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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.

Sin And Salvation

The whole world lieth in wickedness (I John 5:19). For by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned (Romans 5:12). As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes (Romans 3:10-18). For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law (I John 3:4). But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them (Galatians 3:11-12). Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator (Galatians 3:19,20).

For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins (Hebrews 10:1-4).

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 7:24). There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit (Romans 8:1-4).

And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance (Hebrews 9:15). For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 19:10). For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved (John 3:16-17).

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth (Romans 10:4). For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed (Romans 10:10-11). He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Peter 3:21). For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ (Galatians 3:27). Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life (Romans 6:3-4).

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him (Colossians 3:1-10).

Eric L. Padgett

ANGELS

Angels apparently fascinate human curiosity. Our culture abounds with many references to them. For example, Wikipedia lists over 40 films about angels since 1935 and there are nearly fifty video games mentioning some kind of angel. The web site Goodreads lists 241 books with the word “angel” in the title. The web site Ranker lists over a hundred songs with the word “angel” in the title. New Age practitioners make up all kinds of things about angels. With so many references to angels, there is bound to be much error taught regarding them and there is. But let us briefly see what the Bible says about them.

First, angels are created beings. God is the only One Who is eternal and self-existing (Psalm 90:2; John 5:26). There is none like Him (Ex. 8:10). Angels were created at His command (Psalm 148:2-5). Indeed, all things, including angels, were created by Him and for Him (Col. 1:16,17). Though the Bible does not expressly say when they were created, at the very latest they were created very early during the creation week for the Bible tells us that the sons of God shouted for joy when the foundations of the earth was laid (Job 38:4-7).

Second, Peter tells us that angels are greater in power and might than man (II Pet. 2:11; Psalm 103: 20). They were made just a little higher than man (Heb. 2:7). With their great power they have stricken men with blindness (Gen. 19:11), destroyed 70,000 men on one occasion (II Sam. 24:15-17) and 185,000 men on another (II Kings 19:35,36; II Chron. 32:1). They have great speed for they can fly swiftly from one location to another much more quickly than any human (Rev. 14:6; Dan. 9:21). Yet, though angels are greater than man in these respects, they, too, are limited. Indeed, from God’s perspective, they are just as far from God as is man.

Third, there seems to be some kind of hierarchy or ranking among the angels. There are at the very least different roles for the different angelic hosts. For example, mention is made of Michael, who is called the archangel (Jude 9; I Thess. 4:16), suggesting that there are angels under him. We find mention of cherubim (Gen. 3:24), seraphim (Is. 6:2), watchers (Dan. 4:13), and a host of angels including principalities and powers (Eph. 3:10; Rom. 8:38; Eph. 6:12), and possibly thrones and dominions (Col. 1:16). Besides Michael, there is the angel Gabriel mentioned by name, who is connected with announcing important events, and who also stands in the presence of God (Luke 1:19,26; Dan. 9:21).

The word “angel,” whether in the Old Testament or New Testament usage simply means a messenger. Sometimes the word angel is used to refer to a human messenger, being applied to such men as Haggai (Hag. 1:13), John the Baptist (Mal. 3:1), the messengers of John (Luke 7:24) and John (Jam. 2:25). But angels have been involved in delivering the law to mankind (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2).

Angels are also intensely interested in the affairs of mankind for they desire to look into the matters regarding man’s salvation (I Pet. 1:11,12). Paul said that they were ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those who shall be the heirs of salivation (Heb. 1:14). And yet, while exercising this role they, themselves cannot influence man with regard to salvation. When the Ethiopian eunuch was ready to be taught the gospel, an angel was not sent to do it but the angel sent Philip to teach him (Acts 8:26). Yet the angels rejoice when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10).

While angels are at work in the affairs of man they work behind the scenes. Just as we have a soul and spirit that are not seen by the naked eye (II Cor. 4:16-18), nevertheless they have real existence, so also do angels exist and work out God’s providence. Both Daniel (Dan. 10:10-21) and John (Rev. 12:1-17) describe events which seem to indicate that unseen forces are at work behind the scenes of events transpiring in this world. None of these passages teach that what is happening overpowers the will of man so that he is helpless to act in any fashion but freely. The Bible clearly teaches that if we resist the devil he will flee from us (James 4:7).

There is much more that could be said about angels from God’s word. There is much that could be correctly deduced from the teaching of the Bible about angels. There is even more that could be imagined that is not found in the Bible, either explicitly or by implication and there has been no shortage of such imagination. We must be careful when dealing with such an issue to not read into the teaching of the Bible something that is not there.

Eric L. Padgett

TRUTH

I have often wondered in amazement how so many people are strangers to the truth. Perhaps it is because truth sometimes hurts and some people cannot endure the pain it causes. Perhaps it is because some people have a hidden agenda. Perhaps it is because they are afraid it might condemn someone they love, or themselves. Perhaps it is because they have been conditioned to believe a certain way by their upbringing. Perhaps it is because they just do not reason correctly. Some people are honestly mistaken while others purposefully deceive others and themselves.

It matters not what the subject may be, many people simply believe what they want to in spite of the truth. In sports, I have seen people disagree over a call by an official and see something that was not there, always, it seems, siding with their preferred team. In politics, some people believe a certain thing to be true in spite of the evidence. In history, some people believe certain events to have happened, when they really did not. In science, some people believe that something is so when it is not possible for them to know. Sadly, the same thing happens in religion.

The reason for people being so divorced from the truth is not because the truth cannot be known. Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth” (John 8:32; cf. Gen. 42:6). God has endowed man with the capacity to reason (Is. 1:18) and we have the full capability to comprehend the physical world by our senses. Further, if truth could not be known, then we couldn’t even know that truth could not be known, if truth could not be known. Agnosticism is a miserable, self-defeating, ignorant philosophy. Truth can be known and it sets us free (John 8:32).

A dishonest man runs from the truth unless it advances his cause. A dishonest man will not engage in an honest dialogue with someone because he is afraid that his point of view will be challenged. A dishonest man will use all sorts of tactics to avoid answering questions, like ridicule or jesting or theatrics. An honest man has nothing to fear from the truth because he is willing to go where ever the truth leads him. An honest and good man places a premium on knowing what is right and true so that he can do what is right and true.

The Bible tells us to buy the truth and sell it not (Prov. 23:23). We should treat truth as a precious, hidden treasure (Prov. 2:2-4). It is as a pearl of great price and the Lord teaches us that we should sell all that we have to buy that truth (Matt. 13:44-46). God wants all men to come to a knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4) and those who do not hold the truth as valuable will one day be damned because they received not the truth in love (II Thess. 2:12).

It is the devil that deals in lies (John 8:44). From the beginning he was a murderer and abode not in the truth. When he speaks, he speaks a lie for he is a liar and the father of lies. Those who do not like the truth are aligning themselves perfectly with the doomed company of the devil. The devil handles the word of God deceitfully (II Cor. 4:2). If a preacher or Christian purposefully mishandles the truth then they side with the devil and will receive the devil’s reward (Matt. 25:41).

God, on the other hand, is a God of truth (Ex. 34:6; Deut. 32:4; Psalm 31:5). Since God created all things, reality, both physical and spiritual, is what it is. Just as God is the God of the material world, He is also God of the spiritual realm. Spiritual truths are just as certain and ungetoverable as are the material ones. We can no more escape spiritual truth and reality than we can escape material truth and reality.

Jesus is the way the truth and the life (John 14:6). Jesus was full of grace and truth and grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (John 1:14,17). The Spirit of truth guided the apostles into all truth (John 16:13) and they manifested that truth through their speaking and writing and lives (II Cor. 4:2). We must obey that truth, the gospel, in order to be saved from our sins (Eph. 1:13). We must rejoice in the truth (I Cor. 13:6). If we are going to worship God at all we must worship Him in truth, that is according to His commandments (John 4:24). We are sanctified through the truth (John 17:17) and we are begotten, purified and saved by it (James 1:18; I Pet. 1:22; I Tim. 2:4).

We ought to love the truth so much that we can say with Paul, “For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth” (Corinthians 13:8).

Eric L. Padgett