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What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?

What does it mean to be a Christian? All the various churches of “Christendom” call themselves “Christians,” but they all hold to distinct doctrines and beliefs, with the exception they most all believe that Jesus is the Christ. But even that view is sometimes skewed. They were all founded at different times by different people. Does being a Christian mean, then, that one can believe anything just so long as one believes that Jesus is the Christ? Is this the only doctrine that matters? Does doctrine even matter at all? What does the Bible say it means to be a Christian?

The Bible is clear that the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch (Acts 11:26). A disciple is a learner or follower or student. In this case, the followers are followers of Christ. Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). To follow Him is to hear His voice. You can’t be a follower of Jesus Christ and follow someone else’s voice.

When the Lord was transfigured before His disciples, Jesus appeared with both Moses and Elijah (Matt. 17:1-13). Moses was, of course, the great lawgiver of the Old Testament. He was chosen by God to lead the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage into the promised land. He recieved the Ten Commandments and the rest of the Old Testament from the Lord at mount Sinai (Ex. 20). On the other hand, Elijah was the great prophet of the Old Testament who challenged the false prophets of Baal (I Kings 18) and performed many great miracles. Upon seeing these great men, Peter wanted to build three tabernacles to honor all three, Moses, Elijah and Jesus. Though well intentioned, Peter was unwittingly either lowering Jesus’ stature or elevating those of Moses and Elijah.

But as those events unfolded, a voice came from heaven saying,”This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. Hear ye Him” (Matt. 17:5). When the disciples looked again, only Jesus remained. The obvious meaning of these events was to impress upon their minds that it was only Christ to whom we are to listen, no other. There is not other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). While God has spoken in divers manners in times past, in these last days He speaks to us by His Son (Heb. 1:1-3).

Jesus said the words that I speak to you, they are spirit and they are life (John 6:63). Only Jesus has the words of eternal life (John 6:66). Jesus said “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). We cannot reject Jesus’ words and expect to be recieved by the Lord in Judgment. If we add to or take from His word, then we are going to find ourselves under a very serious imprecation (Gal. 1:6-8; Rev. 22:18,19; cf. Prov. 30:5.6). We must hear His voice and hear His words.

As students or disciples, we listen to the teaching of our Master. Jesus said, if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Teaching is doctrine. When we follow our Master’s teaching, we follow His doctrine. If we do not follow His teaching, we do not follow His doctrine. But “whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (II John 1:9).

Does it matter if we get something wrong? Is the Lord going to hold us accountable for breaking even the smallest jot ot tittle (Matt. 5:18)? Jesus said,

“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:21-27).

The Lord said not just everyone is going to be accepted. Only those that do the will of God. How can one do the will of God if one does not know it? How can one know it, if one does not study it, and understand it, and follow it? Those things which the Lord taught He gave to the apostles and told them to go and teach all nations (Mark 16:15,16; Matt. 28:18). Notice, in Mark’s account he says the “gospel” must be taught. But Matthew says that this is “all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The gospel, then, is everything that the Lord commanded us through the apostles and if we teach any other gospel, then we will be accursed (Gal. 1:6-8).

We have in the New Testament what the apostles received of the Lord. Paul said, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand, by which ye are also saved” (I Corinthians 15:1,2). All scripture is given by inspiration and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (I Tim. 3:16). The apostles were guided into all truth and had all things brought to their remembrance that the Lord told them (John 14:26; 16:13).

To be a Christian then is to follow all the teachings of the Lord. The division of the religious world is not acceptable to the Lord (I Cor. 1:10). We urge all to throw away all human doctrines and traditions and creeds and accept only the doctrine of Christ as taught in the New Testament.

Eric L. Padgett

The Beauty of Family

God created the institution of the family (Gen. 2:18ff). Nothing God created could ever be ugly or bad as long as it continues to function as God created it. Moses affirmed that all that God had made was “very good” (Gen. 1:31). The core of the family is the male husband and the female wife. Paul described the relationship between the husband and wife as a “mystery” (Eph. 5:32). The underlying Greek word “musterion” might be translated something like a “plan.” Marriage, therefore, is the great plan by God for the propagation of the human race and for the spiritual, mental and physical development of all members in that family and, consequently, society. Destroy the family, and society follows after.

God’s command to the man and woman at creation was to “be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” (Gen. 1:28). Children, then, are an integral part of God’s plan for the family. “Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate” (Psalm 127:3-5). “Children’s children are the crown of old men” (Prov. 17:6).

It used to be that large families were quite normal. Now “feminism” and other left-leaning ideologies have polluted our culture and poisoned the minds of many as to what the roles of men and women are in the home and in society. Indeed, attempts are currently being made by the left to destroy the very concepts of male and female. America and the world has been sickened by this poison which is promoted daily on television, radio and in print and in the schools. The antidote to cure this sickness is to infuse back into the church and the nation biblical principles of identity, family governance and authority.

It is the responsibility of the parents to bring up their own children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:3). In every facet of life, fathers bear the responsibility to diligently instruct their children in the word of the Lord (Deut. 6:6,7). Mothers are also responsible for the rearing of the children in the way of the Lord (II Tim. 3:14,15; 1:5). When these instructions and this guidance fail, the child’s future is imperiled and the family is destabilized. Obedience to parental guidance, blesses the child and, generally, ensures a long and prosperous life (Prov. 1:8,9; Ex. 20:12; Eph. 6:1,2). Disobedience to one’s parents is a recipe for personal, social and spiritual doom.

Love is the powerful bond that holds the family together. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). A man, a husband, should love his wife even to the point of giving his life for hers, just as Christ did for the church. There is no greater love than this (John 15:13). The Christian’s love never fails (I Cor. 13:1-8). A husband is to love his wife as his own body (Eph. 5:28). The love between the husband and wife must be this kind of love in order for the family to prosper and endure as it should.

Children are to be obedient to their parents (Eph. 6:1,2). When children are taught the truth correctly, they grow up to be faithful all of their lives (Prov. 20:6). There really is no better, more satisfying life than the Christian life (John 10:10). Those that trust in the Lord find a life of contentment, happiness and peace. It not only has blessings in this life, but especially in the world to come (Mark 10:30). Good, obedient children make productive, serious adults. Productive, serious adults result in a productive, stable society.

It is in the family that wonderful memories are made and character is built. Nothing is more precious than quality time spent together, forming lasting memories of good times. The special times between a husband and wife draw them closer and bring them to better understand one another. The parent’s time with their children is not only an investment in their own legacy but also a foundation being laid for their child’s spiritual, moral and physical development. These times don’t have to be particularly exotic or different. They can just be time spent in one another’s company at dinner discussing the issues of the day or after dinner playing games. It does not matter much what it is. The key is time spent together doing things together.

It is not a coincidence that one of the ways in which God’s people are described is in terms of a “family” (Eph. 3:15). God is the Father and we are His children (Matt. 6:9). We are brothers and sisters in Christ (Heb. 3:1; Luke 8:21). As a family we share each other’s burdens, and pains and sorrows (Gal. 6:2). We weep with those that weep and rejoice with them that rejoice (Rom. 12:15). When one member suffers, they all suffer; when one is honored, all are (I Cor. 12:26). We are honest with one another and try to resolve our differences, when they arise (Eph. 4:25,26).

The Christian family is a safe and sacred place, a haven of rest for the weary soul, a covert from the storm. It is an island of safety in a tempestuous sea and a strong and impregnable fortress of against the enemies of the light and all that is good. It is a fountain of life and hope for the weak and weary and a tree of life for the hungry and thirsty soul. It is simply a foretaste of heaven.

A beautiful thing is the family.

A Pilgrim’s Journey

Life has been described in many ways by poets and scribes and philosophers and seers. All seem to agree that one of the ways to think about life is as a journey. On a journey, one begins at a certain place and ends up, possibly, in another. One begins a journey with a certain amount of baggage, or a lack thereof, and ends up with either more or less. There are sights to be seen and people and places and things to be experienced and things to do. Obstacles and challenges are met along the way. All of these things, and more, shape our character and transform us, for either good or bad, in one way or another, as we travel down the highways and byways of life.

The Bible teaches that if life is a journey, then our path must take us on a course that leads higher and upward. Heaven is our goal. Abraham confessed that he was but a stranger and pilgrim in the earth, seeking a country which lay beyond the borders of this mundane globe and which bore the landmarks of a higher plane, for he “looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:13-16). It is a far better city and far better country than this old world has to offer and it is in the kingdom that cannot be moved (Heb. 12:28).

That city is a wondrous place where the streets are of transparent gold and its twelve gates are each of singular pearls and the whole of it like precious jewels, clear as crystal. It is a place where death and pain, sorrow and crying and tears and sin no longer molest the righteous soul and all things are new and bright (Rev. 21:4,5). That city shines with a wondrous glow that comes from being bathed in the glorious light of God’s holy Presence (Rev. 21:11).

There are many roads to travel in this life that lead to many destinations. Some of these places may be pleasant and even noble in and of themselves, but they can never be our final destination. There is only one way to the Heavenly City. All other roads lead to perdition and destruction. The way of man is not in him, it is not in man that walketh to direct his own steps (Jer. 10:23). That one Way is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Way and the only way to the Father (John 14:6).

The way to that heavenly country is straight and narrow and, sadly, few there be that find it (Matt. 5:). If you find yourself on a path in life that is busy and well traveled, bustling with the restless and noisy crowd, rest assured you are on the wrong path. It may be a smooth path, with no hills or hardships and it may offer every kind of comfort and excitement that this present world can offer, but it is most assuredly the wrong path. Jesus said the path that leads to heaven is straight and narrow and frought with challenges and dangers. That is why there are relatively very few that find it.

On any journey, especially a long one, it is possible to get lost. Sometimes we take a wrong turn and head down the wrong road. We can easily loose sight of our goal if we are not careful and diligent. It is very hard in such cases to admit that we have lost our way. It takes humility and courage to admit that one is lost and strength and honor to turn around and get back on the right path. Sometimes we must stop and get our bearings and maybe even ask for directions.

There are some, however, who never intend on following the straight and narrow path. They want the excitement and fascination of the broad, loud, and vulgar way that can only lead to destruction. They want to travel every back alley and sample the wares of every dive. They are bewitched by the dazzling shows and the flickering lights of the demons of the broad way. Their eyes are shut and their ears closed and their hearts hardened to the dangers that lie before them and to the warnings offered by those who have traveled that way before only to find empty promises and heartaches. And in the end, eternal death.

So as you journey through this life, chose wisely which road you follow. Keep your eye on the goal. Stay alert. Watch and pray. Follow the highway called the Way of Holiness (Is. 35:8). Call on the Father Who will judge every man according to his works and pass the time of your sojourning here in fear (I Pet. 1:17). “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11).

Eric L. Padgett

Putting Zeal Back Into Our Worship

Let it be understood at the outset that the worship I am contemplating here is scriptural worship. Jesus said that those who worship God must do so in truth (John 4:24). By this He meant it must be scriptural or according to the revealed pattern (Heb. 8:4,5). Anything less than this is already vain worship (Matt. 15:9). If you are engaging in unscriptural worship practices, you may feel satisfied, at least for now, but God is neither glorified nor pleased. That is not even under consideration here. We are dealing here only with scriptural worship.

Having said that, another aspect of true worship about which Jesus spoke is worshiping in spirit. To worship in spirit is to worship with the right moral attitude and with the proper emotional response. In the worship of Jehovah, the heart and spirit must be actively engaged. Sometimes in the courses of our lives, we may grow calloused and our worship may become commonplace to us or mundane. It may become old hat or just a matter of going through the motions. It is then that we must try to rekindle the fire of our first love (Rev. 2:4).

In this article, let me presume to make some practical suggestions that may rekindle the fiery flame of zeal in our worship.

Get a good night’s rest
I think I would list this as the most important thing you can do individually to maximize your own worship. So many times people come to worship and Bible study only to use it as a place to sleep. (I confess that I have struggled with this problem at times.) I realize that in our day and age we become so exhausted because of work and family activities. But we need to make a very serious and conscious effort to find a way to truly rest and sleep before coming to worship.

I know how hard it is sometimes to stay awake, especially if the speaker is flat or dry. But while a gifted speaker will try and make his sermon interesting, as long as he is speaking the truth, that is the most important thing and deserves to be heard. I also know many people have medical problems that could affect their ability to stay awake. Even taking a short nap just before coming to services would help greatly in staying awake and lucid. A lot of the time, however, the attitude of the listener affects the way the speaker is heard. The listener often prejudges the speaker and shuts down emotionally and cognitively before the lesson is even had a chance to develop.

On one occasion, the apostles Peter, James and John fell asleep when Jesus asked them in His most trying hour to watch with Him. When He came back and found them asleep, He asked them this pertinent question: “What, could ye not watch with Me one hour” (Matt. 26:40)? That is a question we should ask ourselves. It would do well to remember Paul’s admonition: “And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Romans 13:11). Many places stand to sing the song just before the sermon. This helps to get the blood flowing and rejuvenates the worshiper some before sitting to hear a sermon.

Let Your Devotion Be Centered On God and Not Yourself
Worship services are not for our entertainment. God did not command worship so that we could be amused or awestruck by the activities. Worshiping God means offering our praise and adoration of Him. It is a solemn, holy occasion. David said, “But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple” (Psalm 5:7). Again, David wrote, “Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name; worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2). And again, “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy (Psalm 99:5). Worship is not about us. It is all about God.

Make sure there are no hindrances to your worshiping God
Another problem we sometimes face is that we bring the rest of our problems with us when we come to worship and they preoccupy our minds so that we cannot concentrate clearly. Are you thinking about what you will have to eat later? Are you thinking about work, friends, your upcoming vacation, etc.? Does a problem with a brother or sister cloud your thinking during worship? Take care of this problem first before you come to worship lest your worship be hindered (Matt. 5:23,24).

Get your wardrobe ready the night before
This has been a practice of mine for many years. Instead of waiting till Sunday morning to rush around to try to find matching clothes that are not in the laundry, find your clothes the night before and have them ready. This will save a lot of time and will allow to think about expressing your attitude in worship with the way you dress. If we think about dressing appropriate to the occasion, perhaps the Lord will not ask “Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless” (Matthew 22:12).

Have your lessons ready for Bible class
If you take the time to go through your Bible class lesson, it will greatly aid you in being mentally prepared as you study God’s word. This will also carry over into the worship service. It will allow you to be prepared to ask or answer questions that may arise during the study. By studying the lesson, whether it just be reading the assigned Text or reading a prescribed reading or answering questions, you will be a workman that will not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15).

Immerse Yourself in Spiritual Things and Surround With Godly People
If you just have to listen to the news that morning, make it brief. Just look at the headlines and then view them only through the lens of a biblical world view. Don’t let the affairs of this life entangle your mind and distract you (II Tim. 2:2). Stop listening to screaming, lying denominational preachers. If you must listen to anything at all, listen to sound gospel lessons before you go to worship.

Talk to your brethren about scriptural matters. I was privileged as a youth to be guided by two or three older brethren in the congregation. I would generally get to the building thirty minutes early and we would discuss matters of doctrine and brotherhood concerns. In effect, we had already had a Bible class even before services began. My mind had already been tuned to spiritual matters by the company I kept.

Spiritual, zealous worship is no one’s responsibility but your own. The Lord’s supper may go through the same actions every week. Those who lead prayers may say the same thing week in and week out. The song leader might not sing in key and often lead the same songs over and over. The preaching might be dull. But ultimately, effectual worship is your own responsibility. These are just a few, simple ideas that I think are helpful. There are of course many other things that could probably be said more specifically, but I hope these help in putting zeal back into our worship.

Eric L. Padgett

We Are In Trouble

People’s attitudes are different now than when I was growing up. I’m not really that old, though I have passed my life’s mid-century mark, but I remember a time when people conducted themselves in a much more dignified, decorous and decent manner. People were generally more conscientious about their appearance, were more polite, showed respect to others, especially their elders, were not offended by every little thing, could laugh at themselves, did not feel that the world owed them anything, felt a sense of self-reliance and felt embarrassed if they had to depend on someone else, especially the government, to support them.

Of course there have always been problems. There were broken homes then, too, but there was also an understanding and an appreciation of the fact that the family was the moral center of society. I don’t think many people today own that view. Marriage was held up as a sacred institution and divorce was frowned upon and considered a failure. There was no question about the nature of marriage, as to who could marry another. Marriage was by definition–and understood by everyone–to be only between a man and a woman. Period.

Homosexuality may have been practiced, but it was hidden, for the most part. In fact, it wasn’t until 1973 that the American Psychiatric Association voted to downgrade homosexuality in its official list of mental disorders to a “sexual disturbance.” It wasn’t until 1987 that it was removed completely from it’s official list of mental disorders. Today, however, if you suggest in any way that homosexuality is sinful or irrational behavior, you are considered to be the one with a mental problem. To top it all off, we now have a man who thinks he is a woman acting as the assistant health secretary in the United States who has indicated he intends to go after those holding the traditional views of marriage.

People’s attitudes have changed with regard to modesty. People then dressed with dignity, especially the older generation. Men wore hats and doffed them to women out of respect. People wore their best dress clothes when going to a function like worship or a funeral, again, out of respect. Today it is not unusual to see people dress in very inappropriate and sloppy attire when attending these functions. All of this indicates a general lack of respect for others and for traditional customs and values.

Now, the younger generation back then, my generation, was already on it’s way to wearing less modest clothing. But my dad’s generation and his dad’s generation continued to wear modest, respectful attire and my dad and mom always saw that their children dressed with respect and for the occasion when we went somewhere. We were poor, but we were always taught to wear our best in public and be modestly dressed. Some people may respond that times and styles change. That is true, but while styles may change, modesty is timeless.

Another area where you can see a change in the attitudes of people is speech. It used to be that people were taught to be respectful, to say “Yes sir” and “No sir” and “yes Ma’am” and “No Ma’am” and to say “Thank you” and “You’re welcome.” I am sure there are still young people being taught to do this, but I don’t think it is all that common. Many young people I meet today, and even a lot of the adults I come across, carry themselves without a true sense of humility and it shows in their speech.

There has always been a generation gap. There was one when I was a boy. I know from history that in various other ages the younger generation often did not connect with their parent’s generation. Yet the attitude of the young today toward the older generation is even more alarming. It is not just one of disconnect, but of disdain. This younger generation has been brought up, it seems, to hate the older generation. We see certain segments of our society brutally attacking older, defenseless Americans by punching them in the face. It has also manifested itself in an attack on those who are in authority, like the police, for instance. Groups of young, restless, hateful terrorists take over portions of our cities and we just let them do it. In fact, they are glorified by the left. Those who would try to bring peace and order are the ones who are condemned.

We are in trouble, very deep trouble, as a society. The world has been turned upside down and no one has the courage, perhaps even no one has the power, to set it right. The reason for all of this is nothing more than that we have left the moral compass of God’s will. Our society does not believe in much less glorify God. We have turned coldly materialistic except when some false, man-made idol can be concocted and worshiped. We kill innocent babies and let the elderly die because they drain financial resources with no return because we no longer believe all life is sacred. We fund those who mutilate their bodies because they have the delusion they “identify” as something other than what they are biologically because they reject the order of God’s creation. This horrendous list could go on with stories that literally would make your skin crawl.

I pray for our nation and the world. We are spiraling out of control into the depths of perdition and damnation. The momentum of the moral direction we are falling may not be able to be stopped in any short period of time, if at all. As time goes on, things may grow considerably worse for the Christian. We must be prepared for the worse, pray for the best and never lose our faith in God.

Eric L. Padgett

Mrs. Johnny Gospel

Oh, hi, Timothy! How are you? You know, I am so glad I caught up with you. I was just talking to my friend the other day, Johnny Gospel. You might remember him. I introduced him to you before (here). Remember? I asked him how he was doing and, well, he was telling me about how blessed his life has been. As the conversation got around to his family, he was especially thankful, he said, to be married to his wife. I was so impressed upon hearing about her, and I knew you were thinking about marriage, that I thought you would want to hear about her, too. This is what he told me.

First, he said he was thankful because he never had to worry that she was anything but completely faithful to him (Tit. 2:4; I Cor. 7:2). He knew that she submitted herself to him completely and only to him (Tit. 2:5). She would not allow herself to be put into a situation of temptation by being alone with another man or give other lewd people an occasion for idle talk (Prov. 31:11). He told me, without going into detail of course, that she fully satisfied him in every way a good wife would and should a husband (I Cor. 7:2-6). She recognizes his God-given leadership role in the home, but also works together with him as an equal partner in married life (Eph. 5:23,24). He said he esteemed her as far more valuable than great riches (Prov. 31:10).

He also said he could not want a better mother to his children. I will tell you about his children some time later, but she truly loves them (Tit. 2:4). She is as devoted to them, as Rebekah was to Jacob (Gen. 27) and Hannah to Samuel (I Sam. 2:19; 1:28). She is always up bright and early every morning to make certain her children have a good, nutritious meal before they head out (Prov. 31:10). She also sees that they are always clothed with appropriate attire (Prov. 31:21). It is a testimony to her character that her children all love her and publicly praise and bless her (Prov. 31:28).

Since she, herself, will not dress immodestly, she sees that her children not only dress appropriately but also dress in modest apparel (I Tim. 2:9-15). They wear nothing too tight, or too revealing or too suggestive. She conducts herself as a godly woman should and expects her children to behave the same way (I Tim. 2:10). She is a virtuous woman (Prov. 31:10). She is generous (Prov. 31:20) and kind, humble, peaceful and patient (I Cor. 13:4-7) but also strong and determined and industrious (Prov. 31:16-20). Her importance cannot be overstated because she oversees and runs the household. Her children heed her counsel because they love an respect her so.

Brother Gospel also says that Mrs. Gospel is actively involved in the work of the church (I Cor. 15:58). She is, of course, a faithful Christian (Rev. 2:10). She is thoroughly acquainted with God’s word because she studies it every day (II Tim. 2:15). She instills in her children a love for Christ and takes every opportunity to cultivate in them Christian principles and teaches them God’s word (II Tim. 1:5; 3:14-17). She teaches Bible classes for the young and regularly visits those who are sick and shut in (James 1:27). She is always present when the doors of the church are open and never misses the assembling together of the saints (Heb. 10:25).

Whenever she has the opportunity she teaches others about Christ (Acts 8:4). But she is not pushy or overbearing or loud. Those who come across her path immediately know that she is different by the character which she displays (Tit. 2:3). Her demeanor and deportment set her apart from most other women. She has a quiet intelligence and is respected by all in the church for her wisdom (Prov. 31:26). The younger women seek her counsel and the older women know she is trustworthy.

I know it sounds like I am describing the perfect woman. But she has her faults (Rom. 3:23). She is only human. But she prays regularly to the Lord and for her children and her husband and the church (I Thess. 5:17). When she fails, she doesn’t get too discouraged but asks the Lord for strength and for the courage to start over and keep going (I Pet. 5:7; Phil. 4:13). Her and her husband work hard at being good servants of the Lord (Eph. 5:22). Johnny said he didn’t know where he would be without his wife (Prov. 18:22).

Well, anyway, I thought you would be interested to hear about Johnny Gospel and his lovely and gracious wife. He certainly is blessed to have such a wonderful companion in living the Christian life. I pray that you are blessed enough to find the same kind of loving companion as Johnny Gospel.

Eric L. Padgett

Why Can’t We Get Along?

Why can’t people get along with one another? James asked and answered this very important question in one verse. “From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?” (James 4:1). James answers the question by saying that people don’t get along basically because they are selfish. They want what they want when they want it. Conflict arises out of a blind pursuit of selfish lusts without consideration of others or, especially, of God.

The lusts encompassed in this declaration are many. They are subsumed under the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and the pride of life (I John 2:15). It is out of a wicked heart that all kinds of evils proceed, evils like murder, adultery, fornication, theft and lying (Matt. 15:19). These temptations to fulfill our desires are always there but it is when we countenance them and dwell on them that our lusts begin to have power over us (James 1:14). These fleshly lusts war against our soul (I Pet. 2:11). This is the essence of sin. It is to do what I want and not what God wants (I John 3:4).

From the beginning of time this has been the case. Cain slew Able because he wanted God’s approval and didn’t get it. He was jealous of Able who did receive God’s approval. But Able received God’s approval because he did what God wanted (Heb. 11:3; Rom. 10:17). Able received God’s approval because he subjugated his own will to the will of God. However, Cain did not try to receive God’s approval by doing what God wanted. Rather, he wanted God’s approval on his own terms. He was selfish.

The Noachian world was destroyed because every imagination of the thoughts of men’s hearts were only evil continually (Gen. 6:5). The post flood world once again pursued their own desires when they attempted to make a name for themselves when they tried to build a tower whose top could reach to heaven (Gen. 11:4). They wanted to get to heaven on their own terms. Self-centered egoists.

The conflict between Abraham’s servants and Lot’s servants apparently arose out of a desire to possess the best of the land (Gen. 13:6,7). Abraham resolved the conflict by selflessly giving Lot the choice of which land to take. Abraham said “Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren” (Genesis 13:8). Abraham was willing to unselfishly offer Lot what seemed to be the best of the land.

A conflict arose between Jacob and Esau when Rebekah, their mother, favoring Jacob over Esau, sought Isaac’s blessing for her favored son (Gen. 27:6-10). Because of this, she set out to deceive her husband into giving Jacob his blessing instead of Esau. Her plan brought further conflict into their family when Esau, angered by this deception, sought to kill his brother (Gen. 27:41). Fortunately in this case the anger was abated over time and Jacob and Esau wee reconciled, but not without much anguish and fear (Gen. 33).

Saul’s conflict with David arose because Saul wanted the glory that David was receiving but had not done what David did to receive that praise (I Sam. 18:6-9). And in New Testament times, such conflicts persisted, even in the church. The church in Corinth, for instance, faced such problems of division and conflict because men put their own will over God’s will (I Cor. 1:10)?

And on and on this list could be extended. In fact, this desire to fulfill the lusts we face will continue until the very last day where men will still be walking after their own lusts (II Pet. 3:3). But individually, we can escape the corruption that is here through lust (II Pet. 1:4).

If we really wanted peace, we could truly seek peace with one another. Not a false peace where truth is not spoken. Nor a peace where we ignore differences. But one in which we face realities head on but with calm, clear, Christ-like character. As much as lies within us, we should honestly and truly strive to live peaceably, with all men (Rom. 12:18).

Eric L. Padgett

The Sound of Music


The sound of music! Everyone loves good music. In fact, music is so universally enjoyed that it’s very name has become synonymous with good things, or a euphemism for things that work well. For instance, when we hear something we like, we say “that is music to my ears.” If something worked well, it is sometimes said that it “worked like a song.” Music can also have such a unique pacific effect on us we sometimes use the expression that “music calms the savage beast.” The Bible also has quite a lot to say about music if we are willing to listen.

When God created the universe and laid the foundations of the earth, it was a time of rejoicing. All “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Indeed, the heavens themselves declare the glory of God and their voice transcends all languages so that all have heard their song (Psalm 19:1-3). As the hymn, This Is My Father’s World, states, “all nature sings and “round me rings the music of the spheres.” There is such purpose and design to the universe that we all enjoy the harmony of the heavens and the chorus of creation.

Some of the most beautiful music ever produced is the sound of nature in the morning when the sun yawns and stretches out over the horizon and warms the cool morning air as the woodpecker beats out a tune, the sparrows whistles their songs, the Mourning Dove coos and the rest of the avian chorus joins in while the brook murmurs gently over the rocks and the wind rustles through the leaves of the trees. What music they make! And eventide brings an equally beautiful melody when the crickets chirp in unison, the frogs bellow out their tune in the creek bed, the cats meowing and the dogs barking in the meadow as the heavens follow their course and light up the black velvet, night sky.

The first explicit mention we have of music in the Bible is found in Genesis 4:21. Jubal, son of Lamech and Adah, apparently invented stringed and wind instruments of music. This suggests music was already well known by this time. This also suggests that the first music was acapella, before human, mechanical instruments of music were invented. It is not hard to imagine that Adam and Eve would have already employed vocal praise of Jehovah God.

Several songs are mentioned in the Bible but perhaps the most notable is the song of Moses as he led the children of Israel across the Red Sea to safety, and out of the reach of Pharaoh of Egypt. Moses led the children of Israel in a song unto the Lord and in that song he described Jehovah as “my strength and my song” (Ex. 15:1,2). Then there are the beautiful songs (psalms) of David such as the matchless 23rd psalm: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” David’s seventy plus psalms constitute about half of the psalms.

Music has the power to affect the physical and mental well-being of man. When king Saul was in the throes of depression, David, who was “the sweet psalmist of Israel” and “a cunning player on a harp” was called and played and “Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him” (I Sam. 16:14-23). Likewise, it appears that Elisha called for a minstrel to play for him to calm him down before he prophesied for Jehoshaphat because the presence of the despised king of Israel, Jehoram, had angered him (II Kings 3:15).

It should not surprise us then that a “2011 study by researchers from McGill University in Canada found that listening to music increases the amount of dopamine produced in the brain – a mood-enhancing chemical, making it a feasible treatment for depression.”1 Even in the face of heading to the cross, the Lord the took time to sing a hymn with His apostles (Matt. 26:30). Paul and Silas, languishing in the inner prison of a Philippian jail, having been beaten and their feet secured fast in stocks, sought refuge and solace in prayer and in song at the midnight hour (Acts 16:).

Music also expresses heartfelt feelings. The Psalmist said “O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms” (Psalm 95:1,2). God said through the prophet Isaiah, “My servants shall sing for joy of heart” (Is. 65:14). James advises, “Is any merry? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13).

Salvation is an occasion of great joy and singing. At the announcement of the birth of the saviour, a multitude of heavenly hosts appeared to the shepherds in the fields and praised God (Luke 2:13). Jesus said that there is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth (Luke 15:7,10). When the elder son came in from the field, having been working all day, he heard music and festivities at the return of his brother, the prodigal son (Luke 15:24,25).

In the Lord’s church, one of the avenues by which we worship God is to sing. The music of the Lord’s church reverts back to the original form of singing, which, as we saw, was acapella. This worship in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs is to be a sincere expression of a pure heart and is to be accompanied by grace in our hearts and understanding in our minds (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; I Cor. 15:15). It is said of the Lord that in the midst of the church, He would sing praises with us to Father (Heb. 2:12).

When the Holy Spirit allowed John and us to a glimpse into the throne room of heaven with what are we greeted? The four and twenty elders, representing the redeemed from both dispensations, “casting down their golden crowns around the crystal sea” and worshiping He who sat on the throne. “And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10).

“He took my burdens all away, up to a brighter day, He gave me a song. A wonderful song. And one of these days in that fair land I’ll sing with a chorus grand, He gave me a song, a wonderful song.”

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/302903

Eric L. Padgett

The Bible, Political Parties and World Views

The Bible is God’s plenary, inspired, word-revelation to man (II Tim. 3:16, 17). It is a presentation to us of the things that God wants us to know about Him, ourselves and the world (Psalm 19:7-14; 119:97-112; etc.). While the immediate concern of the Bible is man’s fellowship with God (i. e., our initial, pristine fellowship with Him, subsequent fall, and ultimate restoration through Christ), the Bible also presents to us principles that address every aspect of our lives. God has truly given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness (II Pet. 1:3).

While it is certainly not incumbent upon every Christian to develop a formal and systematic world view philosophy based on scripture in order to be saved, every Christian must realize that God’s word must be the final say on how we view the world, what actions are legitimate in God’s sight and what we should believe and know (Psalm 119:30,31). “God’s word is truth” has important implications for every field of human endeavor and inquiry (John 17:17). Issues and topics may arise that are not directly spoken of in the scriptures, but in principle, they are addressed when all of the passages and teachings of the scriptures are gathered and handled correctly (II Tim. 2:15).

Concomitant with the view that scripture is the final authority for all legitimate views and actions, both in religious activity and in everyday life (Col. 3:17), is the necessity of handling the scriptures with the correct hermeneutical approach. All men who handle the scriptures correctly will only draw such conclusions from them as is warranted by the evidence. Being irrational is always inappropriate, but especially so when handling the word of God (Is. 1:18; Rom. 12:1,2).

Politics, for example, is one of the most divisive issues that we face. It is so divisive that many families are literally torn apart by disagreements. For that reason many people just avoid talking about it altogether. But does the Bible have anything to say about it? While the Bible does not say anything specifically about modern American politics, for instance, it does give us principles which would affect our views of politics in these times.

For example, one’s views on the subjects of abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, pedophilia, the nature of gender, the nature of marriage, the nature of the family, personal responsibility, economics, government, capital and corporal punishment, psychology, entertainment, science, creation, medical ethics and an endless list of other issues are both topics of concern in the sociopolitical and cultural world presently, but they are also addressed in principle in the Bible. Biblical teaching on these issues is relevant when we try to determine what kind of politics or world view we should embrace with God’s approval.

Yet many who call themselves Christians will identify with a party that embraces all of the unscriptural views on these issues. That is not to say that everyone in either party (or in any of the other third parties) holds to monolithic views. This is not a blanket condemnation. Naturally, there may be a few who do not hold the party line. But by and large, it cannot be successfully denied, that the democrats, as a matter of party philosophy, hold to increasingly more liberal, less scriptural and emphatically more radical views.

When the left does attempt to offer scriptural support for their views on these issues, they are always very loose and very shallow with their handling of Biblical principles of interpretation. By definition liberals, leftists and progressives seek to cast off the traditional and established norms. Long-standing and time-tested views are always discarded in favor of the latest social novelty and theological fad. First and foremost, modern leftist ideology seeks to normalize and justify the most grotesque and heinous kinds of behaviors and views under the very thin and sheer veils of tolerance and love. But their tolerance is most intolerant and their love strongly resembles hate.

However, every single time the left gets a chance to pursue their vision of life, chaos, hatefulness, lies and deception, the breakdown of law and order and moral decay always follows. Always! The reason the left persistently gets the answers to life’s most pressing questions so wrong is because the left always looks to themselves for answers to life’s most pressing questions instead of God. Such an approach to knowledge and life is doomed to failure from the start. It begins at the wrong starting point and is based upon a false foundation and presumes a false conclusion.

It is important, then, to understand that the word of God gives meaning and direction to every facet of our life. God’s word should guide us in thought and in word and in deed (Col. 3:17). If we cannot fit a proposition or belief into a solid, coherent, Biblical world view, then that proposition or belief should be disqualified, dismissed and discarded. Christians should train themselves to think of God’s word not only in terms of a compilation of religious tenets to be believed and obeyed (though it is that) but also comprehensive, coherent manual to life to be studied and a world of verbal truths to be mined for spiritual treasures.

Eric L. Padgett

Be Ye Thankful

This year has been very difficult for almost everyone. In my own case, at the beginning of the year, my own family suffered a very personal loss of a dearest loved one. I am not alone in that, I know, as many others have faced the same trials and have not even been allowed to put them to rest as a family. We have faced government supression of worship and people are now afraid of one another because the government and news media have stoked a unreasonable fear of a virus that has a ninety-nine percent survival rate. As lockdowns persist, depression and suicides are up and alcohol addiction has increased. We have faced killer hornets and a near collision with an astroid. Our political system is in an uproar, cities are burning and we may well be on the verge of another civil war. How can we be thankful in the light of all these calamities?

Each of us, if we examine our lives, will still find many things for which we can be thankful. We can be thankful for our portion of health. Do you have vision? Have you enjoyed a beautiful sunrise or sunset lately? Be thankful. Do you still hear? Have you heard a little, innocent child laugh or heard someone say “I love you?” Or have you heard a beautiful piece of music? Be thankful you have your hearing. Do you still enjoy good food? Did you enjoy a good Thanksgiving meal? Be thankful for taste. Do you have money in the bank? Be thankful? Do you have a family who cares about you? Be thankful. Do you miss someone very badly? Be thankful they were in your life and filled your life with love. On and on the list could go of simple things that are truly great blessings.

Yet life can be cruel. We all face trials. My trials may be different than yours but it is just as great a burden on me as yours is on you. Nevertheless, James tells us to count it all joy when we fall into divers temptations knowing that the trying of our faith worketh patience (James 1:3). In fact, Peter tells us we should rejoice that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings (I Pet. 4:12). Early Chritians rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (Acts 5:41). The Lord said they are blessed who are reviled for the name of Christ (Matt. 5:10-12). Jesus further said in the world we will have tribulation but that He had overcome the world (John 16:33). So can we because faith is the victory that overcomes the world (I John 5:4). No suffering now is even worthy to be compared to the glory that shall be revealed in us (Rom. 8:18). We may sow in tears now, but we will reap in joy (Psalm 126:5).

No matter how bad it may seem, no matter how bad it actually is, there remains hope for the Christian (Rom. 8:20), a hope the world does not have (I Thess. 4:13). That, by itself, is plenty of reason to be thankful.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations (Psalm 100:4,5).

Eric L. Padgett