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The Christian and the World

Jesus prayed to the Father:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric L. Padgett

Some Reflections on Prayer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric L. Padgett

Practical Suggestions For Worship

Worship is an important and necessary part of the Christian’s life. However, some Christians complain that they don’t get anything out of worship. We must remember that worship is not primarily for us, but for the Lord. But here some basic, practical suggestions to make worship mean something to us, too,

First, get some sleep and be rested for the morning worship and Bible study. It is hard to worship God and study God’s word when you are struggling to keep your eyes open (Matt. 26:40,41). There are so many distractions in our lives these days and many of them are very important. But there are none as important as obeying the Lord and worshiping Him. We make certain we get our rest when we know we have to go work. How could the Lord’s work and worship be any less important?

Second, don’t bring your family problems to worship. If your mind is on your disagreement with your wife or husband or on the children’s behavior, then it is going to be difficult to meditate on your worship to God. The same is true of any other problem that you may be facing (Matt. 5:22-24; 6:33,34).

Third, don’t become distracted with the internet or Facebook or texting while worshiping God. Our technology today can be a great blessing. Many people use a Bible app on their phone (Heb. 12:1,2). However, there are also many temptations available to the person who uses their phone this way. There is always a temptation to read your mail or look at Facebook or some other site instead of focusing on the subject of the lesson. If you must use a phone Bible app, make an effort to not become distracted.

There is also a benefit to carrying a Bible to church and Bible study. Carrying a Bible allows people to know where you are going when they see you lave your house. It is a simple but effective way to be an example to others.

Fourth, know what you are going to wear to services Sunday morning before Sunday morning gets here. If possible, lay out the clothes you are going to wear to services on Sunday the night before, so that you will not be in a rush to try and find something that fits or that is clean. And wear clothes that are fitting to the occasion of worshiping the God of heaven. This will also increase your sense of worship and awe before the Lord.

Fifth, follow the song leader as he leads the songs. Don’t try to lead from the pew. Keep in time and follow his lead (I Cor. 14:33,40).

Sixth, while good singing can be very pleasing to the ear, the song service is not for your entertainment. It is for the worship of Almighty God. Sing enthusiastically as if you were before His throne because you are! When you sing, understand what you are singing (I Cor. 14:15,26).

Seventh, if you know the subject of the class, be prepared. If there is any scripture reading given in advance, have it read before you get to the building. If your children have Bible class work to be done, help them get it done before the class begins.

Finally, keep your children off the electronic devices while worshiping. While having them play games on a tablet may keep them quiet, it does not teach them the importance of worship. It is o.k. if your children become restless during services. You can correct that through discipline. But they must learn from an early age the importance of worshiping God (Prov. 22:6).

Eric L. Padgett

THE HEART

In the Bible, the heart is the controlling center of man. Every action–mental, physical and spiritual–can be said to have its origin in the heart. Imagination (Gen. 8:21), consideration (Deut. 4:39), thought (Esther 6:6), speech (Deut. 9:4), the ability to be deceived (Deut. 11:16), sorrows (Lev. 26:16), hatred (Lev. 19:17), love (Deut. 30:2), discouragement (Num. 32:7), stubbornness (Deut. 2:30), gladness (Psalm 16:9) and every other emotion or action starts in the heart of man. Therefore, the heart is very important.

There is a view that has currency in the denominational world that says that man is so totally depraved that in order to be redeemed it takes God’s Spirit working directly on his heart to make the change. But is this what the Bible teaches? The following are a few great statements made in the Bible about the heart of man that also expose this view as erroneous.

First of all, Jeremiah does state that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). However, Jeremiah is not saying that the heart of man is depraved or sinful at birth. The Bible is clear that children are innocent and, thus, their hearts pure (cf. Matt. 18:1-3; Jer. 18:). However, being free moral agents we do seem to have a general tendency to do that which is contrary to God’s will. That is why God destroyed the world in the flood because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and every imagination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

But that the heart of man is not depraved and in need of a direct operation of the Holy Spirit is seen in the fact that when we obey the gospel we obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17). One could not obey from the heart if the heart was totally depraved. Again, David was a man after God’s own heart (). During the Mosaic dispensation, before the New Covenant, men and women gave freely from the heart (cf. Ex. 35:21,26,29). The heart is not depraved but we do have a propensity toward disobedience.

In the second place, the fool says in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1). This is understandable when you consider the fact that “a fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself” (Proverbs 18:2). The foolish heart cannot see the greater picture, all it sees is its own self. The fool is a fool because he allows his foolish heart to be darkened and thus reject God (Rom. 1:21). However, not everyone is foolish enough to deny God (cf. Psalm 19:1). The implication is that if we do not deny the Lord we are not fools and this means that our hearts can chose to accept the evidence and believe it.

Third, the Lord looks upon the heart of man to judge him (I Sam. 16:7). Again, God could not do this if man’s heart was totally depraved. There would be no need to look on a man’s heart for his heart would already be known to be depraved and wicked. But when God looks at a man, He looks directly into the heart of man and knows just who and what that man is. Every way of man is right in his own eyes, but the Lord considers man’s heart (Prov. 21:2).

Fourth, we are able to control how our hearts work. Paul said, “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12). If we are able to take heed and avoid this evil heart of unbelief, then it cannot be totally depraved. The wise man said “Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life” (Prov. 4:23). Just as our physical hearts are protected by a rib cage, we can protect our moral heart by building up defenses around it.

Finally, Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matt. 6:21). We are free to choose what we value most in life. We can choose to value spiritual things, heavenly things over material things. This would not be possible if our hearts were depraved and needed a direct operation of the Spirit of God.

The heart of man is not sinful. We chose how we want our hearts to be. “Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart” (Psalm 73:1). Therefore, “cleanse your hands ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded” (James 4:8). Indeed, “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit (Psalm 34:18).

Eric L. Padgett

My Peace I Give Unto You

Before Jesus left this earth He told His apostles, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Later Jesus told them “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus promised peace to His apostles. Just what did this mean?

Every year around Christmas, certain local companies put up signs quoting Luke chapter two declaring “Peace On Earth” and “Good Will Toward Men” (Luke 2:13,14) Most people take this to mean that the Lord is going to literally bring peace to this earth and that nations will no longer rise in war with one another. Bing Crosby and David Bowie famously sing together about a time when men will live in peace again, the day of glory. But is this what Jesus was describing?

Certainly it will not be denied that as Christians we enjoy blessings that no others do. All spiritual blessings are in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 1:3). Peace is among those spiritual blessings afforded Christians (Gal. 5:21-23). We are allowed to partake of the divine nature having escaped the pollutions that are in the world through lust (II Pet. 1:4). The Lord of peace Himself gives us peace always by all means (II Thess. 3:16).

Indeed, there is a peace that passeth all understanding (Phil. 4:7). It is the kind of peace that allowed Paul and Silas to sing in the face of persecution (Acts 16). In nearly everyone of his epistles, the apostle Paul began by addressing the letter with “grace and peace from God the Father” (cf. I Cor. 1:3; II Cor. 1:2; Gal. 1:3; Eph. 1:2; Phil 1:2; Col.1:2; I Thess. 1:1; II Thess. 1:2, etc.). We are enjoined to follow peace with all men (Heb. 12:14) and live peaceably with all men, as much as lieth in us (Rom. 12:18).

But this calmness of soul and lack of conflict with our fellow man derives from a deeper source of peace. Before we can have any real, meaningful peace of mind, we must first have peace with God. In describing the sinful condition of man Paul quoted Isaiah and affirmed that the way of peace we have not known (Rom. 3:17; Is. 59:7,8). Both Jew and Gentile fall under this condemnation for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). This puts us at enmity with God (Rom. 8:7; 5:10).

But Jesus is our peace and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us–that is, between man and God (Eph. 2:14). The middle wall of partition refers to the curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place in the tabernacle and in the temple (Ex. 26:31-33). The ark of the testimony with the mercy seat was in the most holy place (Ex. 26:34).

Thus, the most holy place, or the holy of holies, represented Heaven and God’s throne (Heb. 9:24) and no one but the High Priest could go in and approach God (Heb. 9:7). Now, Jesus, our High Priest, has broken down that wall so that the way into the holiest of all has been made available by our forerunner, providing us a sure and steadfast hope (Heb. 9:8; 10:19; 6:18-20). By His own blood He entered once into the holy place having obtained eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:11,12).

Therefore, Christ has slain the enmity and reconciled both Jew and Gentile unto God in one body by the cross, so making peace (Eph. 2:14-17). God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself (II Cor. 5:19). Being the Prince of Peace He came and preached peace with and reconciliation to God. Peace always comes after belief in and obedience to the Lord (cf. Luke 8:42, 8:48). Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1).

Yes, the world may be able to give a temporary cessation of conflict, but it cannot give the kind of true, lasting, inner peace that the Lord gives. The world has tribulation; Jesus gives peace. The world will continue to have conflict and it will only get worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13). Because we have been reconciled to the Father and because Christ has redeemed us by the blood of His cross, we can have peace with God and our fellow man. No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.

Eric L. Padgett

Count It All Joy

It was midnight, though they could not tell what time it was where they were. Their ankles were secured and legs stretched out so that their bodies were forced to lie uncomfortably on their backs on the cold, damp prison floor. This damp floor was found in the inner prison where no natural light could find its way. The air was foul and still, reeking with the odors of the other prisoners before them, for they were cut off from fresh air as well as light. Their bodies undoubtedly still stung from the severe beating they had taken not long before their confinement.

Many men might break under these conditions if they had to endure them for very long. Their spirits would be broken. But Paul and Silas not only endured these conditions but bore under them with an amazingly supernatant attitude. Whatever sounds may have filled the prison–moaning or crying, the seeping of water from the walls and floors, or the sounds of a rat chewing in the corner–new sounds would be heard. Paul and Silas broke into these old sounds with the new and surprising sounds of prayer and praise (Acts 16:22-25).

Paul and Silas had an abiding joy that allowed them to endure such circumstances with cheer. But where does the source of that kind of joy originate? David said, “Let all those that put their trust in Thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because Thou defendest them: let them also that love Thy name be joyful in Thee” (Psalm 5:11). The one thing that the child of God knows is that God is on his side. And if God be for us, who can be against us (Rom. 8:31)? That knowledge should bring confidence, peace and joy.

God being on our side means that He has provided amply for us. We have great joy because He has provided for us the atonement (Rom. 5:11). When we know what that entails, what the cost of it was for the Lord and what the cost of it would be for us if He had not, then our hearts ought to be overwhelmed with the greatest joy, with a joy unspeakable and full of glory (I Pet. 1:6-11). The Lord, Himself, provides for us our pattern of joy in the face of trials.

The Lord faced the greatest of all trials. Not only was He despised, oppressed, rejected and afflicted, but He suffered one of the most excruciating and humiliating deaths the world has ever devised (Is. 53). He endured the cross and endured the contradiction of sinners against Himself yet He did it for the joy that was set before Him, though He despised the shame (Heb. 12:1-3). How could the Lord have joy in the face of these trials? Because He knew the Lord was at His right hand and as long as that was the case He could not be moved (Psalm 16:8,9).

No matter what we face in life, as long as the Lord is with us, or, rather, as long as we are with the Lord, we know that we will reap joy. David said even when walking through the valley of the shadow of death, we know that God is with us (Psalm 23). One set of footprints in he sand only means the Lord has carried us through. For the child of God, weeping may endure for the night, but joy is sure to come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). The promise of God is that they that sow in tears shall reap in joy (Psalm 126:5).

That is how Paul and Silas were able to face such harsh conditions with such a cheerful disposition. We may not always have the best in this life. Jesus had not a place to lay His head but He looked forward to the joy that was set before Him at the right hand of God. We, too, can take joyfully the spoiling of our goods knowing that in heaven we have a better and an enduring substance (Heb. 10:34). Therefore, we have need of patience, that after we have done the will of God, we might inherit the promises (Heb. 10:36).

As long as we serve the Lord and walk before Him in righteousness we can know joy for in His presence is the fulness of joy (Psalm 16:11). When the Lord presents us faultless before His presence it will be with great joy (Jude 24). Therefore, “count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations, knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).

Eric L. Padgett

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