Category Archives: Truth

Rejoice in My Sufferings

In truly descriptive language, the prophet Amos warned against complacency and placidity in God’s people: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches…that invent unto themselves instruments of musick…that anoint themselves with the chief ointments…but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:1-6). Just as in the days when Amos uttered this dire warning, we also live in an age and a culture when peace and pleasure are paramount. Even more disheartening is the fact that this attitude has taken hold of a great many in the Lord’s church.

Instead of challenging the denominational world to discuss and debate their false religious views, instead of calling their teachings and practices what they are–damnable error, too many in the Lord’s church now seek to “partner” with those in the denominations in sundry social and community activities. No, the reasoning goes, to expose the error might cause them not to like us and they might say bad things about us and then how could we reach them? Why, we might even suffer rejection or, worse, persecution!

How different this attitude is from that of Moses. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).

Moses and God’s people could have used a different approach than the one God authorized of separating themselves to the worship of God (Ex. 5:1). Moses might have tried to compromise with Pharaoh by offering to worship Egyptian gods as well as Jehovah. He might have offered to worship in Egypt and not in the wilderness as God had said. They may have gotten together for some kind of social affair so that they could learn to relate to one another’s needs. But Moses chose rather to do what God said and he was willing to suffer for it.

How different the attitude of some is today than that of the Lord’s apostles. When the Sadducees cast the apostles into prison for preaching and teaching the truth, the apostles, being set free from bondage by and at the command of the angel of the Lord (Acts 5:19,20), went out to speak the words of this life to all the people. When they were once again hauled before the Sanhedrin and asked why they were teaching in the name of Christ when they were straightly charged not to, they responded simply: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And then, when they had been beaten for the Cause of Christ, “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

The apostles could have tried some other approach than the one authorized by the Lord. They might have left out the offensive parts of their preaching so as not to offend the Jews. They might have left out the preaching about the resurrection, which the Sadducees did not accept. The apostles could have left out the blood of Christ and His crucifixion to draw the Sadducees into the services, to increase their numbers and ease religious tensions. But instead, they wanted to obey God rather than men and were willing and glad to suffer for it, if that was the result.

The Christians in the first century also had a different attitude than many in the Lord’s church do today. Paul acknowledged that the brethren in Colossae were rejoicing in his sufferings for them. At the time of the writing, Paul was under Roman detention. They rejoiced, not because they wanted to see Paul suffer, but because he was fulfilling the will of God and filling up that which was behind in the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24). What did first century Christians do when they were reviled, persecuted and spoken against falsely? They followed the Lord’s command and rejoiced exceedingly because they knew they had a reward in heaven (Matt. 5:10,11).

If we suffer as Christians (that is, because we are Christians), let us not be ashamed as so many seem to be today. Rather, let us glorify God on this behalf (I Pet. 4:16). We should rejoice that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings and reproached for the name of Christ (I Pet. 4:13,14). If someone asks us to go out for a drink, we should be able to say confidently, “No thank you, because I am a Christian, I do not drink alcohol.” If someone asks us to participate in some denominational service, we should be able to say without shame “No thank you, the Lord does not approve of that.” We should not be ashamed or afraid to speak the truth to those in error either doctrinally or morally.

Instead of seeking the path of least resistance, we ought to seek the path that is right (Matt. 7:13,14). We should never, ever intentionally try to offend others, but we must never, ever yield to the false notion that offense is, in itself, a sin. Jesus was, is and ever shall be offensive to many people (John 5:51-64; Matt. 13:57; Mark 14:27; I Cor. 1:18-31). We are not greater than our Lord (John 13:16). If Jesus was offensive, then so shall we be. If Jesus was persecuted, then so shall we be (John 15:20). If we suffer with Him, then we shall also reign with Him (II Tim. 2:11,12). If we are offered and sacrificed, then we ought to rejoice (Phil 2:14-18). Let us then rejoice in our sufferings and never be ashamed to suffer as a Christian!

Eric L. Padgett

Will Ye Also Go Away?

The teaching of Jesus is offensive! Don’t believe it? Am I speaking blasphemy? Listen to Jesus Himself. While He was in Capernaum, Jesus taught that His followers must (metaphorically, of course) eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life (John 6: 53,54). To the Jews this was a “hard saying” because literally doing so would have been repulsive to them, probably even more than it is to us today (John 6:60). After all, they knew the prohibition against such in the Law of Moses under which they lived (Lev. 17:10-14). However, “When Jesus knew in Himself that his disciples murmured at it, He said unto them, Doth this offend you?” (John 6:61).

Notice that Jesus, Himself, asked if His teaching offended (scandalized) His hearers (John 6:61). He did this not because He wanted to change His message so that people would not be offended but because He wanted them to understand what it took to follow Him. He even told them that there were some standing there that did not believe Him (John 6:64). Remember, these were not avowed enemies of Christ but professed followers, His disciples (John 6:61). It was because these people, the Lord’s own disciples, were offended, that “many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66).

Incredibly, in our politically correct, upside down world today, the actions of Jesus, Himself, would be grounds for dismissal of many a preacher if he were to so conduct himself. In certain congregations, if a preacher spoke the truth on a subject and many in the congregation left, the preacher would be blamed for causing division. He would be condemned for his harsh and unloving attitude. In many circles today, if a preacher preached the truth unapologetically on controversial issues, he would be warned against it and then terminated if he persisted. Sadly, so many today in the Lord’s church are more afraid of offending sinners than they are of not pleasing God.

On another occasion Jesus’ disciples came to Him and said “Knowest Thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?” (Matt. 15:12). Jesus had spoken against the practice of substituting the commandments of men for the doctrine of God and He called the scribes and Pharisees, “hypocrites” and transgressors (Matt. 15:3,7). Apparently, our Lord was not as concerned that He would offend anyone as He was concerned about offending God. Alas, today it is not so.

Obviously, if a man or woman tries, like Diotrophes, to “prat against others with malicious words” (III John 9,10), or, if in disciplining someone that person is caused to be “swallowed up of overmuch sorrow” (II Cor. 2:6,7), then there is a problem of attitude. Let us always speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). But when the truth of God is stifled, when apologies are always made for speaking the revealed will of the Father, when psychology replaces book, chapter and verse preaching, when sugar and honey “sharing” replaces fire and brimstone preaching, when man’s opinions replace God’s revealed truths, when ecumenism replaces exposing error, then there is a deeper problem of allegiance to God in the heart.

What possible good can it do to dunk someone under water but then suffer them to be led away into doctrinal and moral error? What good does it do to add numbers to a “church roll” if the church is nothing but a social institution? Though few will accept it, it is nevertheless true: Jesus’ teaching offends many people, even some who profess to follow Him. Shall we change it or water it down to suit the devil? Is our mission to please the masses so that we can inflate numbers? Is our mission to save our church buildings or is to teach the truth and provide opportunities for souls to be saved? I had rather be a member of a despised congregation of seven faithful disciples of Christ than a member of a popular and “active” congregation of 7,000 that had no concept of the truth of the gospel.

When certain of the disciples at the synagogue in Capernaum were offended by the teaching of Jesus and choose to walk no more with Him, He turned to His twelve apostles and asked them a very simple question: Will ye also go away (John 6:67)? We need to answer that question for ourselves today. Are you offended at the teaching of Jesus? Will you walk no more with Him if it means standing for the right and opposing the wrong? Or, will you, like Peter, say, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Eric L. Padgett

Seven Spiritual Foods

A hungry person doesn’t need to be told to eat. The hunger he feels drives him of necessity to find nourishment. If adequate nourishment is not found, the end result is death by starvation. Spiritual life is no different than physical in that respect. If proper spiritual nourishment is not found, the end result is spiritual death. The only difference between the physical and the spiritual is that most people do not feed their spiritual hunger, either because they do not recognize that particular feeling of emptiness for what it is or they feel the pain of spiritual hunger but do not know how to satisfy the need adequately. The Bible describes spiritual food in several ways.

First, there is the body and blood of the Lord (John 6:51-58). Jesus said “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you” (John 6:53). Jesus was not here speaking of His Supper (which we will consider forthwith), for He had not yet instituted it. Nor was He advocating cannibalism here, which is against everything for which the Lord stands. The suggestion of eating His flesh and drinking His blood would have startled the Jews who were commanded not to eat of such literally, but Jesus was emphasizing that we have to assimilate all of Jesus into our lives. We must partake of and fellowship in His life and His death (Gal. 2:20; II Cor. 4:10,11). It is all or nothing with Christ.

Second, there is the Lord’s Supper (Matt. 26:26-29). Jesus said “Take, eat…This do in remembrance of Me” (I Cor. 11:24). Thus, this meal and its emblems is designed to focus our minds and hearts on the sacrifice of Christ. It shows our communion with the Lord (I Cor. 10:14-16). We are encouraged by this “meal” to examine ourselves, taking of it in a worthy manner, discerning the Lord’s body (I Cor. 11:28,29). While all meals should have a spiritual significance, it is especially true of the Lord’s Supper.

Third, Jesus describes Himself as the Bread of Life (John 6:47-51, 58). While the fathers had been sustained in the wilderness with miraculous Manna sent down by God from heaven, those who ate of it, afterwards died (v. 49). But Jesus declares Himself to be the Bread sent down from heaven which, if one eats, he shall never die (John 6:50,51).

Fourth, there is the living water (John 4:10-14). To a thirsty man, water is more precious than gold. Anyone who has ever been truly thirsty to the point of being parched understands the importance of water to the preservation of life. Jesus says that to drink of this water causes one to never thirst again (John 4:13). When we come to know the sweetness of the Truth of God, the refreshing nature of God’s salvation, we will never want to drink a drop from any other well. All other water is bitter and full of disease. And one day, if we are faithful, we will be able to drink of the fountain of the water of life freely (Rev. 22:1; 21:6).

Fifth, there is milk (I Pet. 2:2). Milk is for those who are young in the faith. But every child thirsts after milk, and cries for it when he does not have it. So should it be for the one has just obeyed the gospel. We ought to have the same attitude as that little baby who wants to be fed. We should desire to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (II Pet. 3:18). How many people have obeyed the gospel and never sought after any further nourishment? Or, how many times have we left a child in the faith starve to death because we never supplied them with the opportunities for feeding or gave them food that was not fit?

Sixth, there is strong meat (Heb. 5:11-14). At some point in our Christian lives we should outgrow the milk of the word and move on to that which is stronger and more fulfilling. A grown-up needs to outgrow childish things (I Cor. 13:11). But some Christians like to keep sipping on their bottle of milk all their lives. This does not prepare one for the bigger issues they will face as a Christian. Not eating meat means we are stagnant in our growth. It means we are carnal and not spiritual (I Cor. 3:1,2).

Finally, there is the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). As we grow in Christ, we will feast on the wonderfully delicious fruits of the Spirit, like love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance. We, ourselves then, will bear much fruit (John 15:1-8). As God’s word takes greater control of our lives, we will bear these fruit to the glory of God.

Ready to eat?

Eric L. Padgett

Good Change, Bad Change

Change! Everything nowadays seems to change. I guess this has always been true. The leaves change, seasons change, fashion changes, individual people change, looks change, technology changes, tastes change, moods change, landscapes change, cities change. Even slick politicians promise us “Change!” The list could go on. But change for change’s sake is not a good thing in most instances. All change is not good. There are some things that should not change and that don’t change.

For instance, God does not change. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2). Yes, people may change over time, because they are less than perfect. But God, being perfect, cannot change, lest He be less than perfect. Nor does Jesus Christ change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). It is good that God does not change because this provides stability for us in our lives and world.

God’s word does not change. Heaven and earth will pass away before God’s word ever changes (Matt. 2:35) and even then there is not a chance of it changing because it, too, is perfect. “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:6,7). The law of the Lord is perfect and therefore does not change (Psalm 19:7). Truth does not change.

Morality and right and wrong do not change. Some people think that what was moral in the first century is no longer moral, that there is no objective, moral standard of right and wrong. But since God provides the standard through His word of what is right and wrong, and since neither God nor His word changes, then moralty and right and wrong do not change. What was morally wrong two thousand years ago, even six thousand years ago, is still wrong today and will always be wrong. The Psalmist declared, “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth” (Psalm 119:142; cf. Psalm 119:60).

Furthermore, the Lord’s church does not change. The same church that was established by the Lord on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection (Acts 2; Matt. 16:16-19) is the very same church which will be translated into heaven without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:27). There are many who try to change her, who try to lower her standards, who try to make something of her she was never intended to be, but the Lord’s church remains the same because the gates of hell cannot prevail against her (Matt. 16:19).

All these things do not change. Some men want to change them, some men try to change them, but God’s will resists those feeble attempts. Those who try to change them, however, who try to add to or take away from them, will meet with unwelcomed and unbearable reprisal (Rev. 22:18,19).

What does need to change is the heart of man. The heart of every man needs to be set free from an evil conscience (Heb. 10:22). Men want life their own way on their own terms, but the way of man is not in himself (Jer. 10:23). It is man that left God and, thus, needs to be reconciled unto Him, not the other way around (II Cor. 5:19ff). This is good change, when men turn back to God. We need more of this kind of change.

Eric L. Padgett

What Makes Something True?

What makes something true? Many people believe something is true just because they want to believe it. Some people believe things because their parents believed it. Others believe things because their preacher said it. Some people believe things because it has always been taught that way. Unfortunately, most people never question why or how they believe what they believe.

Believing or not believing something does not make it either true or not true. If a man believes he can fly and he jumps off the roof of a ten story building, regardless of what he believes, the truth will soon become apparent. Just because your parents told you there is a Santa Claus, doesn’t mean there really is. Just because a preacher says drink the cool-aid, doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do.

Truth correlates to reality. If I say it is raining outside my house, how would you know if I was telling the truth? You would look outside my house to see if it was raining. If I am telling the truth, it will be raining outside my house. The truth of my statement will correspond to the reality of the situation. But then how do we know what is real?

Do we get to make up our own reality? The man who jumped off the roof of a ten story building didn’t get to make up his own reality and neither do we. Reality is settled by virtue of creation. In other words, reality depends on God. God created the world in a certain way. In order to get from one point to another, for instance, I have to move through time and space. The distance of the earth from the sun at any given point in time is a certain distance (roughly 93 million miles). We don’t get to vote on that distance to change it. That distance is not one distance for you and another for me. It is as God created it.

Why should we think the nature of moral-spiritual truths are any different than temporal-spatial truths? A thing is morally true if it corresponds to reality and reality is determined by God. Just as we don’t get to vote on the distance of the earth to the sun, we don’t get to vote on whether drunkenness, murder or homosexuality are sins. These things are not morally right for one person but wrong for another. Moral truths, as temporal-spatial truths, are also determined by their correspondence to the reality of God’s creation. But how do I know if any given moral statement is true or not true?

If I make the statement it is raining outside my house, I can check that by looking outside my house. If I say the sun is 93 million miles from earth, I can measure that (after a fashion). But how do I know if the statements “murder is a sin” or “homosexuality is a sin” are either true or false? Just as we look in the Book of Nature to objectively discover temporal-spatial truths we must look into the Book of Revelation (i.e., the Bible) to discover moral-spiritual truths. When someone says homosexuality is a sin, how do I know if that is true? I look into the word of God and see if that is what it teaches. That is how all moral and spiritual truths are determined. In principle, it is determined the same way we discover temporal-spatial truths.

But someone will object and say not everyone agrees on moral-spiritual truths. That is true, but not everyone agrees on temporal-spatial truths either. Many scientists believe in evolution, but many scientists do not. The history of science is filled with failures, men and women believing things about the natural world, like spontaneous generation, etc., that are not true. The scientific method is used to discover temporal-spatial truths and sacred hermeneutics is used to discover moral-spiritual truths. When properly handled, these methods advance truth, when improperly used, they extend ignorance.

What makes a statement or proposition true, then, is its correspondence to the way God created the world. He created certain temporal-spatial truths, which are discoverable through the scientific method and He created certain moral-spiritual truths which are discoverable through sacred hermeneutics. The heavens declare the glory of God just as the Word declares His will for man.

What so many people fail to do, however, is to be guided in what they believe about moral and spiritual matters by what God has revealed in His word. Many who do hear or come somehow to understand what the Bible teaches will still reject it. They will cast doubt on the reliability of God’s Word as a standard of authority or they will say “That is just your interpretation,” asserting that no one can really know the truth about morality.

But without recognizing God’s word as the objective standard, they leave themselves open to subjectivism. For if moral “truths” are determined by human opinion and not divine revelation, there is, in effect, no moral truth. If human opinion determines morality, murder may be wrong to you, but it may not be wrong to someone else. Thus, there would be no truth concerning morality, only individual opinions, and opinions differ widely.

But those who either take an agnostic posture with regard to morality or dismiss objective, moral standards outright, will inevitably, but inconsistently, assert some moral standard as absolute. Everyone will at least assert “It is wrong for you to take my life.” They understand the God-given right to life (though they may not recognize it as such). But when they do this, they give up any claim of an agnosticism of morality and admit there is an objective moral standard.

The truth is, there is an objective, moral-spiritual truth to which all men are amenable–the Word of God. It is just as much a part of God’s creation as are the temporal-spatial truths. All of these truths and laws were codified in creation. We come to understand or discover all of these laws and truths through observation and study.

What makes something true is that God has declared it to be true.

Eric L. Padgett