Category Archives: Christ

CONQUEST OF THE STORM

The wind was blowing wildly and the violent waves were lapping over the side of the vessel. The little ship was creaking as it was being tossed to and fro on the sea. Maybe the apostles, trying their best to keep from sinking or capsizing, were thinking back, remembering when Jesus was with them in the ship on the sea of Galilee and had calmed the storm with a command. But He was not here now and they would have to try their best to stay afloat themselves.

Earlier, Jesus had sent the apostles down to the sea to get in a boat and go before Him to Bethsaida (Mark 6:46). They probably went reluctantly for Matthew says Jesus “constrained” or “compelled” them to go (Matt. 14:22). It would have been hard for the apostles to leave Jesus at that time. There was already a movement among at least some of the people to forcibly make Jesus king (John 6:15). Maybe the apostles were caught up in this to some degree, they, themselves, expecting an earthly kingdom (Acts 1:6), or, perhaps, they feared to leave Jesus alone with the aggressive crowd. Either way, Jesus had to compel them to leave while He dismissed the crowd, which, in itself might have proved no small task given their intentions.

After the crowd was sent away, Jesus went up to the mountain alone to pray (Matt. 14:23). Jesus not only taught the importance of prayer He gave us His example on its importance, for He was always praying. This was especially true when He was going to face some great challenge. Having been among the people, He also wanted to spend time with the Father. It is also possible that having been preaching to the multitude, Jesus prayed for the lessons to be effective. Regardless of the reason, we should learn the value of prayer as Jesus gave the example.

Mark seems to indicate that while Jesus was alone on land in prayer in the mountain, He saw the apostles toiling and rowing in the midst of the sea (Mark 6:47,48). It is possible that Jesus could have seen the ship on the sea from the mountain, but during a storm at night it would be difficult to see through the clouds and possibly rain and impossible to see them toiling in the ship (Mark 6:47). This, I think, rather demonstrates Jesus’ miraculous knowledge. It also teaches us that even though we seem lost and treading water sometimes, the Lord knows our needs (Matt. 6:25-33).

Furthermore, Jesus had sent the disciples out earlier that evening (John 6:16,17). They were now in the “midst of the sea” and had been rowing for some time when Jesus was alone in the mountain (Matt. 14:24,25; Mark 6:47). Now if they had been rowing for several hours and were now about 25 or 30 furlongs along their way, or about 3 1/2 miles (John 6:19), they could have been roughly in the center of the widest part of the sea of Galilee where the storm would have been the roughest. It was in the fourth watch of the night (3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.) that Jesus went to them from the mountain (Matt. 14:25). If they had been rowing for several hours and gotten along only 3 miles or so because of the headwind, for Jesus to leave and get there when He did must have involved a miracle of time and space to get Him there that quickly. We thus learn that God is not far from anyone of us when we need Him.

Now Jesus comes to them walking on the water! I will write that again: walking on the water! Seeing the disciples toiling in the ship from the mountain was remarkable. Getting to them as quickly as He did was amazing. But walking on the stormy sea is beyond breath-taking. It is no wonder that the disciples were “afraid” (John 6:19). It is no wonder that these grown men were crying, and screaming or shrieking (anakradzo) in fear (Mark 6:50). It is no wonder that what they thought they saw was a spirit or phantasm (Matt, 14:26; Mark 6:49). It seemed so surreal and yet is was quite real for they all saw Him (Mark 6:50). Jesus had once again demonstrated His power over nature.

As Jesus was walking on this storm-tossed sea, He would have passed by the apostles in the boat (Mark 6:48). Whether He intended to pass them by or whether it just appeared to the apostles that He was passing them by is not clear. But when they cried out in fear Jesus immediately talked with them to allay those fears (Mark 6:50). “Be of good cheer; It is I; be not afraid” (Matt. 14:27; John 6:20). We all face storms in our lives, occasions when we are in need of help. Jesus let the apostles know that though they would face many storms, He would be there for them (Matt. 28:20).

Now when Peter heard the Lord’s voice, he asked “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water” (Matt. 14:28). Peter is to be commended for his effort, for he stepped out of the boat into the waves and began walking on water, too! None of the other apostles tried this. Who among us would have tried it? But Peter, looking at Jesus, first set one foot and then another out of the boat and onto the stormy waves and he walked on water!

It must have been a triumphant moment for him, but it was fleeting. For soon he let his eyes drift from the Lord and onto the boisterous waves and wind began to sink because he was afraid (Matt. 14:30). Just then, as Peter began to drop into the water, Jesus reached forth His hand and caught Peter and saved him (Matt. 14:31). Nevertheless, Jesus had this rebuke: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt.” Why do we doubt when our Lord is the Master of the storms?

Though Mark’s account of this incident was probably given to him by Peter, Mark does not mention the incident of Peter walking on the water. Perhaps Peter was being modest or perhaps he was ashamed of the incident, but only Matthew records it. But when Jesus and Peter went back into the ship, the wind ceased (Matt. 14:32). One final, amazing incident during this miraculous occasion, is that when Jesus boarded the boat, “immediately the ship was at the land whither it went” (John 6:21). What the disciples could not do by working all night Jesus made possible by His presence. Without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).

Eric L. Padgett

DAVID

He was the youngest boy in his family, this young shepherd from Bethlehem (I Sam.16:11). As a shepherd keeping his father’s flocks, living out in the sun and under the stars, he experienced the fullness and wonders of nature. He loved to compose poetry and sing music and many times his works spoke of the world he experienced (e.g., Psalm 29, 19, 8). He was brave. He fought with a lion and a bear to protect his father’s flocks because he was passionate about whatever he did (I Sam. 17:34-36). He had the blessing (or maybe the curse) of being a good looking young lad (I Sam. 16:12,18) and he easily made friends with all whom he came in contact.

When Samuel first met him, he was not physically the man he would later become, but his heart was already far advanced of his body. When the Lord had sent Samuel to the house of Jesse to anoint the new king, he thought he had found him when he saw Eliab, David’s oldest brother. He said, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him” (I Sam. 16:6). He judged Eliab’s physical stature to be the measure of a good king. But God told him not to look on his countenance, nor the height of his stature, nor his outward appearance, for the Lord looked on his heart (I Sam. 16:7). God chose David to be king because he was “a man after His own heart” (I Sam. 13:14).

Even as a youth David had an unusual zeal for the things of God. His three oldest brothers, Eliab, Abinadab and Shammah had followed king Saul to battle (perhaps because they were conscripted – I Sam. 14:52). When David was charged by his father to take provisions to their captain, he heard Goliath of Gath defy the armies of the Living God and challenge one of them to a battle to the death to determine the fate of the rest. David instantly said to those that would listen, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” (I Sam. 17:26)! All other men, including king Saul, who literally stood head and shoulders above the rest in Israel, fled when they heard the Gittite and were afraid (I Sam. 17:11). But not David!

When the news of David’s comments made it’s way to the tent of King Saul, he had to see him. He quickly brought this young man, who had earlier played the harp to soothe Saul’s fragile nerves, in to his tent to examine him (I Sam. 16:22,23). David boldly told him, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine” (I Sam. 17:32)! To his brothers, this might have been boasting from a naughty heart, but in reality it was genuine courage from a heart of faith. To Saul, the great warrior, it might have been an outrageous claim and even a little insulting. But it was sincere and true. David believed that God would make Goliath just like the lion and the bear–dead (I Sam. 17:37). And He did.

David tried the armor which Saul offered him but it was no use. David said he could not wear them because he had not proved them. Saul was a full grown man who stood head and shoulders above every other man in Israel. David was not yet grown into the man he would become. Had the situation not been so grave, it must have been rather amusing to see David place a helmet on his head that was too large or try to walk in greaves that hindered his efforts. Saul’s armor was no good to David and against a spear the size of weaver’s beam with a head that weighed 600 shekels of iron it would have proved ineffective anyway. David already had a greater shield than that of Saul (e.g., Psalm 3:3; 5:12; 28:7; 33:20; 144:2). David, on his part, chose a staff, a sling and five smooth stones with which to defeat Goliath, but one stone was enough (I Sam. 17:40).

When the Philistine giant of Gath saw young David approach, he was offended. Did the Israelites consider him a dog, he asked, that could be beaten with a staff? He cursed David in the name of his false gods and promised to feed David’s flesh to the beasts and the fowls. This huge, hulk of a man arose and began to slowly approach David. But “David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine” and took out his sling and a stone and, with the precision matching that of any Benjamite sling, sunk the stone in the giant’s forehead (I Sam. 17:49). When the Philistines saw that their champion had expired, they took to flight, David leading the pursuit.

The women of Israel, overjoyed at their deliverance from the oppression of the Philistines, began to praise David. “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands,” they sang, to the great displeasure of King Saul. It was from that point on that Saul began to eye David and seek ways to rid himself of this perceived enemy (I Sam. 18:8,9). But the Lord was with David and caused him to prosper (I Sam. 18:12). David was made king over Judah and ruled from Hebron when he was thirty years old for seven years and six months (II Sam. 2:1-7; 5:4), and then made king over all Israel over which he ruled till he was seventy years old (I Kings 2:11; I Chron. 29:27).

Though David was a man after God’s own heart, he was not perfect. Three great transgressions mar his great example. First, there was the sin with Bathsheba. David liked women, just as his son by Bathsheba would as well. But David gave in to unlawful desires and it began a downward spiral in his life. Second, David sinned in numbering the people. David apparently did not trust God enough at this time. And finally, what could be David’s greatest failure was his lack of parental guidance. Amnon attacked his sister Tamar, Absalom killed his brother Amnon and attempted a coup, ousting David and going in to his concubines, and Adonijah attempts to take over from David. David never once displeased Adonijah, and he may well have treated his other children similarly (I Kings 1:6). David’s family was fraught with all manner of problems.

The great glory of David, however, rests not in any great deeds but in his relationship to the Messiah. The Christ was the seed of David (Rom. 1:1-4). God had told David that when he slept with his fathers in the grave that God was going to raise up his seed after him and His throne would be everlasting, as would His kingdom (II Sam. 7:12,13). David’s psalms describe the glorious resurrection of the Christ and the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom (Psalm 1; 16). All of these prophecies ultimately find their fulfillment in Acts 2 and the establishment of the church of Christ, the tabernacle of David (Acts 15:16).

Eric L. Padgett

MOSES

It is commonly assumed that Moses was unaware of his Abrahamic heritage when he was growing up in Pharaoh’s court. But scripture indicates that Moses knew all along from whence he came. His adventure as an infant in an ark of bulrush, purposefully placed among the flags of the river, was probably not just an act of desperation on his mother’s part, but possibly all part of a well-laid out plan to save this special child alive. It just happened to be where Pharaoh’s daughter was wont to bathe and she just happened to want a son.

Furthermore, his sister was strategically placed to allow her to suggest to Pharaoh’s daughter a very special woman to nurse the child–the child’s own mother! Would she, could she, withhold from her own son the knowledge that he was a Hebrew, a thing which Pharaoh’s daughter already knew? He apparently did know it for when he was grown the Text says “he went unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens” (Ex. 2:13). Paul said Moses “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter” and chose to “suffer affliction with the people of God” (Heb. 11:24,25). Upon seeing the fate of his Hebrew brethren, he sought to rectify an injustice and slew an Egyptian and hid him in the sand (Ex. 2:12).

If he had some knowledge that God was going to use him to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, as some rabbinic traditions suggest (cf. also Heb. 11:23; Ex. 2:2), he may have thought he might do it on his own. But such a course of action never, ever works. God’s designs will be carried out in God’s own good time and in His own way (e.g., Gal. 4:4). Regardless, his actions incurred the wrath of Pharaoh and Moses’ own hopes of saving his brethren were dashed. Moses failed and fled for his life but God had His own plans for him.

Out in the dried up, harsh and unforgiving climes of the backside of the desert, on Mount Horeb, God appeared to Moses and informed him that he would deliver Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 3:7-10). Though he was once anxious to deliver his brethren out of bondage, Moses now only offered excuses to God as to why he was unfit to lead. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?” (Ex. 3:11). “What shall I say unto them” when they ask “What is His name” (Ex. 3:13)? “But they won’t believe me” (Ex. 4:1)! But “I am not eloquent . . . but am slow of speech” (Ex. 4:10). “Send someone else, but not me” (Ex. 4:13). These are excuses, perhaps, with which none of us are unfamiliar. But when the LORD God almighty commands a thing, it will be done! And Moses went.

Whatever else might have been racing through Moses’ excited mind, from this point on he acted in great faith. Paul said “he endured, as seeing Him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:27). He faced great obstacles. His own people murmured against him ten times (Num. 14:22). Paul explicitly named Jannes and Jambres as having withstood Moses (II Tim. 3:8). Israel constantly joined themselves to false gods and acted sinfully. Enemies, like the Amalekites and the Midianites, constantly stood in the way as he led God’s people out of Egyptian bondage and to the promised land. But Moses endured and sang a song of triumph and faith after he and Israel were baptized in the sea and in the cloud (Ex. 14:21-15:19; I Cor. 10:1,2).

God spoke with Moses as He spoke with no other. God spoke “face to face, as a man speaketh unto a friend” (Ex. 33:11). This was not literal. What Moses saw was the similitude of the Lord, for no man could see God’s face and live (Ex. 33:20; Num 12:8). But because Moses was faithful in all his house, he could speak to God intimately and freely, and God would not speak to him in dark speeches (Num. 12:6-8). In this respect, there arose not a prophet since in Israel, like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew (Deut. 34:10). However, Moses, by inspiration, did prophesy of One Prophet, like unto Moses, which was to come from among them and to Whom they should hearken (Deut. 18:15-18).

When the Lord stood on the Mount of Transfiguration, along with Moses and Elijah, Moses was able to speak with the Lord in person (Matt. 17:3; Mark 9:4). Then Moses spoke to God face to face. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know the contents of their conversation! There, on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter foolishly suggested that three tabernacles be built, one to honor Christ, Moses and Elijah (Matt. 17:4). But God spoke from heaven saying of Christ, “This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him” (Matt. 17:5). After Pentecost, Peter finally understood, that Jesus was the One to Whom Moses’ prophesy of another prophet like unto him pointed (Acts 3:19-24).

Moses gave the children of Israel the law. The underlying principles of that law are the foundation for all the laws in western, civilized society. The law, itself, however, was given to the Jews. It served it’s God ordained purpose to expose sin and bring us unto the Christ (Rom. 3:20; 7:7; Gal. 3:24). As John states, the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:17). That Old Covenant was nailed to the cross and now we have a better Covenant, based on better promises and better blood (Col. 2:14; Heb. 7:19,22; 8:6; 9:23; 10:34; 11:35, 40; 12:24). And now we, after we have passed through the waters of baptism, may sing the New Song of Moses and the Lamb (Rev. 14:1-3; 15:3) as we strive to enter that better, heavenly country (Heb. 11:16).

Eric L. Padgett

ISAAC

The birth of a child usually brings great joy. When it was told Abraham that he would have a son in his advanced age of one-hundred years, Abraham fell on his face and laughed (Gen. 17:17). Sarah laughed as well at the thought that she and Abraham would have a child, being “well stricken in age” (Gen. 18:11-15). At this time, her laughter must have been tinged with doubt for she was reproved for it. But when Isaac was actually born, Sarah stated “God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear me shall laugh with me” (Gen. 21:6). In Isaac, we all laugh with joy. It is no wonder that the name “Isaac” means “laughter.”

The joy at the birth of Isaac was partly because Isaac was a child of promise. God had promised Abraham many years before that he would make a great nation of him (Gen 12:1,2). When children seemed to be a long-time coming, Abraham cried to God, “To me Thou hast given no seed” (Gen. 15:3). However, God assured him that one born from his own bowels would be his heir and through him all nations of the earth would be blessed (Gen. 15:4). He also promised him that his offspring would be as many as the stars in the sky and the sand on the shore. God could cause even a dead womb to bring forth life (Rom. 4:18-21)

Just as Isaac was a child of promise, he was also a type of the Christ. When God promised that one was coming who would bless all nations, ultimately this was not Isaac. Before Abraham, God had promised Eve that her seed would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). To the ancient patriarch Job God has promised a Redeemer Who would stand upon the earth in the latter days (Job 19:25). In fulfillment of these and all other Old Testament prophecies, Jesus came as our Redeemer (Gal. 3:13; 4:15; Rom. 11:26; Is. 59:20). Indeed, Jesus was truly the seed promised to Abraham (Gal. 3:16).

Isaac’s life once and again demonstrated the kind of faith his father had demonstrated. With the exception of Isaac’s lie to Abimelech about his relationship with his wife, which was, in itself, reflective of his father’s character, Isaac lived an exemplary life. Isaac’s life was:

“So quiet and unenergetic, that his whole life was spent in the circle of a few miles; so guileless, that he lets Jacob overreach him rather than disbelieve his assurance; so tender, that his mother’s death was the poignant sorrow of years…so patient and gentle, that peace with his neighbors was dearer than even such a coveted possession as a well of living water dug by his own men; so grandly obedient, that he put his life at his father’s disposal; so firm in his reliance on God, that his greatest concern through life was to honour the Divine promise given to his race…” (Cunningham Geike, Hours With The Bible, p. 378).

For Abraham, however, the laughter undoubtedly turned to sorrow when God commanded him to sacrifice of his son, his only son, Isaac (Gen. 22:2). Isaac surely must have been aware that something was amiss when he and his father went off to sacrifice to God but took no offering (Gen. 22:7). Isaac was probably now at least twenty years of age. When he finally realized that he would be the sacrifice, did he struggle? Did he run in fear? Did he resist in any way? The Bible does not give the details but it appears that he submitted to his father to be offered as the offering, and, in doing so, he demonstrated a faith that rivaled his father’s!

How much did Isaac know of the seed promise given to Abraham? Surely Abraham must have spoken of this to Sarah and Isaac. We do know that immediately after Abraham’s death, God repeats the promise He had given to Abraham to Isaac (Gen. 26:1-4). It doesn’t seem to be news to Isaac that he would be given this promise. It seems possible, and perhaps even likely, then, that Abraham would have revealed this promise to his wife and son. Which makes Isaac’s role in being offered by his father all the more remarkable. If Isaac was aware, then we can assume that he was a willing participant in this sacrifice.

If the Angel of the Lord had not intervened, Abraham would have delivered the death blow. There was no doubt in God’s mind that Abraham would have gone through with it (Gen. 22:11,12). Evidently, Abraham was able to offer his son because he believed that God would raise him up if he were indeed killed in order to fulfill the promise God gave to him (Heb. 11:18; Gen. 22:5). If Abraham was certain of this because of the promise, and Isaac knew of the promise, then mustn’t Isaac’s faith have been equally strong? To knowingly face going to the slaughter and still go requires remarkable trust in God.

Our Lord came into this world knowing that He would go to the cross (Matt. 20:28). He knew that He must be about His Father’s business from the start (Luke 2:49). Yet He gave Himself willingly to save us (Rom. 5:6-8). Just as Isaac, Abraham’s only son, carried the wood for the sacrifice to the hill God had appointed (Gen. 22:2,6), Our Lord, the Only-Begotten of the Father, carried the cross to the Golgotha (John 19:17). And as Abraham received Isaac back to life again after three days (Gen. 22:4), in a figure (Heb. 11:18), so the Lord was victoriously raised after three days (Matt. 17:23; 27:64; Luke 24:46).

Rejoice evermore (I Thess. 5:16)!

Eric L. Padgett

CAIN AND ABEL

Notwithstanding their closeness to the Creation and their proximity to the Creator, there is nothing we read in the Sacred Account of Adam and Eve and their sons that suggest to us anything but that they were susceptible to the same temptations we ourselves now face daily (I John 2:15-17). We have seen the Fall of Adam and Eve from their fellowship with Jehovah. Now we read of the tragic incidents surrounding their children, Cain and Abel. This first family tells us much about us.

Cain was firstborn. His interests lay in the field. His brother Abel was a keeper of sheep. Both men brought an offering to the Lord, but only Abel’s was accepted. Multiple theories have been put forward as to why God rejected Cain’s offering and most of the time it centers on Cain’s attitude. And while Cain’s attitude certainly left a lot to be desired, this most certainly was not the sole reason, or even the main reason, the Lord rejected his offering.

No less than Jesus tells us that Abel was righteous (Matt. 23:35). Righteousness comes from keeping the commandments of God, for “all Thy commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172). Paul tells us that now, today, it is in the gospel that the righteousness of God is revealed (Rom. 1:17). If Abel was righteous, then it was because he kept the commandments of the Lord. Indeed, the Lord tells Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted” (Gen. 4:7). Clearly, the Bible reveals that Cain’s transgression was that he was not righteous, he did not do well, he did not obey.

Additionally, Paul declares that “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). Paul also declares that Abel presented his offering by faith (Heb. 11:4). Now, if faith comes by the word of God, and Abel presented his offering by faith, then Abel presented his offering according to the word of God. That is, he did well in obeying God’s commands.

This also explains why Cain was condemned. It was not an arbitrary, gratuitous dislike of Cain or his offering that led to God’s disapprobation, but a legal condemnation based on Cain’s disobedience of God’s revealed law. When has it ever been otherwise? Anyone today who similarly alters God’s commands, or who adds to or takes therefrom, shall likewise partake of God’s judgments (Rev. 22:18,19). The wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience (Eph. 5:6; Col. 3:6).

If there are no other lessons to be taken from this historical account, this would be quite enough, for it is vitally important. It is a lesson that is taught over and over again throughout scripture. But Cain’s transgression of God’s commands led to other sins, as well. The man who cares not if he obeys God’s commands in worship, will care little about God’s commands in general. Cain is a case in point.

When the Lord condemned Cain for his disobedience in worship, instead of being contrite and humble, he became jealous, hateful and angry. God’s instruction to Cain was not to go seek to manage his anger, but to do well! God’s remedy for anger is to be obedient to Him! The way to acceptance with God is not through self-will, but humble obedience. Nevertheless, he took out his hatred on his righteous brother Abel. How very sad it is that the first account that we have of murder is meted out by a brother upon a brother.

Abel was the first martyr. He suffered for himself because he did well and the voice of his blood cried out from the ground as a witness (Gen. 4:10). The blood of Abel and of all the righteous prophets was required of that people which persecuted and killed them and then crucified the Saviour (Matt. 23:34-38). Jesus suffered for all because He did well. Today, the blood of Jesus speaks of better things than that of Abel’s (Heb. 12:24; I Pet. 1:18-20).
Eric L. Padgett

I Stand Amazed

The impact of Jesus on our world has been nothing less than astounding. H. G. Wells once said, “I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.” No one single individual has impacted the world more than has Jesus. We often sing the words, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene.” There are number of reasons I stand amazed at Jesus.

First, I am amazed at His personal character. After Mary and Joseph had returned to find Jesus, whom they had lost track of, “after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers” (Luke 2:46-47).

Even at a very young age Jesus had a purpose in life and went about fulfilling that purpose (Luke 2:49). Far too many young people today, however, are listless, wandering about aimlessly without any purpose in life. This is also true of many adults. Jesus, however, left us a beautiful example by living a life resisting temptation without sin, He suffered and was persecuted but never lost sight of His divine mission.

Second, I stand amazed at His mighty works. All that ever became acquainted with the life of Christ attest to His mighty works (Matt. 13:54; Mark 6:2). Even His enemies could not deny His power and miracles and had to falsely attribute the ability to another source (Matt. 12:22-27). These miracles were a confirmation of His identity as the Son of God (Heb. 2:2-4). The greatest of all these miracles was His own resurrection which proved Him to be the Son of God with power (Rom. 1:4).

Third, I stand amazed at His doctrine. When people heard Jesus speak, they were amazed at His doctrine (Matt. 7:28). Just compare Jesus’ teaching to other religious leaders in the world. Buddhism teaches that when bad things happen to people it is karma and you should not interfere with it. Mohammed said to “slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem of war” (Sureh 9:5). But Jesus said “love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Jesus said love of God and neighbor fulfills the law (Matt. 22:37-40; Rom 13:8).

Fourth, I am amazed at the salvation He offers (Matt. 19:25). Why would the Lord die for a sinner like me? Why would He suffer the indignities, humiliation and torture He suffered for all of us while we were yet His enemies (Rom. 5:6-10). Even more amazing, once forgiven, our sins and iniquities He will remember no more (Heb. 10:5-18).

I agree with a certain J. Sidlow Baxter on this point: “Fundamentally, our Lord’s message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, ‘I am the bread.’ He did not come merely to shed light; He said, ‘I am the light.’ He did not come merely to show the door; He said, ‘I am the door.’ He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, ‘I am the shepherd.’ He did not come merely to point the way; He said, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’”

I stand amazed in His Presence.

Eric L. Padgett

Do You Know This Jesus?

Many people know of Jesus’ kindness and love. We read of His cradling a little child in His bosom (Matt. 17:3), touching the untouchable leper (Matt. 8:2,3) and protecting the harlot from being stoned (John 8:10), of His speaking to the shunned Samaritan woman (John 4), and His dining among publicans (Luke 5:29). We read of His unparalleled teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, turn the other cheek, bless those which curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,” etc. The world in general and the religious world in particular knows and generally admires these qualities of Jesus.

Yet, while these things present a picture of Christ that is not untrue, it is also not complete. There was and is another side to Jesus. Jesus also overthrew the moneychangers tables and scourged those who made merchandise of the house of God (Matt. 21:12,13), He condemned the Pharisees and scribes as hypocrites (Matt. 23:27), He scolded Jerusalem and said He would return in judgement (Matt. 23:34-24:2) and told people bluntly that they were in error (Matt. 22:29). Another passage we want to examine is found in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Several lessons can be learned from this passage:

First, Jesus clearly taught that not everyone will be saved. However, there are some in the religious world who do not believe this. The Universalist, for instance, believes “that all people, no matter how evil they may be, are created by God; and that God…will eventually bring all people back to Himself and into Heaven, by means which we cannot know or understand” (http://www.loveallpeople.org/universalsalvation.html). In contrast to this, Jesus unmistakably said some “shall go away into eternal damnation” (Matt. 25:41).

It is not that God is not able to save. The Bible teaches He is able to save them to the “uttermost” who come unto Him by Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:25). No, God’s arm is not shortened that it cannot save (Isaiah 59:1). It’s not that salvation is limited, either. Contrary to what some teach, God has not chosen just a few for salvation. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (I Tim. 2:4). But God never has saved all people, though He wants to do so. In Moses’ day, for instance, the majority were lost and only eight souls were saved (I Pet. 3:20). Of the millions who came out of Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb were able to visit the promised land (Deut. 1:35-38).

Second, it is clear from Jesus’ teaching that only those who obey God’s will can be saved. Obedience is absolutely essential to salvation. Paul stated that obedience must be rendered to the faith (Rom. 1:5). He said there will be tribulation on every soul that does not obey (Rom. 2:8,9). In fact, it is through disobedience that sin came into the world (Rom. 5:19). We must be doers of the word and not hearers only, says James (1:22-25). On and on the list could go. But it is clear that salvation only comes through obedience to God’s word. That is why the view of “faith only” is manifestly false (James 2:10-26).

Finally, and sadly, many are mistaken about God’s will. Jesus said many will claim that they have done many good things in His name, yet He will say “I never knew you. Depart from Me.” Cornelius is a good example of one did many good things, he believed, for God, and yet needed salvation (Acts 10:1-6; 11:14). Apollos, was another good man that needed to be taught correctly (Acts 18:24-26). I know a lot of decent people, but they sadly close their ears to the truth. Some in the Bible, like the Athenians, heard the truth but rejected it (Acts 7:32). Festus and Agrippa are two good examples, as well, of those who were almost Christians (Acts 26:24-29). It is not that God’s word cannot be understood, but that some men will not submit themselves to it.

It is true, God is love (I John 4:8,16). It is also true the He loved us so much He gave His Son to die in our stead (John 3:16). It is equally true that Jesus gave us a commandment to love one another. But there is another side to Jesus. His character demands that justice also be meted out. He will deny us if we deny Him (Matt. 10:32). It is one thing to profess to know God, it is quite another to have God know you. May we never, ever hear Christ speak to us those dreadful, terrifying words, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity, I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).

Eric L. Padgett

Christ is God’s Spokesman

(This is a letter to the editor of the Evansville Courier I sent in this week. It is in response to a letter, published February 15, by a Presbyterian preacher who defended sodomy. I do not know if it will be published, so I publish it here myself.)

In the Evansville Courier and Press last Sunday, Kevin Fleming, a preacher for a liberal Presbyterian church in Evansville, argued in a letter to the editor that “there is no such thing as a single spokesperson for Christianity.”

However, contrary to Fleming’s assertions, the Bible teaches that God has indeed “spoken to us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1). The Lord is The Spokesman!  Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the words that I have spoken, the same judge him in the last day” (John 12:47).

What prompted Mr. Fleming to write was his irritation at another letter to the editor which condemned the kind of people that, at least partly, comprise the group which he leads, people who have “different faith traditions,” those that avoid a “literal interpretation of scripture,” and especially those who change the natural use of the body to that which is against nature.

Mr. Fleming ignores, and wants others to ignore, what Jesus said about marriage.  While Fleming “utterly rejects” the view that “singles out LGBTQ people as particularly deserving of condemnation and shame,” Jesus said “Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female and for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife…what God hath joined together let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6).

The Lord’s Word clearly teaches that all perversions of that divine order are sinful.  When women lust after women and men after men that is “vile,” “against nature,” “unseemly,” and is an “error” deserving of “recompence” (Rom. 1:26-32).

“Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…shall inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9,10).

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).

Fleming says that those who do such things as the Son of God and His word clearly condemns are “exemplary” and “light in darkness.”  That is what Fleming says.  That is his “opinion.”  Mr. Fleming is free to hold whatever opinions he chooses to hold, of course, but they certainly aren’t those of the Lord as found in His word, the word that shall judge us at the last day!

Eric L. Padgett

As Ye Have Received Christ, So Walk

The church at Colossae was facing the insinuation into it’s sphere of influence the insidious doctrine of gnosticism. Many call it the Colossian Heresy. Regardless of whether it was in it’s incipient form or was full blown gnosticism, certain fatal errors were being thrust upon the congregation there that were corrosive to the well being of the brethren and antithetical to truth and Paul was attempting to thwart it’s advancement among them. In verse six of chapter two, Paul warns them, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (2:6).

In this statement, Paul reminds the brethren there to remember from whence they came, to remember the truths they were taught and to continue to abide in those truths. There was a danger of drifting from those established truths into something much more speculative and different than what had been originally delivered to them. This warning is not unique or novel to the brethren in Colossae.

For instance, Paul warned the brethren at Thessalonica, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (I Thess. 4:1). He follows this by saying that they knew the commandments given them by the Lord (2:2). In his second epistle to them, he warned them once again to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (II Thess. 2:15). Paul warned them not to change or leave the truth as it was delivered them.

These passages can be multiplied many times over. I Cor. 15:1-4: “Keep in memory what I have preached to you”; Gal. 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another; but some would trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-9); Heb. 10:23: “Hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering”; John 15:5-10: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” On and on the list could go and the lesson to be learned is clear enough.

Maybe it is the spirit of the times. There are those even in the United States who want to either tamper with the Constitution or disregard it altogether. They don’t care for the way the country was founded in the first place. But the constitution, even though it is a great document, is a human document. The scriptures are not, however! They are of divine origin! They should neither be altered nor disregarded but respected and treasured and strictly followed.

We would be wise to heed the inspired admonition to walk in the truths as they were delivered to us, neither adding to them nor taking from them (Prov. 30:5,6; Rev. 22:18,19). When I read the New Testament I find a pretty simple plan for the Lord’s church. There is but one church, one head, one means of entrance, one mission, one plan of organization, and one means of fellowship. After I obeyed the gospel, I also learned these things when faithful men of God taught me and reinforced these truths. I think I can say that today I stand exactly where I stood after I matured as a Christian years ago. Unfortunately, some are no longer walking as they received Christ.

In the Lord’s church today I see the use of translations from the pulpit that were exposed for their errors and weaknesses years ago by sound brethren. I see activities being countenanced that were once seen as superfluous and beyond the mission and purpose of the Lord’s church. I see a few blurring the lines of fellowship that once would have been denounced. I worry that many are no longer walking as they had received Christ.

Eric L. Padgett

We Have Found Him

Two days after Jesus was baptized of John in the Jordan river to fulfill all righteousness, as He was heading into Galilee, He called to Philip: “Follow Me” (John 1:43). We do not know what other words Jesus spoke to him, if any at all, but we are left with the distinct impression that Philip obeyed His Master’s call immediately. What this text reveals about not only the character of Philip but also our own character is quite helpful.

First, note that Philip was apparently looking for the Messiah. You cannot find something for which you are not looking. It is true that Jesus called Philip to follow Him, but I cannot help but think that Jesus would not have approached him if he had not been seeking the Messiah. If Philip had not been useable material for the Lord, there would have been no need to call him. His knowledge of the Law of Moses and his desire to tell others about Jesus strongly indicate that he was looking for the Christ. He had probably heard of Jesus if he had not heard Him speak.

It is truly a blessing to find those who are seeking the Lord, to find men and women who are amenable to the will of God and need only to be shown the way. We need more men and women like this, men like Apollos, who can be shown the way of the Lord more perfectly (Acts 18:24-28). It is also a lesson to us to seriously seek the Lord (Psalm 105:4). When the Saviour calls us (through His revealed word), are we willing to follow His will immediately? Do we stubbornly cling to our own will and desires, our own preconceived notions, or do we humbly submit and follow like Philip?

Second, take note of Philip’s acquaintance with the word of God, at that time the Law of Moses. Philip recognized in Jesus’ demeanor, His character, and His teaching, that He was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 5:17). He was familiar enough with God’s word to be able to identify those qualities in Jesus of Nazareth which proved Him to be the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of a long line of prophecies. How many Christians today lack knowledge enough to be able to know the difference between truth and error when it is being taught? How many can give a “thus saith the Lord” and a “book, chapter, and verse” for their beliefs and practices?

It is characteristic of all faithful children of God to know the Book. We must study to show ourselves approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). There was a time when members of the Lord’s church were known to be superior in their knowledge of God’s word over all others. There was a time when members of the Lord’s church engaged their fellow man in discussions of the Bible, and took on their man-made traditions by deftly wielding the sword of the Spirit. We need to rekindle that spirit in the Lord’s people so that the Lord’s church will grow by true conversion and not just mere swelling through associating with those that seek to be a part of some mere social institution.

Finally, note the zeal with which Philip sought out Nathanael. This same spirit was also found in Andrew, whom, the Bible tells us, “first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias” (John 1:41). Then, he brought him to Jesus (John 1:42). These are the same words Philip uttered to Nathanael, “We have found Him!” Do we have that same child-like joy over knowing the Lord that these men had? Do we call our friends and neighbors, and tell the stranger on the street, that we have found the Messiah? Can others sense in us our joy over finding salvation or do we show more joy over our new car or a new bowling ball than over finding the Saivour of the world?

When Philip told Nathanael of His exciting news of finding the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world, Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael scoffed, “Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:45). If you are like me, you have probably come across the doubters yourself. But Philip’s response was, “Come and see” (John 1:46). Not long after, Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him (John 147). The proof is in the pudding, as the old saying goes. When people doubt or scoff, we must invite them to come and see for themselves. When we have questions, we need to investigate and reason with the Lord (Is. 1:8).

Shouldn’t we rejoice over finding the Lord? Shouldn’t we be moved to tell others the joy we have found in the knowledge of salvation? We have found Him! So let us go tell others that good news.

Eric L. Padgett