Category Archives: comittment

Losing Weight

Over the past several weeks I picked up some extra weight that I don’t want and certainly don’t need. It seems to happen every year around this time when there is less chance to get outdoors and work around the yard. I am not saying for certain, but it might also have something to do with eating more of the wrong things around this time of year, too! Anyway, these extra pounds make it harder to do things I normally do and I don’t like it. I guess I’ll have to go on another diet. Again.

Sometimes we also gain extra weight spiritually and that weight hinders us from living the Christian life as we ought. Paul wrote, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin that doth so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). The figure that is being used here is the image of a contender in a foot race. In ancient times, as well as in modern, the runner wants to cast off all extra weight so that it will not slow him down. He wants every advantage to win. In ancient times that often meant running naked. Today we wear clothing that causes less friction.

Spiritually, many Christians carry around all kinds of extra weight that they don’t need and it hinders them. One weight that some Christians carry around is the weight of greed. Some are so enamored of money and wealth that they work so many extra hours that they neglect not only their family but they neglect God and His worship and service. Paul said that the love of money is the root of kinds of evil (I Tim. 6:10). Even elders and preachers can be tempted by the prospect of monetary gain (I Tim. 3:3; Tit. 1:10,11). If an apostle could be guilty of this, then so could we (John 12:6).

Some Christians carry around the weight of anger. Certainly, there are enough reasons to be angry in the world. There is cheating, stealing, murders, slanders, hate, etc., abundantly flourishing in the world. I’ve noticed that even Facebook has an icon that you can click to expresses anger at some post. But while we may become angry, we should not let it develop into sin. “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath” (Eph. 4:26). Anger may satisfy our emotions at the time, but ultimately, anger resteth in the bosom of fools (Eccl. 8:9). Throw off the weight of unrighteous anger.

Other Christians carry the weight of jealousy. Paul encountered those that preached Christ for envy, hoping to add affliction to his bonds (Phil. 1:15,16). Imagine, preachers envious or jealous of other preachers. But it happens. In general terms, some Christians are often jealous of other Christians or even of people in the world. But Paul stated that “charity envieth not” (I Cor. 13:4). Having love in our hearts will give us the strength to throw off the weight of jealousy and envy.

Unfortunately, many Christians carry with them the weight of worldliness. Far too often Christians want the benefits and blessings of Christ but do not want to have to change anything in themselves. Jesus warned against this attitude. “No man,” said Jesus, “can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). But many try and so become the enemies of God (James 4:4). What a burden to carry around!

One great weight that many Christians bear and may not even be aware of it is the weight that held back the people to whom Paul wrote, namely the sin of unbelief! Prior to the text above, in chapter eleven, Paul had just described great men and women of faith and their actions. Beginning chapter twelve he said we are compassed about with a great cloud of witnesses, meaning these men and women of faith. Those to whom Paul wrote were experiencing a bout of unbelief (e.g., Heb. 3:12, 19; 4:1-6). Far too often we have too little faith. Was this not a favorite expression of our Lord describing the mentality of His disciples (Matt. 6:30; 8:20; 14:30; 16:8)? If we just had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, we could move mountains (Matt. 17:20). But alas, we carry the burden of doubt. Lord, increase our faith (Luke 17:5)! Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:24)!

Yes, I’ve got a lot of weight to lose this coming year! I better get started.

Eric L. Padgett

Be A Christian Where You Are

Some members of the Lord’s church are often discouraged because they feel that they are not good enough. Actually, a sense of inadequacy is a good attitude to have, as long as it is held in the proper perspective (Luke 17:10). We should never feel complacent as Christians and should always strive to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today (I Cor. 10:12). But sometimes Christians try to hold themselves to a standard that cannot be realistically met and thus are needlessly discouraged (Acts 15:10).

While the apostle Paul is certainly to be emulated (I Cor. 11:1), as are those who follow his example (Phil. 3:17), very few of us, if any at all, will ever attain to the level of intensity that he had as an apostle of the Lord. Not all of us can travel the globe preaching the gospel, as did Paul. While many faithful brethren do engage in tireless efforts for the Cause of Christ, I am certain that most would humbly admit that they compare unfavorably to the apostle in every respect. Very likely none of us have received 39 stripes once, much less five times, or have been beaten with rods or spent a day and a night in the deep in the service of our King, as did Paul (II Cor. 11:25). But the truth is, we do not have to do all these things to be faithful to the Lord. We can be a Christian right where we are!

While I may not be able to travel the globe preaching the gospel to those in darkness and stand before kings and dignitaries (Acts 9:15), I can teach the people I meet every day who need the Light of Life. I can find ways of talking to others about Christ in my every-day conversations with my family, friends, co-workers and individuals I meet along the way.

While I may not be chained and imprisoned in dank and dark dungeons for preaching Jesus (however, watch out, this may come sooner than you might think), I may be rejected by others simply because I live my life according to the Will of God (Matt. 5:1-12). For instance, a boss may not promote me even though I am worthy because he does not like Christians or associates may mercilessly tease me about my faith.

While I may not wield great influence around the brotherhood and my name may not be a household name among the faithful, I can wield influence by my example to those who see me every day (Matt. 5:13-16). When I am tempted to cheat to get ahead at work, I can choose the honest way. When I am tempted to be angry at some wrong perpetrated against me, I can be even tempered (Matt. 5:43-48).

While I am may not have the time to devote hours of study in God’s word, or while I may never become a renowned Bible scholar and pen notable volumes that receive world acclaim, I can study to show myself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). I can know what I must do to be saved and teach others the same, simple truth.

My salvation does not depend on being better than some other Christian, only in being a faithful Christian. There will always only be one Noah, one Abraham, one Moses, one Joshua, one David, one Isaiah, one Jeremiah, and only one Peter and only one Paul. While I admire and follow their example of faith, I cannot be them. I have found that I am better at being myself than anyone else and that is all I need to do, as long as I am genuinely trying to follow the Lord.

Now some may feel inadequate because they do not try to do what they know they ought. That is sin (James 4:17). But Paul said there was a crown laid up for him because he fought a good fight, finished the course and kept the faith (II Tim. 4:8). John said, “hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” and His commandments are not grievous (I John 2:3; 5:3). Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Just be a Christian where you are.

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

Confidence in God

David is one of the most interesting people you read about in the Bible. He was at first a simple shepherd, then later became a celebrated warrior and notable king. Besides his military and political prowess, he was also an accomplished poet and musician. He wrote at least seventy-four of the one hundred fifty Psalms. A “man after God’s own heart” (I Sam. 13:14; Acts 13:22), it was from his lineage that the Christ was to come (II Sam. 7:12,13). Even though he fell mightily, he learned even then to trust in God. Much can be gleaned from his writings and his life, especially about his confidence in God.

Probably while he was still a young man, maybe even while he was yet a shepherd, he wrote the masterful 23rd psalm. This wonderful psalm has comforted countless millions through some of the darkest hours of their lives, as it can ours. In this Psalm, David expresses his complete trust in God for all of his physical and spiritual needs, even in the face of death. David demonstrated that trust in God both in defending his sheep from attack and when fighting the enemies of God’s people. He was heroic in facing the giant Goliath because he faced him in “the name of the Lord of hosts” (I Sam. 17:45).

David wrote Psalms also while he was in Saul’s court. In the 59th psalm, David wrote about those that were his enemies, that rose up against him and who lay in wait for his soul. David was referring to the fact that king Saul tried to kill him because of jealousy. David had been praised more than Saul for his exploits by many and Saul sent messengers in the night to slay David in the morning (I Sam. 19:11). But David trusted in God as his defense in the day of his trouble (Psalm 59:16).

This was not the only incident in which Saul attempted to kill David. On another occassion, David fled from Saul to the cave of Adullam (I Sam. 22:1). Saul later came to rest in this same cave, not knowing David and his men were already further inside the cave. David wrote in the 57th Psalm, “My soul is among the lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire” (Psalm 57:4). David’s men encouraged him to take advantage of the situation, but David would not hurt Saul. The most he would do would be to cut off Saul’s skirt, but even this bothered David (I Sam. 24:5). He proved to Saul by his reticence to hurt the king that he was not out to destroy him. David professed his confidence in God throughout this incident in Psalm 57:1-3:

“Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusteth in thee: yea, in the shadow of thy wings will I make my refuge, until these calamities be overpast. I will cry unto God most high; unto God that performeth all things for me. He shall send from heaven, and save me from the reproach of him that would swallow me up. Selah. God shall send forth his mercy and his truth.”

This is the kind of confidence and trust that God asks of us today. Jesus said, “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:31-33). When we are burdened with loads of care, Paul urged us to cast all our care upon God, for he cares for us (I Pet.5:7).

It is only when we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end, that we are made partakers of Christ (Heb. 3:14). If we want the reward that heaven offers, then we must never cast away that confidence (Heb. 10:35). We need to emulate the trust and confidence that David demonstrated in his life.

Eric L. Padgett

See You At The Finish Line!

I like to win! I don’t like the feeling of losing, do you? Who does? Unfortunately, our society is currently plagued with political correctness regarding this subject. The politically correct thought is that everyone ought to win. But honest competition implies that some will lose and that cannot be tolerated by the philosophical left because it might hurt someone’s feelings. So those in our society who attempt to control thought have tried to remove the concept of losing. Nowadays, every child gets a gold star, every athlete wins, every participant gets a prize, etc. However, that is not reality nor is it scriptural.

The Bible has quite a lot to say about winning and losing. Adam and Eve were accepted of God until they broke His commandments. They lost God’s favor and He expelled them from the idyllic garden paradise He had created for them (Gen. 3:24).

Cain lost when he did not offer the sacrifice God had commanded (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:4). God plainly told him, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him” (Gen. 4:7). He became a fugitive and a vagabond (4:12).

Even though Abel was murdered by his brother, Abel won. He won because he was righteous and accepted of God. God testified of his gifts and “by it he being dead yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).

Enoch won! He walked with God and was not because God took him (Gen. 5:24). He had this testimony, that pleased God (Heb. 11:5).

The world in Noah’s day lost badly. The world was so wicked and sinful that God saw fit to destroy it utterly (Gen. 6:7). In contrast, Noah won the confidence of God and was allowed to escape the destruction of the world and was even entrusted with the monumental task of repopulating the newly cleansed earth (Gen. 9:1). This list could go on for quite some time but the point is that some win and some lose. That’s life and that’s Bible!

But it should be understood that God really wants all men to win (I Tim. 2:4). He has put into place the means whereby we can be saved and win, but it takes a great deal of effort. Paul wrote, “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ” (Phil 3:8). Notice what Paul had to sacrifice in order to be in the running to win! Like many high level athletes, he suffered the loss of all things in order to win.

Furthermore, he did not count himself as having already won or attained to his goal (Phil. 3:12-14). He was striving for it, reaching for it and pressing toward it. Paul often compared living the Christian life to competing in a game. For example, he wrote, “And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully” (II Timothy 2:5). And again, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (I Cor. 9:24). Scripture tells us the Christian life is a continuous battle for victory and triumph.

When Paul neared the end of his life, he was more confident. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:8). He could be confident because God wants us all to win, but we must first keep the faith, fight the good fight and finish the course!

God wants all to be saved but He is not going to award a gold star to everyone just for participating. In fact, the majority are going to lose and it is not going to be pretty. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, for many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:13,14). The majority will be lost but sadly they do not have to be. There will not just be one winner. As many as want to may win, but the rules have to be followed and we must finish the course.

See you at the finish line!

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).

Eric L. Padgett

Who Shall Abide In Thy Tabernacle?

What kind of person would you allow to live in your house? Would you accept just anyone? An incessant liar? A person who always talks about you behind your back? Someone who harms the helpless? Would a vile person or someone who held vile and contemptible people in high esteem be accepted? As a rule, you rightfully would reject such people, as most right thinking people would. In fact, God does want just anyone to come and abide in His house. Yes, He wants everyone to abide in His house but only if they behave themselves certain ways.

The fifteenth Psalm sets forth in general terms those whom God would allow in His Tabernacle under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant, the Tabernacle of God is the Lord’s church (Heb. 8:1). The Lord’s church is also spiritually designated Zion (Heb. 12:22,23). Who, then, does God want in His house, the church?

He wants those who walk uprightly in His House (v. 2). Our “walk” is our manner of life. This is a reference to our whole life, not just on Sunday morning, or on Wednesday evening or only when it is convenient. We are blessed when we do not walk in the council of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1). John says our life is to be continually lived in the light, indicated by the present tense of the verb “walk” (I John 1:7). A Christian is one who has changed his whole life (Eph. 2:2,3; Rom. 6:4). To walk uprightly, Paul says, is to walk “according to the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:11-14).

Only those who work righteousness can abide in the House of the Lord (v.2). William Tyndale translated the Greek term which is translated as “righteous” in our Bibles as “rightwise” or “rightways.” That word means in the right manner or way (cf. Matt. 1:18 “on this wise”). It is to be justified or just. It is not merely being right, but being right with God. The Jews failed to understand this about Jesus. They sought to establish their own righteousness based on law and rejected Christ (Rom. 10:1-3). True righteousness is found only in God’s word (Psalm 119:172; Heb. 5:13; Rom. 1:16,17).

Speaking the truth in your heart is a necessary quality for abiding in the tabernacle of God (v.2). Truth is vitally important (John 8:32; John 17:17; I John 5:13; 2:3, etc.) but we must speak the truth in our hearts, as well. It is easy to tell someone else what the truth is and what they should do, but it is much more difficult to examine our own hearts to find what is there. We must examine ourselves (I Cor. 13:5). We are frequently willing to dismiss what we do wrong while condemning it in others (Matt. 7: 3,4). If we do not deal with our problems in the here and now, God will deal with them in the there and then!

God does not want backbiters in his House (v. 3). Backbiting is the malicious defamation of someone’s character behind their back. It comes from a word meaning to “espy; to roam from house to house learning secrets and disseminating them.” Sometimes we must speak about other’s problems, but only with a view to help them. However, backbiting is condemned in scripture (Rom. 1:30; II Cor. 12:20). Some men’s tongues, it seems, bite worse than their teeth.

Doing evil against your neighbor disqualifies you from living in the House of God. “Evil” falls under two categories: Physical evil, which is unpleasant and unwanted events, and spiritual or moral evil. Sin is the only intrinsic evil and is always evil (I John 3:4). Physical evil cannot be completely controlled by us but moral evil is under our complete control. The Law of God’s House is fulfilled in one word, namely “love your neighbor” (Rom. 13:9,10).

To abide in the House of God we must not take up a reproach against our neighbor (v. 3). We should not be willing to listen to, much less believe, every evil report that is brought our way unless there is obvious reason. William Perkins gave this advice: “If we cannot excuse his doing, excuse his intent; if the deed is evil, think that it was done in ignorance; if there is no way to excuse him, think that some great temptation befell him, and you would do the worse if such a temptation befell you. And give God thanks that no such temptation has yet befallen you.” Remember Jesus was lied against by false witnesses (Matt. 26:57-61).

In the House of God the vile are contemned and those that fear the Lord are honored (v. 4). Who are our heroes today? Do our heroes epitomize the truth, goodness, honesty, and integrity? Do they exemplify biblical virtues or do they exhibit a rebel spirit? In the House of God, there are some things which are done by evil men of which we should be ashamed even to speak (Eph. 5:10-12).

The kind of man that God wants is one who keeps his word (v. 4). Jesus said we should let our word be our bond (Matt. 5:33-37). We should not be in the habit of promising what we cannot keep and should keep what we promise, no matter how insignificant the matter. It should be a matter of integrity for us even if, in the end, we find that it will hurt us. When we open our mouth to the Lord, we cannot go back (Jud. 11:35).

A person who abides in God’s House does not use his wealth to hurt others (v. 5). While there is nothing wrong with wealth in and of itself (e.g., Abraham was wealthy) we must never use the power which wealth carries with it to injure those less blessed. Indeed, a greater obligation rests upon those who have more to do more (Eph. 4:28). We should realize that we will not be able to keep our money once this life is through (I Tim. 6:6-10).

Under the New Covenant, we must obey the gospel to be added to the Lord’s church, the House of God (Acts 2:38, 47). But the kind of person God wants in His house under the New Covenant is essentially the same in character as those under the Old. Let us diligently strive to be those things God requires of us to enter into His Holy Hill and the Tabernacle not made with hands so that we may dwell there in the approbation of God.

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

“There Is No Other God That Can Deliver After This Sort”

Within the province of Babylon, in the plain of Dura, King Nebuchadnezzar had constructed a colossal golden image that he demanded all people fall down and worship when they heard the call of the appropriate music, just like so many Pavlov’s dogs. He had gathered together “the princes, the governors, and captains, the judges, the treasurers, the counsellors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers of the provinces” to dedicate this image that he had set up (Daniel 3:3). It was announced that all those who would not fall down and worship this image were to be cast into a burning fiery furnace (Daniel 3:6).

Besides Daniel, amongst the Hebrews taken into captivity were three men full of wisdom and understanding named Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, better known as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Dan. 1:6,7,20). Like Daniel, who would not desist from worshiping Jehovah, not even for thirty days and not even under penalty of death (Dan. 6), they would not fall down and worship the man-made idol, knowing all the while the penalty for their actions was death in the burning fiery furnace.

There were then, just as there are now, enemies of the One True God and of those who worship Him. Those accusers brought the brave Hebrew men to the attention of the king and he subsequently offered these men of God one final chance to lose their faith and their integrity. Their answer was not something they had to think over nor did they couch their answer in the veiled and shadowy language of weasel-speak to conceal their faith (Dan. 3:16). In effect they said: “Our God is able to deliver us and He will deliver us if it is His will. But if not, we will never, ever serve your false gods or this image you have made” (Dan. 3:17,18).

This bold, uncompromising answer stoked the furnace of Nebuchadnezzar’s anger and he commanded the fiery furnace be stoked seven times as hot as normal, like his own temper. He had Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah bound by the most mighty men that were in his army and had them cast into the fiery furnace. The flame of the furnace was so hot, the men that were casting them down into the furnace were themselves consumed by the heat (Dan. 3:22).

To Nebuchadnezzar’s amazement he saw those three men walking in the midst of the fire unharmed! But he also saw something more, a fourth figure walking with them. But this figure gave every appearance of being more than a man, “the form of the fourth is like the Son of God” reads the inspired Record (Dan. 3:25). Some say Nebuchadnezzar could not possibly have had knowledge of the Son of God, but if Balaam’s ass could be made to speak the truth, so could this pagan king. What better time for God to show His watch care over His people than when these three young Hebrews manifested so bravely their faith in their God at such a bleak period in the history of God’s people.

And when, after these three godly men emerged from the fire with not so much as a hair of their heads singed or even the smell of sulphur emanating from their flesh, he decreed “that every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill” (Dan. 3:29). The reason that he gave for this is “because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (v.29).

Oh, what lessons of faith may be learned from these three young men. They did not compromise the truth of God, not even to save their lives much less for fleeting popularity among the heathen peoples, as so many try to water down the truth of God’s word today.

They did not hide their faith but manifested it openly by their speech and their actions while so many today can scarcely be convicted of being a follower of Christ by either their speech or their actions or lifestyle or character.

They trusted that God was able to deliver them if it was His will but if it was not they would never allow themselves to do that which was against Him. In contrast to such commitment, to day too many are willing at the first sign of trouble or inconvenience to stray from the straight and narrow path of God’s word to the world’s broader path of easy acceptance.

We need more men in the Lord’s church with the same spirit of faith. They knew that ultimately God would see them prevail because, in the words of the king, “there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.”

Eric L. Padgett

Should We Obey God Or Woman?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eric L. Padgett

Marks of the Lord Jesus

I was looking at a step stool the other day, which my brother made in high school a long time ago, and I noticed all the marks on it. There were indentations made by other objects hitting it, there was ground-in dirt, drops of paint, scratches and drops of what looked like glue, and other marks. It caused me to think that there were stories behind all those marks. That got me to thinking about my own body and the scars and marks I bear, each with a story behind them, stories I can’t even fully remember right now.

Then, in the solitude of that moment, my mind turned to the statement Paul made in Galatians 6:17: “From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” Some had questioned Paul’s authority and apostleship, but Paul could literally point to the sufferings he went through to bring the gospel to the Galatian brethren and others. Paul’s dedication and service to the Lord was evidenced by the physical and the mental marks he bore in his own body.

In ancient times, a man could show his dedication to his master by having a hole bored in his ear (Ex. 21:1-6). The Jews also underwent circumcision to show their covenantal relationship to the law of Moses. The Judaizers who opposed Paul wanted to circumcise the Gentiles so that they could glory in their flesh (Gal, 6:13). But Paul responded to this by saying that he would glory only in the cross of Jesus Christ, by whom the world had been crucified unto him, and he unto the world (Gal. 6:14).

While the judaizers wanted to glory in their adherence to a dead and powerless law, Paul could persuasively argue for his service and dedication to the New Covenant of the living Christ by the very marks he bore in his body.

Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep (II Cor. 11:23-25).

What tangible proof can we offer that we are the servants of Jesus Christ? Do we have any scars to show for it? Have we yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin (Heb. 12:4)? Can we rejoice in our sufferings and fulfill that in which we fall behind in the sufferings of Christ (Col. 1:24)? Many of those who have defended this country in its wars bear in their bodies the literal proof of their loyalty to the flag by their wounds. How do we measure up in our loyalty to Christ?

Sadly, it is fashionable today among many members of the Lord’s church to be passive, to not bring about any conflict, to not ruffle any feathers, to not rock the boat, to not engage in spiritual battle, to not do anything that might cause the world to dislike them. That certainly was not the Lord’s way, else why were there constant attempts to bring about His demise (Mark 11:18). It was not Paul’s way, else why would he suffer so much persecution? It was not true of Christians in general else why would Paul say, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12)?

Those who want to be loved by the world need to listen to the words of the Lord. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you (John 15:18-19). The world hated Jesus and sent Him to the cross and it will hate us if we follow Him. If the world loves you, it is only because you are of the world and not of Christ.

We have a choice. We can go unscathed by the world and unmolested by satan if we compromise our Christian dignity and the truth or we can maintain our Christian integrity and brave the fiery darts of satan (Eph. 6:10-20). Jesus gave the answer to this question when He said “Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire” (Matthew 18:8). Some Christians, however, are not willing to endure even the smallest grief for the Lord.

Clearly, faithful Christians will bear in their bodies the marks of the Lord Jesus. These marks will come as a result of having engaged in battle with this present evil world and its god. One day, those Christians who have compromised their love for the Lord for the love of the world will trade in their peace and placidity for confusion and damnation while those of us who are despised and molested by the world, and by weak brethren, will trade in our scars and wounds for the victors crown of eternal life.

“From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus” (Galatians 6:17).

Eric L. Padgett