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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

How Long, Oh Lord, How Long?

We are up against an evil in the United States (and in the world) the likes of which we haven’t seen before. Oh, he has been around for a long time, but he has been subtile in how he worked. He has had his bold moments. In the garden, during Noah’s day. Especially at the cross. But mostly he works subtily and preys on weak minds and sick hearts. He sows the seeds of corruption in the field of righteousness and no one notices until it is too late. He has stolen the hearts of many people, young and old, through the education system and though entertainment media, just like he stole the heart of Eve with the desirable forbidden fruit. He has gotten people to be complacent and at ease with prosperity and distracted many with social media trivialities.

Now he is out in the open, brazenly attacking truth, and goodness, and decency. He has gotten many people to believe they never had to speak out or to speak up or to stand up. Soon they won’t be able to. If you think the censorship of big tech was bad before, just wait. Just wait. Because you won’t be able to speak out or speak the truth because it will go against the good of the state. You didn’t like the so-called “shelter-in-place” rules but you complied. Now they will control where you go and whom you meet and how many people can meet together. If you preach against immorality, you will be silenced. You didn’t like the mask, but you gave in and wore it. Now you will literally be muzzled. NOW YOU WILL SUBMIT TO THE STATE! Don’t think for a moment this is an exaggeration. If you think that, then you are like the frog in boiling water and can’t see how far along you’ve been cooked already.

However, perhaps this is happenning “to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will, and setteth up over it the basest of men” (Dan. 4:17). We have demonstrated that we, as a people, cannot be responsible with God’s blessings and have given them up for pleasure and convenience. We knew God, but glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in our imaginations and our foolish heart was darkened (Romans 1:21). The world has been turned upside down. Men call evil good and good evil. We have professed to be wise and have become fools. Instead of building the walls with a sword in hand ready to fight, we have laid down the sword because we didn’t want to offend. We have sheathed the Sword of the Spirit, we have taken off the whole armor of God and held hands with the devil and swayed to music of tolerance and sang Kumbaya, thinking we could appease him. We have fallen asleep in the lap of Jezebel and soon our strength will be cut off. We think we are at peace but we are dying in our sleep and our peace is an illusion. And the devil laughs. When will we wake up? Or is itoo late? I wonder.

I hope and long and yearn for the return of the Lord “when He shall have put down all rule and authority and power” (I Cor. 15:24). I am tired. I am sick and tired of the devil’s lies and wicked ways winning all the time. I am sick and tired of warning and crying out only to be laughed at or patronized while we continue to see sin and wickedness advance and grow stronger every day. I am ready, Lord, for it to come to an end. I am ready, Lord, to see that old serpent and death and hell cast into the lake of fire. “O God, how long shall the adversary reproach? shall the enemy blaspheme thy name for ever” (Psalm 74:10)? How long oh Lord, how long? But until then I will fight and I will speak out with what little voice I have. As long as I have breath, I will fight the battle for the mind and soul for myself and others, if they will hear. I hope you will too.

Eric L. Padgett

The Color Of Jesus’ Skin

In recent days some have called for all images and statues of a white Jesus to be removed because, they say, it promotes “white privilege.” Shaun King, in particular tweeted “All murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends should also come down. They are a gross form white supremacy. Created as tools of oppression. Racist propaganda. They should all come down.”

Shaun King is a civil rights activist and writer associated with such groups as BLM. He has also been embroiled in controversy with various fund-raising schemes he started and then ended abruptly. Some have claimed that the objects of his fund-raising charities never saw any of the money he raised. It is also quite interesting that Shaun is very light skinned black man. Some have even questioned his status as a black man since the people on his birth certificate designated as his mother and father were both white. He claims, however, that his real biological father was a light skinned black man.

I never knew who Shawn King was until his recent tweet garnered so much attention. Others have tried to make the same argument, namely that Jesus was not white and specifically that He was black. I want to address this issue here.

The Bible does not explicitly give details about the color of Jesus’ skin, but there are things we see in the scriptures that give us some clues. First, we know that Jesus was a Jew. Jesus was neither African nor European. Therefore His skin was neither African black nor European white. His skin was the color of the Jewish people in the first century. What was that color? Let us examine some scriptures.

As we begin, we must understand that all people today have descended from Adam and Eve. Adam was the first man and Eve was the mother of all living (Gen. 3:20). Therefore, all the variety of skin colors in the world have their origin in the genes God gave in creation to Adam and Eve. In a very real sense, we are all brothers and sisters by creation. The apostle Paul stated it this way, that God had made of “one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26).

It is also the case that 1,656 years after Adam and Eve were created that there was a genetic bottleneck of eight people during the time of Noah and that we are all also descended from Noah’s three sons. The table of nations found in the book of Genesis (chapter 10) shows that Noah’s descendants re-populated the earth. Shem gave rise to the Semitic peoples of the middle east. Ham gave rise to the black peoples of Africa and Japheth gave rise to the European nations.

Given the fact that their genetic material provided for all the skin variations in the world, Adam and Eve’s children could have been born with different colors of skin. However, it is also possible that as people moved into their respective locations in the world, the genetic material was isolated and differences, including skin color, facial features, body sizes and cultural differences, began to appear between those groups. In any event, the differences between us are real and tangible.

Now what do we know about the skin color of the Jews? The Bible tells us that Moses married an Ethiopian woman (Num. 12:1). The word translated “Ethiopian” comes from the word for Cush. Cush was the son Ham who was Noah’s son. The name Ham is derived from a word which means “hot,” “sunburnt” and “black.” The name “Cush” means “black.” So Moses married an Ethiopian woman who was black skinned. Miriam and Aaron used this issue to condemn Moses, though their real problem was jealousy of his authority. The objection to Moses’ marriage to a black skinned woman was just an excuse. But the fact that they used the color of her skin is significant because it shows there was difference between the skin colors of Moses, Aaron and Miriam and Moses’ Ethiopian wife. Jeremiah also draws a clear line between the color of the Ethiopian’s skin and the skin of the Jew when he writes, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots?” (Jer. 13:23). From this we surmise that the Jew’s skin was not black like the Ethiopians.

Another interesting fact about Moses is that when he was just a babe his mother put him in an ark of bulrush and left him at the edge of the river where Pharaoh’s daughter could find him. When he was found and Pharaoh’s daughter opened the ark, she immediately recognized the child as “one of the Hebrews’ children” (Ex. 2:6). There evidently was something distinctive about the child which revealed his nationality. It likely was not his clothing for a babe that young probably had little clothing to identify it.

In another instance we find one of Solomon’s wives being described as black (Song 1:5,6). Notice that she defended her skin color by saying that she was “comely” and that the sun had burnt her skin. But the significant point here is that she was of a different color than Solomon so that she was compelled to address that issue. Solomon did not share the same color skin as this black woman. In fact, in the Song of Solomon, Solomon is described as “white and ruddy” (Song 5:10). This accords with the description given of Solomon, and ultimately Christ, as the white lilly of the valley and the red rose of Sharon (Song 2:1). This red (or ruddy) and white are often associated with one another.

“Ruddy” is the expression that is used to describe two other people in the Bible. First, Esau was described as coming out of the womb “red” or ruddy and hairy (Gen. 25:25). Then David, Solomon’s father, was also described as “ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to” (I Samuel 16:12; 17:42). The name of the first man, “Adam,” of course, means “ruddy” or “red clay” (cf. Gen. 2:7).

The word “ruddy” is defined by the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary as “(of a white person’s skin) having a red color, often suggesting good health.” Collins English Dictionary defines this word as “(of the complexion) having a healthy reddish colour, usually resulting from an outdoor life; 2. (Colours) coloured red or pink: a ruddy sky” (Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991). Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines it as “a healthy, reddish color. In two places in the Bible the word refers to the rosy complexion of vigorous health (Song 5:10; Lam. 4:7). As a boy, David was also described as ruddy (1 Sam. 16:12; 17:42). Some scholars believe the word in this case may mean that David had red hair” (Youngblood, R. F., Bruce, F. F., & Harrison, R. K., Thomas Nelson Publishers (Eds.). (1995). The King James Version Bible Dictionary defines “ruddy” as “redness, or rather a lively flesh color; that degree of redness which characterizes high health; applied chiefly to the complexion or color of the human skin; as the ruddiness of the cheeks or lips.).” A 1742 dictionary defines ruddy as “of a blood-red colour, flesh coloured.”

In describing the state of God’s people during the captivity, Jeremiah states that before the captivity “her Nazarites were purer than snow, they were whiter than milk, they were more ruddy in body than rubies, their polishing was of sapphire” (Lamentations 4:7). Later, however, because of the hardness of their lives, “their visage is blacker than a coal; they are not known in the streets: their skin cleaveth to their bones; it is withered, it is become like a stick” (Lamentations 4:8). Here we see the natural state was again white and ruddy but because of hardships, their visage had changed.

Clark’s comments on this verse are representative of other commentators and so it is quoted here.: “‘In the first line the whiteness of their skin is described, and in the second, their flesh;’ and as גֶּזֶר‎ gazar signifies to divide and intersect, as the blue veins do on the surface of the body, these are without doubt intended. Milk will most certainly well apply to the whiteness of the skin; the beautiful ruby to the ruddiness of the flesh; and the sapphire, in its clear transcendent purple, to the veins in a fine complexion. The reverse of this state, as described in the following verse, needs no explanation. The face was a dismal dark brown, the flesh gone, the skin shrivelled, and apparently wrapped round the bones.”

These are the indications, then, we get from the scriptures as to the color of the skin of the Jews. It was not naturally black. Naturally, their skin complexion was generally light. This was apparently seen as the idea picture of man. If that were the case for Jews throughout Bible history, should we expect anything different from Jesus of Nazareth? He was, after all, of the lineage and seed of David.

rHowever, in every group, there is a wide variety of colors. There are some white people who are darker skinned and some black people who are light skinned. Such variations exist even within a family. Ultimately, however, it makes no difference at all what the color of Jesus’ skin was. Red, yellow, black or white, we are all precious in His sight, as the song states. No matter what color His skin was He is still our saviour. What is more important is that one day we, who have obeyed His commands, will all be like Him for we shall see Him as He is (I John 3:2).

Eric L. Padgett

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 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


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