Category Archives: Sound

A Constituency of One

Politicians are elected and paid to represent the will of their particular electorate, their constituency. That is as it should be in a Republic, such as we have in America. But a politician’s constituency is usually quite large. A Senator’s constituency is one of the fifty states. A congressman represents the people of his district. A mayor works for the people of his city. A president usually seeks to represent all the people of the United States. (Sadly, however, some politicians use their office only to satisfy their own unlawful, immoral appetites.) But when your constituency is so large, it is nearly impossible to satisfy everyone.

A Christian, on the other hand, really only has but one constituency. It is true that as we live the Christian life we should consider others and not go out of our way to offend or seek conflict. We should try to please our neighbors and help to bear their burdens and not seek to please ourselves (Rom. 15:1-3; Gal. 6:2). We should always reply with a soft answer (Prov. 15:1). Our speech should always be spoken with grace, our answers seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6). We should, as a matter of principle, try to get along with others, even taking the wrong if necessary (Matt. 5:39; I Cor. 6:7). But, in the end, when it comes to right and wrong, when it comes down to truth or error, when eternal life and eternal damnation are in the balance, we have a constituency of but One, that is, God.

Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Our goal as Christians and as gospel preachers should be to please God, not men. To that end, we study and work and rightly divide the word of truth. Our understanding, our preaching and teaching and our actions should not be influenced by how others will respond to the truth. Preachers forsake their obligations when they try to please everyone instead of focusing on teaching the truth that man needs. People will always want to have their itches scratched and they will find a man to do it if they can, but faithful gospel preachers will not succumb to that temptation (II Tim. 4:1-5).

Again, after expressing dismay that brethren in Galatia had so quickly allowed error to creep in amongst them, Paul wrote, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). For many Christians and preachers, popularity and acceptance are more precious than truth or serving Christ. No one wants to be disliked but if that is the price for pleasing God, then so be it. Many errors have been promulgated in the name of Christ because some weak-minded Christians have wanted to either entice or appease the sinner. Many have not learned the lessons that James taught: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Others teach things they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake (Tit. 1:10,11). How many sermons have been altered or not preached at all because the preacher was afraid he would lose his position if he spoke the truth? “They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18). How many elders have asked the preacher to not preach the truth because they were afraid they would lose members, and thus lose money, if the truth was spoken (Tit. 1:7). Thank God for preachers who will preach the truth regardless of what others may say, even though it may (and often has) cost them their positions (II Tim. 4:2). Thank God for elders who demand their preachers speak the truth regardless of what some members may say or do.

Like Israel of old, too many brethren today trust in the shadow of Egypt (Is. 30:1-7). They take counsel, but not of God. Isaiah described their attitude: “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Is. 30:9-11). Some criticize us because we don’t keep up with the times or what the people will tolerate or the latest homiletical fads or social trends. They criticize those who teach doctrine instead of how to feel better about yourself; they despise those who would warn against error instead of embracing the denominational world as fellow-laborers; they turn up the nose to those who boldly wave the Banner of the Old Jerusalem Gospel instead of appeasing the populace with “community outreach.”

If preaching the Old Jerusalem Gospel is out of step with the times, then I am out of step with the times. Truth is, the Old Jerusalem Gospel has never been popular with the devil. As Christians, we should be concerned about how we walk and please God not men (I Thess. 4:1). Pleasing men is fine if it falls within the parameters of pleasing God first (Acts 5:29). God is our only real constituency.

Eric L. Padgett

Rejoice in My Sufferings

In truly descriptive language, the prophet Amos warned against complacency and placidity in God’s people: “Woe to them that are at ease in Zion…that lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches…that invent unto themselves instruments of musick…that anoint themselves with the chief ointments…but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph” (Amos 6:1-6). Just as in the days when Amos uttered this dire warning, we also live in an age and a culture when peace and pleasure are paramount. Even more disheartening is the fact that this attitude has taken hold of a great many in the Lord’s church.

Instead of challenging the denominational world to discuss and debate their false religious views, instead of calling their teachings and practices what they are–damnable error, too many in the Lord’s church now seek to “partner” with those in the denominations in sundry social and community activities. No, the reasoning goes, to expose the error might cause them not to like us and they might say bad things about us and then how could we reach them? Why, we might even suffer rejection or, worse, persecution!

How different this attitude is from that of Moses. “By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:24-27).

Moses and God’s people could have used a different approach than the one God authorized of separating themselves to the worship of God (Ex. 5:1). Moses might have tried to compromise with Pharaoh by offering to worship Egyptian gods as well as Jehovah. He might have offered to worship in Egypt and not in the wilderness as God had said. They may have gotten together for some kind of social affair so that they could learn to relate to one another’s needs. But Moses chose rather to do what God said and he was willing to suffer for it.

How different the attitude of some is today than that of the Lord’s apostles. When the Sadducees cast the apostles into prison for preaching and teaching the truth, the apostles, being set free from bondage by and at the command of the angel of the Lord (Acts 5:19,20), went out to speak the words of this life to all the people. When they were once again hauled before the Sanhedrin and asked why they were teaching in the name of Christ when they were straightly charged not to, they responded simply: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). And then, when they had been beaten for the Cause of Christ, “they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

The apostles could have tried some other approach than the one authorized by the Lord. They might have left out the offensive parts of their preaching so as not to offend the Jews. They might have left out the preaching about the resurrection, which the Sadducees did not accept. The apostles could have left out the blood of Christ and His crucifixion to draw the Sadducees into the services, to increase their numbers and ease religious tensions. But instead, they wanted to obey God rather than men and were willing and glad to suffer for it, if that was the result.

The Christians in the first century also had a different attitude than many in the Lord’s church do today. Paul acknowledged that the brethren in Colossae were rejoicing in his sufferings for them. At the time of the writing, Paul was under Roman detention. They rejoiced, not because they wanted to see Paul suffer, but because he was fulfilling the will of God and filling up that which was behind in the afflictions of Christ (Col. 1:24). What did first century Christians do when they were reviled, persecuted and spoken against falsely? They followed the Lord’s command and rejoiced exceedingly because they knew they had a reward in heaven (Matt. 5:10,11).

If we suffer as Christians (that is, because we are Christians), let us not be ashamed as so many seem to be today. Rather, let us glorify God on this behalf (I Pet. 4:16). We should rejoice that we are partakers of Christ’s sufferings and reproached for the name of Christ (I Pet. 4:13,14). If someone asks us to go out for a drink, we should be able to say confidently, “No thank you, because I am a Christian, I do not drink alcohol.” If someone asks us to participate in some denominational service, we should be able to say without shame “No thank you, the Lord does not approve of that.” We should not be ashamed or afraid to speak the truth to those in error either doctrinally or morally.

Instead of seeking the path of least resistance, we ought to seek the path that is right (Matt. 7:13,14). We should never, ever intentionally try to offend others, but we must never, ever yield to the false notion that offense is, in itself, a sin. Jesus was, is and ever shall be offensive to many people (John 5:51-64; Matt. 13:57; Mark 14:27; I Cor. 1:18-31). We are not greater than our Lord (John 13:16). If Jesus was offensive, then so shall we be. If Jesus was persecuted, then so shall we be (John 15:20). If we suffer with Him, then we shall also reign with Him (II Tim. 2:11,12). If we are offered and sacrificed, then we ought to rejoice (Phil 2:14-18). Let us then rejoice in our sufferings and never be ashamed to suffer as a Christian!

Eric L. Padgett

You Can’t Cross Heaven’s Borders By Breaking Its Laws

America today is witnessing a horde of invaders crossing our southern border. There is no doubt that among the reasons so many want to come to America is the promise of the blessings afforded her citizens. These blessings attract those whose lives are burdened with oppression, poverty and hopelessness. For over two hundred years, people around the globe have sought to avail themselves legally of these blessings of liberty. The problem with the present invasion is that it is unlawful and tears at the very fabric of American life and culture. It is ironic that there is a parallel between what is happening in America right now and what has been happening to the Lord’s church.

To become a legal citizen of the United States, you have to pass a simple test, speak and write basic English, not have a criminal record, etc. In short, you must meet certain requirements, follow certain basic laws. The same is true of becoming a legal citizen of the Kingdom of God, the church. To become a citizen of the kingdom of God, one must hear the word (Rom. 10:17), believe (Acts 8:37), repent (Luke 13:3,5), confess (Rom. 10:9,10), and be baptized (Acts 2:38). When one does these things, he is added by the Lord to His church, the kingdom (Acts 2:41,47; Matt. 16:16-19).

However, just as there are those who are allowing–and even inviting–illegals to come into this country, there are those who want to allow–and even invite–those who have not obeyed the law of the Lord regarding spiritual citizenship to come into the church. Many believe that those in the denominations, for instance, who have never followed God’s law are fellow-citizens of the kingdom of God. They fellowship them as if there was no difference between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world. By recognizing those in the denominational world as Christians, they advocate a form of spiritual amnesty without obedience to law.

Unfortunately, those who want the blessings this country offers without following it’s laws are bringing about the demise of the very institutions which made this country great. Likewise, those who advocate fellowshipping those in the denominations are disregarding the very things which make the Lord’s church distinctive and thereby destroy it’s power to save the lost. The church exists because it is made up of individuals who have been separated by God from the world (II Cor. 6:14-18; Acts 2:47). But when that line of demarcation between the world and the church is erased, then there remains no difference between them and the church is just as lost as the world.

When members of the Lord’s church adopt the innovations and terminology which characterizes the denominational world, they become the denominational world. We want all men to be saved, just as we wish all nations were blessed as America is blessed. But if America is destroyed through invasion and destruction of its western culture, then it can no longer be the unique and exceptional blessing to the world it once was (and hopefully is still). Likewise, if the Lord’s church disregards the will of God and assimilates an unscriptural, spiritually foreign culture, it can no longer offer a refuge from the burden of sin and spiritual poverty under which this present world labors. When individual Christians and congregations adopt the practices of the denominations, when they adopt their terminology, when they substitute the commission of Jesus with a worldly, social agenda, then they, too, cease to be the unique and exceptional blessing God created them to be as the church and become just one more lost denomination.

America may or may not survive this current onslaught against it. There are many in high places who are working feverishly hard to fundamentally transform America. Whether or not it survives this present crises will depend on whether or not America keeps the Lord as its God (Psalm 33:12; 127:1-5). But the truth regarding the Kingdom of Christ is, no matter what men may do to the Lord’s church, no matter how much they disregard the Lord’s will, the church will survive. It is not dependent upon the grace of man for it’s existence, but the will of God. The gates of Hell, Jesus said, will not prevail against it (Matt. 16:18,19)! You can’t cross heaven’s borders by breaking its laws.

Eric L. Padgett

There Arose Another Generation

“And also all that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which He had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10).

Between January 8 through February 5, 2014, the Barna Group conducted a telephone and online State of the Bible Survey of 2,034 adults in the continental United States regarding the views of Americans on such subjects as perceptions of the Bible, Bible penetration, Bible engagement, Bible literacy, moral decline and social impact and giving to nonprofit organizations. This study was commissioned by the American Bible Society. There was some encouraging news as well as some discouraging news coming from this study.

The one consolation is that the Bible is still highly regarded in America. “When asked to name the books that come to mind when they consider sacred literature or holy books, Americans overwhelmingly name the Bible (79%). This proportion is more than seven times the popularity of the next most frequently mentioned holy book, the Koran (12%).” However, over the last four years, 7% fewer Americans have regarded the Bible as sacred and 4% more Americans regarded the Koran as sacred.

What the study reveals, however, is that those who are identified as “Millennials” (those who are aged 18-29 according to this study) are the ones who are driving this decline in respect for the Bible. While 50% of all Americans believe the Bible has too little influence on society, only 30% of Millennials hold this view. Only 16% of all Americans believe the Bible has too much influence. Furthermore, while 88% of American households own a Bible, this number is down from 92% in 1993. While the number of Bibles owned per household is 4.7–and this is up slightly from 4 years ago–only 15% say they read the Bible daily. Fifty-three percent read the Bible only 3 to 4 times a year. Again, only 40% of Millennials read the Bible while 66% of those who are 68 years and older read the Bible.

Another disturbing trend is that the readership of the venerated King James Version has decreased from 45% in 2011 to 34% in 2014. But the good news is the Kings James Version is still the preferred Bible translation in America. “Far fewer say they prefer the New International Version (13%) or the New King James Version (10%). The English Standard version is read by 6% of Bible readers, while the New Living Translation is read by 4%. All other translations were mentioned by 3% or fewer Bible readers.” But, again, it is the Millennials who prefer the Kings James Version less than other age groups.

According to another study by Pew Research, 68% of Millennials support “same-sex marriage.” “Millennials are easily the most godless generation of Americans, with 29 percent saying they are not affiliated with any religion and 11 percent saying they do not believe in any god at all, as compared to Gen Xers who are 6 percent atheist. As faith goes, only 58 percent of Millennials are sure of their beliefs, compared to 69 pecent of Gen Xers.” (“Millenials Most Godless and Politically Independent  Generation“)

What these studies reveal is that it is imperative that we start working on instilling a different attitude toward the word of God in our young people. One generation is all it takes for complete apostasy to occur. The only way to account for the current decline in the younger generation is that, unfortunately, parents are no longer rearing their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). Parents are no longer teaching diligently unto their children the words that the Lord has spoken (Deut. 6:5,6). Neither are congregations preaching the word of God and emphasizing doctrinal soundness from the pulpit or the Bible classes but are instead teaching a “be happy, don’t worry” philosophy. Press too much doctrine and you are accused of being divisive.

I am sorry to say this, but I believe the church of the Lord in America is in bad shape. (America, itself, is in bad shape and no one can seem to stop the decline.) The traditional, biblical answers to traditional criticisms of the Word of God have been forgotten or, even worse, discarded by many. Whereas the Lord’s church used to be the place to go for Bible answers, too few today in the Lord’s church know the Bible well enough to provide those answers.

We must renew our commitment to studying and preaching and living the Word of God. We must teach them diligently to our own children with a renewed sense of urgency lest they forget the works He has done for Israel.

Eric L. Padgett

“Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Did Lord God make coats of Skins…”

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. [8] I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. [9] In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; [10] But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. [11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (I Tim. 2:5-15).

It is that time of year again when, as the temperature rises, people’s clothes begin to grow shorter, tighter and thinner. Thoughtful and sincere Christians, however, will always seek to glorify God even when the culture in which they live manifests very little concern for decency and modesty much less godliness.

Some try to justify and argue for immodest clothing by appealing to Adam and Eve’s nakedness in the garden (Gen. 2:25). However, Adam and Eve were man and wife. The Husband and wife have a right to one another’s bodies (I Cor. 7:3-5). It was appropriate for them to share each other’s bodies for it is within the holy bonds of matrimony that the bed is undefiled (Heb. 13:4). But those who dress immodestly are giving away a gift to those outside the marriage compact that was designed especially to fulfill a purpose only for a husband or wife in marriage.

Genesis 3:21 makes a very simple and matter of fact statement regarding man’s nakedness: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” However, this statement is very profound. It is made in the context of Adam and Eve’s sin and God’s judgement upon them because of their disobedience (Gen. 3:1-19). When they had sinned, they knew that they were open and naked before the eyes of Him with whom they had to do and tried to hide themselves from Him in shame (Gen. 3:7-10; Heb. 4:13). But sin cannot be covered by hiding from God. Both in order to remind them always of their transgression and to make a covering for their sin, God made them “coats of skins.” But to secure these “coats of skins,” animals had to die. Life had to end. Blood had to be shed.

The penalty for their sin was death for God had said in the day that the forbidden fruit was eaten they would surely die (Gen. 2:17). But God, in His great love and mercy, substituted the animal’s death for man’s. This is the beginning of the sacrificial system pointing toward the final, ultimate substitutionary sacrifice of God’s Only Begotten (Heb. 9:11-14). These coats of skins the Lord made for them were a constant reminder of their need for redemption, a need for a complete covering of their sin. The death of these animals was the result of their sin, Their blood was upon them. Now, as Christians, we put on Christ (Gal. 3:26,27) who was slain as a lamb from the foundation of the world (I Pet. 1:19,20; Rev. 13:8) Whose sacrifice does, indeed, cover our sin when we put Him on. His death is a direct result of our sin.

When we think about our clothing, it should be no less a reminder of our sinful condition and need for sin covering and redemption as it was to them. Adam and Eve attempted to hide their shame with an “apron.” But God made them coats. Christians today should remember this as they pick out the clothes they intend to wear. It is to these historical facts that Paul alludes when he writes to Timothy concerning modesty (I Tim. 2:4-15). He reminds them of the need for man’s salvation (v. 4) and the price paid by Christ’s sacrifice (v. 6). He requires men to be holy (v. 8) and women to adorn themselves with shamefacedness and modest apparel(v. 9).

Eric L. Padgett

No Middle Ground

“Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the Lord’s side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him” (Exodus 32:26).


In the Cause of Christ, there is no middle ground (Luke 11:23; Matt. 6:24).  Christians cannot halt between two opinions and still maintain fidelity to God (I Kings 18:21).  It is either God or the world.

We know that the whole world lies in wickedness (I John 5:19).  The world is a kingdom wherein everything vile and putrid and corrupt finds a home and the powers of darkness reign (Col. 1:13; Eph. 5:10; I John 2:15-17).  The world is a place where lust breeds corruption (II Pet. 1:4) and the cares of this world choke the life out of righteousness (Mark 4:19).  The god of this world seeks to blind the mind of peoples unawares so that they cannot see any light at all (II Cor. 4:4).  That world is full of haters (I John 3:13), deceivers (II John 1:7), and filth (I Cor. 4:13) that stain the garments of the saints (James 1:27).  This present world is evil (Gal. 1:4) and everything that is in it comes to naught (I Cor. 2:6; I John 2:17).

As Christians, however, our lives are to be lights in this world of darkness so that they give light to all (Matt. 5:13-16).  And, while, the kingdom in which we have our conversation is not of this world (John 18:36; Phil. 3:20), knowing we cannot go out of this world physically (I Cor. 5:10; John 17:5), we are to come out of the world and be separated from it spiritually and mentally (II Cor. 6:14-18).  We are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness but rather reprove them (Eph. 5:10,11).  We should have no love for this world or the things contained therein (I John 2:15-17) nor should we allow ourselves to be conformed to it (Rom. 12:1,2) but, rather, the world should be crucified to us (Gal. 6:14).

Standing up for what is right cannot be wrong.  So what if the Pharisees were offended by the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 15:12)?  Every plant not planted by the Father will be rooted up (Matt. 5:13).  So what if enemies are made by speaking the truth (Gal. 4:16)?  To be friends with the world is to be the enemy of God (James 4:4).  The solemn charge of Joshua the son of Nun rings loud and clear even to this late day: “Choose you this day whom ye will serve” (John 24:15).

Will we stand up and be counted?  Will our fingers grasp tightly the golden handle of the sword of the Spirit and draw it from its sheath; will we, unashamed of the Christ and the Cause for which He shed His blood, wield that Blade confidently in the fight for the Truth?  As the world continues its spiraling descent into the everlasting abyss, Christians must be willing to fearlessly lead the way ever upward to heaven by holding aloft in word and deed the glorious and everlasting gospel of Christ.

Eric L. Padgett

In Search of the Ancient Order (4)

The church was built according to the divinely inspired pattern (Matt. 16:16-19). Just as soon as the church was established (Acts 2:47), that same pattern for the church was communicated to the disciples and was to be steadfastly adhered to by them. Luke wrote, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). This pattern is constantly affirmed throughout the New Testament.

Concerning the apostles’ doctrine, the New Testament is plain:

Whosoever transgresseths 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. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: Far he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds (II John 1:9-11).

If we are so bold as to tamper with the pattern, we will loose our soul. Furthermore, Paul states that we are to “hold” to the traditions the apostles gave us (II Thess. 2:15; 3:6; cf. I Cor. 11:1,2 where this word is translated “ordinances”). The things which Paul (and the other apostles) taught were to be universally followed by all congregations of the Lord’s people (I Cor. 4:17; Col. 4:16). This constitutes a pattern to be followed.

We continue in the apostles’ fellowship by obeying their doctrine, the doctrine of Christ. John wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). What is the light? God’s word (apostles’ doctrine, gospel, faith) is the only illumination that can direct our path to the portals of heaven (Jer. 10:23; Ps. 119:105).

The breaking of bread is the Lord’s supper (Matt. 26:26-29). Is God pleased when men tinker with His pattern in this matter? Ask the Corinthian brethren. They attempted to change the Lord’s supper and Paul, by inspiration, condemned the practice (I Cor, 11:20). If there was no pattern for the church to follow in worship then why would it matter that these brethren did not eat the Lord’s supper? Paul surely believed that there was a God-given pattern for the worship of the church and he condemned these brethren for disregarding it (I Cor. 11:17; Gal. 1:6-9).

And what of prayer? Is there any type of pattern at all for it? Yes, there is. Is not this the reason the Lord said, “After this manner therefore pray ye…” (Matt. 6:9-13)? Are the words of Paul in regard to prayer without significance (Col. 4:2-4; I Tim. 2:1-3)? Who can deny that these commands are to be followed?

These things were obeyed in every assembly of the Lord’s people. For instance, “many were gathered together praying” on more than one occasion (Acts 12:12). We know it was on more than one occasion because Peter knew exactly where to go. Further, when Peter went in, he began to preach to them (v. 17). Luke tells us that the disciples gathered together on the first day of the week to partake the Lord’s supper (Acts 20:7). We are also told that Paul preached to them on the occasion. This is exactly the pattern we follow today. When Christians gathered together according to the commands of the Lord, they took up a collection (I Cor. 16:1,2), sung hymns (Eph. 5:19), and offered prayers.

All these passages and more clearly attest to a pattern for the church.

Eric L. Padgett

Doctrine of Proclamation (4)

This is the final installment on the Biblical Doctrine of Proclamation, our study of the words descriptive of the kind of preaching in which inspired men in the first century engaged and of which God approved. The references are all found in the book of Acts.

Teachers (DIDASKALA) – 13:1: This word is variously translated in the New Testament as master (Matt. 8:19, of Christ; Matt. 10: 24, of any teacher; John 3:10, and of the Jewish Pharisees), teacher, and doctor of the Jewish law (Luke 2:46). According to Thayer it means one who is fitted to teach or thinks himself so. This word does not inherently imply good or bad, only the context can determine which (cf. II Tim. 2:11 with 4:3).  

peter_preachingA master is one who is accomplished in his work.  A master woodwright has reached the point where his knowledge and skill is of the highest quality.  Those who take upon themselves the grave responsibility of teaching publicly, must be masters, hence eminently knowledgeable and skilled, in the use of scripture, language, reason, and persuasion.  A master woodwright whose work is shabby would not last long in his trade.  A preacher who unskillfully uses the tools of his trade can cause untold eternal harm to precious and growing souls.

Reasoned (DIELEGETO) – 17:2:
The Analytical Greek Lexicon defines this word as “to discourse, argue, reason; to address, speak to; contend, dispute.” Preachers of the gospel are to reason “out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2), reason daily (Acts 19:9), and reason with others as long as it takes (Acts 20:9- cf. I Tim. 4:2).   Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and of judgment to come and it caused Felix to tremble (Acts 24:25; II Tim. 4:2).

This word justifies logical, necessary inference from what the scriptures imply.  To reason is to be in a mental confrontation.  Paul compares the Christian life to warfare. Hence we are to put on the whole armor of God, including the sword of the Spirit, “which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).  We are to battle against “spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 10:4,5).

The Lord’s church grew when it engaged in rigorous, spiritual battle with the religious error that surrounded the camp of the saints.  The Lord’s church today has ceased to grow as it has in the past not because it hasn’t compromised, but because it has called a truce with error and the errorists have infiltrated–no, rather, have been invited into–the city of God.  We need more men skilled in the ability to reason and who will confront, not coddle, the pervasive errors of the day.

Opening (DIANOIGO) – 17:3: This word means to “open thoroughly, literally (as a firstborn) or figurative (to expound).  It is also used of the ears of the deaf being opened (Mark 7:34).  Gospel preaching should enlighten the hearer with a better understanding of God’s will.  Preaching should be plain enough for all to understand (Hab. 2:2).

Alleging (PARATITHEMI) – 17:3:
 In Acts 16:34 the Philippian jailer is said to set meat before Paul and Silas. The ideal then, is to “set before.”  Gospel preachers are to make plain (DIANOIGO) the message and set it before the hearers.  While, as stated earlier, the sermon should not be aimed at simpletons, neither should one try to overwhelm the hearer with verbiage.  And yet, the sermon should challenge the hearer to grow in grace and knowledge (II Pet. 3:18).  If the gospel is plainly set before the hearers, then it becomes their responsibility to respond to it (Rom. 10:13-17).

Declare (KATANGELLO) – 17:23:
To “declare” is “to announce, proclaim, laud, celebrate.” Thayer defines it as “to announce, declare, promulgate, make known, to proclaim, publish with the intended idea of celebrating, commending, openly praising.” We should never apologize for the preaching of the gospel regardless of who it may offend. What should we be ashamed to preach? The resurrection (Acts 4:2), the word of God (Acts 13:5), that men have sins and that there is a plan by which they can be forgiven (Acts 13:38), Jesus (Acts 17:3), God (Acts 17:23), faith (Rom. 1:8), the testimony of God (I Cor. 2:1), the gospel (I Cor. 9:14), and the Lord’s death {Lord’s supper} (I Cor. 11:26)?  How can we be ashamed to speak these things? “And oh may this my glory be, that Christ is not ashamed of me!” (Tillet S. Tedlie).  

In a world where even the most offensive acts are celebrated on the air waves, in magazines, by educational institutions, and even in the highest political offices in the land, gospel preachers need now, as much as ever, to publish the good news of the glad tidings of salvation. Preaching the gospel of Christ is an awesome responsibility that no one should take lightly. Precious souls lie in the balance. When the truth of the gospel is forcefully proclaimed today with the same fervor, strength of reason, fearless confidence, and sober dignity that it was proclaimed with in the first century, souls will be added to the Lord’s church and God will be exalted in the minds and hearts of men. May the Lord raise up gospel preachers who will, with great courage, publish the message throughout the land.

Eric L. Padgett

Doctrine of Proclamation (3)

We continue our study of the words descriptive of the kind of preaching in which inspired men in the first century engaged and of which God approved. The references are all found in the book of Acts.

20400pPreached (EUENGELISATO) – 8:35: This word “is almost always used of the good news concerning the Son of God as proclaimed in the gospel” (except in I Thess. 3:6).  Observe that the preaching was from the scriptures. The scriptures make us wise unto salvation (II Tim. 3:15). The completed revelation of God’s word forms the body of doctrine from which sermons are to be preached (Eph. 4:11-15; Rom. 6:16,17; Tit. 2:1; Gal. 1:6-9, 23; Jude 3; II Tim. 4:1-5; 3:16,17). Note, too, that Jesus was preached from the OT. This teaching from the Old Testament about Jesus led to teaching doctrine (e.g., the necessity of baptism).  Preaching Jesus means preaching the good doctrine.  Those who teach other than wholesome doctrine are to be withdrawn from (I Tim. 6:3-5).

Proving (SUMBIBAZON) – 9:22: According to Thayer this means to put together in one’s mind, to prove, to demonstrate. Paul so thoroughly constructed an undeniable argument for the deity of Jesus that it confounded the Jews. Christians are commanded to prove all things (I Thess. 5:21). Thus, Christianity is rational and logical (Rom. 12:1,2). Preachers of the gospel must give sufficient thought to the sermon they preach to make it logically coherent.  The sermon is to come to a point.  They must also prepare to deliver it in a way that convinces and moves the hearer to respond.  Unprepared delivery takes away from even the most well designed lesson.

Disputed (SUNEZETEI) – 9:29: To dispute is to seek, ask, or inquire with another; deliberate, debate, to hold discourse with, argue, reason, to question, dispute, cavil. This word is used of the Pharisees as they “questioned” with Jesus, tempting Him by seeking a sign (Mark 8:11). It is also used of Stephen in Acts 8:9. Verse 10 states, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” It is not wrong to debate, as long as the truth is preached in love, both for the truth itself and for the souls of men (Eph. 4:15). Alexander Campbell wrote of the controversial nature of Jesus in the very first issue of the Millennial Harbinger that Jesus “never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while He lived; He drew it in the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away.”

Rehearsed (ARXAMEVOS) – 11:4: “Peter confines himself to a careful recital of those incidents mentioned in the preceding chapter…” There is great good accomplished by the rehearsal or review of past events. It is especially scriptural to preach the same lessons once and again. Paul wrote, “To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not greivious, but for you it is safe” (Phil. 3:1). Every preacher should only have one gospel sermon. There may be different ways of presenting the same message, but the message of salvation should always be there, always designed to instruct the hearer to render obedience to Christ.  

Paul’s wrote: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:1-2). Preachers should not let their desire for novelty or style interfere with the simple proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. Never sacrifice truth for invention or entertainment. Worship is not a spectator’s sport or a sport of any sort. If the hearer is not moved by the stirring truth of the gospel powerfully and rationally delivered, regardless of how many times it has been heard, then anything else that may move the hearer, moves the hearer for the wrong reason.

Expounded (EXETITHETO) – 11:4: According to the Analytical Greek Lexicon, this word means “to place outside, put forth; to expose; to set forth, declare, explain.” This word gives authority for interpretation. Indeed, without interpreting the Bible we could not understand it. Preachers are in the business of explaining the scriptures (cf. Neh. 8, esp, v. 8). Aquilla and Priscilla expounded the way of God more perfectly to Apollos (18:26) and Paul expounded the truth to all that would come unto him in Rome when he was in his first captivity (28:23). This all implies that one has studied the word and has garnered something from it to present.

More next week.

Eric L. Padgett

Doctrine of Proclamation (2)

We continue our study of the words descriptive of the kind of preaching in which inspired men in the first century engaged and of which God approved. The references are all found in the book of Acts.


Testify (DIEMARTURETO) – 2:40: The Analytical Greek Lexicon gives the following definition: “To make solemn affirmation, protest; to make a solemn and earnest charge; to declare solemnly and earnestly.” The “witness” (MARTURION) is intensified by the preposition “through” (DIA). This word emphasizes three aspects of gospel preaching: truth, teaching, and a solemn charge (cf. I Tim. 5:21; II tim. 2:14; 4:1). Although we cannot testify or witness in the sense in which the apostles did (see Acts 10:41), we can solemnly affirm the truth, protest the wrong and charge others to obey.  

Implied in all this is that there should be no frivolity in gospel preaching. This does not mean that good, purposeful humor should not be occasionally employed.  It does mean that because the subject matter is of such eternal importance and enormous magnitude, the task of preaching the gospel to others should not be taken lightly (II Cor. 5:9-11).  Diligent study and preparation for preaching must be second nature to the gospel preacher (II Tim. 2:15; 4:13).  

Exhort (PAREKALEI) – 2:40: To exhort is “to call for, invite to come, send for, to call upon, exhort, admonish, persuade, to beg, beseech, entreat, implore.” Vine States: “To call on, entreat; to admonish, exhort, to urge one to pursue some course of conduct (always prospective, looking to the future, in contrast to the meaning to comfort, which is retrospective, having to do with trial experienced).”

This word is used of the Ethiopian nobleman when he besought Philip to join him in the chariot (Acts 8:31). Paul also used this word of himself when he besought the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh (II Cor. 12:8). The Bible teaches that our exhortation should be by the mercies of God (Rom. 12:1), by the authority of Christ (I Thess. 4:1), out of love (Philem. 9), growing daily (Heb. 3:13), and coupled with reproof, rebuke, and longsufferingness (I Tim. 4:2). Faithful Gospel preaching should always bring the hearers to be motivated to action.

Boldness (PARRESIAN) – 4:13: A combination of definitions reveals that boldness involves freedom in speaking, unreservedness of utterance, the absence of fear in speaking boldly. It involves a licence to speak; an authority, confidence, assurance, frankness, openness in making truths known. To speak with plainness, perspiciousness, unambiguousness, free and fearless confidence before all. To have cheerful courage, the deportment by which one becomes conspicuous or secures attention.

Peter and John’s bold proclamation of the gospel in the face of opposition should really be no surprise. They were simply following the example of their Lord (cf. Mark 8:32; John 7:26). However, the transformation of Peter from one who rebuked the Lord for His boldness to one who was himself bold is quite a commentary upon the gospel’s power to change men’s lives and upon the way the gospel should be preached.

Indeed, it should embolden gospel preachers, and all Christians, to know that they declare a message so powerful (Rom. 1:16).  The teaching of Peter and John was a confident and unambiguous presentation of the truth in the face of real and serious opposition.  The apostles did not water down the gospel to placate the assembled inquisitors but with cheerful courage and fearless confidence proclaimed that Christ was the only source of salvation (4:12).

Power (DUNAMEI) – 4:33: Power means might, strength, or force. This word has reference to the miraculous power which accompanied the teaching of first century, inspired men in order to prove it’s validity. (cf. John 20:30,31; Heb. 2:2-4). Every time this word (DUNAMIS) occurs in the book of Acts it has reference to the miraculous. This was not just miraculous power, but “great” (MEGA) power. Although we do not possess the miraculous, we have the divinely confirmed word of God. Therefore, when we preach the pure gospel of Christ, we have the power (DUNAMIS) of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). And the result will be the same as it was then: “great grace was upon them all.”

Taught (EDIDASKON) – 5:21: “To teach in a public assembly; to direct or admonish; to hold discourse with others in order to teach them; deliver didactic discourses; to impart instruction, to instill doctrine into one.” According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, this “usual word for `teach’ in the N T signifies either to hold a discourse with others in order to instruct them, or to deliver a didactic discourse where there may not be direct personal and verbal participation. In the former sense it describes the interlocutory method, the interplay of ideas and words between pupils and teachers, and in the latter use it refers to the more formal monologues designed especially to give information.”

This proclamation was both public and private on a daily basis (Acts 5:42). Notice, too, that when the apostles received the word to preach, even though their life was in immediate peril, they responded promptly.  Furthermore, this teaching, like the teaching of Jesus Himself, was not done in a secret (John 18:20).  According to the angel’s instruction they went to the temple and taught openly.

Eric L. Padgett