Category Archives: Word of God

In The Beginning Was The Word

One of the most profound statements in all the Bible begins John’s Gospel account: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). The Holy Spirit through John designed this statement, no doubt, to both draw our minds back to creation in Genesis 1:1 (“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”) and to enhance our limited understanding of it. This scripture ties together many thoughts and passages throughout the Old Testament and the New to give us deeper insight into the nature of our God.

John reveals that Jesus is the Word, the Logos. In general, words express ideas, they convey meaning. I am trying to convey certain ideas through the use of words as I write this entry. As the Word, Jesus reveals to us the truths that God wants us to know. Jesus said, “As My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). Again, “I speak that which I have seen with My Father” (John 8:38). Once more, “For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak” (John 12:49). As the Word, Jesus faithfully represents to us what the Father would have us to know and understand.

The use of the term “word” or “logos” also ties together creation and revelation. God created the world by speaking it into existence. Eight times in Genesis chapter one the expression “and God said” is found as it relates to the act of creation. This fact is revealed over and over again in scripture. “He commanded, and they were created” (Psalm 148:5). “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth…He spoke, and it was done, He commanded and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6,9). God brought this world into existence through the use of the Word.

In the New Testament, Jesus is identified as the Creator. John writes, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). Paul declares of Jesus “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist (Colossians 1:16-17). The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that God “made the worlds” by His Son and that He now continues to uphold all things by the Word of His power (Heb. 1:2,3).

We further know from John’s opening declaration that the relationship which the Word sustained to God was intimate and sublime. Just as Genesis 1:1 tells us that God was already present in the beginning before creation, we learn this also of the Word. The Word simply “was.” Not only was the Word in the beginning, but He was both with God and He was God. He was God. Not just a god. Not a part of God. He was fully God and yet He was also distinct from God the Father so that He could be said to be “with” Him. This is why in the creation we hear God say “let Us make man in Our image” (Gen. 1:26).

But the most profound idea found in these opening verses of John’s account is found in verse 14: “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” The eternal Word became flesh. God became man. Why do this? “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. . .Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:10,14).

Paul stated that Jesus “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

This is how John began his account of the life of Christ. Matthew wrote to show the Jews that Jesus fulfilled the prophesies of the Old Testament as the Messiah. Mark wrote to show that Jesus was the Son of God. Luke wrote to demonstrate the humanity of Jesus. But John wrote to show us that Jesus was God and man. In his epistle, 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). John touched and handled the Word of Life.

Eric L. Padgett

The Season for Fruit

And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Psalm 1:3).

When God created the world, He created it to bear fruit. The fruit tree was to bear fruit (Gen. 1:11) as were the animals God created to inhabit this world (Gen. 1:22). All this fruit was created by God so that man could benefit from them (Gen. 1:29). God also commanded man to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Gen. 1:28). After the Flood, the command to be fruitful was reissued to Noah and his descendants (Gen. 8:17).

A law that God established for the physical creation was that everything that produced fruit would reproduce only after its kind (Gen. 1:11). This law is seen in action everyday and is so well established that every tree is known by its fruit (Luke 6:44). Orange trees produce oranges, apple trees produce only apples, pear trees produce only pear trees, etc. This is also seen in the animal kingdom. Squirrels produce only squirrels, dogs only dogs, cats only cats and monkeys only monkeys. This one fact, by the way, forever defeats the hypothesis of evolution!

These principles, these laws, that are seen so readily in the material world, are also seen in the spiritual world. Just as God created the material world to bear fruit, Christians are created to bear fruit unto God (Rom. 7:4). The Lord has chosen us that we should go forth and bear fruit (John 15:16). In fact, Jesus said if you do not bear fruit, God will take you away (John 15:2). As we go forth and bear much fruit, God is glorified and we show ourselves to be the disciples of Christ (John 15:8).

A good tree will not bring forth corrupt fruit and an evil tree will not bear good fruit (Luke 6:43). Remember, a tree will reproduce after its kind. Thus, a good tree, because it is the product of good seed, will not bear evil fruit. If the seed is bad, then the tree is bad. When the seed is the good seed of the word of God, the result cannot be bad when it is mixed with a good and honest heart (Luke 8:11). Good fruit is brought forth in the individual when that person hears the word of God, and with patience, and a good and honest heart, keeps that word (Luke 8:15).

What are some of the fruits Christians may bear? Some fruit may be financial support and, consequently, fellowship in reaching the lost. Paul described a “certain contribution” made by the brethren in Macedonian and Achaia to the poor saints at Jerusalem as “fruit” (Rom. 15:28; cf. Phil 4:16,17). Other fruit may be holiness and everlasting life (Rom. 6:22; cf. Prov. 11:30). Still other fruit would be qualities such as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5:22-23). Offering the “sacrifice of praise to God continually” is a fruit that we may bear (Heb. 13:15).

And the list could go on but the point is God promises us that if our delight is in the law of the Lord, if we meditate in it day and night, we shall be like a tree that is firmly planted by the river of waters, where we will receive a continuous source of spiritual nutrients (Psalm 1:1-3). We will then produce fruit because the things we think about will be those spiritual things revealed in the word of God. We abide in Him and He in us through the word (John 15:2-4). Christ abides in us as His word abides in us (John 15:4,7). Faithful Christians will produce only the fruit that the word of God demands (John 15:4,5). We will bear fruit after the nature of the seed. It’s the law!

Eric L. Padgett

Should We Obey God Or Woman?

In a recent speech given at the Women of the World summit, Hillary Clinton, Democrat candidate for President, stated that “Far too many women are denied access to reproductive health care and safe childbirth…And deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs and structural biases have to be changed.” While you might think that she was referring to some far away, oppressed, backward country, she wasn’t. She went on to clarify that what she referred to was “not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

In many ways this is simply a strange statement. The expression “reproductive health care” is just a nuanced way of saying “abortion.” The Planned Parenthood website, for instance, while they offer other token services (very few of which seem to be related to parenting) clearly seeks to promote and advance abortion. It is nearly all they talk about. And yet, apparently, Hillary Clinton thinks there are not enough abortions even in the United States where there have been 57,852,000 since 1973. Already, this year alone, there were 360,187 abortions. Think of this! These are innocent lives being snuffed out just because they were inconvenient to someone else. And Hillary Clinton thinks women are denied this “right”?

Furthermore, she blames religious beliefs for stifling abortion. Whatever else she may be referring to when she says this, she has in mind the Biblical teaching that abortion is murder. She would have Christians to change their “deep-seated religious beliefs” in order to bring about her goal of increased access to abortion. This clearly demonstrates not only a lack of humanity but also a lack of understanding on her part of the nature of truth, the origin of the Bible and the basis of Christianity.

Christians do not arbitrarily decide what they believe. We believe the things we believe because they come from God, not from any man (or any woman). All scripture is given by inspiration of God (II Tim. 3:16,17). Faithful Christians would never, could never, change their view about the sanctity of life. Those who would presume to alter the teaching of God’s word are warned:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (Rev. 22:18-19).

Christians, those who follow and adhere to the teaching of Jesus Christ, know that to add to or to take from the word of God is sinful. Christians would never seek to alter or have others alter their deep-seated views that come from God. Indeed, we ought to obey God rather than men or woman (Acts 5:29). While many will form their worldview based on something other than the Bible, faithful Christians, will have a “Thus saith the Lord” for their deep-seated beliefs.

This country does not now need, nor does it ever need, leaders who tempt its citizens to dismiss the will of God or have disdain for the sanctity of human life, which is made in the image of God. It needs leaders who will lead based upon the word of God. At the very lest, we need moral leaders who uphold the traditional Judea-Christian values that formed the basis of the founding of this country.

May God help us in the upcoming elections to choose men and women who uphold the traditional values upon which this country was founded, who will uphold the sanctity of life, and who will listen to God’s word as they govern.

Eric L. Padgett

The Nature of God’s Word

How would you describe the word of God? Various descriptions are offered in the Bible. The prophet Jeremiah, for instance, described it as both a fire and a hammer (Jer. 23:29). James described it as a mirror of the soul (James 1:25). Paul described it as a sharp two-edged sword that can pierce even to the dividing asunder of the soul and the spirit, discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart (Heb. 4:15). These descriptions are all poetic and memorable. But the Sweet Psalmist of Israel gives us a description of the word of God that is as thorough as it is poetic.

After describing the Book of Nature’s limited revelation of the Creator (Ps. 19:1-6), David begins to describe the more complete Book of Revelation, His word. In verses seven through nine, David offers three couplets of verse that define the word of God and it’s relationship to man.

First, David says that God’s word is Law (v. 7). Many retreat from this description because they prefer to look at the word of God as something less rigid. But a law it is and a law implies a legal responsibility. Today, all men are amenable to the law of Christ (James 1:25; Rom. 8:2; Gal.6:2; cf. Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16; etc). A law exists in the context of a kingdom and, as Christians, we are citizens of the kingdom of Christ, governed by His divine and perfect law (Col. 1:13; James 2:8-12).

David also describes the word of God as the “Testimony” of the Lord. The Testimony indicates a covenant and a covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. Under the Mosaic covenant, the place where the Law of the Lord was stored was called the Ark of the Testimony because it held the two tables of testimony (Ex. 25:14, 21,22; 31:18). Today, we are under the Testimony of Christ (I Cor. 2:1,2; II Tim. 1:8; Rev. 1:9), the New Testament (Heb. 9:15; Matt. 26:28). This relationship suggests we will inherit the blessings of the Covenant (I Pet. 1:3-5; Heb. 9:15).

In the next couplet (v. 8), David turns more specific. Whereas the terms “law” and “testimony” are general and refer to the whole corpus of God’s will (e.g., Matt. 22:36-40; Eph. 2:15), the terms “statute” and “commandment” are more pointed. The term “statute” (or precept) is a rule of life, indicating that the Lord is our Guide (Ps. 31:3; 48:14). Under the New Covenant, we are disciples of Christ by virtue of continuing in His word (John 8:31). This indicates a Master – disciple or Teacher – student relationship (Luke 6:40). Following His teaching produces joy (John 13:13-17).

Next, David describes God’s word as the “commandment” of the Lord. This suggests a servant – Lord relationship (Matt. 10:24). The Lord gave commandments to the apostles by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:2) and the apostles, in turn, gave us the commandments of the Lord (I Thess. 4:2). It is through keeping these commandments that we know the Lord (I John 2:7). Jesus said if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14:15). Therefore, those who violate the commandments of the Lord are not His friends (John 15:14).

Then, ratcheting up the intensity, David turns from the specific to the personal in verse nine. The “fear” of the Lord is the next description offered and fear is a very personal thing. While there are some things that we should not fear (I John 4:18; Heb. 13:6; etc.), there are other things we definitely should fear (I Pet. 1:17; 2:17, 3:2). Truly, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31). But it is through this fear that we perfect holiness (II Cor. 7:1).

Finally, putting a point on his summary, David describes the word of God as the “judgment” of the Lord. His word is a judgment because it is by His word that we shall be judged (Rev. 20:12; Rom. 2:16; John 12:48). Because His word is Truth (John 17:17), we shall be judged in truth. We shall be judged fairly (Rom. 2:3-11) and righteously (Acts 17:31), but we shall be judged. God is the Judge of all the earth (Heb. 12:23; Gen. 18:25) and He will judge us by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30,31).

This inspired poetry is thus a complete description of both the nature of God’s word and our relationship to the Lord.

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

The Perfect Tool for Conversion!

How many Christians seek for just the right program, just the right method of reaching the lost? How many discussions have taken place in business meetings to find out why the congregation is not growing or why members are leaving? How many congregations now engage in “outreach” programs so that they can “reach” the “unchurched” in the community? Let me introduce you to the perfect tool and the best program for converting the lost. Interested? Read on.

The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul (Psalm 19:7).

Though some want to deny it, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s will is a law. A law is a binding or enforceable rule by some authority. God’s will is legally, morally, ethically, and spiritually binding in every way on all accountable human beings (Rev. 20:11,12). The Old Testament was a law (e.g., I Kings 2:3) that was binding upon the children of Israel alone (Ex. 34:27). The New Covenant is also a law (Gal. 6:2), but it is binding upon everyone (Matt. 28:18-20). Since God is the authority behind this law and it is universal, no man will be able to escape the accountability it brings.

The New Testament is not a “love letter” as some like to describe it (though love is central to it’s message –John 3:16), but it is a pattern to be followed. It contains laws to be obeyed, rules to be followed, precepts to be mastered. Paul said “If any man teach otherwise…withdraw thyself” (I Tim. 6:3-5). He further said, “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us” (II Thes. 3:6). We will be judged by the things written in God’s word (John 12:48). These passages and many, many others clearly demonstrate that the New Covenant is a pattern to be followed, a law to be obeyed.

God’s law is also perfect. We human beings are fallible and the laws we make are also fallible. The Constitution of the United States is as great a document as any man could ever hope to produce, but it is fallible. The founders recognized this when they made provision in the law to amend it over time if necessary. But God’s word is perfect. The word here translated “perfect” is variously translated as “without blemish,” “upright,” “whole” and “complete.” Because it is without spot and without blemish, it is pure: “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6). And it is true (John 17:17). God’s word doesn’t ever need amending or changing because it is perfect truth.

It is this aspect, perfect truth, that gives it it’s power to convert. If the pure word of God is not taught, then the soul cannot be saved (Rom. 10:13-15)! I simply cannot understand those who want to water down the word of God in order to attract people who would otherwise be offended by the truth. If you water it down and change it, then it cannot save because it ceases to be the perfect truth of God! I do not understand the need by many to offer something in addition to the simple truth of the Gospel of Christ–things like games, entertainment, food, plays, etc.,–in order to attract people to God.

The best way to grow any kind of plant is not to set up entertainment, not to put on plays, not to draw other plants with fun and games, but to plant the seed of the plant you want to grow. In my small garden there is growing lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and corn. The way I was able to get them to grow was to plant lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and corn seed. Spiritually, the seed is the word of God (Luke 8:11). If we want to grow Christians, we will plant the law of the Lord because it is perfect, converting the soul.

The Truth and the Truth alone has the power to save the soul, but lies have the power to damn it eternally. But many would rather believe a comforting lie than know the saving truth. Watering down the word of God is like dirtying the mirror you look into each morning. If you dirty the mirror, then you cannot know if you need to wash or not, but you will not feel bad about the way you look. That, unfortunately, is the condition of many souls today because too many want to dilute the truth. Too many want to dull the sword of the Spirit so that it cannot cut as deep.

No soul will ever be saved by any doctrine originated in the heart or head of any man. No soul will ever be saved by any program devised by any man or group of men. No soul was ever or will ever be saved by games, entertainment or secular enticements. It is only the perfect truth of God, the Law of the Lord, that converts the soul. Why change it?

Eric L. Padgett

Good Change, Bad Change

Change! Everything nowadays seems to change. I guess this has always been true. The leaves change, seasons change, fashion changes, individual people change, looks change, technology changes, tastes change, moods change, landscapes change, cities change. Even slick politicians promise us “Change!” The list could go on. But change for change’s sake is not a good thing in most instances. All change is not good. There are some things that should not change and that don’t change.

For instance, God does not change. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:2). Yes, people may change over time, because they are less than perfect. But God, being perfect, cannot change, lest He be less than perfect. Nor does Jesus Christ change. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb. 13:8). It is good that God does not change because this provides stability for us in our lives and world.

God’s word does not change. Heaven and earth will pass away before God’s word ever changes (Matt. 2:35) and even then there is not a chance of it changing because it, too, is perfect. “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times. Thou shalt keep them, O Lord, thou shalt preserve them from this generation for ever” (Psalm 12:6,7). The law of the Lord is perfect and therefore does not change (Psalm 19:7). Truth does not change.

Morality and right and wrong do not change. Some people think that what was moral in the first century is no longer moral, that there is no objective, moral standard of right and wrong. But since God provides the standard through His word of what is right and wrong, and since neither God nor His word changes, then moralty and right and wrong do not change. What was morally wrong two thousand years ago, even six thousand years ago, is still wrong today and will always be wrong. The Psalmist declared, “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth” (Psalm 119:142; cf. Psalm 119:60).

Furthermore, the Lord’s church does not change. The same church that was established by the Lord on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection (Acts 2; Matt. 16:16-19) is the very same church which will be translated into heaven without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:27). There are many who try to change her, who try to lower her standards, who try to make something of her she was never intended to be, but the Lord’s church remains the same because the gates of hell cannot prevail against her (Matt. 16:19).

All these things do not change. Some men want to change them, some men try to change them, but God’s will resists those feeble attempts. Those who try to change them, however, who try to add to or take away from them, will meet with unwelcomed and unbearable reprisal (Rev. 22:18,19).

What does need to change is the heart of man. The heart of every man needs to be set free from an evil conscience (Heb. 10:22). Men want life their own way on their own terms, but the way of man is not in himself (Jer. 10:23). It is man that left God and, thus, needs to be reconciled unto Him, not the other way around (II Cor. 5:19ff). This is good change, when men turn back to God. We need more of this kind of change.

Eric L. Padgett

Necessary Things

          When Martha requested that the Lord tell her sister, Mary, that she should help in  serving, Jesus responded by saying that while Martha was careful and troubled about many things, there was one thing that was needful and Mary had chosen that better part (Luke 10:38-42).  There are some things that are important in life, but there are other things that are necessary–needful.  Just to mention a few.
          Some think that being free to do whatever they feel like is important.  I believe in freedom (and incidentally think that too many freedoms are being taken from us these days) because God created us that way.  We are free to choose to obey Him or reject Him.  Of course, there are consequences to our choices.  What we really need, however, is freedom from sin.  How does that come about?  Jesus said, “Ye shall know the truth, and the Truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).  It is a choice we make (Rom. 8:16-18).
       Some think that great knowledge is what is needed.  Man so often thinks he has the answers to all his problems.  However, the way of man is not in himself (Jer. 10:23).  Men devise so many schemes whereby they think they can outsmart God, but it is futile (Rom. 1:21ff).  What we really need is spiritual wisdom (Col. 1:9).  Science falsely so-called does not offer anything but empty hope (I Tim. 6:20).  Wisdom that is from above (James 313-18) recognizes the importance of Jesus’ words (Matt. 7:24-27).
       Also, so many look for a higher standard of living.  They want more money, a better car, a bigger house, more prestige and every other material item which they can grasp.  But instead of a higher standard of living, we need a higher standard of conduct.  Christ left us an example, that we should follow in His steps (I Pet. 2:21-24).  We should walk worthy of the Lord (Col. 1:10) and do unto others as we would have them do unto us (Matt. 7:12).  Our conversation should be as it becometh the gospel (Phil. 1:27) and not like the world (II Cor. 6:11-18).
       These and so many other lessons can be learned about what is important and what is necessary or needful.

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