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LOVE

God is a God of love because God is love (II Cor. 13:11; I John 4:8). When John says that God is love we know, therefore, that it is an intrinsic part of His nature and that it is perfect in every respect. It’s expression is also perfect. When God stated that He loved Israel He says that He loved them with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3). It is a love that does not end or fail.

In describing His relationship with Israel, the Lord presents Israel as a child, newly born from Egyptian bondage (Hos. 11:1). God said that though He loved Israel as a son and drew him with bands of love (Hos. 11:4), though He took them by the arm and led them, they did not know that He healed them (Hos. 11:3). THey were bent on backsliding and rejection of the Lord’s call. But even so, God’s love for them was such that He could not give them up (Hos. 11:8). His love tempered His anger against their rebellion (Hos. 1:9).

Because Israel is His people, formed and created by Hs power, called by name, there should be no fear (Is. 43:3,4). Through the most difficult of times, through high water and hot fire, God’s beloved will neither drown nor burn (Is. 43:2,3). God’s people are precious in His sight (Is. 43:4) and therefore should not fear for God will be with His people (Is. 43:5).

The fullest expression of God’s love toward man was manifested when the Saviour appeared (Tit. 3:3,4). Though we were “sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another, nevertheless, God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

Eric L. Padgett

WISDOM

Wisdom is inherent with God alone (Jude 25; Rom. 16:25). No man can claim to be wise who rejects the most basic facts of life or ignores reality. Instead of being called wise this person would be considered a fool. Those who reject God’s very existence are fools indeed, the exact opposite of wise (Psalm 1:1). If we would be wise, then, we must understand the fear of the Lord and seek after it as one might search for some hidden treasure (Prov. 2:1-5). How much better it is to get wisdom than gold or silver or rubies or anything else sought after in this world (Prov. 16:16; 8:11)! It is the Lord that gives wisdom because He alone possesses wisdom inherently (Prov. 2:6).

But if we lack wisdom and we sincerely seek it then we may apply to God for wisdom and He who gives liberally to all men will also give us wisdom (James 1:5). Of course, God limits His response to those who are His children (I Pet. 3:12). The world does possess a semblance of wisdom (I Cor. 1:19,20). Worldly wisdom, however, is earthly, sensual and devilish (James 3:15). But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17). But none of the princes of this world really knew wisdom for if they had possessed true wisdom they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (I Cor. 2:8).

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out (Romans 11:33)! If we know that we lack wisdom, we can gain wisdom by asking God for it and we can gain wisdom by receiving God’s word. The Bible says a person wise in heart will receive commandments but a prating fool shall fall (Prov. 10:8). Wisdom is not acquired just by experience for there are many who experience life in greater quantity than others but never learn. But wisdom, true wisdom, comes from fearing the Lord and consequently departing from evil (Job 28:12-28).

The Lord presents to us an image of wisdom as crying with a loud voice from the roof tops and every public place seeking to be understood and used (Prov. 8:1-4). Those that honestly seek wisdom early in life shall find it (Prov. 8:17). Wisdom is found in hearing and obeying God’s word (Prov. 8:32-36). All of our earthly days should be spent in seeking wisdom from the Lord (Psalm 90:12).

Truly it is in Christ where wisdom finds it’s fullest expression (Eph. 1:8). When we know Christ we know wisdom for Christ is the wisdom of God (I Cor. 1:24, 30), for in Him “are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” ( Colossians 2:3). The Lord has revealed Himself unto us through His apostles in the wisdom of God’s perfect plan (I Cor. 2:6-13) “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Ephesians 3:10).

It is by the scriptures that we can be made wise unto salvation (II Tim. 3:15-17). Thus, we should let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom (Col. 3:16). We should cease from our own wisdom and buy true wisdom and never sell it (Prov. 23:4; 23:23).

Having obtained unto wisdom, we should walk in wisdom toward those who are not members of the body of Christ (Col. 4:5). We should preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (Colossians 1:28). If we act according to His wisdom, no man would be able to resist the wisdom with which we speak His word (Acts 6:10). He that winneth souls is wise (Prov. 11:30).

Eric L. Padgett

Morality

Evolutionary scientists have a difficult time explaining how morality, especially altruistic behavior, developed by means of mutation and natural selection. The “holiest” doctrine of evolution–survival of the fittest–is the very antithesis of altruism. “You would expect those who are best at cheating, and taking but not giving, to be coming out ahead. Their genes should be on the rise while altruistic genes would be going away.”1 But though this is what evolutionary scientists would expect, this is not what has happened or is happening.

In an attempted explanation of this problem, Richard Dawkins stated in his 2006 documentary The Root Of All Evil “Our true sense of right and wrong has nothing to do with religion. I believe there is kindness, charity and generosity in human nature. And I think there is a Darwinian explanation for this. Through much of our prehistory, humans lived under conditions that favored altruistic genes. Gene survival depended on nurturing our family and on doing deals with our peers.”2

Notice, first of all, that Dawkins stated he “believes” morals have nothing to do with religion. This use of “believe” is an odd way for someone who condemns faith to speak. But he must speak this way because there is no science for his position. Further notice that he says he believes “there is kindness, charity and generosity in human nature.” We all know this is true. What we want to hear is an explanation of how morality began without God. Furthermore, it is odd to hear the author of the Selfish Gene to speak of kindness, charity and generosity.

Finally, his attempted answer to the problem is not only based on many assumptions but it is counter-intuitive to the theory he espouses. If I sacrifice my life for you, is it not more likely that your genes will be passed on rather than mine? Why don’t we only help those who can confer some tangible benefit to our genetic pool? Why do we help the helpless and weak? What advantage can their genes confer to us? Furthermore, evolution is purposeless and not guided toward some end or goal. A group cannot know if an act will confer some benefit down the road or not. It would be a waste of energy and time to help the helpless if evolution was true. If nature selects for the kind and the good, then why is there so much evil in the world today?

Two final points on this. First, morality is real. The very fact that evolutionists have problems explaining morality via mutation and natural selection demonstrates the reality of morality and the problems it poses for materialists. If it was not real and experienced and understood by the evolutionists themselves, they would not go to so much trouble trying to explain it away. For example, “Charles Darwin was profoundly perplexed by the fact that young men voluntarily go off to war and die for their groups. This obviously didn’t fit with his general idea of natural selection as being individuals pursuing their self-interests.”1

Second, in order for morality to be real, there must be some objective standard by which to judge what is right and wrong. It will not do to say that morality is a cultural construct. If something is moral for you now but not moral for you tomorrow, or, in other words, the standard of right and wrong changes according to circumstances, then there is no real, objective morality, which we have already seen is not true. Murder is objectively wrong. Lying is objectively wrong. Stealing is objectively wrong. These practices must violate some real, objective law, not merely cultural agreements.

Evolution has to fall back on relative cultural agreements to explain morality but the Bible gives us a different answer and it begins and ends with God. God’s nature is to be holy. He is the high and lofty One Who inhabits eternity and Whose name is holy and dwells in a holy place (Is. 57:15). All the holy angels proclaim the inherent holiness of God. “Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah of Hosts” proclaimed the seraphim (Is. 63:3; Rev. 4:8). God is of purer eyes than to behold evil (Hab. 1:13). He is glorious in holiness (Ex. 15:11). He is simply holy (Ps. 99:5).

The Bible also says that we are created in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26-28). Therefore, because God is inherently holy and we are created in His image, then we, too, must be holy. God’s nature and the revelation of that nature and His divine will are the standard by which we determine right from wrong, good and evil. Morality is not something which evolved; it is inherent in creation. In fact, God demands that we be holy as He is holy (Lev. 20:6-8; I Pet. 1:15,16).

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good. The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one (Psalm 14:1-3).

Eric L. Padgett

  1. Gambino, Megan, Smithonian.com, May 3, 2012, How Humans became Moral Beings https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-humans-became-moral-beings-80976434/#TjTbTc1GSZAudiHj.99
  2. Richard Dawkins, The Root Of All Evil (aka The God Delusion), Jan. 9, 2006 tv documentary

Bible Authority

The religious world in general does not understand what it means to have authority in religion. They understand it when it comes to their work or family matters and civic responsibilities but most religious people, even many within the Lord’s church it seems, just act on their emotions instead of on their reason or on biblical revelation. They have no real grasp of having a “thus saith the Lord” in religion.

Yet the Bible is clear on this issue. Paul wrote “Whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (Colossians 3:17). To do something “in the name of” is to do something by the authority of that thing. The old expression, “Stop in the name of the law” simply means stop based on the authority of the law or the person acting in its behalf.

Very soon after the establishment of the church, the apostles, while in the temple, had occasion to heal a man born lame in his ankle and feet. When the man asked them for alms, Peter responded “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6). They healed this man in the name of Jesus.

After the apostles had healed a man born lame, the Jewish leadership confronted them and asked “by what power, or by what name, have ye done this” (Acts 4:7). Even the Pharisees understood that one should only act in religion on the basis of some recognized authority. The apostles responded that they acted in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 4:7-10).

Peter told the people who were wondering at the miracle performed that they should not think that the apostles had done this by their own power or holiness (Acts 3:12). Rather it was the name of Jesus and faith in that name that brought about his restoration of health (Acts 3:16). He further explained that Jesus was the Prince of Life and that Prophet of whom Moses spake who be heard and obeyed (Acts 3:22,23). The Lord had the authority and power to do these things.

After His resurrection and before He left this earth, the Lord announced to His apostles that He had been given all authority and power. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). God had raised Him and set Him at His own right hand and, having been given such power and authority, He became the head over all things to the church, His body (Eph. 1:22,23).

Furthermore, He delegated authority to His apostles to speak in His name (Matt. 28:19,20). The apostles were witnesses and ambassadors of His gospel, calling the world to repentance from sins and reconciliation to God (II Cor. 5:19,20). The apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit, sent to them in His name, to speak for the Lord (John 14:26). The Holy Spirit would bring to their remembrance all things that the Lord had spoken and guide them into all truth (John 16:13).

The apostles and certain, select inspired men committed the things which they were inspired to speak to writing, producing inspired scriptures (II Tim. 3:16,17; cf. II Pet. 3:15). Today, God still speaks to us through His Son (Heb. 1:1-3). It is the Lord’s words that will judge us in the last day (John 12:48). It is the same truth that the Lord promised to give them through the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13; Acts 2:38). Now those words are committed word for word into our New Testaments which is our standard of authority (Rom. 15:4; Heb. 9:15,16; II Cor. 5:10,11). Now if any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God (I Pet. 4:11).

So, if any man transgress and abides not in the doctrine of Christ that man has not God (II John 9-11). If any preach anything other than the gospel of Christ, he is accursed (Gal. 1:6-9). Whatever we do must be done in the name of, or by the authority of, the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 3:17).

Eric L. Padgett

Faith In The Mix

Out of all the children of Israel who left Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb entered into the promised land (Num. 14:30; 26:65). Paul tells us that all the others who were of age failed to enter into the promised land for one reason–lack of faith. Paul wrote, “But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief” (Hebrews 3:17-19).

The good news was preached to them in promise, but it was not mixed with faith in them that heard it (Heb. 4:1,2). When faith is not in the mix, then the gospel cannot do its work (Rom. 1:16,17). Here are some characteristics of faith we should keep in mind as we keep faith in the mix.

First of all, faith is a tangible commodity and produces tangible results. The Bible says that Jesus saw the faith of those who brought the man sick with the palsy (Luke 5:20). Their faith manifested itself when they had to overcome obstacles to get him to Jesus (Luke 5:20). What He saw was their works. Indeed, James says “show me your faith” by your works (James 2:18). Our Lord asked the question, when He comes again will He find faith on the earth (Luke 18:8). Faith, then is something that can be observed by looking at the results it produces.

Second, faith is a living thing. Faith is not just some static object that once possessed, you can keep in your pocket and bring it out whenever you might need it. Faith is something that breathes and grows. The disciples realized that while they had faith that it was not sufficient for them so they asked the Lord to “increase” their faith (Luke 17:5). James again tells us that one can possess a dead faith, one which does not work (James 2:26). The apostle Paul observed that the faith of the brethren at Thessalonica had grown exceedingly (II Thess. 1:3).

In the third place, faith is absolutely necessary. Paul wrote that without faith it is impossible to please God. (Heb. 11:6). Without faith, our prayers would be just mere words spoken into the air (James 1:5,6). It is by faith that we are saved by grace (Eph. 2:8). That is because faith grants us access into the grace of God (Rom. 5:2). That is how we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1). To be sure, the just shall live by faith (Heb. 10:38). Faith is not all that is necessary, but without it we will die in our sins (John 8:24).

Therefore, in the fourth place, faith is precious. Peter declared that he shared with his brethren a “like, precious faith” (II Pet. 1:1). Knowing that believing in the Lord will eventually win us a crown of life, it is something which we should count very dear (II Tim. 4:7,8). Even a small amount of faith brings great blessings (Matt. 17:20). Faith is a cathartic, purifying our hearts (Acts 15:9). Knowing that not having it could eventually cost a man his life, faith becomes very precious indeed (Rev. 2:10).

Faith is also very powerful. Great things are accomplished by faith. By faith, Enoch was translated that he should not see death (Heb. 11:5). Faith brought sight to the blind (Matt. 9:29; 10:52), cured the palsy (Matt. 9:2), made the sick whole (Luke 8:48), made the lame walk (Acts 3:1-16) and raised the dead (Heb. 11:32-35). Faith is powerful because it has behind it the power of the gospel–God’s power to save (Rom. 1:16,17).

There is also an objective side to faith. People can and do believe anything. But saving faith is tethered to the objective body of doctrine known in the New Testament as the faith (Rom. 10:17). Paul said he preached “the faith” which he once destroyed (Gal. 1:23). Previously, however, he had written that no one was to preach anything but gospel (Gal. 1:6-9). Since Paul preached only the gospel, and he preached the faith, the faith must be the same as the gospel. Paul told the Corinthians to examine themselves as to whether or not they were in “the faith” (II Cor. 13:5). Jude exhorts us to earnestly contend for the faith (Jude 3).

Finally, faith is victorious. John said that this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith (I John 5:4). “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God” (I John 5:5)? It is the unbelieving who will be cast into the lake that burneth with fire and brimstone (Rev. 21:8). “But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).

Put faith in the mix (Heb. 4:2).

Eric L. Padgett

SALVATION

If we don’t feel thirsty, we won’t want a drink of water. If we are not hungry, then we won’t want a bite to eat. If we are not sleepy, then we won’t feel the need to nap. If we don’t have a medical problem, then we won’t want to buy a medicinal salve. Unless we feel the need for something, we will not act freely to obtain it. And unless we feel the sting of sin, we will not desire to be saved. Before a person will be ready to obey the gospel, he must feel that he is guilty of sin and that he needs forgiveness.

Before we can feel that we are guilty of sin, however, we must believe that we are accountable to some higher law. Sin is the transgression of the law of God (I John 3:4). If a person does not believe in God or does not fear God, then that person is not likely to seek God. When Abraham came into Gerar, he was not honest with king Abimelech because he thought “Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake” (Gen. 20:11; cf. Rom. 3:18). Abraham understood that if one did not fear God, almost anything could happen.

When the Jews on the day of Pentecost heard and understood that God had made that same Jesus whom they had crucified both Lord and Christ, they were pricked in the heart by the word of God that the apostles preached and cried out to them for guidance (Acts 2:36,37). Saul of Tarsus was a relentless persecutor of the Lord’s church. But on the road to Damascus, as he was traveling to imprison Christians found there, he was stunned by a bright light, one which was brighter than the noonday sun, and asked “Who art Thou Lord?” (Acts 9:5). When the Lord identified Himself Saul trembled and asked what he needed to do (Acts 9:6). Paul would later confess that he felt he was the chief of sinners (I Tim. 1:15).

It is possible that a person may acknowledge that something is amiss in their life or lifestyle, but not know exactly what it is. They may feel an emptiness in their life or a longing for something more. They may try to find fulfillment in pleasure, people, wealth, or things and never realize what it is they are missing. Solomon tried all of the things that these type people try and came to the conclusion that the whole of man is to fear God and keep His commandments (Eccl. 12:10). This is only the thing that makes man complete and feel complete.

Another motivation for seeking salvation is the fear of God (cf. Acts 13:16,43). Too many preachers today do not like to talk about it, but the fear of God is a preeminently scriptural emphasis (II Cor. 5:10,11). “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:30-31). Jesus said we are to fear Him that can destroy both body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28). “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him” (Romans 5:9).

In a society that seems to be increasingly secular and skeptical, we must preach the fact of God’s existence. In a society which is ever more materialistic and worldly, we must proclaim the coming judgment of God upon a sinful world (Col. 1:28). We must warn people that there is a great day of judgement coming. As Paul wrote:

But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to his deeds: To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: For there is no respect of persons with God (Romans 2:5-11).

It is fine and necessary to preach the love of God. But if we do not fairly balance the love of God with the fact of His judgement, then we do the world and ourselves a disservice. Even when the Lord declared God’s love for mankind, there was an implicit warning against unbelief lest those who do not believe perish (John 3:16). The great commission serves as a final example of this. Jesus said “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15-16).

I have heard many people say something to the effect, “God is a God of love, He would never punish a person for this or that action” and then continue in their sin. But I have never heard someone who believes that there will be a judgement say, “Oh, God is a God of judgement, He wouldn’t punish a person for that action” and then go about their way. Until a person is hungry and thirsty for righteousness, he will not seek to be filled. Until a person comes to the point where he is ready to say, “Give me this water of life that I may live,” he will not drink of the water of life. Until a person is afraid that if they do not act they will suffer eternal torment they will not repent.

Eric L. Padgett

The Mystery Revealed

When we speak of the church it is important to understand that we are not merely speaking about a group of people or a building. When we speak about the church we are talking about a plan God purposed before the foundation of the world and executed in the fulness of time to bring about the salvation of man. Sometimes we talk about the plan of salvation. Or, we talk about the church being part of God’s plan of salvation. Actually, the church is God’s plan for saving man.

In his epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul described the “mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:3,4). This mystery is not something that cannot be understood or known for Paul wrote “how that by revelation He made known unto me the mystery, whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). The word for mystery here meant something that was unknown to an individual until that individual was initiated into the mystery, then they were given knowledge of it. Think of it as a military plan which was not known by the troops until it was ready to be executed.

In this sense, it is very similar to a plan. Paul uses it this way when he compares the church to a marriage (Eph. 5:25ff). Of the relationship between the husband and wife, Paul said it was a great “mystery” but the real lesson he was teaching was about the relationship of the church to the Lord (Eph. 5:32). The church is the bride of Christ and must be kept pure, without spot or wrinkle, to be delivered to Him as a glorious church (Eph. 5:25-27). Paul did not want to hide the mystery or plan of Christ but, rather, to make it known (Eph. 6:19).

This scheme of redemption was no afterthought for God but was in His mind from before the foundation of the world. Paul wrote that from the beginning of the world it had been hid in God (Eph. 3:9). Peter declared that we know we were “not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (I Peter 1:18-20).

This plan, then, was foreordained. Paul states that God

Having 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: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ (Ephesians 1:9-12).

To be clear, God has not ordained individuals to be saved because He wants all men to be saved (I Tim. 2:4). But He has foreordained and predestined the plan whereby all might be brought together in Christ if they so choose. Again, Paul wrote that God has chosen us in Him “before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:4-6). Whether or not any one individual is saved is a personal choice of trust in the Lord made after hearing the word of truth (Eph. 1:13).

This plan, or mystery of godliness, is without a doubt a great one (I Tim. 3:15,6). None of the princes of this world knew or understood it or its benefits (I Cor. 2:7-9). Also, the prophets strained at understanding all that they were prophesying and even the angels desired to look into the things that are now revealed by the Holy Spirit unto the apostles (I Pet. 1:10-12). Paul said that he and the rest of the apostles spoke this mystery in words which the Holy Ghost taught, comparing spiritual things with spiritual (I Cor. 2:13). It is through the revealed New Testament Covenant, along with the Old Testament for our learning, that we can know and appreciate the mystery.

What a privilege and an honor to be able to understand the things about which the prophets spoke but never fully understood themselves. What a great blessing to be able to participate in the blessings found in only in Christ (Eph. 1:3). How grand to know that we are the ones about whom the prophets spoke (I Pet. 1:10-12). What a thrill to know the mystery of salvation.

Eric L. Padgett

A Brief History Of Blood

God created man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul (Gen. 2:7). God has told us that the life of the flesh is in the blood (Gen. 9:4). So when God created man a living soul, He created him with the life-blood flowing through his veins. Anyone, whether man or beast, who shed man’s blood was under a penalty of death (Gen. 9:5). The only exception was death as a penalty for taking another’s life (Gen. 9:6; cf. 4:11-15).

When man sinned in the garden and brought death into the world (Gen. 2:16,17), man tried to cover his guilt and shame with fig leaves. But God took the skins of animals to make a covering for man. In taking the skin of the animal, God took the life of that animal, and thus shed its blood. This was the first death and it was at God’s hands. This was the first sacrifice for the sins of man. It was not that the fig leaves man had made for his own covering were not enough, it was that they did not adequately represent the necessary guilt or the shedding of blood that God’s law required as a penalty (Gen. 2:16,17).

Just as Adam tried to use the life of a plant to cover his sin-guilt, Cain also tried to do the same. Cain gave to God of the fruit of the ground as an offering to the Lord. Abel offered the “firstlings of his flock” (Gen. 4:4). Now Paul tells us that Abel offered his sacrifice by faith (Heb. 11:3), which means he did it according to the commands of God for faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). So Abel offered a blood sacrifice according to the commands of God and Cain did not follow God’s will and therefore sin lay at the door (Gen. 4:7).

After the children of Israel had been in Egypt for four-hundred thirty years, God raised up Moses to deliver them from their bondage. After nine plagues had fallen upon the Egyptians, the heart of Pharaoh was still hardened. The tenth and final plague was the death of all the first born, both of man and beast. In order to escape this plague, the children of Israel had to slay a lamb and strike the blood of the lamb on the door posts and lintel of their house and the destroyer would pass over them. But for those who did not cover their house with the blood of the lamb, death would be visited upon their firstborn (Ex. 12:12,13).

After leaving the land of Egypt and when they were on their way to the promised land, God gave Moses and the children of Israel a law of commandments. Moses ascended mount Sinai and received the law in tables of stone. In ratifying this law, Moses constructed an altar and took the blood of peace offerings and sprinkled it upon the altar and upon the people saying, “Behold of the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words” (Ex. 24:6-8).

The law that was given to Moses was full of commands for sacrifices. There is no telling how many gallons of animal blood had been shed down through the centuries to cover the sins of man. However, it was not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Hebrews 10:4). This blood and all these ordinances were but a shadow of things to come (Heb. 10:1). Even though God had introduced the shedding of animal blood in place of man’s, He never had pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices (Heb. 10:6). It never fully satisfied the demands of divine justice for breaking God’s law.

When man sinned initially, God had promised a remedy that ultimately involved the seed of the woman. The seed of the woman would be bruised but He would crush the serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). This promise was fulfilled in the sending of God’s only begotten Son to shed His blood for the sins of many (Heb 9:28). God gave His only begotten Son (John 3:16). When Jesus instituted the New Covenant, He inaugurated it with His own blood (Matt. 26:26). “For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:13-14).

When Adam sinned, God clothed him in the bloody skin of an animal. That skin should have reminded Adam of his transgressions just as our own clothing today should be a reminder that we are to be ashamed of the guilt of sin. Furthermore, in order for our sins to be removed today we must clothe ourselves not in the skin of any animal, but we must clothe ourselves in the blood of Christ. Paul said that as many of us that have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Gal. 3:26,27). We are washed from our sins in His own blood (Rev. 1:5) when we are baptized to wash away our sins (Acts 22:16). We make our robes white in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 7:14).

Eric L. Padgett

PROPHECY

One of the greatest proofs of the divine origin of the Bible and of Christianity itself is fulfilled Bible prophecy. The Bible is replete with prophecies from the beginning of the Book of Genesis to the end of the Book of Revelation. Hundreds of prophecies were uttered and, where there is enough evidence to make a solid judgement, all of them have perfectly come to pass just as was foretold, such that the skeptic cannot successfully assail them. Fulfilled prophecy is one of the thorns in the skeptic’s side.

It is natural that other people and other groups should want to emulate the Bible’s incredible accuracy and uniqueness in this field. But a comparison of the Bible’s prophecies with the so-called prophecies of other groups, religious and non-religious, demonstrates the Bible’s incomparable accuracy. The Bible’s prophecies are not draped in vague, veiled language that can be interpreted in multiple ways. The Bible’s prophecies are generally spot on and clear and accurate.

For instance, compare the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah prophesied eight centuries before that a virgin would conceive and bear a son (Is. 7:14). Micah prophesied that He would be born in Bethlehem of Judea (Mic. 5:2). Isaiah again foretold that He would be of the lineage and house of David (Is. 9:6,7). David foretold that He would be called the Son of God (Psalm 2:7). Isaiah once again foretold clearly of His rejection and suffering and death in great specificity (Is. 53). Over three hundred specific prophecies satisfactorily fulfilled in the life of Christ.

We also must remember that those who spoke these prophecies did not collaborate with one another and decide to produce an interesting book to read for entertainment. For the most part their prophecies were not collaborative and thy lived in different areas and in different times and were of various social and economic backgrounds. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, written at least three centuries before Christ, we can clearly see the preservation of the original text and proof that Jesus’ fulfillment of these prophecies were not manufactured after the fact. Yet all of these prophecies seamlessly coalesce into one, big, clear picture of the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

Other non-Messianic prophecies were equally clearl and amazingly fulfilled. Daniel described world history up to the time of Christ in four great kingdoms (Dan. 2:31-45). Daniel also prophesied exactly when the Messiah would appear (Dan. 9:20-27). There are many other such specific, clear prophecies but let me mention just one more. Cyrus the Great was mentioned in the prophecy of Isaiah (45:1-4). But when Isaiah prophesied of Cyrus, it was a century and a half before Cyrus was even born, yet Isaiah calls him by name! This is the kind of accuracy and specificity we find in Bible prophecies.

In contrast, so-called modern day prophets are far less impressive. Nostradamus is held up as one of the modern day prophets who is said to be very accurate. Those touting his prophetic abilities often say he accurately predicted Hitler’s rise. However, he did not say “Hitler” but used the expression “the Hister” (Century II:24). Historically, this was a well known allusion to the Danube river not to Hitler.

“The river was known to the ancient Greeks as the Istros (`iστρος) a borrowing from a Daco-Thracian name meaning strong, swift (akin to Sanskrit isiras “swift”). In Latin, the Danube was variously known as Danubius, Danuvius or as Ister. The Thraco-Phrygian name was Matoas, ‘the bringer of luck.” (Danube)

If Nostradamus was talking about Hitler, he mispronounced the name. Further, if he was talking about Hitler, it was not clear what he was saying for the “prophecy” is written in vague, cryptic language. But the truth is, he was referencing the Danube, not Hitler.

Consider Islamic prophecies as another example. One apologist for Islam gives the system modern day finger printing as a fulfillment of a prophecy in the Koran. Here is what is written:

Finger Prints
Their skins will bear witness against them as to what they have been doing? (41:21)
The finger prints system at borders, criminal investigation cells and immigration centres prove the fulfillment of this Quranic prophecy.
(Al Islam)

Yet, the context of the text is not speaking of finger printing but of the islamic view of judgement. As another Islamic site states:

Putting the verse back into context, it is clearly talking about post “Judgment day” events, when we who did not believe in Allah will be in hell, and our skins will be telling Allah about ‘sins’. This interpretation is confirmed by the tafsir’s. This has nothing to do with fingerprinting. (wikiislam.net)

The one test the Bible gives for determining whether or not one should listen to a prophet is fulfillment (Deut. 18:22). If the prophecy is not fulfilled, then God did not speak through that “prophet.” The Bible is amazing by many standards but it’s incredible specificity and prophetic accuracy is another vital proof of it’s divine origin. No other book even comes close.

Eric L. Padgett

The devil

The devil is just as far from God in power and might and wisdom and in every other such attribute as is any human being. This is true because God is infinite and perfect in every one of His attributes while humanity and the devil are limited, finite and imperfect. Infinitude is just as far from one point in finitude as it is from another. The devil is finite in his attributes because he is a created being, just as are we. We know that God is the only essential, necessary being. Everything else is contingent upon Him (Gen. 1:1; Ex. 20:11; Col. 1:16,17; Heb. 1:3).

In fact, in many ways man has more power and wisdom than the devil. The devil cannot make us do anything that we chose not to do. James says, “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Peter tells us to be steadfast in the faith in resisting the devil (I Pet. 5:9). Paul exhorts us to not give place to the devil (Eph. 4:27). And God has provided a way of escape to avoid the traps he sets for us (I Cor. 10:13). Furthermore, we are able to understand the value of the will of God while the devil tries to destroy it.

The devil’s chief power is his skill at lying. Jesus said there is no truth in him because he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44). He is skilled at making something that is bad and evil look like it is good and right, even himself, for he sometimes transforms himself into an angel of light (II Cor. 11:14). He is proficient at lying wonders (II Thess. 2:9). One of his favorite devices–and we are not ignorant of his devices (II Cor. 2:11)–is to twist the word of God into something that it is not. He used this approach on Eve when he twisted what God had said and deceived her (Gen. 3:1; I Tim. 2:14). He tried unsuccessfully to use this approach on the Lord (Matt. 4:6).

As mentioned earlier, the devil is a created being (Psalm 148:1-5). The Bible does not explicitly say when he was created but if all things in heaven and earth were created in six days, then his creation would have been during that time frame (Ex. 20:11). Furthermore, it would have been very early in creation because God states in the book of Job that the sons of God (i.e., the angels) shouted for joy when God laid the foundations of the earth (Job 38:4-7).

The Bible says that when the creation was finished, God saw that everything that He had made was very good (Gen. 1:31). The devil then was not created evil since everything God had made was very good. But this also suggests the obvious question of when the devil became evil. When did the devil become the devil? Apparently, sometime between when God declared everything that He had made was very good and the temptation of Eve, the devil must have willfully chosen to rebel against God.

Why did he rebel? The indications are that he was moved by pride. In describing the qualifications for elders, the apostle Paul warns against appointing a new Christian, a novice, because he can easily be lifted up with pride and fall into the condemnation of the devil (I Tim. 3:6). Ezekiel (28:11-19) and Isaiah (14:12-14) both seem to allude to this. Ezekiel describes an anointed cherub that was created perfect in beauty and full of wisdom and that had been in the garden of God till iniquity was found in him. Isaiah describes Lucifer who wanted to exalt himself like the most High.1 Thus we have the proverb, pride goeth before destruction (Prov. 16:18).

The name “satan” means adversary. Peter described our adversary as a roaring lion going about seeking whom he may devour (I Pet. 5:8). In the early days of earth history, in the days of Patriarchy, when God asked him what he had been doing, satan replied that he was going to and fro in the earth and walking up and down in it, presumably seeking to devour, as he tried to with Job (Job 1:7). In the parable of the tares, Jesus described the enemy, which is the devil (Matt. 13:39), as going through the fields while men slept and sowing tares among the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30). The devil never stops. He was after Peter (Luke 22:31), Joshua the high priest (Zec. 3:1), king David (I Chron. 21:1), the apostle Paul (II Cor. 12:7) and also after the Lord (Matt. 4:1-11).

He is also after you and me. But the good news is that he is beaten. Even before the foundation of the world the Lord had put in place a plan of salvation whereby satan’s efforts would fail (Rev. 13:8; Eph. 3:9). Immediately after the Fall it was foretold that the seed of the woman would deliver a mortal blow to satan (Gen. 3:15). The Lord has destroyed the devil and the power which he held over man–that is the fear of death through His resurrection from the dead (Heb. 2:14; Col. 2:14,15). Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels and he will be cast there, bound forever (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20:10).

Other posts on the devil:
How Does satan Influence Us?
Additional On How satan Works

Eric L. Padgett

Footnote

  1. The majority of commentators seem to reject the view that these passages refer to the devil. However, both passages are consistent with what we know explicitly and implicitly of the devil from other, undisputed passages. We know the devil was created perfect, and that God did not create the devil as the devil. We know, therefore, that he must have fallen from some higher state. We know that Paul describes at least one of his faults as being pride, which comports with Ezekiel’s description of his heart being lifted up and Isaiah’s description as one seeking to obtain the position of God. We know that there was an hierarchy of created, angelic beings and that some of these rebelled and left their first estate. We know that hell was created for the devil and his angels. We know that the devil was in the garden. While it is obvious that they also refer to the historical figures of the king of Babylon and Tyre, some of the references in the passage in Ezekiel especially seem only to apply to the devil (e.g., “created”; having been in the garden of God, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; anointed cherub, etc). There is nothing in these two passages from the prophets that would demand that they not be referring to the devil in some respects. As far as I can understand, there is no doctrine that would be violated or damaged by such an application. At the very least, these two passages describe circumstances that parallel what we know of the devil’s history and I can’t understand the strong historical opposition to such an application.