian was proverbial for the hedonistic life. It is not surprising, then, that the church at Corinth faced many problems, many of them brought on by embracing that culture of worldliness (I Cor. 3:3). Some of what Paul wrote to the church there was a response to questions which they apparently asked him concerning these things (I Cor. 7:1). Other things he wrote were things which he and the Holy Spirit thought they needed to know. Studying the problems in that congregation can be instructive to us as members of modern congregations.

One of the biggest problems about which Paul had heard was the problem of division within the congregation (I Cor. 11:8). The division had escalated to such heights that the members of the congregation were identifying themselves after certain pillars of the church (I Cor. 1:12). Paul had heard from the house of Chloe that there were contentions and divisions among the church at Corinth (I Cor. 1:13). Paul’s remedy was that they all be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement (I Cor. 1:10). He wanted no divisions amongst the people of God. Man was to follow man only so far as they followed the Lord (I Cor. 11:1). This is a lesson that can be learned today so that no Christian ever follows any man but after the Christ.

That problem of division boiled over into their worship. When the church at Corinth partook of the Lord’s supper, they were not contemplating the great sacrifice of Christ nor were they examining their own lives but they were focused on their own pleasure. Blurring the distinction between their own common meal and the holy act of worship in partaking of the Lord’s supper, they not only polluted their worship but greedily ate their own food and left others without (I Cor. 11:21). There was no concern for one another but rather bitter strife.

One of the clearest and most notable examples of their worldliness and division was the order, or lack thereof, in the worship service. The worship service seems to have devolved into a state of utter disarray, with people speaking in foreign languages when there was no interpreter, speaking out of order and women speaking out of turn (I Cor. 14:26-32). Paul called it confusion (I Cor. 14:33). Much of this stemmed from their pride in their ability to perform miracles for they seemed to believe that their particular gift was the most important than another’s (I Cor. 12:12-26). Paul taught them that they needed each other as the body needs each part (I Cor. 12:27ff).

Their worldliness also left them callous to moral sin. It was reported commonly that one Christian in the congregation was in a sinful relationship with his father’s wife (I Cor. 5:1). That was bad enough but the sin was compounded by the congregation’s handling of the situation. Incredibly, they were puffed up (I Cor. 5:2). Either they were puffed up because they believed they had superior wisdom (I Cor. 4:19) or, worse, because of the sin. At the very least they were indifferent to the well publicized immorality in their midst. This was not unlike the congregation at Thyatira which allowed false teaching and perhaps immorality amongst them (Rev. 2:19). In both instances the sin required action not apathy (I Cor. 5:4,5; Rev. 2:22-24).

Another indication of their spiritual corruption and worldly contamination was their taking of personal congregational problems before secular courts for ajudication (I Cor. 6:1). Paul called this a shame and a fault (I Cor. 6:5,7). It did not and does not evince a Christ-like attitude. They should have taken the wrong or go to their own brethren for a resolution to these problems (I Cor. 6:5,7).

Yet another problem, alluded to earlier, was the congregation’s pride in the wisdom of men (I Cor. 2:5; 4:19). Paul made a point of saying he came not to them with the wisdom of men, that is, sophistical speech, but with the power of God, the gospel of Christ (I Cor. 2:1-4). There were those in the congregation who also boasted of their own authority and questioned that of Paul’s apostolic authority (I Cor. 9:3; II Cor. 10:7-10; 11:4,5; 12:11,12). Some were even preaching that there was no resurrection of the dead, among other things (I Cor. 15:12).

The congregation in Corinth had many problems. Paul warned them that they needed to correct those problems or he would come to them with a rod of correction (I Cor. 4:21; II Cor. 13:2,10). Just as the Lord warned the churches in Asia that they needed to repent, we need to correct those problems that arise in our congregations lest we also face judgement.

Eric L. Padgett