What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian? All the various churches of “Christendom” call themselves “Christians,” but they all hold to distinct doctrines and beliefs, with the exception they most all believe that Jesus is the Christ. But even that view is sometimes skewed. They were all founded at different times by different people. Does being a Christian mean, then, that one can believe anything just so long as one believes that Jesus is the Christ? Is this the only doctrine that matters? Does doctrine even matter at all? What does the Bible say it means to be a Christian?

The Bible is clear that the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26). A disciple is a learner or follower or student. In this case, the followers are followers of Christ. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). To follow Him is to hear His voice. You can’t be a follower of Jesus Christ and follow someone else’s voice.

When the Lord was transfigured before His disciples, Jesus appeared with both Moses and Elijah (Matt. 17:1-13). Moses was, of course, the great lawgiver of the Old Testament. He was chosen by God to lead the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage into the promised land. He recieved the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Old Testament from the Lord at mount Sinai (Ex. 20). On the other hand, Elijah was the great prophet of the Old Testament who challenged the false prophets of Baal (I Kings 18) and performed many great miracles. Upon seeing these great men, Peter wanted to build three tabernacles to honor all three, Moses, Elijah and Jesus. Though well intentioned, Peter was unwittingly either lowering Jesus’ stature or elevating those of Moses and Elijah.

But as those events unfolded, a voice came from heaven saying,”This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him” (Matt. 17:5). When the disciples looked again, only Jesus remained. The obvious meaning of these events was to impress upon their minds that it was only Christ to whom we are to listen, no other. There is not other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). While God has spoken in divers manners in times past, in these last days He speaks to us by His Son (Heb. 1:1-3).

Jesus said the words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life (John 6:63). Only Jesus has the words of eternal life (John 6:66). Jesus said “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). We cannot reject Jesus’ words and expect to be recieved by the Lord in Judgment. If we add to or take from His word, then we are going to find ourselves under a very serious imprecation (Gal. 1:6-8; Rev. 22:18,19; cf. Prov. 30:5.6). We must hear His voice and hear His words.

As students or disciples, we listen to the teaching of our Master. Jesus said, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Teaching is doctrine. When we follow our Master’s teaching, we follow His doctrine. If we do not follow His teaching, we do not follow His doctrine. But “whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 1:9).

Does it matter if we get something wrong? Is the Lord going to hold us accountable for breaking even the smallest jot ot tittle (Matt. 5:18)? Jesus said,

“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. 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:21-27).

The Lord said not just everyone is going to be accepted. Only those that do the will of God. How can one do the will of God if one does not know it? How can one know it, if one does not study it, and understand it, and follow it? Those things which the Lord taught He gave to the apostles and told them to go and teach all nations (Mark 16:15,16; Matt. 28:18). Notice, in Mark’s account he says the “gospel” must be taught. But Matthew says that this is “all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The gospel, then, is everything that the Lord commanded us through the apostles and if we teach any other gospel, then we will be accursed (Gal. 1:6-8).

We have in the New Testament what the apostles received of the Lord. Paul said, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand, by which ye are also saved” (I Corinthians 15:1,2). All scripture is given by inspiration and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (I Tim. 3:16). The apostles were guided into all truth and had all things brought to their remembrance that the Lord told them (John 14:26; 16:13).

To be a Christian then is to follow all the teachings of the Lord. The division of the religious world is not acceptable to the Lord (I Cor. 1:10). We urge all to throw away all human doctrines and traditions and creeds and accept only the doctrine of Christ as taught in the New Testament.

Eric L. Padgett


People lead all kinds of lives for all kinds of apparent reasons. Some people become addicted to alcohol. Others are addicted to other drugs. Still others are thieves and extortioners and others practice fraud. Many lead lives that are complete lies and deceive and hurt the very ones they say they love. Some are drawn into lives of fornication and sexual promiscuity. Some people are very religious while others despise the cross of Christ. Some people profess spirituality but still cling to a profligate lifestyle.

The reasons for living such lives are as varied and different as there are different kinds of lives. One person is running away from an abusive home and she ends up in the wrong crowd of malcontents. Another feels inadequate and tries to compensate by being mean. Another can’t stand the circumstances of his life and turns to alcohol and drugs for an escape. Still another has lived in poverty and is now willing to do anything to get more money and get out of that circumstance. Again, the situations are varied and the reasons are just as diverse.

But there is one thing I think they all have in common, even though they do not know it. They seek purpose and meaning in life and fulfillment. We all do. They know something is missing in their lives but they do not know what it is. That is the real and ultimate reason for their course in life. Like Jonah or the prodigal son, many are running away from the Lord. They know something is amiss but they don’t know what it is and they look in the wrong places to find it.

Solomon seemingly had it all in life. God blessed him with wisdom, wealth and power. Yet Solomon tried everything under the sun imaginable to find fulfillment. He tried pleasure in every form. He wrote:

I made me great works; I builded me houses; I planted me vineyards: I made me gardens and orchards, and I planted trees in them of all kind of fruits: I made me pools of water, to water therewith the wood that bringeth forth trees: I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house; also I had great possessions of great and small cattle above all that were in Jerusalem before me: I gathered me also silver and gold, and the peculiar treasure of kings and of the provinces: I gat me men singers and women singers, and the delights of the sons of men, as musical instruments, and that of all sorts. So I was great, and increased more than all that were before me in Jerusalem: also my wisdom remained with me. And whatsoever mine eyes desired I kept not from them, I withheld not my heart from any joy; for my heart rejoiced in all my labour: and this was my portion of all my labour” (Ecclesiastes 2:4-10).

But what did Solomon find in doing all of this? Again, he wrote, “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:11). All the material things he could gather ultimately gave him no satisfaction or fulfillment. Not fame, not fortune, not physical pleasure.

So very many people today are where Solomon was then. They have tried a lot of things but have never found the happiness and fulfillment in life they seek. And so they live life in a cycle of misery and unhappiness and are unable to see their way clear. They continue to get even more entangled in their unfulfilling yet addictive life.

But the Bible offers us a better way to live. Jesus beckons all to come to Him. “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus is the bread of life and whoever comes to Him shall never hunger and he shall never thirst (John 6:35). This is what the Christian life offers.

First of all, the Christian life offers greater hope than merely living for the temporary, vacuous, mundane pleasures this life affords. The Lord offers us a hope of everlasting life without all the “darts and arrows of outrageous fortune” this life brings. No pain, nor sickness or suffering or crying or evil (Rev. 21:4,5). The example of Moses is instructive. He chose to suffer affliction with the people of God in order to gain greater riches rather than enjoy what the pleasures of sin had to offer for a season (Heb. 11:25,26). That is the choice we face today.

Second, there is purpose to the Christian life. The wise man Solomon concluded from all of his experience this simple thought: “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). The KJV translators supplied the word “duty” to help make the meaning clear. But even without the word “duty” the meaning is clear. Serving God is what makes man whole and complete. Jesus said that the proper course in life is to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33).

Third, there is the benefit of having the truth and seeing the world as it really is. Jesus said that He was the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus said that by continuing in His teaching, we shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free (John 8:31,32). The wise man advised us to buy the truth and sell it not (Prov. 23:23). The truth is that pearl of great price which we should be willing to sell all that we have that we might obtain it (Matt. 13:44-46).

Finally, there is great joy and peace in living the Christian life. Jesus said “My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you” (John 14:27). That peace is not like the world gives. As Christians, we can let the peace of God, which passes all understanding, rule in our hearts (Col. 1:20; 3:15). To be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace (Rom. 8:6).

There is no better life than the Christian life. It is a fulfilling life of truth and of purpose and reward.

Eric L. Padgett

The Beauty of Family

God created the institution of the family (Gen. 2:18ff). Nothing God created could ever be ugly or bad as long as it continues to function as God created it. Moses affirmed that all that God had made was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). The core of the family is the male husband and the female wife. Paul described the relationship between the husband and wife as a “mystery” (Eph. 5:32). The underlying Greek word “musterion” might be translated something like a “plan.” Marriage, therefore, is the great plan by God for the propagation of the human race and for the spiritual, mental and physical development of all members in that family and, consequently, society. Destroy the family, and society follows after.

God’s command to the man and woman at creation was to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Children, then, are an integral part of God’s plan for the family. “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5). “Children’s children are the crown of old men” (Prov. 17:6).

It used to be that large families were quite normal. Now “feminism” and other left-leaning ideologies have polluted our culture and poisoned the minds of many as to what the roles of men and women are in the home and in society. Indeed, attempts are currently being made by the left to destroy the very concepts of male and female. America and the world has been sickened by this poison which is promoted daily on television, radio and in print and in the schools. The antidote to cure this sickness is to infuse back into the church and the nation biblical principles of identity, family governance and authority.

It is the responsibility of the parents to bring up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:3). In every facet of life, fathers bear the responsibility to diligently instruct their children in the word of the Lord (Deut. 6:6,7). Mothers are also responsible for the rearing of the children in the way of the Lord (II Tim. 3:14,15; 1:5). When these instructions and this guidance fail, the child’s future is imperiled and the family is destabilized. Obedience to parental guidance, blesses the child and, generally, ensures a long and prosperous life (Prov. 1:8,9; Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1,2). Disobedience to one’s parents is a recipe for personal, social and spiritual doom.

Love is the powerful bond that holds the family together. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). A man, a husband, should love his wife even to the point of giving his life for hers, just as Christ did for the church. There is no greater love than this (John 15:13). The Christian’s love never fails (I Cor. 13:1-8). A husband is to love his wife as his own body (Eph. 5:28). The love between the husband and wife must be this kind of love in order for the family to prosper and endure as it should.

Children are to be obedient to their parents (Eph. 6:1,2). When children are taught the truth correctly, they grow up to be faithful all of their lives (Prov. 20:6). There really is no better, more satisfying life than the Christian life (John 10:10). Those that trust in the Lord find a life of contentment, happiness and peace. It not only has blessings in this life, but especially in the world to come (Mark 10:30). Good, obedient children make productive, serious adults. Productive, serious adults result in a productive, stable society.

It is in the family that wonderful memories are made and character is built. Nothing is more precious than quality time spent together, forming lasting memories of good times. The special times between a husband and wife draw them closer and bring them to better understand one another. The parent’s time with their children is not only an investment in their own legacy but also a foundation being laid for their child’s spiritual, moral and physical development. These times don’t have to be particularly exotic or different. They can just be time spent in one another’s company at dinner discussing the issues of the day or after dinner playing games. It does not matter much what it is. The key is time spent together doing things together.

It is not a coincidence that one of the ways in which God’s people are described is in terms of a “family” (Eph. 3:15). God is the Father and we are His children (Matt. 6:9). We are brothers and sisters in Christ (Heb. 3:1; Luke 8:21). As a family we share each other’s burdens, and pains and sorrows (Gal. 6:2). We weep with those that weep and rejoice with them that rejoice (Rom. 12:15). When one member suffers, they all suffer; when one is honored, all are (I Cor. 12:26). We are honest with one another and try to resolve our differences, when they arise (Eph. 4:25,26).

The Christian family is a safe and sacred place, a haven of rest for the weary soul, a covert from the storm. It is an island of safety in a tempestuous sea and a strong and impregnable fortress of against the enemies of the light and all that is good. It is a fountain of life and hope for the weak and weary and a tree of life for the hungry and thirsty soul. It is simply a foretaste of heaven.

A beautiful thing is the family.

A Pilgrim’s Journey

Life has been described in many ways by poets and scribes and philosophers and seers. All seem to agree that one of the ways to think about life is as a journey. On a journey, one begins at a certain place and ends up, possibly, in another. One begins a journey with a certain amount of baggage, or a lack thereof, and ends up with either more or less. There are sights to be seen and people and places and things to be experienced and things to do. Obstacles and challenges are met along the way. All of these things, and more, shape our character and transform us, for either good or bad, in one way or another, as we travel down the highways and byways of life.

The Bible teaches that if life is a journey, then our path must take us on a course that leads higher and upward. Heaven is our goal. Abraham confessed that he was but a stranger and pilgrim in the earth, seeking a country which lay beyond the borders of this mundane globe and which bore the landmarks of a higher plane, for he “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:13-16). It is a far better city and far better country than this old world has to offer and it is in the kingdom that cannot be moved (Heb. 12:28).

That city is a wondrous place where the streets are of transparent gold and its twelve gates are each of singular pearls and the whole of it like precious jewels, clear as crystal. It is a place where death and pain, sorrow and crying and tears and sin no longer molest the righteous soul and all things are new and bright (Rev. 21:4,5). That city shines with a wondrous glow that comes from being bathed in the glorious light of God’s holy Presence (Rev. 21:11).

There are many roads to travel in this life that lead to many destinations. Some of these places may be pleasant and even noble in and of themselves, but they can never be our final destination. There is only one way to the Heavenly City. All other roads lead to perdition and destruction. The way of man is not in him, it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23). That one Way is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Way and the only way to the Father (John 14:6).

The way to that heavenly country is straight and narrow and, sadly, few there be that find it (Matt. 5:). If you find yourself on a path in life that is busy and well traveled, bustling with the restless and noisy crowd, rest assured you are on the wrong path. It may be a smooth path, with no hills or hardships and it may offer every kind of comfort and excitement that this present world can offer, but it is most assuredly the wrong path. Jesus said the path that leads to heaven is straight and narrow and frought with challenges and dangers. That is why there are relatively very few that find it.

On any journey, especially a long one, it is possible to get lost. Sometimes we take a wrong turn and head down the wrong road. We can easily loose sight of our goal if we are not careful and diligent. It is very hard in such cases to admit that we have lost our way. It takes humility and courage to admit that one is lost and strength and honor to turn around and get back on the right path. Sometimes we must stop and get our bearings and maybe even ask for directions.

There are some, however, who never intend on following the straight and narrow path. They want the excitement and fascination of the broad, loud, and vulgar way that can only lead to destruction. They want to travel every back alley and sample the wares of every dive. They are bewitched by the dazzling shows and the flickering lights of the demons of the broad way. Their eyes are shut and their ears closed and their hearts hardened to the dangers that lie before them and to the warnings offered by those who have traveled that way before only to find empty promises and heartaches. And in the end, eternal death.

So as you journey through this life, chose wisely which road you follow. Keep your eye on the goal. Stay alert. Watch and pray. Follow the highway called the Way of Holiness (Is. 35:8). Call on the Father Who will judge every man according to his works and pass the time of your sojourning here in fear (I Pet. 1:17). “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11).

Eric L. Padgett

Putting Zeal Back Into Our Worship

Let it be understood at the outset that the worship I am contemplating here is scriptural worship. Jesus said that those who worship God must do so in truth (John 4:24). By this He meant it must be scriptural or according to the revealed pattern (Heb. 8:4,5). Anything less than this is already vain worship (Matt. 15:9). If you are engaging in unscriptural worship practices, you may feel satisfied, at least for now, but God is neither glorified nor pleased. That is not even under consideration here. We are dealing here only with scriptural worship.

Having said that, another aspect of true worship about which Jesus spoke is worshiping in spirit. To worship in spirit is to worship with the right moral attitude and with the proper emotional response. In the worship of Jehovah, the heart and spirit must be actively engaged. Sometimes in the courses of our lives, we may grow calloused and our worship may become commonplace to us or mundane. It may become old hat or just a matter of going through the motions. It is then that we must try to rekindle the fire of our first love (Rev. 2:4).

In this article, let me presume to make some practical suggestions that may rekindle the fiery flame of zeal in our worship.

Get a good night’s rest
I think I would list this as the most important thing you can do individually to maximize your own worship. So many times people come to worship and Bible study only to use it as a place to sleep. (I confess that I have struggled with this problem at times.) I realize that in our day and age we become so exhausted because of work and family activities. But we need to make a very serious and conscious effort to find a way to truly rest and sleep before coming to worship.

I know how hard it is sometimes to stay awake, especially if the speaker is flat or dry. But while a gifted speaker will try and make his sermon interesting, as long as he is speaking the truth, that is the most important thing and deserves to be heard. I also know many people have medical problems that could affect their ability to stay awake. Even taking a short nap just before coming to services would help greatly in staying awake and lucid. A lot of the time, however, the attitude of the listener affects the way the speaker is heard. The listener often prejudges the speaker and shuts down emotionally and cognitively before the lesson is even had a chance to develop.

On one occasion, the apostles Peter, James and John fell asleep when Jesus asked them in His most trying hour to watch with Him. When He came back and found them asleep, He asked them this pertinent question: “What, could ye not watch with Me one hour” (Matt. 26:40)? That is a question we should ask ourselves. It would do well to remember Paul’s admonition: “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11). Many places stand to sing the song just before the sermon. This helps to get the blood flowing and rejuvenates the worshiper some before sitting to hear a sermon.

Let Your Devotion Be Centered On God and Not Yourself
Worship services are not for our entertainment. God did not command worship so that we could be amused or awestruck by the activities. Worshiping God means offering our praise and adoration of Him. It is a solemn, holy occasion. David said, “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” (Psalm 5:7). Again, David wrote, “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2). And again, “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy (Psalm 99:5). Worship is not about us. It is all about God.

Make sure there are no hindrances to your worshiping God
Another problem we sometimes face is that we bring the rest of our problems with us when we come to worship and they preoccupy our minds so that we cannot concentrate clearly. Are you thinking about what you will have to eat later? Are you thinking about work, friends, your upcoming vacation, etc.? Does a problem with a brother or sister cloud your thinking during worship? Take care of this problem first before you come to worship lest your worship be hindered (Matt. 5:23,24).

Get your wardrobe ready the night before
This has been a practice of mine for many years. Instead of waiting till Sunday morning to rush around to try to find matching clothes that are not in the laundry, find your clothes the night before and have them ready. This will save a lot of time and will allow to think about expressing your attitude in worship with the way you dress. If we think about dressing appropriate to the occasion, perhaps the Lord will not ask “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless” (Matthew 22:12).

Have your lessons ready for Bible class
If you take the time to go through your Bible class lesson, it will greatly aid you in being mentally prepared as you study God’s word. This will also carry over into the worship service. It will allow you to be prepared to ask or answer questions that may arise during the study. By studying the lesson, whether it just be reading the assigned Text or reading a prescribed reading or answering questions, you will be a workman that will not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15).

Immerse Yourself in Spiritual Things and Surround With Godly People
If you just have to listen to the news that morning, make it brief. Just look at the headlines and then view them only through the lens of a biblical world view. Don’t let the affairs of this life entangle your mind and distract you (II Tim. 2:2). Stop listening to screaming, lying denominational preachers. If you must listen to anything at all, listen to sound gospel lessons before you go to worship.

Talk to your brethren about scriptural matters. I was privileged as a youth to be guided by two or three older brethren in the congregation. I would generally get to the building thirty minutes early and we would discuss matters of doctrine and brotherhood concerns. In effect, we had already had a Bible class even before services began. My mind had already been tuned to spiritual matters by the company I kept.

Spiritual, zealous worship is no one’s responsibility but your own. The Lord’s supper may go through the same actions every week. Those who lead prayers may say the same thing week in and week out. The song leader might not sing in key and often lead the same songs over and over. The preaching might be dull. But ultimately, effectual worship is your own responsibility. These are just a few, simple ideas that I think are helpful. There are of course many other things that could probably be said more specifically, but I hope these help in putting zeal back into our worship.

Eric L. Padgett

We Are In Trouble

People’s attitudes are different now than when I was growing up. I’m not really that old, though I have passed my life’s mid-century mark, but I remember a time when people conducted themselves in a much more dignified, decorous and decent manner. People were generally more conscientious about their appearance, were more polite, showed respect to others, especially their elders, were not offended by every little thing, could laugh at themselves, did not feel that the world owed them anything, felt a sense of self-reliance and felt embarrassed if they had to depend on someone else, especially the government, to support them.

Of course there have always been problems. There were broken homes then, too, but there was also an understanding and an appreciation of the fact that the family was the moral center of society. I don’t think many people today own that view. Marriage was held up as a sacred institution and divorce was frowned upon and considered a failure. There was no question about the nature of marriage, as to who could marry another. Marriage was by definition–and understood by everyone–to be only between a man and a woman. Period.

Homosexuality may have been practiced, but it was hidden, for the most part. In fact, it wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association voted to downgrade homosexuality in its official list of mental disorders to a “sexual disturbance.” It wasn’t until 1987 that it was removed completely from it’s official list of mental disorders. Today, however, if you suggest in any way that homosexuality is sinful or irrational behavior, you are considered to be the one with a mental problem. To top it all off, we now have a man who thinks he is a woman acting as the assistant health secretary in the United States who has indicated he intends to go after those holding the traditional views of marriage.

People’s attitudes have changed with regard to modesty. People then dressed with dignity, especially the older generation. Men wore hats and doffed them to women out of respect. People wore their best dress clothes when going to a function like worship or a funeral, again, out of respect. Today it is not unusual to see people dress in very inappropriate and sloppy attire when attending these functions. All of this indicates a general lack of respect for others and for traditional customs and values.

Now, the younger generation back then, my generation, was already on it’s way to wearing less modest clothing. But my dad’s generation and his dad’s generation continued to wear modest, respectful attire and my dad and mom always saw that their children dressed with respect and for the occasion when we went somewhere. We were poor, but we were always taught to wear our best in public and be modestly dressed. Some people may respond that times and styles change. That is true, but while styles may change, modesty is timeless.

Another area where you can see a change in the attitudes of people is speech. It used to be that people were taught to be respectful, to say “Yes sir” and “No sir” and “yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am” and to say “Thank you” and “You’re welcome.” I am sure there are still young people being taught to do this, but I don’t think it is all that common. Many young people I meet today, and even a lot of the adults I come across, carry themselves without a true sense of humility and it shows in their speech.

There has always been a generation gap. There was one when I was a boy. I know from history that in various other ages the younger generation often did not connect with their parent’s generation. Yet the attitude of the young today toward the older generation is even more alarming. It is not just one of disconnect, but of disdain. This younger generation has been brought up, it seems, to hate the older generation. We see certain segments of our society brutally attacking older, defenseless Americans by punching them in the face. It has also manifested itself in an attack on those who are in authority, like the police, for instance. Groups of young, restless, hateful terrorists take over portions of our cities and we just let them do it. In fact, they are glorified by the left. Those who would try to bring peace and order are the ones who are condemned.

We are in trouble, very deep trouble, as a society. The world has been turned upside down and no one has the courage, perhaps even no one has the power, to set it right. The reason for all of this is nothing more than that we have left the moral compass of God’s will. Our society does not believe in much less glorify God. We have turned coldly materialistic except when some false, man-made idol can be concocted and worshiped. We kill innocent babies and let the elderly die because they drain financial resources with no return because we no longer believe all life is sacred. We fund those who mutilate their bodies because they have the delusion they “identify” as something other than what they are biologically because they reject the order of God’s creation. This horrendous list could go on with stories that literally would make your skin crawl.

I pray for our nation and the world. We are spiraling out of control into the depths of perdition and damnation. The momentum of the moral direction we are falling may not be able to be stopped in any short period of time, if at all. As time goes on, things may grow considerably worse for the Christian. We must be prepared for the worse, pray for the best and never lose our faith in God.

Eric L. Padgett

Mrs. Johnny Gospel

Oh, hi, Timothy! How are you? You know, I am so glad I caught up with you. I was just talking to my friend the other day, Johnny Gospel. You might remember him. I introduced him to you before (here). Remember? I asked him how he was doing and, well, he was telling me about how blessed his life has been. As the conversation got around to his family, he was especially thankful, he said, to be married to his wife. I was so impressed upon hearing about her, and I knew you were thinking about marriage, that I thought you would want to hear about her, too. This is what he told me.

First, he said he was thankful because he never had to worry that she was anything but completely faithful to him (Tit. 2:4; I Cor. 7:2). He knew that she submitted herself to him completely and only to him (Tit. 2:5). She would not allow herself to be put into a situation of temptation by being alone with another man or give other lewd people an occasion for idle talk (Prov. 31:11). He told me, without going into detail of course, that she fully satisfied him in every way a good wife would and should a husband (I Cor. 7:2-6). She recognizes his God-given leadership role in the home, but also works together with him as an equal partner in married life (Eph. 5:23,24). He said he esteemed her as far more valuable than great riches (Prov. 31:10).

He also said he could not want a better mother to his children. I will tell you about his children some time later, but she truly loves them (Tit. 2:4). She is as devoted to them, as Rebekah was to Jacob (Gen. 27) and Hannah to Samuel (I Sam. 2:19; 1:28). She is always up bright and early every morning to make certain her children have a good, nutritious meal before they head out (Prov. 31:10). She also sees that they are always clothed with appropriate attire (Prov. 31:21). It is a testimony to her character that her children all love her and publicly praise and bless her (Prov. 31:28).

Since she, herself, will not dress immodestly, she sees that her children not only dress appropriately but also dress in modest apparel (I Tim. 2:9-15). They wear nothing too tight, or too revealing or too suggestive. She conducts herself as a godly woman should and expects her children to behave the same way (I Tim. 2:10). She is a virtuous woman (Prov. 31:10). She is generous (Prov. 31:20) and kind, humble, peaceful and patient (I Cor. 13:4-7) but also strong and determined and industrious (Prov. 31:16-20). Her importance cannot be overstated because she oversees and runs the household. Her children heed her counsel because they love an respect her so.

Brother Gospel also says that Mrs. Gospel is actively involved in the work of the church (I Cor. 15:58). She is, of course, a faithful Christian (Rev. 2:10). She is thoroughly acquainted with God’s word because she studies it every day (II Tim. 2:15). She instills in her children a love for Christ and takes every opportunity to cultivate in them Christian principles and teaches them God’s word (II Tim. 1:5; 3:14-17). She teaches Bible classes for the young and regularly visits those who are sick and shut in (James 1:27). She is always present when the doors of the church are open and never misses the assembling together of the saints (Heb. 10:25).

Whenever she has the opportunity she teaches others about Christ (Acts 8:4). But she is not pushy or overbearing or loud. Those who come across her path immediately know that she is different by the character which she displays (Tit. 2:3). Her demeanor and deportment set her apart from most other women. She has a quiet intelligence and is respected by all in the church for her wisdom (Prov. 31:26). The younger women seek her counsel and the older women know she is trustworthy.

I know it sounds like I am describing the perfect woman. But she has her faults (Rom. 3:23). She is only human. But she prays regularly to the Lord and for her children and her husband and the church (I Thess. 5:17). When she fails, she doesn’t get too discouraged but asks the Lord for strength and for the courage to start over and keep going (I Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:13). Her and her husband work hard at being good servants of the Lord (Eph. 5:22). Johnny said he didn’t know where he would be without his wife (Prov. 18:22).

Well, anyway, I thought you would be interested to hear about Johnny Gospel and his lovely and gracious wife. He certainly is blessed to have such a wonderful companion in living the Christian life. I pray that you are blessed enough to find the same kind of loving companion as Johnny Gospel.

Eric L. Padgett

I Thirst

The whole ordeal surrounding the arrest of Jesus and the stress of the illegal trial and the physical abuse He suffered put tremendous strain on the Lord’s earthly body. In the garden, His anxiety was expressed in strong crying and tears and by hematidrosis, or the sweating of blood. On the cross, His humanity burst through with one loud cry, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” Then, as if to signal the end of all His earthly trials, while still suspended there between heaven and earth, the Lord expressed both an earthly desire and fulfilled the scriptures at the same time when He said “I thirst” (John 19:30).

Those who have experienced great physical exertion or experienced great stress know just how dry and thirsty a person can get. Our bodies need hydration to function properly. Indeed, water makes up sixty to seventy percent of our body weight and a loss of only fifteen percent can prove fatal. In fact, water is so essential to life, you can’t live but a matter of days without it.

The children of Israel complained to Moses at Rephidim because “there was no water for the people to drink” (Ex. 17:1). “And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst” (Exodus 17:3)? Because of their need for water, and the lack of water at that place, God miraculously allowed Moses to bring forth water out of a rock (Ex. 17:6).

Thirst has long been a symbol of a deep desire or need or craving for something more or something needed. God promised His people that “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places, and fountains in the midst of the valleys: I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water” (Isaiah 41:17-18).

Not only is physical thirst a powerful force in life, but so also is spiritual thirst. David expressed a deep, spiritual thirst when he wrote, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God” (Psalm 42:1,2)? Again David wrote, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is” (Psalm 63:1).

The Lord surprised the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well when he asked her “Give Me to drink” (John 4:7). When she expressed surprise that Jesus, a Jew, would ask her, a Samaritan woman, for a drink Jesus told her that He could give her “living water” (John 4:10). Jesus told her that “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13,14). Jesus was explaining to her how to draw waters out of the wells of salvation.

The only way to quench our spiritual thirst and hunger is through the Lord. Jesus said that those that hunger and thirst after righteousness are blessed and shall be filled (Matt. 5:6). We learn that even ancient Israel, when they drank from the water that flowed from the rock, all drank “the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:4).

The Lord says that even to day “It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev. 21:6). John was given a glimpse of heaven and was shown “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1). We can have the privilege of drinking the water of life from that same holy fountain.

If you are thirsting for something more in life, if you thirst after righteousness, then your thirst can be quenched with living water drawn out of the well of salvation. The Lord suffered great thirst so that our thirst for God could be quenched. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).

Eric L. Padgett

Why Can’t We Get Along?

Why can’t people get along with one another? James asked and answered this very important question in one verse. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). James answers the question by saying that people don’t get along basically because they are selfish. They want what they want when they want it. Conflict arises out of a blind pursuit of selfish lusts without consideration of others or, especially, of God.

The lusts encompassed in this declaration are many. They are subsumed under the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15). It is out of a wicked heart that all kinds of evils proceed, evils like murder, adultery, fornication, theft and lying (Matt. 15:19). These temptations to fulfill our desires are always there but it is when we countenance them and dwell on them that our lusts begin to have power over us (James 1:14). These fleshly lusts war against our soul (I Pet. 2:11). This is the essence of sin. It is to do what I want and not what God wants (I John 3:4).

From the beginning of time this has been the case. Cain slew Able because he wanted God’s approval and didn’t get it. He was jealous of Able who did receive God’s approval. But Able received God’s approval because he did what God wanted (Heb. 11:3; Rom. 10:17). Able received God’s approval because he subjugated his own will to the will of God. However, Cain did not try to receive God’s approval by doing what God wanted. Rather, he wanted God’s approval on his own terms. He was selfish.

The Noachian world was destroyed because every imagination of the thoughts of men’s hearts were only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). The post flood world once again pursued their own desires when they attempted to make a name for themselves when they tried to build a tower whose top could reach to heaven (Gen. 11:4). They wanted to get to heaven on their own terms. Self-centered egoists.

The conflict between Abraham’s servants and Lot’s servants apparently arose out of a desire to possess the best of the land (Gen. 13:6,7). Abraham resolved the conflict by selflessly giving Lot the choice of which land to take. Abraham said “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8). Abraham was willing to unselfishly offer Lot what seemed to be the best of the land.

A conflict arose between Jacob and Esau when Rebekah, their mother, favoring Jacob over Esau, sought Isaac’s blessing for her favored son (Gen. 27:6-10). Because of this, she set out to deceive her husband into giving Jacob his blessing instead of Esau. Her plan brought further conflict into their family when Esau, angered by this deception, sought to kill his brother (Gen. 27:41). Fortunately in this case the anger was abated over time and Jacob and Esau wee reconciled, but not without much anguish and fear (Gen. 33).

Saul’s conflict with David arose because Saul wanted the glory that David was receiving but had not done what David did to receive that praise (I Sam. 18:6-9). And in New Testament times, such conflicts persisted, even in the church. The church in Corinth, for instance, faced such problems of division and conflict because men put their own will over God’s will (I Cor. 1:10)?

And on and on this list could be extended. In fact, this desire to fulfill the lusts we face will continue until the very last day where men will still be walking after their own lusts (II Pet. 3:3). But individually, we can escape the corruption that is here through lust (II Pet. 1:4).

If we really wanted peace, we could truly seek peace with one another. Not a false peace where truth is not spoken. Nor a peace where we ignore differences. But one in which we face realities head on but with calm, clear, Christ-like character. As much as lies within us, we should honestly and truly strive to live peaceably, with all men (Rom. 12:18).

Eric L. Padgett

The Sound of Music

The sound of music! Everyone loves good music. In fact, music is so universally enjoyed that it’s very name has become synonymous with good things, or a euphemism for things that work well. For instance, when we hear something we like, we say “that is music to my ears.” If something worked well, it is sometimes said that it “worked like a song.” Music can also have such a unique pacific effect on us we sometimes use the expression that “music calms the savage beast.” The Bible also has quite a lot to say about music if we are willing to listen.

When God created the universe and laid the foundations of the earth, it was a time of rejoicing. All “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Indeed, the heavens themselves declare the glory of God and their voice transcends all languages so that all have heard their song (Psalm 19:1-3). As the hymn, This Is My Father’s World, states, “all nature sings and “round me rings the music of the spheres.” There is such purpose and design to the universe that we all enjoy the harmony of the heavens and the chorus of creation.

Some of the most beautiful music ever produced is the sound of nature in the morning when the sun yawns and stretches out over the horizon and warms the cool morning air as the woodpecker beats out a tune, the sparrows whistles their songs, the Mourning Dove coos and the rest of the avian chorus joins in while the brook murmurs gently over the rocks and the wind rustles through the leaves of the trees. What music they make! And eventide brings an equally beautiful melody when the crickets chirp in unison, the frogs bellow out their tune in the creek bed, the cats meowing and the dogs barking in the meadow as the heavens follow their course and light up the black velvet, night sky.

The first explicit mention we have of music in the Bible is found in Genesis 4:21. Jubal, son of Lamech and Adah, apparently invented stringed and wind instruments of music. This suggests music was already well known by this time. This also suggests that the first music was acapella, before human, mechanical instruments of music were invented. It is not hard to imagine that Adam and Eve would have already employed vocal praise of Jehovah God.

Several songs are mentioned in the Bible but perhaps the most notable is the song of Moses as he led the children of Israel across the Red Sea to safety, and out of the reach of Pharaoh of Egypt. Moses led the children of Israel in a song unto the Lord and in that song he described Jehovah as “my strength and my song” (Ex. 15:1,2). Then there are the beautiful songs (psalms) of David such as the matchless 23rd psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” David’s seventy plus psalms constitute about half of the psalms.

Music has the power to affect the physical and mental well-being of man. When king Saul was in the throes of depression, David, who was “the sweet psalmist of Israel” and “a cunning player on a harp” was called and played and “Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” (I Sam. 16:14-23). Likewise, it appears that Elisha called for a minstrel to play for him to calm him down before he prophesied for Jehoshaphat because the presence of the despised king of Israel, Jehoram, had angered him (II Kings 3:15).

It should not surprise us then that a “2011 study by researchers from McGill University in Canada found that listening to music increases the amount of dopamine produced in the brain – a mood-enhancing chemical, making it a feasible treatment for depression.”1 Even in the face of heading to the cross, the Lord the took time to sing a hymn with His apostles (Matt. 26:30). Paul and Silas, languishing in the inner prison of a Philippian jail, having been beaten and their feet secured fast in stocks, sought refuge and solace in prayer and in song at the midnight hour (Acts 16:).

Music also expresses heartfelt feelings. The Psalmist said “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2). God said through the prophet Isaiah, “My servants shall sing for joy of heart” (Is. 65:14). James advises, “Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).

Salvation is an occasion of great joy and singing. At the announcement of the birth of the saviour, a multitude of heavenly hosts appeared to the shepherds in the fields and praised God (Luke 2:13). Jesus said that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:7,10). When the elder son came in from the field, having been working all day, he heard music and festivities at the return of his brother, the prodigal son (Luke 15:24,25).

In the Lord’s church, one of the avenues by which we worship God is to sing. The music of the Lord’s church reverts back to the original form of singing, which, as we saw, was acapella. This worship in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is to be a sincere expression of a pure heart and is to be accompanied by grace in our hearts and understanding in our minds (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; I Cor. 15:15). It is said of the Lord that in the midst of the church, He would sing praises with us to Father (Heb. 2:12).

When the Holy Spirit allowed John and us to a glimpse into the throne room of heaven with what are we greeted? The four and twenty elders, representing the redeemed from both dispensations, “casting down their golden crowns around the crystal sea” and worshiping He who sat on the throne. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

“He took my burdens all away, up to a brighter day, He gave me a song. A wonderful song. And one of these days in that fair land I’ll sing with a chorus grand, He gave me a song, a wonderful song.”

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/302903

Eric L. Padgett