Category Archives: Example

Beacons of Light

It is alarming, indeed, to read the stories that come out almost daily chronicling the depravity, the cruelty, the indifference and the ignorance of this generation. There are things happening now which many of us could never have imagined. Our very way of life is threatened and seems even now to be precariously hanging in the balance. What does the future have in store for us if this trend continues? What can be done to turn this situation around?

Edmund Burke once said, “Tell me what are the prevailing sentiments that occupy the minds of your young men, and I will tell you what is to be the character of the next generation.” This is so obviously true. The Bible makes clear the fate of a society that no longer remembers and accepts God’s rule: it will devolve into chaos, and complete destruction is its destiny (Jud. 2:10; 17:6). We must remain confident, however, that while the wicked may prosper temporarily (Jer. 12:1), God’s just judgement will surely come, if not here and now, then ultimately and finally beyond the veil (Acts 17:30,31). But what of the here and now? What can be done, if anything at all, to change the direction into which we are now heading?

First, we must recognize that everyone is an individual and will stand before the judgement seat of Christ to be judged in that capacity (II Cor. 5:10). None of us can force anyone else to be good. Parents, more than anyone, have influence over someone else, i.e., their children (Prov. 22:6), but too often this influence is squandered. Even under the best parental guidance, however, every child is going to stand on his own at the judgement (Ez. 18:20). The only power we really have is a little persuasion (Acts 26:28) and a little influence (Matt. 5:13-16) and, in this country, a little political power of voting.

Second, since all we have is persuasion and influence, we have to do more persuading and more influencing others for the cause of Christ. We should never be afraid of, nor tire of, or be ashamed of, speaking the truth of God, regardless of what others may say. We must never grow weary of doing well. Rather than retreat from the world–which often is a tempting choice for those of us who like to live quiet and peaceable lives–we must engage it! This does not mean that we should conform to it (Rom. 12:1,2), but we must shine as lights in a crooked and perverse world (Phil. 2:15). While it will be a hard balance, Christians need to become teachers, civic leaders, business leaders, etc., all the while manifesting an unreproachable Christian character. We also must speak the necessary truths at every opportunity.

Finally, we, ourselves, must live above reproach. Known hypocrites are not generally most influential people. Paul wrote to the young man Timothy that he was to be, and to exhort other young men to be, “sober minded. In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you” (Tit. 2:6-8). We are to be examples in word, in conversation, charity, spirit, faith and purity (I Tim. 4:12). Only when we ourselves lead such exemplar lives, can we hope to influence others for good.

Make no mistake, evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13). But we can be, and the Lord expects us to be, beacons of light shining forth the word of truth (Matt. 5:13-16). We must put on the armor of light if we expect to cast off the works of darkness (Rom. 13:12). The Lord is coming back to judge this world. Let us do as much as we can to see that souls hear the Truth before that time and maybe, just maybe, we can turn this society around a little, at least, in the process.

Eric L. Padgett

Honor to Whom Honor: Gospel Preachers

It would be an interesting map if all the various influences on a person’s life throughout his life could be shown graphically. Each individual and event would have to be weighted to signify just how much influence was there, among other things. As I say, it is an interesting thought, but maybe not practical as there is so much influence in a person’s life the task might be too great. But I want to continue the thought I began last week and identify some (and I stress “some”) preachers who have made a lasting impact on me.

Some of the men of which I speak, I never met personally. One of the greatest influences on me was Foy E. Wallace, Jr. I was influenced first of all by his writings. His books, like “A Review of the Versions,” “Number One Gospel Sermons,” “Bulwarks of the Faith,” “The Gospel for Today,” were books that I read very early on after my conversion. They helped me to see a way of thinking about the scriptures I had not considered. Then I came across the only recordings that still exist and I love to hear him him preach. In his debates with errorists and his defense of the truth through his editorship of the Gospel Advocate he did immense good. He made a great impact on me as well as on the brotherhood.

Another man who influenced my thinking greatly was Thomas B. Warren. Brother Warren had studied philosophy and logic and, in my opinion, there was not his equal in logical thinking and clear reasoning in the brotherhood. His debates with Antony Flew and Wallace Matson were great examples of his reasoning ability and great victories for the cause of Truth. His books, like “The Bible Only Makes Christians Only and the Only Christians,” are classics of Christian reasoning and defense of the Truth. His writing is not the flowery or showy type so often seen today but it is clear and rational and scriptural. We need more men like him who are unashamed to stand for the truth and are equally able to defend it.

Brother Garland Elkins has also had a profound impact upon me. I can listen to brother Elkins preach for hour on end and never grow tired. His nimble recollection of scripture and his meek but forceful presentation of the truth and defense of it are a pattern for me in my preaching, though I fall far short of his example. His lessons are filled with book, chapter and verse preaching and quotation of scripture, but they also contain the occasional anecdote that brings the point home. He has a great sense of humor, as well. I remember on one occasion in Kentucky when he was encouraging others to attend the Spiritual Sword lectureship, he said “You want to go to heaven, don’t you!” Every young preacher ought to listen to his sermons and learn from them.

Brother Robert Taylor has also been a good example to me and of those that love the word. His dedication to the study and memorization of the scriptures should be taught to every young gospel preacher. Brother Taylor is also a prolific writer. His writings should be in every, Every EVERY library of every faithful gospel preacher and every faithful church. His work on the defense of the King James version of the Bible is in the same category as brother Foy E. Wallace’s works on that subject. As an aside, I remember on one occasion my brother and I were waiting in a hotel room for the next session of a lectureship to start and, to pass the time, we played basketball in the hotel room with the trash can and a wad of paper. We made a little noise. As we went out of the hotel room brother Taylor was coming out of the room next to us. I always wandered if and worried that we disturbed him.

Another brother who made an impression on not only me but also the whole brotherhood was Guy N. Woods. Brother Woods was a first-class Bible scholar and his commentaries are second to none. I only made it to hear him preach in person once, but I relished the opportunity! If you disagree with bother Wood’s position on a passage, you had better thought out your reason very clearly and scripturally. His voice and preaching style were distinctive. There will never be another Guy N. Woods.

The instructors at the Memphis School of Preaching also had an important impact upon me. Brother Cates’ tireless work ethic and brother Curry’s knowledge of history impressed me greatly. Brother Renshaw and brother Hearns will always be remembered, as well. But of all the instructors there, brother Keith Mosher, Sr. stands out the most to me. The quality which most impresses me about brother Mosher is his ability to teach. To this day whenever I hear brother Mosher speak, I still learn something I never knew before. Jesus, of course, was the Master Teacher and so teaching is an important part of the preacher’s work. Brother Mosher does this as well as anyone I have ever heard. He is always a favorite of the students at the school.

Brother Gary Colley is another great gospel preacher who has influenced me. He has a tremendous knowledge of God’s word and is such a Christian gentleman. He has a great sense of obligation to the Lord. I recall on one occasion he was scheduled to speak at a congregation which had fellowshiped those who were in error. Even though the event had been scheduled, and even though it meant a loss for him in several ways, he wrote the brethren there and told that he could not, under those circumstances, hold the meeting for them. He chose to stand for the truth rather than to enjoy the accolades of a few unfaithful brethren. That example still stands out to me as a great example of Christian courage.

There are so many others I wish I could mention. I know I have left out many others. Brother Roy Deaver, Wayne Coats, Wayne Jackson, Ira Rice, Jr., Franklin Camp, William Cline, Frank Starling, O. B. Porterfield, Dean Fugett, Dub McClish, Johnny Ramsey, Ben Vick, Jr., H. A. Buster Dobbs, Bill Jackson, Gus Nichols, H. Leo Boles, J. W. McGarvey, Earl Geiseke, J. Noel Meridith, all the great restoration preachers, and on and on the list could go. These men are deserving of honor, not just for their influence on me, of course, but for the work they have done and continue to do for the Lord. It is my prayer that Christians everywhere have good, sound influences on them and honor those who do influence them for the right.

Eric L. Padgett

Honor to Whom Honor

One of the things I am most thankful for in life is the influence of good people with whom I have come into contact over the years. We all understand, in one respect, no man is an island unto himself. We are influenced by the people we meet and the things we experience. At the risk of being too personal and missing some who should be named, I want to use this column over the next couple of weeks to make mention of the people that have influenced me over the years.

Before anyone else, of course, I must mention my family. My Mom and Dad have had the greatest impact on my life in shaping who I have become. It seems too obvious to say that I would not be who I am without them, but it is true. Though they did not obey the gospel until later in life, they were and are decent, moral people. They taught me the values that are found in the Bible because they were brought up that way by their parents, even though they themselves were not New Testament Christians then, in my formative years. My brother and sisters are also decent, moral people because of the influence of my parents. I know the statement is true “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6) because the Bible teaches it, but I have also seen it I action.

My siblings were and are also a great source of strength and comfort to me. I have been very blessed, indeed. Our family is close, very close. It saddens me to see families that are not close and homes that are broken. I will never understand these families going on television and airing their sometimes sick and demented feuds and problems before the world. That they are willing to do this betrays an underlying problem in their view of the family and life in general. Not only is it painful to see, but it is detrimental to our culture and society. The lack of recognition and respect for God’s design for the family is a disease eating away at our national health. The family is the second most basic unit of society and when it is undermined the nation will also fall. With the state of the family in our time as it is, it is no wonder that we are seeing an America in decline (Ps. 33:12; Prov. 14:34).

Another good influence on me has been the brethren in the congregation in which I grew up. Charles Hagerman had a profound influence on the direction I took doctrinally. He took me aside and took the time to introduce me to faithful and sound brethren and to explain doctrinal issues to me. He always gave me his periodicals, or books, when he was finished reading them. Vernon Johnson also influenced me greatly. Though he had a meeker approach than Charlie, his guidance was invaluable to me. I remember with great fondness and miss sorely the times when we three would meet at the building early, before anyone else had arrived, to discuss various issues of the day. Lindell Wells was an example to me in dealing with adversity. He had many problems not of his own creation but faced them with Christ-like dignity. When I first obeyed the gospel, Cliff Renner’s classes helped me to grow and brother Lynn’s perspective on life still means a lot to me. Of course, I can’t forget sitting at the feet of brother Larry Albritton, as he preached the gospel. His love of the word and his tireless Christian example are humbling.

These were the men, but there were also many ladies of the congregation who also had a profound impact on me. Sister Pearl Brinker’s knowledge of the Bible would put to shame the knowledge of many preachers that I know. She was an avid student of the God’s word and was always willing to teach the ladies’ class. Sister Hagerman was always willing to attend the nursery, not just to keep the children occupied playing games, but to teach them God’s word. I remember with great fondness visiting the three sisters, Carmen Greer, and Rosa and Annie Ruth Devault. Sister Greer would spend hours telling me of how the Lord’s church used to be and would reminisce of those days long since gone. She also loved to write Christian poetry. Sister Rosa DeVault devoted her life to taking care of her invalid sister. She was a very gentle woman and I loved to hear her sing. We would talk a long time about the Lord’s church and about the state of society. I am saddened that we can no longer talk but I hope one day to resume our discussions again. Edith Wells’ quiet, Christian example and her encouragement are always welcomed and appreciated. And I, of course, admire sister Albritton for her strength of character, love of the truth and children and support of her husband and family. Mike and Cindy have also been an encouragement to me as well as good friends.

There are many others I could mention. Tim and Tod Gilley, Brother Dalp, brother Fowler to name but a few more. These all have had the profoundest impact on me throughout the years. I hope in some small way, at least, that I can be a blessing to others in my example as others have been for me.

This post is personal, I realize, and may not mean much to anyone else. I apologize for this. But I want to honor those who have blessed me with their lives. Next week I want to mention those preachers who have had an influence on me.

Eric L. Padgett

Good Advice

The following comes from the Biblical Illustrator.  All of these principles are biblical.  If more people practiced these truths, this country, and the world, would be a much better place.

“The Hon. Stephen Allen, who had been Mayor of New York, was drowned from on board the Henry Clay. In the pocket book was found a printed slip, apparently cut from a newspaper, a copy of which we give below. It is worthy to be engraven on the heart of every young man:—’Keep good company, or none. Never be idle. If your hands can’t be usefully employed, attend to the cultivation of your mind. Always speak the truth. Make few promises. Live up to your engagements. Keep your own secrets if you have any. When you speak to a person look him in the face. Good company and good conversation are the very sinews of virtue. Good character is above all things else. Your character cannot be essentially injured except by your own acts. If any one speaks evil of you let your life be so that none will believe him. Drink no kind of intoxicating liquors. Ever live (misfortune excepted) within your income. When you retire to bed, think over what you have been doing during the day. Make no haste to be rich if you would prosper. Small and steady gains give competency with a tranquil mind. Never play at any game of chance. Avoid temptation, through fear you may not withstand it. Earn money before you spend it. Never run into debt unless you see a way to get out again. Never borrow if you can possibly avoid it. Do not marry until you are able to support a wife. Never speak evil of any one. Be just before you are generous. Keep yourself innocent if you would be happy. Save when you are young, to spend when you are old. Read over the above maxims at least once a week.’”

Eric L. Padgett