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He Treads Above The Wite-Capped Waves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric L. Padgett

ANGER: An Historical Survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric L. Padgett

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

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

What Is Man?

The Psalmist asked the question “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4). David posed this question when considering all of God’s creation against the apparent insignificance of man. When one considers all of creation, what is minuscule man that God is mindful of him? And yet God has blessed man with a greatness no other part of creation knows. This, in turn, glorifies God by showing His great power. Yet the question can stand apart from this approach and deserves an answer in and of itself.

So, what is man? This is an important question not only because David asked it but also because many today do not seem to understand who or what man is or have forgotten it or don’t care. But without a proper understanding of who man is or what the role of man is, satan can easily pervert those roles and corrupt both society and the church. In order to stop this corruption, we have to understand man as God designed him and defend God’s design boldly and openly.

First of all, man is a created being (Gen. 1:26). Man is not the product of millions of years of evolution, nor of chance mutations (Gen. 2:1,2; Ex. 20:11). Man was specially and purposefully created and designed by God (Psalm 139:14). There can be no harmony between the Bible’s historical account of creation and man’s speculation about origins that involve gradual change over time from simple to complex creatures. Not only does evolution and naturalism conflict with the biblical account of creation, it is intuitively contrary to reason. How can something come from nothing, as naturalistic evolution demands?

If evolution is true and man is nothing but a chance arrangement of atoms and molecules, and a series of genetic mistakes, then there is nothing special about man at all. If man is no different than a can of soup chemically, then a snail might well be just as important as a human baby or the elderly or any other person not deemed productive to society. If evolution is true why not kill unwanted babies, let the elderly die and euthanize the weak and feeble of society. But is this not what is happening in our own society or at least being advocated? These attempts either derive from a lack of understanding that man is a created being or are knowingly pushed in order to confuse man’s understanding.

Second, man is created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). This makes man special. No other creature was made in the image of God and all other creatures were created for man’s benefit (Gen. 1:18-20). God has given man dominion over all other living things (Gen. 1:28) and as long as man is a good steward of that which God has given him, he is free to do what he wants with that creation (James 3:7; Psalm 8:6-8). No animal, insect or plant will ever be more important than any single man or group of men and yet satan, through liberals, attempts to get man to accept just that kind of erroneous thinking.

Because man is created in the image of God life is therefore both sacred and of inestimable value. The universal condemnation of wrongfully taking an innocent human life in the act of murder is ultimately predicated upon the central truth that man is created in God’s image (Gen. 9:6). Abortion is the taking of an innocent human life for no other better reason than that it gets in the way of the mother or father. Euthanasia is the taking of innocent human life for the honorable goal of reducing human suffering but it disregards the sacredness of life created in the image of God.

Third, when God created man He created him male and female (Gen. 1:27). Therefore, there are two genders and only two genders. There are two sexes and only two sexes. The attempt to try to make “gender” something different than “sex” is merely an attempt to blur the roles God has assigned to men and women. Face book apparently now offers at least 51 “genders” from which to chose when you sign up for their service. This perversion of what is obvious by nature and manifest by revelation is a travesty. It is nothing other than an attempt of the devil to break down the role of male and female and thus to break down the institution of the home (Gen. 2:18-25).

Knowing who man is and what he is is vitally important for the continuation of a moral and beneficial society. It is also essential for carrying out the work of God in the Lord’s church. There are many working for satan who would willingly pervert God’s design with regard to man’s nature and his role in God’s plan. They are not shy about perverting God’s designs and are tireless in their efforts and we must meet their energy with an even greater zeal for the truth.

“For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour” (Psalm 8:5).

Eric L. Padgett

When God Became A Man

What is the greatest event in the history of mankind? Could there be any greater event in our history than when God became a man? The creation surely would be a contender, when God brought into existence, from nothing, the whole of creation merely by commanding it (Gen. 1:3; Psalm 148:5). The resurrection would also vie for a place as the greatest event in our history because it secures for us the possibility of salvation and eternal life. But if creating life is not the geatest then resurrecting it would not be either.

But when the everlasting, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator humbled Himself, made Himself of no reputation, made Himself in the likeness of men and then became “obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:5-11), an infinite gulf between God and man was bridged. In ancient days, the people of Shinar tried to build a tower to reach heaven, but they could never have bridged the gap (Gen. 11:1-9). God does not dwell in temples made with hands (Acts 17:24) and flesh and blood cannot enter into heaven (I Cor. 15:50). Man could never reach God but God could reach down to man.

In Christ dwelt all the fulness of the godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). Jesus was Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:23). He was made of a woman in the likeness of sinful flesh (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 8:3). When Philip asked the Lord to show them the Father, Jesus responded “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known Me, Philip? he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father” (John 14:8,9). God was manifest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16). He was the Word who was with God and was God (John 1:1-3) Who was made flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14).

Can you imagine? When the disciples sat with Jesus, they were sitting with the Creator of all things! John wrote, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life” (I John 1:1). They held the Creator in their arms! When they broke bread with Him, they were eating with the Bread of Life. When that disciple whom Jesus loved lay on Jesus’ breast (John 13:23), he was leaning on the breast of the Son of God. What closeness the Creator has with His creation! What love was shown.

The God of the Bible is not some mythological creation which takes on an animistic form and has no fellowship with the problems of humanity. The God of the Bible is intensly interested in and and involved with man’s every concern and trial. He took on Himself flesh and blood and was subjected to the same temptations and feelings of infirmities which we, ourselves, face (Heb. 4:15). “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:4-5). The infinite, unmovable, omniscient and omnipotent God suffered that He might make reconciliation of us unto Himself (Heb. 2:14-18; II Cor. 5:17-21).

The Lord did not distance Himself from man. Jesus could reach out and touch the unclean leper. He could touch the eyes of the blind and give them sight. He could heal the lame and restore thier bent, broken bodies. He could put His fingers in the ears of the deaf and cause them to hear. He allowed Himself to be rejected, spit upon, humiliated, scourged, mocked and crucified. “For God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16).

There are no words, no language on earth that can fully capture the glory of this great, unspeakable gift (II Cor. 9:14). “As it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9). “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). My mind desperately struggles to comprehend, to grasp this act which is both at once omnipotent and incredibly humble.

The almighty, eternal, all-knowing creator of all things became as a worm that He might save me, a worm (Psalm 22:6; Job 25:6)! “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (I John 4:9). There can be no greater historical event than this.

Eric L. Padgett

A New Year? Not Really

We are never given the promise of another day or of another year. James tells us we do not know what the morrow may bring (James 4:14). As the song we sometimes sing says, it may be “shadow or sunshine or rain.” Every day, then, is a precious gift; every moment a precious treasure. Instead of wasting our time on frivolous, vacuous activities, we ought to redeem the time (Eph. 5:16). We should remember just how short our time really is (Psalm 89:47).

David wrote:

LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am. Behold, thou hast made my days as an handbreadth; and mine age is as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity. Selah. (Psalm 39:4,5).

The book of Job tells us that man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble (Job 14:1). Our days are swifter than a post (courier) because they flee away (Job 9:25) and our life is as the wind (Job 7:7). How many of us have said, “Where has the time gone?” because time seems so fleeting. Life races past us and before we know it our hair is gray and our back is bowed and our life full of years. Our life is as a tale that is told (Psalm 90:9).

In most cases, time is not our ally. If we are not given the promise of another day, then we certainly do not have the promise of another year. Unlike king Hezekiah, we don’t have the assurance of another year much less fifteen (II Kings 20:6). But most of the time we do not act like it. We act as if time doesn’t matter, as if we have an over abundance of time, till, suddenly, one day, it does matter. Some people don’t fix the hole in their roof when it is not raining because they do not need to and when it is raining they can’t fix it. That is the way many treat time. Rather we need to learn to number our days so that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom (Psalm 90:12).

It is always a wise practice to make plans for the future. But those plans must be tempered with a knowledge that we do not know whether we will be able to bring them to fruition or not. We should have the attitude which James described: “If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that” (James 4:15).

A new year has started but we do not know what it will bring. We only have this moment. Every day we wake is a new start for us. Every moment is a chance for a new beginning. As long as we have the breath of life our hearts can beat with the hope of a new beginning. We must redeem the time and use it wisely.

One day, after we have bravely crossed the ocean of time, we will come to the shores of eternity where time shall be no more. There we will face the destiny we have stored away for ourselves by the actions we have taken in this life. Until that day, we should live each moment for the Lord.

Eric L. Padgett

Additional on the Law in the Mind

By my own estimation, my last blog entry was weak and perhaps confusing. It was confusing not because it was in error necessarily (or so I believe) but because it tried to cover too much and became, I am ashamed to say, incoherent. This entry will try to put into a more coherent order the points I wanted to make last week.

First, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant are identical as to their nature but not their particulars. In other words, because both are covenants from God they both have commands that need to be obeyed (Deut. 13:4; John 14:15). Disobedience to those commands brings God’s displeasure and punishment (Deut. 11:27,28; II Thess. 1:6-8). The particular commands of the Old Covenant are different than the particular commands under the New Covenant, but disobedience to the Old Covenant Law resulted in God’s displeasure just as disobedience to the New Covenant Law brings God’s displeasure.

Second, as we saw last week, God has always required the involvement of the heart in His service. The fact that Abraham was justified by faith, should be enough to prove this point. But, in addition to the points made last week, we could point out that Moses said that if the children of Israel sought the Lord with all their heart and soul, they could find Him (Deut. 4:29). God’s commandments and words were to be in their heart (Deut. 6:6). God gave warning that strange wives were not to be taken that turned their hearts from the Lord (Deut. 17:17). The word was to be in their mouth and in their heart to do it (Deut. 30:14). Joshua commanded the people to serve the Lord with all their heart (Josh. 22:5), to put away the strange gods and incline their heart unto the Lord (Josh. 24:23). Worship was to be with the whole heart (Psalm 9:1).

On and on this list could go but it is clear that, although perhaps not always practiced by many Jews, the Old Covenant required obedience from the heart. Commentators often casually pass over this or see it only as something which might occasionally manifest itself in the bosom of some extraordinarily righteous person. But this was a command central to the Law (Deut. 6:4-6; 11:16-22; 32:46; cf. Num. 20:12). The fact that many Jews may not have kept the law apart in their heart or loved the Lord with all their heart and soul does not negate the fact that the Lord required it. The fact is, many under the New Covenant do not hide the law of God in their hearts (cf. e.g. I Thess. 2:4; 3:13; Heb. 3:8,12; 4:7, 12; James 1:26; 4:8; I Pet. 3:12). But this does not negate the fact that He now requires it.

The point here is this: The New Covenant is not different from the Old Covenant in this respect: that God’s law must be in His servant’s heart. That has always been so. Therefore, the prophecy that God would put the law into the mind and in the heart must involve something more. This prophecy (Jer. 31:31-34) that God would put the law into their hearts and minds cannot be understood apart from two other important points mentioned in the prophecy, namely: 1) that entrance into this covenant would be with knowledge and volition and, 2) the real and final forgiveness of sins was to be given.

The first point here, that entrance into this covenant would be with knowledge and volition, was established last week. I redact a quote from that entry:

A Jewish male was circumcised the eighth day of his life and that act was a sign that the child was already bound by the covenant God had made with Israel (Ex. 34:28; Gen. 17:11-14). But an eight day old baby has no knowledge or understanding of being in the covenant, either of it’s requirements or of it’s promises. As the Jewish child grew, he was then taught the covenant by his parents. This training was to be meticulous, from the time of rising in the morning till the lying down at night (Deut. 6:7-12; Ex. 12:26,27). But the instruction came after the child was already in the covenant.

Under the New Covenant, before one is ever added to the kingdom of God, he must be taught. . .Today, every person truly obeying the gospel does so willingly. It is a personal choice made out of free will. No man or woman can be coerced to be a Christian by sword or gunpoint. No one can twist your arm because obedience comes from the heart (Rom. 6:17). You do not inherit salvation from your parents (cf. Ezek. 18:20). You are not born into the kingdom of God by natural birth but by a new birth (John 3:3). This new birth is one that is out of water and the Spirit (John 3:5), or, freely and willingly obeying the Spirit’s command to be baptized (Mark 16:15,16). It is the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Pet. 3:21).

Thus one entered into the Old Covenant by natural birth, unaware of their condition and could only after becoming an adult turn their heart to God in faith. One enters the New Covenant, however, already informed and with purpose, the heart having been pricked by the word of God. (cf. Acts 2:38). But the next element of the prophecy is even more important.

Jeremiah also says that not only would God forgive sins but also forget them (Jer. 31:34). Under the Old Covenant there was a remembrance made of sins every year (Heb. 10:1-3). Not only the Day of Atonement but all through his life a person had to offer various sacrifices for sin. However, under the New Covenant there is real, complete forgiveness of sins. The blessing of the New Covenant is that those sins for which I am forgiven will never be held against me again. God forgives those sins and forgets them.

This forgiveness of sins is based upon the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There could be no complete forgiveness if there was no perfect and sufficient sacrifice. “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Hebrews 9:24-26).

Under the Old Covenant, then, you were born without choice into a covenant where sins were remembered every year. You were then taught the laws of the covenant and could follow them sincerely from the heart, but there was always the remembrance of sin. The Old Covenant left sin dangling above your head like Damocles sword, so to speak. In the Christian Dispensation, however, Christ has offered Himself for our sins. A person who hears this good news and learns of Christ and His sacrifice may willfully respond in sincere faith to that message of hope and avail himself of the blood of Christ, being forgiven of sins. Notice how Paul ties all of this together:

Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin (Hebrews 10:9-18).

Therefore, it is not just that the law is to be in our hearts, but that Christ has made a way to be forgiven, completely forgiven of sins. This makes the desire to follow His will that much more potent and gives us boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus so that we may draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith (Heb. 10:19-22).

Eric L. Padgett

I Will Put My Law Into Their Heart

A Jewish male was circumcised the eighth day of his life and that act was a sign that the child was already bound by the covenant God had made with Israel (Ex. 34:28; Gen. 17:11-14). But an eight day old baby has no knowledge or understanding of being in the covenant, either of it’s requirements or of it’s promises. As the Jewish child grew, he was then taught the covenant by his parents. This training was to be meticulous, from the time of rising in the morning till the lying down at night (Deut. 6:7-12; Ex. 12:26,27). But the instruction came after the child was already in the covenant.

Under the New Covenant, before one is ever added to the kingdom of God, he must be taught. While all men are amenable to the New Covenant (Matt. 28:18,19; Mark 16:15,16), not all are in the position to obey it. For example, a man who does not believe that Jesus is the Christ cannot obey the Lord. Nevertheless, the Lord calls all men to submit themselves to His covenant or will (II Thess. 2:14). This call comes in the form of hearing the gospel. Paul wrote, “how shall they hear without preacher…faith comes by hearing” (Rom. 10:13-15)? Of their own volition, then, men either choose to obey or reject God’s will.

In contrast, Israel was largely a reluctant, disobedient, gainsaying and stiffnecked people (Ex. 32:9; Rom. 10:21). Today, every person truly obeying the gospel does so willingly. It is a personal choice made out of free will. No man or woman can be coerced to be a Christian by sword or gunpoint. No one can twist your arm because obedience comes from the heart (Rom. 6:17). You do not inherit salvation from your parents (cf. Ezek. 18:20). You are not born into the kingdom of God by natural birth but by a new birth (John 3:3). This new birth is one that is out of water and the Spirit (John 3:5), or, freely and willingly obeying the Spirit’s command to be baptized (Mark 16:15,16). It is the answer of a good conscience toward God (I Pet. 3:21).

When Jeremiah prophesied that they “shall no more teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother saying Know the Lord: for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them” he was describing this characteristic of the new birth. The Jew had to be taught later that he was a Jew and what all that meant. But the Christian is made aware before he becomes a Christian and submits himself to God’s covenant willingly. It is true that Christians must still grow in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (II Pet. 3:18; Matt. 28:20) but they have already been born into the kingdom willingly.

Another component that needs to be seen is that those who know the Lord, in Jeremiah’s prophecy, know Him because He forgives their iniquities and remembers their sin no more (Note the word “for” in Jer. 31:34). Under the Old Covenant sins were remembered again every year (Heb. 10:1-4). But with the blood of Christ remission of sins were found even under the first covenant (Rom. 3:25; Heb. 9:15).

Now Jeremiah also wrote that God was going to write the law in the heart and in the inward parts (Jer. 31:33). We should be careful not to misunderstand this. It should not be understood here that this was going to be something entirely new. For God had already required of the Old Testament saints that they keep the word of God in their heart. When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment in the law, He did not give something new but quoted the Shema Israel (Matt. 22:34-40; Mark 12:29,30; Deut. 6:4,5). The Shema required of the Jews that they love the Lord their God with all their heart and soul.

God has always required that the saints’ heart be involved in the sincere and effectual service of Jehovah. Quite often God had said that the words of the law should be laid up in their heart. For example: “Lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul” (Deut. 11:18); “Bind them continually upon thine heart” (Prov. 6:21); “write them upon the table of thine heart” (Prov. 7:3); “the law of God is in his heart” (Psalm 37:31); “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:8); “ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law” (Is. 51:7).

Their gifts for the building of the tabernacle was to be made from items the children of Israel gave willingly from the heart (Ex. 25:1,2; Ex. 35:5). The law required that one should not hate his brother in his heart (Lev. 19:17). God through Moses warned them to guard their heart against deceit (Deut. 11:16). He warned them that if they did not serve the Lord with joyfulness and gladness that curses would come upon them (Deut. 28:45-47). David was a man after God’s own heart (I Sam. 13:14). On and on the list could go.

It is wrong, then, to understand Jeremiah’s prophecy to say that God puts His word directly in the Christian’s hearts in a way different from that under the Old Covenant. We, too, can harden our hearts just as Israel of old did (Heb. 3:8). Paul expressly warns Christian’s against an evil heart of unbelief (Heb. 3:12). If our heart-soil is not good and honest, the word will not take hold (Luke 8:15). In short, we can fall under the same condemnation Israel did if we reject His word (Heb. 4:11, 12).

Generally speaking, there was a veil on Israel’s heart to keep them from seeing the truth (II Cor. 3:13-16). They rejected Him (John 1:11). They gave Him over to wicked hands to have Him crucified and slain (Acts 2:22-24). They were stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears and always resisted the Holy Ghost (Acts 7:51).

But we have a new and living way made possible by the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19,20). Therefore, we are to draw near with a true and in full assurance of faith (Heb. 10:22). “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:14-17).

Eric L. Padgett