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The Sweat Of Your Face

God created man to work. When God put man in the Garden of Eden He gave him the job of dressing and keeping it (Gen. 2:15). Out of the 290 times the word here translated “dress” is found in the Old Testament, it is translated 227 times as “serve” (cf. Gen. 15:14; Ex 1:11-14; cf. “labor” Deut. 5:13; etc.). Similarly, the word “keep” means “to hedge about or guard.” It is used of the flaming sword which kept the way of the tree of life (Gen. 3:24). It is also used of keeping God’s covenant and law (Gen. 17:9; Deut. 7:11). Thus, man was placed in the Garden of Eden to be its caretaker and keep it.

Now this was before the Lord God cursed the ground (Gen. 3:17). In the garden, man was a caretaker but the Garden of Eden was a lush, rich and beautiful place that freely released her fruits. Eden is described as the opposite of a desolate wilderness (Joel 2:3) and the opposite of a waste and desolate ruin (Ezek. 36:35) where great trees spread forth their branches (Ezek. 31:9, 16, 18) and precious jewels lay strewn about the ground (Ezek. 28:13). Man had work to do but the ground yielded with ease her fruits. After the curse, however, man’s labor was to be multiplied as the earth would no longer yield her fruits without also bearing thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:17-19). Man’s work was cut out for him. His work would be in the sweat of his face (Gen. 3:19).

In creating the world, the Bible says that God, Himself, “worked” and then rested from that work (Gen. 2:2). Now we should not in any way suppose that when the Bible says that God “worked” and “rested” that somehow He was fatigued and needed to regain something He lost in weariness. God is omnipotent and there is no end to His power. But that also does not mean that He did not expend energy in creation. Just because I can easily carry a bucket of water from the well to the house does not mean that it did not come without work. God ceased His work and rested from, thus putting an end to, those particular works. Being made in His image we also must work before we rest.

My mom always taught me, “You get your work done first!” To this day she follows this principle herself. Even the creatures of nature teach us this lesson. The Bible commands us, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways and be wise” (Prov. 6:6). The ants are constantly working to provide for themselves, as do all the animals of nature. But those who do not work will come to poverty (Prov. 6:11). The lazy always find an excuse not to work (Prov. 20:4). The Bible, however, is clear that poverty comes to those who refuse to work (cf. Prov. 10:4; 13:4; 20:4).

Indeed, it is not only a principle, but a command. Paul said if a man does not work, neither should he eat (II Thess. 3:10). There were some to whom Paul had written that believed the world was going to come to an end soon and, because of this, they ceased to work (II Thess. 2:1-3; 3:11). But Paul said that not even the apostles were exempt from this command to work (II Thess. 3:8). Even though Paul preached the gospel, he worked. His own hands ministered, he said, to his necessities (Acts 20:34). He was by occupation a maker of tents (Acts 18:3).

Whatever we do, we should do our very best and work as hard as we can (Eccl. 9:10). The Lord will bless those that work hard at what they do when it is not wrong or sinful (Ruth 2:12). It is a basic principle of life that the laborer is worthy of his hire (I Cor. 9:9). When we give our all at something worthwhile, we prepare ourselves to succeed and we make ourselves prepared when opportunities present themselves. While the parable of the talents is not about our physical labors, it sets forth a principle that God blesses those that work hard (Matt. 25:14-30).

Even when we are working for those who employ us in this life, we should work with the same intensity and character as if we were working for the Lord (Col. 2:22-24). It does not matter what we are doing, as long as it is within the parameters of God’s word, we should do it heartily as unto the Lord (Col.3:23). This does not allow us to slack up when the boss is away because we are not working merely for a mortal employer but for the Lord, as well.

Finally, since we are working for the Lord, we will be judged by Him according to our works (Rev. 20:13). Not only will our earthly works be judged, but our spiritual labor will be, as well. Therefore, we must be steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord forasmuch we know that our labor is not in vain in the Lord (I Cor. 15:58).

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Cor. 3:11-15).

Eric L. Padgett

Attacks Upon The Family

God created the family and it is a sacred institution (Gen. 2:18-20). God designed man so that he shall leave his father and mother–that is, leave their local, protective care, not necessarily their moral influence–and cleave to his own wife so that they become one flesh and begin a new family (Gen. 2:21-25). It is within the parameters of the marital relationship that men and women are to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:27,28). It is the parent’s responsibility to rear their children in the context of the family in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Deut. 6; Eph. 6:4).

This arrangement is of divine origin (Matt. 19:5). One of the blessings of this order is to provide a protective environment for the rearing of children in the way they should go (Prov. 2:1-5; 22:6). The husband and wife provide moral and spiritual support for one another (Eph. 5:21) and both, ideally, work together in the bringing up of the child (cf. Luke 2:51). The world, however, is hostile toward those who walk in righteousness and this is never more apparent than when seen in the vicious attacks upon the family as God created it.

Historically, in our modern, western culture, the devil attacked the family by attacking the institution of marriage itself. Of course, in ancient times, all sorts of sexual perversions were rampant in the pagan cultures and God’s people were commanded to avoid those heinous sins (cf. e.g., Lev. 18). But since the establishment of Christianity, God’s design for the family was largely followed by those in the west influenced by the Judeao-Christian ethic. The brunt of the attack on the family since was focused largely on promoting illegitimate children and illicit lifestyles.

But more recently, the devil has attacked the family by again promoting the notion of homosexuality as normal. Such sins have always been around, of course (cf. Rom. 1:24-28). But only recently, in our modern, western culture, has it become so out in the open and so flagrant. Up until 1974, homosexuality was treated as and pronounced to be a mental sickness by the American Psychiatric Association. Now you cannot watch a commercial or listen to the radio without first being fed a sickening dose of homosexuality. The propaganda has been so effective that now one is considered abnormal who does not condone such sickening behavior. Those who speak against it are condemned as intolerant.

But since then, the devil has pushed to make it commonplace to see two men or two women acting the part of a husband and wife. However, nature itself teaches us that two men or two women do not go together as husband and wife for they cannot naturally produce children. God created Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, as the saying goes. Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities were destroyed because, among other things, in practicing homosexuality, they were going after “strange flesh” and did “wickedly” (Gen. 19:7). The Lord has condemned homosexuality as an abomination that was worthy of death under the Old Covenant (Lev. 20:13). Paul said by inspiration that these abusers of themselves with mankind will not inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9,10).

Incredibly, in August of 2016, Barrack Obama “ordered 9,000-plus federal buildings across the United States [to] allow biological men into women’s bathrooms, locker rooms and showers.” This came after the Department of Education under the Obama administration had already advised schools to allow “transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite biological sex.” All of this was presumably based on a novel interpretation of the Civil Rights Act. However, it was nothing but a further attempt to erase the God-given design for the family. Sadly, it has literally put many defenseless women and children at risk because they are at the mercy of violent sex offenders and other perverts.

Another sordid and sick attempt to destroy God’s design for the family has been to promote sex change surgery and blur the clear, immutable line between male and female. Bruce Jenner is perhaps the most notable and pathetic example in our time. Men and women are being encouraged to disfigure their bodies chemically and surgically and are being hurt emotionally and spiritually while the rest of society is made to feel guilty for opposing such sick behavior.

Another of the attacks the devil is using to destroy God’s design for the family is to use men dressed as women to read to children in libraries. Actually, when I say they are dressed as women that is quite misleading, for many if not most of these people are dressed as bizarre, even demonic, creatures. Those involved in these efforts specifically target children for the stated purpose of normalizing this bizarre behavior. It is an attempt to warp the mind of the young and get children to accept the idea that God’s way is not right.

Many are the perversions satan is using to destroy the family. It should not really surprise us. The family is a powerful tool to bring up the young in the way that they should go. It is no wonder that the devil is desperately trying to do everything in his power to destroy the family. May we, in turn, do all we can to promote God’s created order in the family and thereby strengthen the church and perhaps save our nation and culture.

Eric L. Padgett

The Glory Of The Lord

Oh, the wondrous things that Moses saw with his own eyes! Among the things that he saw was the bush that burned but was not consumed from which the Lord spoke to him (Ex. 3). He saw the mighty hand of God working in the ten wonders that plagued the Egyptian people and Pharaoh (Ex. 7-12 ). He saw the Red Sea open up as a wall on either side of him and then proceeded to walk through across on dry ground (Ex. 14:21-31). He saw the earth open up and destroy the adversaries of the Lord. In spite of all of this, even with all that Moses had already seen, he still asked Jehovah, “Shew me Thy glory” (Ex. 33:18).

It is impossible to understand who God is without also understanding something of the glory of the Lord. The word glory is used in scripture to describe praiseworthiness or that which sets one above another in some particular respect. It is that which brings renown. In scripture, when used of men, it is often used of one’s wealth, for instance (cf. Gen. 31:1; Psalm 49:17), or one’s personal dignity (cf. Psalm 30:12) or of man’s wisdom and strength (Jer. 9:23,24). It is also used of things such as the forests of Israel (Is. 10:18) and nations (Matt. 4:8). But man’s glory is as fleeting as the grass which withers away (I Pet. 1:24).

God is inherently glorious (I Chron. 16:27; 29:11). One does not have to look far to see the glory of God for the heavens declare it (Psalm 19:1; Rom.1:20). And yet beyond this natural testimony of God’s glory is something that has a very visible and tangible existence. During the Exodus from Egypt, some of the children of Israel complained about lack of food after only six weeks journey (Ex. 16:1). God promised them bread from heaven and that He would show them His glory (Ex. 16:7). And as they looked out over the wilderness, the glory of God appeared in the cloud that had accompanied Israel out of Egypt (Ex. 16:10).

Then, when the children of Israel came to mount Sinai, the Bible says the cloud covered the mount and the glory of the Lord abode upon it and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud (Ex. 24:16). “And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel” (Ex. 24:17).

Given the fact that Moses had seen all these manifestations of God’s glory, it is puzzling that he now asks to see the glory of the Lord (Ex. 33:18). He must be asking for something different than that which he had already seen. And God allows him to see something more than any person had ever seen before or would ever see again, although the Lord warns him that no man could see His face and live (Ex. 33:20). The Lord told Moses that there was a place by Him, and he would stand upon a rock, and while the glory of the Lord passed by He would put Moses in a cleft of the rock and cover him there with His hand (Ex. 33:20-22).

Moses was then commanded by God to hew two tables of stone so that the law might be re-written thereon. He was to carry these tablets of stone with him up into the mount (Ex. 34:1-4). On the next day, after Moses had ascended the mount, the Lord, Jehovah, descends in the cloud and stood there with Moses and proclaimed the name of the Lord (Ex. 34:6). In some form, the Lord stood there with Moses. It reminds us of the transfiguration of the Lord when Moses and Elijah stood with the Lord speaking to Him of the Lord’s impending death (Matt. 17:1-3).

At this moment the glory of the Lord passed before Moses as the Lord proclaimed the name of the Lord by declaring His moral goodness (Ex. 34:6,7). Moses stayed there in the mount with the Lord for forty days and nights and wrote upon the tables of stone the words of the covenant, the ten commandments (Ex. 34:28,29). When Moses came down from the mount the skin of his face shined (Ex. 34:29). Paul tells us that Moses’ face so shined with glory that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold his face and Moses covered it with a veil (II Cor. 3:7; Ex. 34:33).

But the glow of Moses’ face ceased to shine and Paul says the reason Moses put the veil on his face was so that the children of Israel could not look to the end of that which was to be abolished (II Cor. 3:13). As glorious as this scene was, and as glorious as the Old Covenant was, it is far exceeded in glory by the New Covenant (II Cor. 3:9). We now, as Christians, have the privilege of looking into this New Covenant and beholding the glory of the Lord ourselves and are changed into the same image unto glory (II Cor. 3:12-18).

When we look at Jesus though the word we see the Father more clearly than Moses could see Him when He passed before Moses (John 14:7-9). The Lord is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His Person (Heb. 1:3). We are able to see His glory as the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). Though we have all fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23), we are able through Christ to rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Rom. 5:1,2).

Though in this life we face tribulations, it is really a light, momentary affliction that works a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (II Cor. 4:17). The sufferings of this present world are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18) because when Christ shall appear, we shall also appear with Him in eternal glory (Col. 3:4; II Tim. 2:10). In heaven, we shall bathe in the light of His glory (Rev. 21:11,23).

Eric L. Padgett

Lies and Error

Very early on in the history of man, Eve was attacked by that old serpent in the garden of Eden. He did not afflict her physically like he did Job. He did not tempt her sensually like he did David with Bathsheba. His method of attack was as devious as it was simple: get Eve to believe something that was not true. Eve quoted God’s word to him but he denied and then twisted what God had said. This has been one of the devil’s most effective tactics since.

Jesus said the devil was the father of lies and was a liar from the beginning (John 8:44). Doctrinal error is nothing but a lie. Paul warned against those who would teach some other “gospel.” But, he said, it was not another gospel but a perversion of the gospel, i.e., a lie (Gal. 1:6-9). When Paul met with the elders of the Lord’s church at Ephesus he warned them against “grievous wolves” who would not spare the flock “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:27-31). Those “perverse things” were nothing but lies.

Toward the end of his life the great apostle Paul confidently proclaimed that he had fought a good fight and finished the course and kept the faith (II Tim. 4:6-8). He also warned against those who would “not endure sound doctrine” but after their own lusts would heap to themselves teachers having itching ears and “turn away their ears from the truth” and turn unto fables (II Tim. 4:3,4). There is always the danger that men will turn away from the hard truth and turn to comforting and pleasing lies (Judges 2:10).

Jesus warned against those that would worship Him in vain, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men (Matt. 15:9). The real source of the problem emanated from their heart, which was far from the Lord (Matt. 15:8). They had elevated their traditions above the commandments of God (Matt. 15:3-6). Giving heed to the commandments of men only serve to turn men from the truth (Tit. 1:14). The law of God is counted as a strange thing to those who place a high value on human tradition and commandments of men (Hos. 8:12).

John was fighting against the same pernicious evil when he fought against those who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh (I John 2:23; 4:2,3). He also warned against the many false prophets who had gone out into the world. He said, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). Jesus likewise warned of those that come in sheep’s clothing but inwardly were ravening wolves (Matt. 7:15-20). They were not what they appeared to be. Paul warned that satan sometimes presents himself as an angel of light, as do his minions (II Cor. 11:13.14).

What is to be done about such men as tell lies about God and His word? Paul said have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:10,11). Shine the light of truth on the error (Eph. 5:13,14). Unfortunately, men tend to love darkness rather than light (John 3:19) and some men love to drain the life-blood of truth out of the heart of the victims. They handle the word of God deceitfully (II Cor. 4:2). Fortunately, the preaching of the cross and the shedding of the light of truth make those doctrinal vampires run for cover (II Cor. 4:3-6).

Paul said to mark those who cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine of Christ and avoid them (Rom. 16:17). To mark them is to scope them out. We cannot do that when we have our heads in the sand or when we close our eyes and shut our ears to what is going on in our world or in the brotherhood. We may have to withdraw ourselves from certain brethren because they walk disorderly or do not follow the truth of the gospel (II Thess. 3:6). We are to bring them to the point of feeling shame when we purposely keep no company with them (II Thess. 3:14,15).

We are not to receive into our houses or bid godspeed to any that do not bring the doctrine of Christ (II John 9-11). The principle set forth here is to not do anything that contributes to their error or make them feel as though they are accepted by us or the Lord. If we do bid them godspeed then we are partakers of their evil deeds and give support to a lie.

Eric L. Padgett

Wealth Can Never Save The Soul

What should be the Christian’s attitude toward money?

Many great men of the Bible had great wealth. Abraham was very rich when he came out of Egypt and was probably already rich in Ur (Gen. 13:2). His nephew Lot also had great wealth (Gen. 13:5,6). Isaac had such great wealth that the heathen Philistines envied him (Gen. 26:13,14). Jacob had been blessed by God with more than enough to suffice his great tribe (Gen. 33:11; 32:5,10). God blessed Solomon with great riches (I Kings 3:11-13). Boaz was known as a “mighty man of wealth” (Ruth 2:1). Job was the greatest of all the men in the east (Job 1:3). God had given Jehoshaphat great substance so that he had riches in abundance (II Chron. 17:5). David, himself, died with great riches (I Chron. 29:28). Hezekiah had exceeding much riches that God had given him (II Chron. 32:27-29).

There were also wealthy righteous persons, both male and female, in the New Testament, as well. Zachaeus, for example, was a wealthy man (Luke 19:2). His position as chief of the publicans apparently brought him wealth and not necessarily dishonestly. But we do know that he gave half, not all, of his goods to the poor and whatever he had gotten dishonestly he payed it back fourfold (Luke 19:1-10). Joseph of Arimethea was not only a member of the council but he was also a rich man who was Jesus’ disciple (Matt. 27:57). There was a group of women who followed Jesus and supported Him with their substance (Luke 8:1-3). Some of them at least were women of some social standing and wealth. Joanna, for instance, the wife of Herod’s steward was one of the women who supported Jesus. Lydia is another example of at least a moderately wealthy Christian women. She catered to a wealthier class of people being a seller of purple and a traveler for her business (Acts 16:13-15). Even the congregation in Laodocea was rich and increased with goods (Rev. 3:17).

The Bible is clear that when God created the world He created it with a social structure that required the ownership of private property. First, this is seen in the fact that at the very basic level God owns the earth because He created it (Ex. 19:5; Psalm 24:1). Second, when God created man He gave him dominion over all the earth and everything that creeps upon the earth (Gen. 1:26-28). Then Lord put man to work in the garden to dress and to keep it (Gen. 2:15). When man mingles his labors in the sweat of his face with the soil, or the work of his hands, the fruit of the work is the man’s possession (Gen. 3:17-19). This is how Cain and Abel could bring offerings from their respective fields of labor (Gen. 4:1-5).

When God told Abraham to leave Ur and go to a land that He would show him, Abraham is said to bring all his “substance” which he had gathered (Gen. 12:5). Thus, Abraham is described as being rich (Gen. 13:2). When God gave Moses the Ten Commandments God codified this principle in the law when He condemned stealing (Ex. 20:15; Deut. 5:19). There can be no theft where there is no private property. Again, in the New Testament Barnabas, for instance, and Ananias and Sapphira had property and sold it and gave the money to the apostles (Acts 4:34-37; 5:1-6). When Ananias and Sapphira lied about how much they had given Peter told them “Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?” (Acts 5:4).

Often the Bible declares that it is God that provides riches (Deut. 8:17,18). Job declared that it was God that blessed him with wealth (Job 1:20,21). The wealthy patriarchs declared that it was God that blessed them with great riches (e.g., Gen 33:11; II Chron. 32:29). Certainly it is God Who has provided for us our daily necessities (Matt. 6:25-34). There is no doubt, however, that wicked men can use wicked means to increase their wealth (Prov. 22:16; 28:8; Psalm 73:2-12). Just good old hard work can also make one rich (Prov. 10:4; 13:4). But, generally speaking, wealth and riches are blessings upon the righteous (Psalm 112:1-3).

How, then, do we harmonize this with other statements in the Bible which seem to condemn wealth? For instance, Jesus said it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into heaven (Matt. 19:24). Jesus often used hyperbole to teach a principle. For example. Jesus said if you right eye or hand offends you pluck it out of cut it off. This cannot be taken literally (is it only your right eye that offends you?) nor did Jesus intend it to be taken that way. He established a principle, however, about the urgency of removing obstacles to righteousness.

The Bible does declare that there is a danger in wealth. Paul said that they that would be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition (I Tim. 6:9). Furthermore, those having wealth tend not to be satisfied with it for “he that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase” (Eccl. 5:10). Jesus warned “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Luke 12:15).

Without a doubt the love of money is he root of all kinds of evil (I Tim. 6:10). Riches can be deceiving (Matt. 13:22) and are only temporary (Prov. 27:24). Riches can lead to pride (Ezek. 28:5), anxiety (Eccl. 5:12) and have caused some to err from the faith (I Tim. 6:10). Most importantly, wealth can never save the soul (Psalm 49:6-9; I Pet. 1:18).

Eric L. Padgett

It’s About Time

When God created the world, He not only gave it a spatial and material reality, He gave it a temporal one, as well. We live in and with the reality of time. Exactly what time is has been the subject of great debate since, well, the beginning of time! We cannot even talk about our existence unless we speak in terms of time because we exist in time. But while it may be impossible to speak exactly as to the nature of time, we do know that on the fourth day of creation God gave us a way to measure it (Gen. 1:14-17). And measuring time has taught us this: time for us passes far too quickly (Job 7:6).

Therefore, time is so very precious. We must learn to redeem it (Col. 4:5; Eph. 5:16). We should pass our time here in fear because we know we are going to face the judgement (I Pet. 1:17). Jacob considered the days of his life “few and evil” when he told Pharaoh that he was one hundred and thirty years old (Gen 47:9). When compared to the years of his fathers that was certainly true (cf. Gen. 5). Even now our days on earth are as a shadow (I Chron. 29:15) or as a vapor that appears for a little time then vanishes away (James 4:14). They are as a tale that is told (Psalm 90:9).

Time is a gift of God. It is God that gives us these days in which we spend our time (Eccl. 5:18; 8:15). The ancient patriarchs were given much time on earth. However, man’s days and years are now limited on average to threescore and ten or at most fourscore (Psalm 90:10). This limitation is the result of sin (Rom. 5:12). Therefore, it is wise to learn to number our days and use our time wisely (Psalm 90:12). Even the Lord observed we must work the works of Him that sent us while it is day for the night comes when no man can work (John 9:4).

David recognized that his times were in the hands of God (Psalm 31:15). That is why we should not be so arrogant as to say I will do this or that but rather say and believe if the Lord will, I will do this or that (James 4:). If we think we have time to do something God may say to us “Thou fool, this night is thy soul required of thee” (Luke 12:16-20). Not only are individual’s times in the hand of the Almighty, but the times of the nations are in His hand, as well. God has determined before the times appointed and the bounds of their habitation (Acts 17:26).

The truth is there is a time and a season to every purpose under heaven (Eccl. 3:1-8). Everything in its time. And yet, there is an element of uncertainty from man’s perspective (Eccl. 9:11). God certainly knows when all things will happen, though He does not ordain all events. It must be clearly understood that while God has all things under His control, He does not violate any one person’s free will which He gave them (e.g., Josh. 24:15; Matt. 28:18-20). We all choose what we will do and when we will do it. But God uses our actions to bring about His own will (cf. Gen. 50:19,20).

We know that in the fulness of time, God sent forth His Son made of a woman under the law to redeem that were under the law (Gal. 4:4). Therefore, He has “made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:” (Ephesians 1:9,10). So God, Who in the past spoke to man in sundry times and divers manners, has now, in these last days, spoken to us by His Son (Heb. 1:1,2). This was not made known in other ages but is now revealed by His apostles through the Spirit and made known by the church (Eph. 3:1-13).

But for the Christian who knows these things, he will use his time wisely. He will spend his time, for instance, in the worship of God and encourage others to do so as the day approaches (Heb. 10:25). We should exhort one another daily, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Heb. 3:13). In times past we walked according to the course of this world, but now, we are made nigh by the blood of Christ (Eph. 2:1-13). We ought to adhere to the word because there will come times when many will not endure sound doctrine (II Tim. 4:1-5). Understanding God’s plan, then, we will pass the time of our sojourning here in fear (I Pet. 1:17).

If we really knew what time it is we would wake out of sleep for the night is far spent and the day at hand; we would cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light (Rom. 13:11,12). “Little children,” John said, “it is the last time” (I John 2:18). That ought to both thrill us and scare us because there is an inheritance incorruptible ready to revealed in the last time at the judgement (I Pet. 1:4,5). So “when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound and time shall be no more and the morning breaks eternal bright and fair, and the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore and the roll is called up yonder” will you be there?

Eric L. Padgett

He Treads Above The Wite-Capped Waves

Jesus’ apostles had been waiting for Him in the boat but He had been a long time in reaching them. He told them He would meet them but He first had to dismiss a crowd that had been listening to Him teach (Matt. 14:22) and then He spent some time afterward in prayer in the mountain alone by Himself (Mark 6:45,46). But from His place of prayer, Jesus saw His disciples toiling and fighting the wind and waves and went to them in the fourth watch, walking on the water (Matt. 14:23-25; Mark 6:48).

The apostles were understandably afraid when they saw Jesus walking to them on the water in the early morning hours. They were undoubtedly tired, having battled a tempestuous sea all through the night (Matt. 1423-25; Mark 6:34, 45-48). They were so afraid, in fact, that when they saw Jesus they literally cried out or screamed in their fear because they thought they were seeing a ghostly apparition (Mark 6:49).

The Lord immediately allayed their fears and spoke to them saying “Be of good cheer; it is I, be not afraid” (Matt. 14:27). The ever impetuous Peter immediately blurted out, “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me to come unto Thee on the water” (Matt. 14:28). And for just a moment, he did. He stepped out of the boat and was able to walk on the water going to Jesus. But when he began to look around at the waves and the wind, he began to be afraid all over again and began to sink. He cried out in fear to the Lord “Save me!”

On another occasion, the Lord was asleep in the hinder part of the ship while the wind and waves covered the boat. The apostles were afraid for their lives and rushed to wake Jesus, rebuking Him, saying, “Carest Thou not that we perish?” (Mark 4:38)? Jesus returned the rebuke by asking them, “Why are ye so fearful? How is it that ye have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). He rebuked the sea also and at His voice the winds bowed down in reverence. The apostles’ fear was born out of lack of faith in the Lord. If they had considered Who it was that was in the boat with them and what He was to do, then they should not have been afraid.

How easy it is in this world to be afraid. There are all sorts of threats to our well-being and they seem to be increasing daily. Muggings, terrorists, war, financial disaster, immorality affecting our families, thugs, oppression etc. Sometimes we feel as though we are all alone and we just want cry out, “Lord, don’t you care?” We often cry out “Lord, save me!” As faithful Christians, however, we should know just what and whom to fear.

The Bible says that we should not fear anything that can happen to us in this life. David said he was not afraid even of a great army that should come against him (Psalm 27:3). If we know that God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble, then we “will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with the swelling thereof” (Psalm 46:1-3).

The apostle Paul, quoting the sentiments of the Psalms, writes “we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” (Hebrews 13:6). The most that any person can do to us is to take our life. A prospect that from the human perspective is to be avoided at all costs. But Jesus said not to be afraid of them for that (Luke 12:4). Rather, He said, be afraid of Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28).

“And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good? But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled” (I Peter 3:13,14). As Isaiah assured Israel:

“Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish…For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee” (Isaiah 41:10-13).

Paul once asked the rhetorical question: If God be for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)? As long as the Lord is on board, no Euroclydon wind can ever capsize our vessel (Acts 27:14). God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and love and of a sound mind (II Tim. 1:7). Never charter a vessel with the name S. S. Fear or sail under Captain Terror. Our Captain commands even the winds and the sea and He treads above the white-capped waves of doubt and fear!

Eric L. Padgett

ANGER: An Historical Survey

Cain was angry when God did not respect his faithless offering (Gen. 4:5; Heb. 11:4). His anger manifested itself visibly in his sullen deportment (Gen. 4:6) and he took his anger out on his brother, Abel, by taking his life (Gen. 4:8). He was condemned by God to be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth (Gen. 4:9-12).

Esau was angry at Jacob for obtaining his birthright and blessing (Gen. 27:41-46). His anger was such that he hated Jacob and sought to kill him (Gen. 27:41). Jacob had to flee for his life (Gen. 27:43). Ultimately, these brothers were reconciled (Gen. 33).

Jacob was angry at his wife Rachael because she blamed him for not being able to have children (Gen. 30:1,2).

Pharaoh was angry at the chief butler and baker because they had somehow offended him. He put them in prison, later releasing one and putting the other to death (Gen. 40).

The sons of Jacob were angry at Shechem for the rape of Dinah, their sister. They took their anger out on the Shechemites by killing Hamor, Shechem and all the males of the city, took captive their wives and made spoil of the land. Their anger is described as fierce and cruel (Gen. 49:7). Jacob rebuked his sons and expressed his fear that the other inhabitants of the land would destroy him and his house in retaliation (Gen. 34).

Potiphar became angry when his wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to force her to lie with him (Gen. 39:13-18). His anger resulted in Joseph being imprisoned for something he didn’t do (Gen. 39:19-21).

Moses was angry at Phaaroah because he would not let the children of Israel go and it would result in the death of the firstborn of Egypt (Ex. 11:4-80.

Moses was angry at some of the children of Israel when they disobeyed his command not to keep the manna until the morning. When some of them did so, it bred worms and stank (Ex. 16:19,20).

Moses anger waxed hot when he came down from the mount with the tables of stone containing the ten commandments written with the finger of God and saw the children of Israel worshiping the golden calf and dancing (Ex. 32:15-19). In his anger he broke the tables of the law and ground down the calf and made the children of Israel to drink of it (Ex. 32:19-21).

Moses was angry with Eleazar and Ithamar because they did not dispose of the sin offering as he had commanded them (Lev. 10:12-18).

Moses was angry when the sons of Eliab, who, along with Korah, rebelled against Moses’ leadership, did not respond to his call. Moses prayed the Lord that He would not respect their offerings (Num. 16:12-15).

The tribe of Ephraim was offended and angry that Gideon did not call them to aid in the battle against the Midianites but Gideon assuaged their anger when he complimented them on their later successes (Judges 8:1-33).

Zebul, governor of Shechem, was angered when he discovered that Gaal the son of Ebed conspired against Abimelech. He informed Abimelech and they were able to quash the rebellion (Jud. 9).

When Saul was informed that the Ammonites were going to take Jabesh-gilead, he was angered and sent word to all Israel that they were to come and help him defeat the Ammonites (I Sam. 11:1-11).

David’s oldest brother Eliab was angry with David when he spoke defiantly of the Philistine Goliath (I Sam. 17:26-28).

Saul was angry through jealousy when he learned that the people praised David more than they praised Saul (I Sam. 18:8).

Saul was angry with his son Jonathan when he believed that Jonathan favored David even over his own ambition. Jonathan likewise was angry when he learned that his father intended to kill David even though he had done no wrong (I Sam. 20:24-34).

The princes of the Philistines were angry because David was with Achish in the battle and they feared he might turn on them. David was sent back to placate their anger (I Sam. 29:1-7).

Ishbosheth angered Abner when he said he had desecrated his father’s concubine (II Sam. 3:7,8).

David was angry at the man Nathan described in his parable, which turned out to be a description of David, himself (II Sam. 12:1-7).

David was angered when he heard of Amnon’s abuse of Tamar, but he, himself, did nothing in the matter II Sam. 13:1-21).

The tribes of the northern kingdom were angry with David and the southern kingdom of Judah because David went back with Judah and did not give preference to Israel, even though they had more people and more tribes (II Sam. 19:40-42).

Naaman, the Syrian commander, was angry with Elisha and went away in a rage because he did not come out and make a great fanfare of healing him of leprosy (II Kings 5:9-14).

Elisha was angry with Joash because he did not signify that he was going to defeat Syria by striking the ground with his arrows five or six times (II Kings 13:18,19).

Asa was angry with Hanani the seer because he did not like his preaching and he put him in prison for it (II Chron. 16:7-10).

Israel was angered by Amaziah because, when he had negotiated with them to send a hundred thousand men of valor to fight against the children of Seir, the prophet of God warned him not to take them with him because God was not with Israel. When Amaziah sent them home in accordance with the commands of God they became very angry (II Chron. 25:1-11).

In his pride, King Uzziah went into the temple and usurped the work of the priests, violating God’s order of service. When the priests confronted him over this he became angry. While he was in the temple and while he was attempting to burn incense, God struck him with leprosy at that moment he became a leper until the day of his death (II Chron. 26:16-21).

Sanballat and his cohorts were angered when they knew that Israel was building the wall and repairing the breaches (Neh. 4:1,7).

Nehemiah was angry at his brethren for taking advantage of the poor of his own country (Neh. 5:6).

Ahasuerus the king was very angry with an anger that burned within him when Vashti, his queen, did not come when he called for her (Esther 1:10-12). He commanded that Vashti come no more before him and a contest was arranged to see who would take her place. When certain laws were put in place that kept women from doing the same again, the king’s wrath was appeased (Esther 2:1).

Two of ahasuerus’s chamberlains were angry at the king and sought to kill him, but MordecaI revealed the plot to the king and he was saved (Esther 2:21-23).

Haman was angry because he felt that Mordecai did not show him the proper reverence ans sought to have him all Jews killed ((Esther 3:5).

King Ahasuerus was again angered when he learned of Haman’s plot and had Haman hung on the gallows he meant for Mordecai (Esther 7:7-10).

Young Elihu was angered at Job because he thought he justified himself rather than God and he was angry at Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar because they could not answer Job (Job 32:1-5).

Jonah was angry when the citizens of Nineveh repented at his preaching (Jon. 3,4). God taught him a lesson through a gourd that He caused to grow up and protect him from the sun that he had pity on the gourd but not on the great city of Nineveh.

Herod was angry when he felt the magi had mocked him. In his anger he had all children two years old and under killed in Bethelehem and surrounding areas (Matt. 2:16,17).

The Jews in the synagogue in Nazareth were filled with anger at the Lord because He claimed to be the fulfillment of the scriptures prophesying the Messiah. In their anger they sought to stone Him (Luke 4:15-30).

The Jews were angry at the Lord because He healed a man on the sabbath (John 7:14-24).

When the worshipers of Diana felt their silver shrine businesses and religion were threatened by the preaching of Paul they became very angry and caused an uproar in the city (Acts 19:23-34).

The Lord was angered because of the hardness of the people’s heart (Mark 3:1-5).

His emotions ran high when He saw the Jews making His house of prayer a den of thieves. In His zeal He overthrew the money changers tables and drove them out of the temple (John 2:12-17).

More than anyone else, God is angry with the wicked every day (Psalm 7:11). Though He is slow to anger (Psalm 103:8), His wrath, once it is kindled, is fierce (Psalm 78:49). His wrath will be revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness (Rom. 1:18).

Eric L. Padgett

The Christian and the World

Jesus prayed to the Father:

I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth (John 17:14-19).

The Lord said several important things about His followers in His prayer that we need to know and remember. First, He said that those that follow Him are not of this world (John 17:16). Of course, He did not mean that His disciples were aliens or that they should charter a flight with SpaceX and leave this earth. Rather, he was highlighting the fact that as Christians we should live on a higher moral plane than the rest of the world. We have a higher standard by which to live and a higher goal to obtain.

Paul, quoting Isaiah regarding Israel’s need to separate from ancient Babylon, said that as Christians we need to “come out from among them, and be separate and touch not the unclean thing” (II Cor. 6:17; cf. Is. 52:11). If we are risen with Christ, we need to seek those things that are above and set our affections on things above and not on things on this earth (Col. 3:1-10). We are to be set apart from the world.

The second thing He said about His followers was that, while we are not of this world, we cannot remove ourselves from it. He said “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world” (John 17:15). Our obligation as Christians keeps us from separating ourselves from the rest of the world because we have a responsibility to go into all the world and preach to them the gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). We are the light of the world and the salt of the earth (Matt. 5:13-16). We have work to do and we must work while we can (II Tim. 2:21).

As Christians then, we must maintain a balance between living in this world and keeping it from living in us. God created man as a part of this physical world. He created man with a physical body that has certain physical attributes and desires. Our senses are very powerful forces in our lives that can either be harnessed and used for good or unbridled and lead us into great temptations and sin.

The third thing that Jesus said about His disciples is that they are separated from the world by means of the truth. Jesus said “sanctify them through Thy truth, Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). Jesus said “I have given them Thy word” (John 17:14). God’s word is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works (II Tim. 3:16,17). We purify our souls through this truth (I Pet. 1:22,23).

The fourth thing that Jesus said is that world hates those who follow the Lord just because they follow the Lord. The world hates those that are not of the world. The reason the world hates those who follow the Lord is that the devil is the god of this world (I Cor. 4:4). The god of this world has nothing to do with Jesus (John 14:30). We should not be surprised, then, if the world hates us because it first hated the Lord (John 15:18).

As Christians, then, we fight a constant battle of keeping the world out of our lives while living in the world. We know that the whole world lieth in darkness (I John 5:19). Our job is to reflect the light of Jesus Christ and the glory of God into a world steeped in darkness.

Eric L. Padgett

Some Reflections on Prayer

Prayer is such an important part of the Christian’s life that Jesus gave us an example of how to do it (Matt. 6:13-15). It is therefore something we should consider seriously. Prayer can be divided into two groups for the purpose of this article: public and private. To start with, let us note a few observations regarding public prayers.

First, while every prayer is personal, and the heart of those praying must always be right with God, public prayer must account for more than just the personal needs of the individual leading the prayer. The person who leads the public prayer should be cognizant of the fact that others are participating in this act of fellowship and should make them feel that they are a part of the prayer. Others need to be able to say “amen” at the end of that prayer (I Cor. 14:16). Therefore, the prayer cannot be too specific about one’s own needs.

Second, when it is time in the public assembly for prayer, it should be announced that prayer is going to be begun. This is especially important when there are visitors in the assembly. I have seen instances where visitors have been left confused because they didn’t hear what was going on and finally realized that prayer had been begun. If it is not announced, the person praying could simply say, “Let us pray” to alert those in the congregation that prayer is about to begin.

Third, public prayer should not be used to attack any individual. I have seen instances where the person praying brought in their own personal conflicts. It was prayed something to the effect, “I know there are some here that don’t like me…” This is very inappropriate. If you do have that kind of problem, go to that person first and if the problem is not solved take it before the congregation (Matt. 5:23,24). But to attack another in prayer is not only inappropriate but unbecoming of a Christian.

Fourth, prayers should reflect a certain kind of reverence and awe before the Lord. It seems that we have lost something of reverence in our assemblies since many have left the use of solemn personal pronouns in addressing the Father in heaven. I would not be dogmatic about it, but it would evince a bit more reverence if we could go back to that practice. I know the arguments that the Greek did not have such pronouns. This is true, but English does and it makes sense to honor His majesty by setting apart and reverencing His name (Palm 111:9).

Now, concerning private prayer, we should, first of all, pray often. Paul said to “pray without ceasing” (I Thess, 5:21). God is our Father and it should be natural for us to approach Him in prayer. He wants us to make known our requests unto Him (Phil. 4:6) even though He already knows that of which we stand in need (Matt. 6:8). Don’t become estranged from your heavenly father.

Second, pray from the heart. As noted above, while God already knows our hearts and so there is nothing you could say He does not already know (Heb. 4:13), yet read the psalms and see how David poured out his heart to the Lord. He was passionate. He was even argumentative. He reminded God of what He had done before for His saints and that He was able to do the same for him (cf. Psalm 35).

Third, find time to pray to God alone. Jesus often went off to a secluded place to pray to God (e.g., Matt. 14:23; Luke 9:18). Sometimes there are things we have to say to God that others do not need to hear. Publicly led prayer has to be inclusive but private prayer is personal prayer. Jesus said when we pray we should enter into our closet and shut the door (Matt. 6:6).

Finally, don’t let your prayers be hindered by sin in your life. Pray with holy hands (I Tim. 2:8). God hears the prayers of the righteous man but His face is against those who do evil (I Pet. 3:12). Our sins separate us from God (Is. 59:1,2).

Prayer is important for us as Christians. We have access to the Father by this means, which others do not. Let our prayers therefore be acceptable to God.

Eric L. Padgett