Category Archives: doctrine


Amram and Jochebed were very concerned about the things of God and His people. This can be gleaned, not only from Paul’s statement about their faith (Heb. 11:23), but also from the character of the children which they reared. Moses grew up to become a great leader and deliverer of his people. Through him, God delivered both the greatest principles of law which still guide western culture and the law which led us to the Christ (Gal. 3:24). His brother Aaron worked with him hand in glove and was a great priest of the Most High God. Though little is said about her, Miriam was also a part of this leading, godly family. She is noted by Moses to be a prophetess and listed by Micah to be a great leader.

Her name is found only fifteen times in the Bible. Most of these instances are clustered in the section which reveals her worst characteristics. But from the few brief mentions of her, we can see that Miriam was also generally zealous of the things of God. Her name is the Hebrew equivalent of the name Mary in the New testament. Miriam is called a “maid” or an “almah” when we first encounter her (Ex. 2:8), which suggests that she is a young women of marriable age, though yet unmarried (cf. Prov. 30:19; Is. 7:14), so she must at least be in her early teens when we first meet her. Also, she must be old enough to be conversant with Pharaoh’s daughter and think quickly in that situation.

The first time we encounter Miriam is in the second chapter of Exodus. At least, this is very probably her, for her name is not given in the account. But the text mentions “his sister” (Ex. 2:4). From the text in I Chronicles 6:3, Miriam is the only sister mentioned to Aaron and Moses. The first time we see her she is keeping a close eye on the ark which was strategically placed in the flags of the river Nile so that Pharaoh’s daughter could find it. The next time we see her she is suggesting to Pharaoh’s daughter that a Hebrew woman be responsible for nursing the child, her brother. These two statements alone suggests several things about Miriam.

First, it suggests she was obedient to her parents. It can be reasonably assumed that her mother (or father or both, along with Inspiration) was behind the plan to save baby Moses. Her suggestion to Pharaoh’s daughter that a Hebrew woman nurse the child is very likely at the behest of Jochebed, who sought to be that woman. But while Miriam risks being caught in this plot, she is nevertheless obedient to her parents.

It also teaches us that Miriam was not self-centered. She was concerned about the welfare of her baby brother in very dangerous times. It is likely, as we have seen previously, that this baby boy was believed to be special. Perhaps there was prophecy concerning his future (His parents did act in faith, which means they had revelation from God to hide him – Heb. 11:23). Moses, when he came of age, thought that the people should understand that he was to be their deliverer (Acts 7:25). But in spite of all the attention that Moses received, Miriam was not jealous of his popularity or success. That is, at least not at first.

The one incident which mars her character is her opposition to Moses when he married an Ethiopian woman (Num. 12:1). It is, perhaps, impossible to know with certainty whether or not this is Zipporah, as many commentators claim, but it seems unlikely that Moses’ marriage to her would become an issue with Miriam after so long of a time. Regardless, the Text tells us that “Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman he had married” (Num. 12:1). From the fact that Miriam’s name is mentioned before Aaron’s and the fact that Miriam is the only one punished (Num. 12:10), it is likely that Miriam was the instigator of this cabal. Besides, Aaron was not one to lead anything, much less a rebellion. Miriam was the more vocal and outspoken of the two.

Not only did Miriam and Aaron complain about Moses’ marriage, they also had become envious of Moses’ position. They came up with this charge, “Hath the Lord indeed spoken only by Moses? hath He not also spoken by us?” (Num. 12:2). After all these years of trusting in God and supporting her brother, Moses, she finally gave in to jealousy and envy. What a sad way to close her otherwise exemplary life. But God let her know that Moses was special. Her punishment was leprosy (Num. 12:10). But when Aaron pleaded for her life and Moses interceded for her healing the Lord responded and after seven days of shame of being put out of the camp, she was healed. Her death is recorded in only a passing fashion (Num. 20:1).

Miriam was, along with Moses and Aaron, and Amram and Jochebed, part of a great, leading, godly family. In the prophets, Miriam is listed right along side Moses and Aaron as a leader (Mic. 6:4). Though we do not know what she taught, she was a prophetess, according to Moses (Ex. 15:20). Her claim that God had spoken also by her agrees with this observation (Num. 12:2). While we may not know what she taught verbally, the example of her life speaks volumes to us.

Eric L. Padgett

Lessons For A Preacher

Timothy was quite a young man. He exhibited unfeigned faith in Christ, even while coming from a religiously divided home. His mother was a Jew who believed in Christ but his father was a Greek (Acts 16:1,3). Perhaps because of objections made by his father, Timothy was never circumcised. However, his mother and grandmother were powerful influences on Timothy in his youth, so much so that Paul now observed great enough qualities in Timothy that he desired him to join him in his labors for the Lord in the kingdom (II Tim. 3:15; Acts 16:3).

The second epistle to Timothy was the last letter we have from the aged apostle, who knew that his own death was imminent (II Tim. 4:8). Knowing that his own time was short, Paul would not mince words but speak what Timothy needed to hear. In both of his epistles to Timothy, Paul gives important, final instruction to Timothy regarding his work and conduct as a preacher. These letters also give us insight into the responsibility of a preacher and into the substance of his doctrine.

The very first thing Paul mentions to Timothy was his responsibility to “charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (I Tim. 1:3). This was the very reason Paul left Timothy at Ephesus. Earlier, Paul warned the Ephesians to guard against false teaching by “grievous wolves..not sparing the flock” who would arise from among themselves (Acts 20:28-30). Fortunately, we see later, that Ephesus stood fast in the faith, and tried those which taught error and found them liars (Rev. 2:2). But Paul taught that soundness of doctrine was so vital to the work of the preacher that he mentioned this as the first item of importance.

Sound doctrine is a common theme in the epistles to Timothy (and in all of his other letters, as well). In the second epistle, Paul encourages Timothy to “hold fast the form of sound words” (1:13). The word “doctrine” is mentioned twelve times in these two short epistles. He concludes his letters to son in the Faith, before mentioning his own martyrdom, that Timothy should preach the word, both when it was accepted and when it was not accepted (II Tim. 4:1-5). This instruction should be heeded by all preachers of the gospel in this age, as well.

Another area of emphasis which the inspired apostle gives is in the area of moral purity. Paul said men should lift up “holy hands” and women should adorn themselves in “modest apparel” (I Tim. 2). Paul noted the timeless truth that “godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Tim. 6:6). Furthermore, Paul urged Timothy himself, and others, as well, to flee immorality and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience and meekness (I Tim. 6:11). Those who do will have treasures far greater than any wealth that can be accumulated on earth. Gospel preachers need to call on God’s people to keep themselves pure and unspotted from the world.

The one imagery that Paul used most when speaking to Timothy was that of a soldier. This is interesting in light of the fact that Timothy seems to have been somewhat timid. Paul had to encourage him to stir up the gift that was in him by noting that God had not given them (nor us) a spirit of fear but of love and of a sound mind (II Tim. 1:6,7). But Paul often encouraged him to “war a good warfare” (I Tim. 1:18) and to “fight the good fight of faith” (I Tim. 6:12). He encouraged Timothy to be a good soldier of Christ Jesus (II Tim. 2:3). Faithful gospel preachers today in particular and Christians in general need to be less timid and see their work as an active battle with the forces of evil and not a courting of the world’s favor.

A final emphasis that is found in Paul’s epistles to Timothy is the need to trust in God. Paul stated, “I know Whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day” (II Tim. 1:12). Paul trusted in God to reward him for the labors he had bestowed in kingdom of Christ. Again, Paul informed Timothy of his own death in the near future. This must have been a great blow to Timothy, given how close these two men were. But Paul said he was ready to be offered (II Tim. 4:8). What a lesson of trust in God that must have been for Timothy and should be for us.

Eric L. Padgett

Does God Hear The Alien Sinner’s Prayer?

Many in the religious world believe in the “sinner’s prayer.” This is the “prayer” which you would hear, say, at the end of a Billy Graham crusade, or in various denominational churches around the country, in which the sinner is encouraged to come to Christ and “invite Jesus” into his life and thus be saved by prayer. Going even further, there are some who believe that God hears and answers the sundry prayers of those who have never even obeyed the gospel, who are not Christians. But what does the Bible says about this issue?

The first point that needs to be made is that there is a difference between the alien sinner and the child of God. Addressing the situation of the Gentiles under the Old Covenant, Paul said that “at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12). While the alien sinner is now amenable to the New Covenant, as all men are because it is universal (e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15,16), because he has not submitted himself to God’s covenant, he does not enjoy the benefits of that covenant.

When Jesus said, for instance, “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), He was saying that those who do not come to Him cannot have rest from their sins. There is a difference, therefore, between the one who has come to Him and the one who has not. In fact, all spiritual blessings are in Christ (Eph. 1:3). There are no spiritual blessings that are not found in Christ.

Prayer, however, is a spiritual blessing. It is the prayers of the saints which John says rises as an odor of spiritual incense in the nostrils of God (Rev. 5:8; 8:3,4). It is the prayer of a righteous man that avails much (James 5:16). Because prayer is a spiritual blessing, and all spiritual blessings are found only in Christ, prayer is only effectual to the one in Christ. The alien sinner’s prayer is no more effectual than the alien sinner’s Lord’s Supper.

Furthermore, there are various passages which state explicitly that God does not hear the alien sinner’s prayer.

  • John 9:31 – Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth.
  • I Peter 3:12 – For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.
  • Isaiah 59:1,2 – Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither His ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear.
  • Proverbs 28:9 – He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.
  • Proverbs 15:29 – The LORD is far from the wicked: but He heareth the prayer of the righteous.

These passages are indeed clear. However, because God is omniscient (I John 3:20; Job 37:16), He actually knows what the alien sinner is praying. Therefore, the question, Does God hear the alien sinner’s prayer, is not simply a question of God literally hearing and knowing what the alien sinner is praying, but does God hear with the intent of answering those prayers. Clearly, according to scripture, God does not listen to, with a view to answering, the alien sinner’s petitions to God.

Sometimes, Cornelius is offered as an example of an alien sinner whom God heard. Cornelius was neither a Christian nor Jew. Yet Acts 10:31 says, “Cornelius, thy prayer is heard.” How can this be reconciled with the previous passages and the thrust of the argument presented in this article? Here are two possible answers to this.

First, while it is said that God heard Cornelius’ prayer, his prayers were heard as a memorial that came before God. Notice verse 4: “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.” It is not that God had heard and answered the specific prayers Cornelius prayed, but that God acknowledged that Cornelius was praying and that he was a good man. This is in perfect harmony with the view that God knows all things and would know Cornelius’ prayers.

We don’t know all that for which he was praying. Did Cornelius think he was doing right? The fact that he was giving alms and praying to God presupposes he was doing what he thought was acceptable to God. Like others who believe that they are acceptable to God, he very likely was praying for quite a lot of things, good health, wisdom, temperance, patience, etc. But did God answer those specific prayers? The implication surely is that when the angel first appeared to Cornelius, that this was the initial response to Cornelius’s actions, both prayers and alms. If God hears with a view to answering the alien sinner’s prayers, then God would have been answering at least some of his prayers all along. But Acts 10 suggests this is not the case.

The word used for “hear” in Acts 10:31 is defined by W. E. Vine as “‘to listen to’ (eis, to, and No. 1), has two meanings, (a) ‘to hear and to obey,’ 1 Cor. 14:21, ‘they will not hear’; (b) ‘to hear so as to answer,’ of God’s answer to prayer, Matt. 6:7; Luke 1:13; Acts 10:31; Heb. 5:7.” The basic idea of the word is “to listen to.” Vine says that this word when used in Acts 10:31 means “to hear so as to answer.”

Because God is omniscient, He knew Cornelius was a devout man seeking Him. Because of this, God responded to his prayers and his deeds by sending an angel to instruct him to send for Peter who would give him the information needed to obey Him (Acts 10:6). Cornelius’ case was unique in that he was the first Gentile convert to Christ who was not first proselytized to Judaism. Even in this, God heard his payers as a memorial, and did not specifically answer his petitions.

A second answer to this question of Cornelius’ prayer was offered by Guy N. Woods. Brother Woods suggested that Cornelius was still under the law of patriarchy and that is why his prayers were heard. Under this view, he was not an alien, but an obedient child of God living under the final moments of the Patriarchal Law.

Brother Woods wrote:

“That the devout officer was worshipping God under the system of patriarchy is the only conclusion harmonizing the difficulties of the case. It is, to this, no valid objection that, after the angel’s visit, Cornelius was to hear words whereby he and his house were to “be saved” ; at the moment the angel appeared to him he became accountable to God under this, the Christian dispensation; prior to the visit of the angel he was answerable only under the system which alone was available. Nor, can it be affirmed, from these premises, that on the foregoing assumption, all men, who have not heard the gospel today ought to be regarded as in his category. No one lives in his category; the gospel had never been extended to embrace the Gentiles prior to the events of Acts 10. It follows, therefore, that the condition of the Gentiles, from Pentecost to the house of Cornelius was legally that which characterized the Jews from the cross to Pentecost. When one law supersedes another, the effects of the superseded law carry over to the point where the newer law becomes effective” (Questions and Answers Open Forum Freed-Hardeman College Lectures, 1976).

Either one of these two possibilities answer the question regarding Cornelius’ prayers. Whatever may be the answer, the correct answer will not contradict the clear teaching in both the Old and New Testaments that God does not hear, with a view to answering, the alien sinner’s prayers.

Eric L. Padgett

Come To The Feast

One of the great blessings of life is eating food! To be able to sit down at a table and partake of various foods that suit our palate is a wonderful experience. Corn, green beans, mashed potatoes, carrots, hot rolls and either turkey or ham or some form of beef, how delicious! I am speaking for myself, of course, but this is what I like and what makes my mouth water. Naturally, I am also content with a cheeseburger and fries or hot dogs, either cooked on a grill or from my favorite fast food store. I am also just as happy with a can of tuna on cheese crackers with mustard. I better stop because I am making myself hungry. The point is, eating food is a wonderful thing!

Eating is one of those rare activities that we not only enjoy but that we must also do to survive. It is both necessary and pleasant. And God has given us all things to eat if we receive them with thanksgiving (I Tim. 4:4). But while we have to have food to keep our physical bodies alive, we also need other food to keep our spiritual selves healthy. Many times in Scripture we find God’s word being spoken of as food. Notice a few passages.

When Jesus was tempted by the devil after He had fasted for forty days and nights, the tempter urged Jesus to make bread out of stones (Matt. 4:1-3). That would have been a great temptation to Jesus, as it would to anyone else, as well. But Jesus defeated that temptation when He responded by pointing out the simple truth that “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4; Deut. 8:1-3). Buttered pancakes with molasses is good, but spiritual food, the word of God, is even more necessary and ultimately far more satisfying if we want eternal life.

In the beatitudes, Jesus said that the man is blessed who hungers and thirsts after righteousness (Matt. 5:6). Jesus here describes the proper attitude toward the word of God. Except, perhaps, in extreme medical cases or when a person is sick, there are very few people who do not like to eat. You hardly ever hear someone complaining about having to eat. Most are eager to sink their teeth into a good piece of food and savor the delightful tastes that go along with it (Ezek. 3:1-3). But how many Christians have the same attitude about going to Bible class or worship? How many Christians become excited when they are offered the opportunity to consume the word of God (Ps. 122:1). Who sits down at the dinner table and constantly looks at their watch to see when the dinner is going to be over? Who grows agitated if they have to sit and eat food for longer than fifteen minutes? But, sadly, that is what many do when the word of God is being served. As newborn babes, we should desire the sincere milk of the word (I Pet. 2:2).

I like to drink milk. I still drink milk often. A good nice, cold glass of milk sometimes just hits the spot. But I also like things like meat and potatoes, something with a little more substance and taste. Paul said that spiritually there is also a time when we need to be eating meat (Heb. 5:12-14). Some Christians never grow, they just feed on a diet of milk, never stirring the pot, eating only pablum. This is dangerous. Paul said the Corinthian brethren were not able to bear the meat and he still had to feed them with milk (I Cor. 3:1-3). That is what made them carnal and caused envying, strife and divisions in the congregation. It is not Bible knowledge or Bible study that causes trouble in a congregation or in the brotherhood, but it is the lack of it that does. Too many professing Christians do not want to chew on a piece of spiritual meat and grow uneasy when sound doctrine is presented for their consumption.

Another drink that hits the spot when the throat is dry is a good, cold glass of water. When you are weary from work, when you are exhausted from labor, there is nothing quite like it to quench the thirst. David longed for it (II Sam. 23:15). The rich man in the Hadean realm craved a drop of water from the finger of Lazarus to cool the tip of his tongue (Luke 16:19-31). Jesus craved it from the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus also told the Samaritan woman that He could give her living water which would keep one from ever thirsting again (John 4:10,13,14). God’s word is that living water. W should drink from it often (Acts 17:11; II Tim. 2:15).

Jesus said that we should not labor for the meat which perisheth (John 6:27). He did not mean by this that we should not worry about food, this is necessary for life, but He went on to say that we should labor for the meat that endures unto eternal life. Furthermore, He went on to say what this bread of life is, He said: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). While the Jews boasted of the manna that their fathers had eaten in the wilderness, Jesus showed them that those who ate it now are dead, but the bread which the Father gives brings eternal life (John 6:47-51). To eat Jesus’ flesh and drink His blood is to consume His teaching or His word, just as Philip began at the same scripture and preached Jesus (Acts 8:35).

Even our eternal reward is depicted in terms of food. “And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1-2). John would write, “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). In portraying the kingdom of heaven as a marriage, Jesus said, “Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage” (Matt. 22:4). If we do not like the spiritual fare that the Lord offers here, we certainly will not like it in heaven, either.

Are you hungry? The spiritual feast is prepared. You are bidden to come. Now you must partake! To conclude, the words of Charles H. Gabriel’s great hymn seem fitting just here.
“All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Come, for the table now is spread;
Ye famishing, ye weary, come,
And thou shalt be richly fed.

Hear the invitation,
Come, “whosoever will”;
Praise God for full salvation
For “whosoever will.”

“All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Come, for the door is open wide;
A place of honor is reserved
For you at the Master’s side.


“All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Come, while He waits to welcome thee;
Delay not while this day is thine,
Tomorrow may never be.


“All things are ready,” come to the feast!
Leave ev’ry care and worldly strife;
Come, feast upon the love of God,
And drink everlasting life.

Eric L. Padgett

A Constituency of One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric L. Padgett


Worship is an important element in the life of the Christian. While it is a command of the Lord to worship Him (i.e., Rev. 22:9), it should also be an automatic response of a grateful soul for the blessings of life and salvation. Indeed, in all human beings, whether they openly profess to be religious or not, there seems to be a tendency to worship. However, most direct their worship to the wrong object. Some worship their ancestors, others worship the heavens, some worship an object crafted by their own hands and others worship themselves (Rom. 1:21-28). While the desire and need to worship is there, the knowledge of Whom to worship and how to do it is not. God’s word teaches us about the proper object of worship and the proper way to do it.

First, only God is to be worshiped. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14). Because all other objects and persons are created by God, only He is worthy of worship (Ps. 100; I Chron. 16:25,26). Since Jesus is also God, and, along with the Holy Spirit, was involved in the creation of the world (Gen. 1:1,2; John 1:1-3), He is also worthy of worship (Mark 5:6; Rev. 4,5). Many, however, often without even realizing it, worship things other than God. Some worship wealth or possessions and others worship fame and status. But Jesus made it clear that we cannot serve God and mammon and be acceptable to Him (Matt. 6:24). God is the only authorized object of worship.

Second, reverence must be exhibited when approaching God in worship. When Moses approached God in the burning bush, God told him that the place whereon he stood was “holy ground” and that he should remove his shoes as a sign of reverence (Ex. 3:5). Today, of course, we do not show reverence by removing shoes, but we should show reverence in the way we approach God in worship by the way we dress, by the way we conduct ourselves and by the way speak. David said he would not offer to God that which cost him nothing (II Sam. 24:24). We should be willing to sacrifice in order to come before God. Like the four and twenty elders before the throne, we should cast down our crowns before the Lord (Rev. 4:10). Our attitude toward God will be manifested by how we present ourselves before Him (I Chron. 16:29; Psalm 92:2).

Third, God must be worshiped according to His will. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” God must be worshiped both in spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). To worship God in spirit is to worship Him with the right attitude or disposition of heart, which we just mentioned. But God wills that we worship Him according to truth as well, which means it must be done the right way.

For example, when Abel offered the wrong sacrifice, God was not pleased (Gen. 4:4,5). Cain chose to offer that which God had not commanded and was condemned for his unfaithfulness (Heb. 11:4; Rom. 10:17). Likewise, Nadab and Abihu offered the wrong fire in worship, a fire which God had “commanded them not,” and were destroyed because of it (Lev. 10:1,2). God said He was going to be sanctified in those that come nigh Him (Lev. 10:3). The world attempts to worship God in it’s own way, and God will have none of it. Ignorant worship is false worship and is not acceptable to God (Acts 17:23). Jesus condemned this kind of attempt to worship God when He said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

Fourth, scriptural worship of God consists of specific actions which God has authorized. Some have said in the past that all that we do in life is worship. Such a view is completely without scriptural support. For example, when Abraham obeyed God’s command to offer Isaac, Abraham said “abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship” (Gen. 22:5). Abraham was not worshiping as God commanded until He went to the place and performed the actions God had commanded. Abraham lived during the Patriarchal dispensation when God spoke directly to the fathers (cf. Heb. 1:1,2). Today, however, we live in the Christian dispensation and we are to listen to the Lord and the Lord only (Heb. 1:1,2; Matt. 17:1-8).

Under Christ, worship consists of five specific acts: Teaching/preaching, prayers, singing, giving, and the Lord’s supper. Very early on in the inspired account of the establishment and growth of the Lord’s church we are given a list of things in which Christians strictly continued and these five items are subsumed under them. Acts 2:42 states: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” While we cannot here go into detail about each of these avenues of worship, a brief summary will suffice to show the example of the first century church.

The book of Acts records that upon the first day of the week, the early church gathered to hear the gospel preached, which was the equivalent of the apostle’s doctrine being taught (Acts 20:7). The apostles doctrine involves teaching/preaching. This passage (Acts 20:7) also states that they partook of the Lord’s supper, or broke bread, on the first day of every week (I Cor. 10:16). Prayer was also an important and mandatory part of the services of the Lord’s church in the first century (Acts 12:12). On the first day of every week, first century Christians were commanded to lay by in store as God had prospered them (I Cor. 16:1,2). Finally, singing was a part of the worship of the assembled church (Heb. 2:12; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; I Cor. 14:15). Singing was also a way of “teaching and admonishing” which is referred to in Acts 2:42. Anything more than these adds to the worship and anything less, on the Lord’s day, takes away from God’s commands and corrupts the New Testament pattern.

God demands our worship be pure. Therefore, “let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker” (Ps. 95:6) and let us “give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (I Chron. 16:29).

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

Christ is God’s Spokesman

(This is a letter to the editor of the Evansville Courier I sent in this week. It is in response to a letter, published February 15, by a Presbyterian preacher who defended sodomy. I do not know if it will be published, so I publish it here myself.)

In the Evansville Courier and Press last Sunday, Kevin Fleming, a preacher for a liberal Presbyterian church in Evansville, argued in a letter to the editor that “there is no such thing as a single spokesperson for Christianity.”

However, contrary to Fleming’s assertions, the Bible teaches that God has indeed “spoken to us by His Son” (Heb. 1:1). The Lord is The Spokesman!  Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the words that I have spoken, the same judge him in the last day” (John 12:47).

What prompted Mr. Fleming to write was his irritation at another letter to the editor which condemned the kind of people that, at least partly, comprise the group which he leads, people who have “different faith traditions,” those that avoid a “literal interpretation of scripture,” and especially those who change the natural use of the body to that which is against nature.

Mr. Fleming ignores, and wants others to ignore, what Jesus said about marriage.  While Fleming “utterly rejects” the view that “singles out LGBTQ people as particularly deserving of condemnation and shame,” Jesus said “Have ye not read, that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female and for this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife…what God hath joined together let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:4-6).

The Lord’s Word clearly teaches that all perversions of that divine order are sinful.  When women lust after women and men after men that is “vile,” “against nature,” “unseemly,” and is an “error” deserving of “recompence” (Rom. 1:26-32).

“Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind…shall inherit the kingdom of God” (I Cor. 6:9,10).

“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire” (Jude 1:7).

Fleming says that those who do such things as the Son of God and His word clearly condemns are “exemplary” and “light in darkness.”  That is what Fleming says.  That is his “opinion.”  Mr. Fleming is free to hold whatever opinions he chooses to hold, of course, but they certainly aren’t those of the Lord as found in His word, the word that shall judge us at the last day!

Eric L. Padgett

As Ye Have Received Christ, So Walk

The church at Colossae was facing the insinuation into it’s sphere of influence the insidious doctrine of gnosticism. Many call it the Colossian Heresy. Regardless of whether it was in it’s incipient form or was full blown gnosticism, certain fatal errors were being thrust upon the congregation there that were corrosive to the well being of the brethren and antithetical to truth and Paul was attempting to thwart it’s advancement among them. In verse six of chapter two, Paul warns them, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” (2:6).

In this statement, Paul reminds the brethren there to remember from whence they came, to remember the truths they were taught and to continue to abide in those truths. There was a danger of drifting from those established truths into something much more speculative and different than what had been originally delivered to them. This warning is not unique or novel to the brethren in Colossae.

For instance, Paul warned the brethren at Thessalonica, “Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more” (I Thess. 4:1). He follows this by saying that they knew the commandments given them by the Lord (2:2). In his second epistle to them, he warned them once again to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle” (II Thess. 2:15). Paul warned them not to change or leave the truth as it was delivered them.

These passages can be multiplied many times over. I Cor. 15:1-4: “Keep in memory what I have preached to you”; Gal. 1:6-9: “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel, which is not another; but some would trouble you and pervert the gospel of Christ” (Gal. 1:6-9); Heb. 10:23: “Hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering”; John 15:5-10: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” On and on the list could go and the lesson to be learned is clear enough.

Maybe it is the spirit of the times. There are those even in the United States who want to either tamper with the Constitution or disregard it altogether. They don’t care for the way the country was founded in the first place. But the constitution, even though it is a great document, is a human document. The scriptures are not, however! They are of divine origin! They should neither be altered nor disregarded but respected and treasured and strictly followed.

We would be wise to heed the inspired admonition to walk in the truths as they were delivered to us, neither adding to them nor taking from them (Prov. 30:5,6; Rev. 22:18,19). When I read the New Testament I find a pretty simple plan for the Lord’s church. There is but one church, one head, one means of entrance, one mission, one plan of organization, and one means of fellowship. After I obeyed the gospel, I also learned these things when faithful men of God taught me and reinforced these truths. I think I can say that today I stand exactly where I stood after I matured as a Christian years ago. Unfortunately, some are no longer walking as they received Christ.

In the Lord’s church today I see the use of translations from the pulpit that were exposed for their errors and weaknesses years ago by sound brethren. I see activities being countenanced that were once seen as superfluous and beyond the mission and purpose of the Lord’s church. I see a few blurring the lines of fellowship that once would have been denounced. I worry that many are no longer walking as they had received Christ.

Eric L. Padgett


The computer that sets here before me has many applications on it. These applications allow me to do different, amazing tasks. With these I can write, draw, search, learn, create, make music, etc. Each of these different applications work because there is a set of instructions or code, a program of information that directs the computer hardware what to do. These sets of instructions are sometimes very simple, but many times they are extremely complicated rulebooks that govern what the computer does depending on what commands are entered. We are truly blessed to have this technology.

These sets of instructions that run a computer or it’s programs are based on a very basic binary alphabet of two numbers: 1 and 0. Every letter and number is represented by a combination of these two numbers. These programs have scripts that operate different functions. But if someone were to alter the code that runs the scripts, it would have deleterious effects on how the program functions. If certain parts of a line of code is altered, then part or all of the program would either cease to work or work incorrectly. Depending on what kind of change is made, the program could give bad results or not work at all. This is because the application’s code is the designed product of intelligence and random changes do not produce good results.

As technology has advanced, one of the things that scientists have learned more about is the cells in our bodies. What they have found is that at the center of each cell, there is a nucleus. In that nucleus is a virtual book of information known as DNA. This book of information also has an alphabet that is made up of four chemical letters. Every cell in our body has this book of information that describes how our body is to be built. Incredibly, if you were to stretch out the single strand of DNA in a single cell, it would be about six to ten foot long. If you magnified the strand of DNA a thousand times, it would be 4.5 miles long. If it were as thick as a pencil, it would stretch from New York to London. If you were to set all of the DNA in the human body end to end, the total length of the DNA would stretch from the earth to the sun and back seventy times.

The information code that makes up this book in our cells is very complicated. It is vastly more complex than the most complex computer code man has ever written. That fact alone should cause every man and woman to realize that if the information in a computer code, as complex as it is, needs an intelligence to write it and make the hardware that will read it, then surely the more complex information code that resides in the cells in our bodies must also require an even greater intelligence to write and create the hardware, our bodies, to read the code.

Sometimes mistakes happen in the copying of this book of DNA. In it there are a series of letters that form genes, which control certain functions in man’ body. When that happens, when there are alterations in the genetic code, then there are problems. There are various kinds of mistakes that happen and since the code itself is designed to correct itself, these mistakes don’t always amount to much. But when there are serious mistakes that aren’t corrected, the results can be very bad for an individual. Sickness, deformity or death can be the result. Some men have attempted to tamper with this genetic code. While we are learning more about it, man is still quite ignorant about how DNA affects a person completely.

There is also an information code, a set of rules, that govern the birth and growth of a Christian. It is called the Bible. In English, the alphabet for this code is twenty-six letters long. When this set of instructions is left unchanged and is followed, it produces healthy and happy Christians. But when it is altered, it produces something other than healthy Christians. Just as DNA is generally self-correcting, God’s word is designed to remain unchanged (Ps. 12:7), but sometimes men tamper with it in order to change it. When this happens, the results can be deadly for the soul of man.

The Bible makes clear the vital importance of this set of God-given rules. Prov. 30:5: Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar. II Tim. 3:16, 17: All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. II Peter 3:18: But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Those who place more importance on feelings or emotions, on human traditions or creeds, or personal wants and desires than on a “thus saith the Lord” and book, chapter and verse in effect dismiss the importance of this spiritual DNA. They are like mad scientists who want to alter man’s DNA to create some monster. The genes of the Christian’s DNA are doctrines. Doctrine is what controls us as Christians and what keeps us connected to the Lord (II John 9-11). When the genetic doctrine is corrupted, then there is sickness or death in the spiritual body. In Genesis 3:1-24 we have an example of what tampering with the God-given DNA produces–sin!

Christians need to regain an understanding of the importance of the purity of the doctrinal DNA of scripture. God does not allow us to believe and hold to just any view, but our doctrine must be of divine origin (Matt. 15:7-9). When it comes to matters of obligation, there is no option.

Eric L. Padgett