Category Archives: Liberals

On “Mission Statements” and “Visions”

I often search the internet looking at examples of web sites various churches keep to get ideas on how to make the web sites I maintain better. I see some things I like but there are many things I see which disturb me greatly. One thing which I often see on many church web sites is a “mission statement.” But it is curious to me that a congregation would need to develop their own modern mission statement or a “vision,” and these are often quite broad in scope and complex, when the Lord has given us a very complete and concise “mission statement” already:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).

And again:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16).

Jesus was clear. The mission of the church, as He delivered it to the apostles, was to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” This is simple, direct, clear and concise. But what do many mission statements of modern “churches of Christ” say? Let’s look at one example of a “mission statement” that was the first I came across just randomly searching for “mission statements” (but it is not alone in either it’s content or thrust).

“The [name withheld] Church of Christ is a body of Christ-centered believers who submit to God’s word through faithful living and works of service, empowered by His Spirit to become a marriage- and family-friendly community of faith which embraces the blessings of our God-given diversity.”

What is this? Whatever it is, this is not the great commission! What this is is a piece of politically correct mumbo-jumbo designed to confuse people about the purpose of the Lord’s church. What is a “Christ-centered believer?” This is nothing but warmed-over, liberal denominational terminology. Scripturally, the church is the saved (Acts 2:47). Whatever happened to the time tested, biblical principle of calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways (I Pet. 4:11)?

Is the purpose of the church to “submit to God’s word through faithful living and service?” It is not the purpose of the church to submit to God’s word, that is the nature of the church. Those who have obeyed the gospel have already submitted to God’s word by believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized (Rom. 6:16-19).

The notion of service also gets abused. Yes, we are servants of the Lord. The word “servant” used in the New Testament is the word for a bond-servant. A slave. As Christians we are His servants and must please Him, not men. Paul said, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). But too many see themselves as the servants of men first and of God last. These make an industry out of “service.” I will have more to say about this in a later post.

The errors encompassed in the statement “empowered by His Spirit” are too many to answer in this short post. Let it suffice to say that the Spirit works through His revealed word (Eph. 6:17). And while that revealed word teaches us about God’s design for marriage and the family, the Holy Spirit does not “empower” us to be “marriage- and family-friendly.” That is a choice we make, just like everything else we do.

The expression “community of faith” in the above “mission statement” is foreign to the scriptures. You cannot find it in God’s word. God’s people are the “called out,” the church. The church is the “house of God” (I Tim. 3:15). The English word “church” comes from the Greek word “kyriake (oikia), kyriakon doma ‘Lord’s (house).'” Jesus didn’t say “Upon this rock I will build My community” but “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Such expressions as “community of faith” are more at home in socialism and liberalism than they are in the Lord’s house.

Finally, the idea that the Lord’s church was created to “embrace diversity” is simply another effort at using modern social issues to alter the nature and purpose of the Lord’s church. We all are to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). We are to have the same mind and the same judgement (I Cor. 1:10). The mind that was in Christ Jesus is to be in us (Phil. 2:5-8). Instead of focusing on and “embracing diversity,” the Lord tells us to focus on and be conformed to the truth (John 17:17-21).

All attempts at developing modern “mission statements” by churches of Christ, or statements expressing their “vision,” are against the genius of New Testament Christianity. I know our society presses us to be conformed to the religious world around us and focus on issues that tantalize and fascinate. But let us, as New Testament Christians, reject all such exotic missions. Let us insist on going back to the New Testament for our faith and practice. Let us insist on speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent and calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways.

Why should we, as Christians–disciples of Christ–want anything more than His Great Commission: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.

Eric L. Padgett

Beneath The Banner of the Cross

In the news recently, there have been several reports of people disrespecting the American flag. In fact, there seems to be a trend in a certain segment of our culture nowadays to manifest a flagrant disregard for the institutions which have been the foundation of this country. Much of this attitude has been brought about by our educational institutions abandoning their charge of teaching our history and, even in some cases, teaching our children that America is to blame for all the ills in the world.

Some will say that the flag is nothing but a piece of cloth. It is true that the flag is made up of cloth but I would suggest it is something more than mere cloth because it stands for an idea. If someone wanted to burn or stomp on their own clothes or some useless rags, that is their choice. But the flag stands for high and lofty ideas and that is what makes it important. Of course, it is only important to those to whom those ideas it stands for mean something.

As Christians, we march under a greater flag, a divine banner. The Psalmist stated, “Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth” (Psalm 60:4). We often sing the words, “There’s a royal banner given for display to the soldiers of the King. As an ensign fair we lift it up today, while as ransomed ones we sing. Marching on! Marching on! For Christ count everything but loss. To the King of kings, we’ll toil and sing, beneath the banner of the cross.” In the hymn “Stand Up! Stand Up for Jesus” we sing “lift high his royal banner, it must not suffer loss.” We march under that holy and royal banner of the cross of Christ.

Isaiah described a time when God would raise up an ensign, or banner, out of Jesse which the Gentiles would seek (Is. 11:10). This prophecy spoke of Christ (Rom. 15:12). Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so was the Son of man lifted up (Num. 21:8,9; John 3:14).

Isaiah (62:10-12) described it this way:

Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highways; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.

Matthew quoted this passage and applied to the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem just before His arrest and crucifixion (Matt. 21:4,5). Over the New Jerusalem flies the Royal Banner of Christ!

But as in the world, so in the church, there are some who hold disdain for that holy banner. In the world there are those who would remove every vestige of memory of Christ from our culture and bully Christians into submission or out of our society. In the church, there are those who would change the charge under which we march as soldiers of the cross. They won’t preach Christ and Him crucified but prefer some worldly philosophy or some newly imagined sociological theory. They seek to entertain and get along with the world instead of teaching it the Truth or warning it of the coming Judgement. In this, they show just as much or even greater contempt for the Banner of Christ as some do for the flag of the United States by trampling upon or burning it.

Instead, let us march boldly under the Banner of the Cross, lifting it high. Let us preach in the name of the Lord the truth that saves. “Over land and sea, wherever man may dwell, make the glorious tidings known; Of the crimson banner now the story tell, while the Lord shall claim His own Marching on! Marching On! For Christ count everything but loss. For the King of kings we’ll toil and sing beneath the banner of the cross”

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


Some times in life we are required to make choices. Some of these choices can have very serious and lasting consequences. Which person should I marry? Which house or which car will I buy? Should I have surgery or not? Should I speak out or should I remain silent. These are real options that sometimes require a hard choice to be made between two or more alternatives. But some times the choices presented to us are false. Sometimes we are told we must choose between two or more possibilities and the necessity of a choice is only apparent.

For example, sometimes we are told we must choose between hating and loving. We understand that the first and greatest commandment in the law of Moses was to love God and the second greatest was to love neighbor as self (Matt. 22:35-40). We understand that Jesus commanded us to love one another (John 15:17). But we also understand that God, our Heavenly Father, hates iniquity (Heb. 1:9). Are we any better than our Heavenly Father? Are we more righteous than He? The Lord specifically commended the churches of Ephesus and Pergamus because they hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which, the Lord said, He also hated (Rev. 2:6,15). We should hate what the Lord hates and love what He loves! The choice between hate and love often is only a false choice.

Another example of this is the false choice between building and defending. I have heard certain segments of our brotherhood derisively call those who are committed to defending the faith “brotherhood watchdogs.” Those who use this language are usually never willing to stand up against anyone except those who stand up against doctrinal and moral error. But once again, this is a false choice. Just as the Jew of old in rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem wrought with one of his hands and with the other hand held a weapon (Neh. 4:17,18), so, too, we must both build and defend the Lord’s church. In fact, in the Christian dispensation, because Truth is so intimately connected with the salvation in the Lord’s church, we cannot but help do one when we faithfully do the other. The choice between building and defending is a false one.

Another false choice often presented as the only options is between God’s love and God’s justice. Some emphasize God’s love so much that it sounds as if God never has judged anyone or never will be judge of all the earth (Gen. 18:25). Truly, God is love (I John 4:8). Indeed, no greater love has been shown than when God sent His Only Begotten Son into the world to be offered as a ransom for all (John 3:16; I Tim. 2:6). But, nevertheless, God is going to judge man for his sins because God is just (Zeph. 3:5; Zech. 9:9). To be true to God we must teach all His word says about Him. The choice between God’s love and God’s justice is a false one.

Another choice the religious world likes to force us to make is the one between grace and works. Most in the religious world will say we are saved by grace and nothing else. Still others in the religious world will say that we can merit our salvation by being good enough or doing enough to earn our salvation. Again, the choice is a false one. We are saved by God’s grace (Eph. 2:8) just as surely as we are saved by works of obedience (II Thess. 1:8). God’s grace is extended to all men but it teaches us that we must do something in response (Tit. 2:11,12). The choice between grace and works is a false one.

Finally, some want to force a choice between faith and baptism. Some will emphasize the necessity of faith to the extent they say we are saved by faith alone. In fact, the New Testament teaches we are not saved by faith only (James 2:4). The Bible clearly teaches that baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). The Bible clearly teaches that he that believes and is baptized shall be saved (Mark 16:15,16). The right way of teaching this issue is to present the whole counsel of God and not just what we want to teach (Acts 20:27). The truth is, there is no choice between faith and baptism because it is not “faith or baptism” but “faith and baptism.”

In life, there are many serious choices we must make. Some are matters of life and death and eternity. Let us not add to these real and serious choices false and manufactured ones.

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

What About “Easter” in Acts 12:4?

The charge has often been made against the King James Version that it has errors in it, and the implication often given is that the errors are serious enough to warrant it being discarded for newer, “better” translations. One of the charges of “error” regularly leveled against it is that it uses the word “easter” in Acts 12:4 and this causes people to err into celebrating a day not authorized by the Lord. I want to address this charge.

Various attempts have been made to both condemn and defend the KJV translation of Easter in Acts 12:4. One attempt to defend the translation is to say that the word Easter referred neither to a Christian nor a Jewish observance. Rather, some argue that Herod was waiting to observe a pagan festival, since he was a pagan Edomite descendant. After he observed his own pagan ceremony, then he would deliver Peter to the people, so the argument goes.

The problem with this ingenious theory is that the Text no where states that Herod was observing anything. It was not Herod, but the Jews who were observing this feast. The only reason he was waiting was because it was during the days of unleavened bread that Peter was taken (v. 3) and he wanted to please the Jews (Acts 12:2,4). He waited because it either would have caused a disturbance to kill Peter during this time or he wanted to present Peter’s death as a climax to their observances.

Another view often advanced is that this word cannot be translated “passover” as in all other passages of the New Testament because the Text states that “then were the days of unleavened bread” (v. 3). It is claimed that the seven days of unleavened bread came after the single-day feast of the Passover and therefore could not be a reference to Passover, since they were already in the days of unleavened bread (cf. Lev. 23:5,6). The problem with this view is that the Bible sometimes clearly combines the Passover and the days of unleavened bread. For instance, Ezekiel 45:21 states “In the first month, in the fourteenth day of the month, ye shall have the passover, a feast of seven days; unleavened bread shall be eaten.” Ezekiel called the Passover a feast of seven days. Luke also states “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (Luke 22:1). Even reading the context of Exodus 12 where we have recorded the institution of the Passover reveals the closeness of Passover day with the following feast of unleavened bread (cf. Ex. 12:11-17, particularly v. 17 the feast of unleavened bread is described as the “selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt”).

There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that the feast being observed in Acts 12 was the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread commanded in the law by Moses. How, then, can this be reconciled with the word “easter” used in the King James version?

The origin of the word “easter” is not as certain as some would like to make it out. Most commentators will rely on Bede’s statement on the origin of the word. Bede, an English monk who lived in the seventh and eighth centuries (672/673 – 735) wrote in his work The Reckoning of Time, as he was describing the various names of the months of the English, “Eosturmonath has a name which is now translated ‘Paschal month’, and which was once called after a goddess of theirs named Eostre, in whose honour feasts were celebrated in that month. Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” So Bede identifies the name easter as having its origin in the name of a goddess and his antiquity gives his testimony a certain amount of weight that cannot be easily dismissed. Alexander Hislop, in his work, The Two Babylons, argued further that Eostre could be traced back to the Babylonian goddess Astarte.

But this may not be the last word on the matter. For instance, states: “The English word Easter, which parallels the German word Ostern, is of uncertain origin…There is now widespread consensus that the word derives from the Christian designation of Easter week as in albis, a Latin phrase that was understood as the plural of alba (“dawn”) and became eostarum in Old High German, the precursor of the modern German and English term. The Latin and Greek pascha (‘Passover’) provides the root for Pâcques, the French word for Easter” (Encyclopeda Brittanica,

Others have also made similar arguments. Nick Sayers writes, “The English word Easter is of German/Saxon origin and not Babylonian as Alexander Hislop falsely claimed…The German equivalent is Oster. Oster (Ostern being the modern day correspondent) is related to Ost which means the rising of the sun, or simply in English, east. Oster comes from the old Teutonic form of auferstehen/auferstehung, which means resurrection, which in the older Teutonic form comes from two words, ester meaning first, and stehen meaning to stand. These two words combine to form erstehen which is an old German form of auferstehen, the modern day German word for resurrection. The English Easter and German Oster go hand in hand.” (see

The word “passover” in the Hebrew comes from the word “pecach.” This word, according to Strongs, means “a pretermission, i.e. exemption.” The Gesenius Hebrew and Chaldea Lexicon states that it properly means “a sparing, immunity from penalty and calamity.” It derives from the word “pacach” which means “to hop.” This word is used of lame Mephibosheth, as he hobbled and hopped along when he walked (II Sam. 4:4). Elijah used this word when he asked “How long halt ye between two opinions?” (I Kings 18:21). In other words, how long are you going to jump back and forth between two opinions? When pacach is used with the Hebrew “‘al,” which is used as a preposition, it is translated into two words as “pass over” (Ex. 12:13, 23, 27).

Prior to William Tyndale (1494–1536), the words “passover” and “easter” were not found in the Bible. Most translations left them untranslated. For instance, John Wycliffe (1320-1384) translates Lev. 23:5 as “In the firste monethe, in the fourtenthe dai of the monethe, at euentid, is pask of the Lord;” Here the Hebrew Pecach is left basically untranslated. Again, Wycliffe translates Num 9:2 as “and seide, The sones of Israel make pask in his tyme.” In the New Testament, Wycliffe translated the Greek pascha as pask. For example, Matt. 26:2 is translated “Ye witen, that aftir twei daies pask schal be maad, and mannus sone schal be bitakun to be crucified.”

But when Tyndale translated the New Testament, which he did before he translated the Old Testament, he introduced the term “easter.” His translation of Matt. 26:2, for instance, is:”Ye knowe that after ii. dayes shalbe ester and the sonne of man shalbe delyvered to be crucified.” Here, Tyndale translates pascha as ester, or easter. Tyndale translates Mark 14:14 as “And whither soever he goeth in saye ye to ye good man of ye housse: the master axeth where is the geest chambre where I shall eate ye ester lambe with my disciples.” Here, pascha is translated “ester lambe,” or Easter Lamb. When he later translated the Old Testament, he coined the term “passover.”

Was Tyndale in error? Did he not know that these passages referred to the Jewish feast ordained by God under the Mosaic Law? Did he mistakenly think this was a ceremony to a pagan goddess? Or did he believe the Jews were celebrating a “Christian feast” before Christ even died and rose again? The reader will understand that these questions are rhetorical and that Tyndale knew he was referring to the Jewish feast of Passover. The point is this, during Tyndale’s day, the term “easter” was used for the Jewish feast of Passover.

Tyndale was not alone in this. For instance, Martin Luther (1483 – 1546) translated Mark 14:14 into German as “und wo er eingeht, da sprechet zu dem Hauswirt: Der Meister läßt dir sagen: Wo ist das Gasthaus, darin ich das Osterlamm esse mit meinen Jüngern?” Notice that the Greek pascha is translated as “Osterlamm,” or “ester lambe” as Tyndale translated it, or Easter Lamb in modern English. He translated Matthew 26:2 as “Ihr wisset, daß nach zwei Tagen Ostern wird; und des Menschen Sohn wird überantwortet werden, daß er gekreuzigt werde.” Again, notice that “Ostern” translates the Greek pascha.

The Bishop’s Bible of 1568, against which the King James Version was translated, uses the term “easter. In John 11:55 the Bishop’s Bible reads “And the Iewes Easter was nye at hande, and many went out of the countrey vp to Hierusale before the Easter, to purifie them selues.” Notice that the Greek pascha is translated “Easter” but also notice it is the “Jews Easter,” an obvious reference to the Passover. Again, the Bishop’s Bible uses Easter in Acts 12:4, the very verse we are now considering. The Great Bible uses the term easter multiple times in the New Testament and even in the Old Testament passage of Ezek. 45:21. “Upon the .xiiij. daye of the fyrst moneth, ye shall kepe easter. Seuen dayes shall the feate contynue, wherin there shall no sowre ner leuened breed be eaten.” Again, the Hebrew word for Passover is translated easter.

The point is to show that the word “easter” was used to translate the word for passover and stood for the concept of passover during this period of time when these great, historical Bibles were being translated. Because that is the case, the King James version cannot successfully be charged with mistranslating pascha in Acts 12:4 when it does the same. Those who make such a claim do not understand the history behind the translation or the origin of the word easter.

Furthermore, even if the name easter had it’s origin in the name of this goddess Eostre, this does not mean that translating the word for the passover by that name was in error because by the time the King James Version had been translated it had come to mean that to the translators. The time of year when the Passover occurred was known by them as Eosturmonath or Easter Month. Even today we call the Lord’s Day, the day on which the Lord arose from the dead, “Sunday.” Many congregations will have in their bulletins the times of the “Sunday services” but no one claims that this is wrong because the name “Sunday” was derived from the worship of the sun.

Even in the Bede quote above he let’s us know that Easter was equated with Passover. He states, “Now they designate that Paschal season by her name, calling the joys of the new rite by the time-honoured name of the old observance.” The “Paschal season” is a reference to the time when the Passover was observed, which was also the time, of course, when our Lord arose from the dead. By this time errors had crept in with regard to observing the resurrection of Christ, which he calls the “new rite,” but his quote identifies the Passover with the term easter.

The term easter in Acts 12:4 is not in error. It may be an outdated translation today, and it may have even been somewhat dated when the King James version was translated, but it is not in error. We are looking at the verse from the standpoint of the 21st century when we should be looking at it from the standpoint of the 17th century. If we do that, the problem clears up.

No one should take from this article that I endorse the observance of Easter as a religious holy day. In our day, Easter has come to mean something entirely different than when it was used in the King James Bible. In the early Bibles the term easter was used to refer to the passover. As the church began to fall away from the faith, and the doctrine corrupted, events like “All Hallows Eve,” “Christ’s Mass,” and “Easter” were added to the pure faith. But the charge that the King James translators erred in Acts 12:4 with easter is not accurate. In fact, the King James translators removed the other references to easter that were found in the previous Bibles, perhaps because the term easter was no longer being used the way it had been originally.

One final thought, contrary to claims of grievous error, I know of no one who has been lost because of the word easter in the King James Bible. However, I know of many who are lost because of the errors of modern translations. I do not mind an honest discussion of the translations of words, and I do not claim to be any kind of scholar, but it does bother me when people blindly and enthusiastically attribute error to the King James Bible, which has been used down through the centuries to combat error and promote the Lord’s church. I have yet to see any translation that measures up in every way to the beauty, majesty and accuracy of the King James version.

Eric L. Padgett

On Being Judgmental

The waters of worldliness are lapping over into the ark of safety and threaten to overthrow the faith of many. Christians are forgetting their Christ-given mission as Christians and are acting as if the Lord never spoke about certain moral, doctrinal, philosophical and theological issues. Many Christians are adopting the approaches and attitudes of the secular and sectarian worlds and, all the while, political correctness is destroying our society and is contaminating the Lord’s church.

I offer the following as an example of this sad trend. It was stated in a recent article in a well known brotherhood publication (“Homosexuality and the Church“) that “Teenage members of Churches of Christ perceive judgmental attitudes as hampering the fellowship’s spread of the Gospel.” The topic of the article was homosexuality. The judgmental attitude spoken of was calling homosexuality a sin. This was further described as a one dimensional approach to the problem of homosexuality.

The answer to the problem of homosexuality, according to the writer of the article, is not to try to change anyone’s sexual orientation but to “discuss struggles.” They spend a lot of time in prayer, but it is not to “pray the gay away.” Rather, the group “feels like” they can get into the work of the Holy Spirit in these individuals’ lives.”

Not having the space to address the gross misunderstanding concerning the Holy Spirit manifested in such a statement (see here), it should be clear to all Christians familiar with God’s word that New Testament and Old Testament writers–actually inspired by the Holy Spirit–spoke plainly about “homosexuality.” “Homosexuality,” or, as the Bible calls it, sodomy, is an “abomination,” something that is morally disgusting or abhorrent (Lev. 18:22). It is a sin that is worthy of death (Lev. 20:13). It is “unclean,” “dishonorable,” “vile,” “against nature,” “unseemly,” and the product of a “reprobate mind” (Rom. 1:18-32). Those who engage in this activity cannot inherit the kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:9,10). This is the way New Testament writers spoke on the subject. But according to our “enlightened” society today, especially our teenagers, if this article is to be believed, this approach was dead wrong and we should “reframe the discussion” and start talking “about love, compassion, support and grace.”

Many have allowed liberal social theories to color their view of the gospel and of the church. But the Lord’s church is not a social experiment, it is the eternal Kingdom of God (II Pet. 1:11; Dan. 2:44; Matt. 16:18,19). It is not open for restructuring. The gospel is not social theory, it is the inerrant Word of God and it is not subject to alteration (Gal. 1:6-9). If it is indeed true that the majority of teenagers in the Lord’s church in our generation look upon the preaching of the Old Jerusalem Gospel as being judgmental, then sadly many in the Lord’s church have failed in their responsibility in bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:1-4); a generation has arisen which knows not Jehovah nor the works He has done for spiritual Israel (Jud. 2:10).

Sodomy is but one example where the world has influenced the thinking of many in the Lord’s church. The increasing focus on entertainment in the church is another. Reliance upon feelings instead of a “thus saith the Lord” is yet another example. The list could be extended but the point is instead of making excuses for sin, we ought to be condemning it. This is not being judgmental, this is being like Christ and His apostles. Should the Son of God have had a “peacemakers conference” with the scribes and pharisees or was He right when he called them “hypocrites” (Matt. 23)? Should the apostles have spent “a great deal of time “listening and asking questions” rather than attacking and condemning people” or were they right when they told the crowd assembled on Pentecost that they had with “wicked hands” crucified the Son of God (Acts 2:22-36)? Should Paul have viewed the Athenians as “much more than their sinful identity” when he told them that they ignorantly worshiped an unknown God (Acts 17:23,31)?

The Lord’s prohibition against judging others (Matt. 7:1-5) was against superficial, hypocritical judgment. Jesus further said, get the beam out of your own eye and then you will see clearly to judge others correctly (Matt. 7:5). We cannot help but judge. It is a part of life. The judgment must be scriptural for Jesus said, “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24; cf. II Chron. 19:6), but we cannot refrain from judging. Indeed, “to do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice” (Proverbs 21:3).

The bottom line is this: It is not judgmental to call sin sin. Instead of making sinners feel good about themselves in their sin, we ought to be making them–and ourselves–uncomfortable in sin (Acts 2:37). This is not wrong, it is the work of God. All attempts to soften the impact of God’s word are misguided.

I end with the words of Peter: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19).

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

In Search of the Ancient Order (3)


Is there a pattern set forth in the New Testament for the church of Christ? As we have seen previously, the testimony of the Old Testament is that such would be the case, for it prophesied of a kingdom that would be ordered by Messiah (e.g., Isa. 9:6,7). The apostle Peter wrote that those prophets of old looked forward to our time, i.e., the Christian Dispensation (I Pet. 1:10-12). Thus, we may expect to find a pattern in the New Testament for the church which Christ built (Matt. 16:18-18). Let us therefore turn our attention to what the New Testament teaches on this subject.

Jesus Himself foretold the establishment of the church (Matthew 16:18,19):

And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Notice, first of all, that the word “church” is used synonymously with the word “kingdom” in these verses and elsewhere. For example, Jesus came preaching that the kingdom of heaven was “at hand” (Matt. 4:17), and then later spoke of the establishment of His church (Matt. 16). But when He stood before Pilate, He again spoke of His kingdom (John 18:36; cf . Acts 2:41,47). Thus, >Paul could both be in the kingdom (Col. 1:13)and in the church at the same time (Col. 1: 18). John, when writing to the seven churches of Asia, could say “I am your companion in tribulation and in the kingdom” (Rev. 1:9).

The terms “church” and “kingdom” simply denote two different aspects of the nature of the Lord’s people. In relation to the world, the Lord’s people are “called out” (II Cor. 6:17) and with respect to the government of the Lord’s people they are a kingdom (i.e., a state the head of which is a king).

Notice, first of all, concerning this passage (Matt. 18), that Jesus said He would “build” His church. When any house is built there is a blueprint that is followed if the house is to have any utility at all.

Second, the laws for the church were to be sent from heaven. Jesus told Peter, “And whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (19b). This same statement is made to the other apostles, as well (Matt. 18:18). This passage makes it plain that there is a pattern in heaven to be followed by the church on earth. The verb tense of the word “bound” is significant. It means, in essence, that whatsoever they bound on earth was already bound in heaven.

The apostles were not going to decide any doctrine on their own (Matt. 10:19; cf. Acts 15:28). What they spoke was given to them by the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:13). Not just the ideas, but the very words they spoke were given to them (I Cor. 2:13,14; II Pet, 1:16-21). To deny that there is a pattern for the church of Christ is tantamount to denying the inspiration of the scriptures. A serious charge, indeed!

(To be continued)

Eric L. Padgett

In search of the Ancient Order (2)

“Thus saith the Lord, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein” (Jeremiah 6:16).

Isaiah is often referred to as the Messianic prophet because he so often speaks of the coming Annointed One. One such familiar passage is found in Isaiah 9:6,7. The passage reads:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

No serious Bible student can doubt the Messianic import of these verses. Yet these words describe in no uncertain terms a divine “order” to the kingdom of the Prince of Peace. First, Messiah is described as having the government resting upon His shoulders. Can anyone seriously conceive of an empire that has no order, no law, no form, no pattern to its government? The “key to the House of David” rested upon His shoulders, the emblem signifying the authority of the one who had the key to order His kingdom (Is. 22:22). Having this authority, He can open and no man can shut, and shut and no man can open (Rev. 3:7). Thus, having the authority of the divine government (Matt. 28:18-20), He permits some things and forbids others. This is the very essence of a pattern.

Second, this Prince has a kingdom (a dominion, a rule, a realm). Again the question needs to be asked can a kingdom exist without order or form (Matt. 12:25)? Jesus said to Peter and the apostles, “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:19). In the Lord’s kingdom there are things that are binding, things that are obligatory. Indeed, the very terms for entrance into this kingdom are restrictive (John 3:3,5).

Third, please note very carefully that Isaiah said Messiah would sit upon the throne of David to order His kingdom. Peter said the Lord sat on the throne of David, the throne of His kingdom, when He was resurrected from the dead (Acts 2:25-31; cf. Acts 13:32-37). From that time on, at the establishment of the kingdom on the first Pentecost after the Lord’s resurrection, the disciples “continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine” (Acts 2:42). Those who keep not this doctrine are not to be fellowshipped (II John 9-11). Paul instructed young Timothy to “in all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness” (Titus 2:7).

Finally, observe the word judgement (a verdict, either favorable or unfavorable, pronounced judicially, especially a sentence or formal decree; a human or divine law). This word is found over three hundred sixty times in the Old Testament and is used in various ways. For instance, this word is translated “ordinance” in Exodus 15:25. In Exodus 21:1 the word is used of a series of laws regulating the treatment of others, including slaves. God set forth a pattern for the building of a tabernacle which was to be made after a certain “fashion” (Exodus 26:30). Indeed, there is no righteousness without God’s judgement (Isa. 26:9), and a people who refuse to accept God’s pattern are backsliders (Jer. 8:4-7) because God is known by His judgements (Ps. 9:16; 89:14).

Clearly, then, we can see and understand that even the Old Testament prophets foretold of a kingdom that would be ordered by Messiah. In our next installment we shall notice what the New Testament says about the order of the kingdom, the church of Christ.

Eric L. Padgett