Monthly Archives: February 2013

Doctrine of Proclamation (1)

Those who teach and preach the gospel publicly have an awesome responsibility placed upon their shoulders (James 3:1).  It is instructive and beneficial to gospel preachers today, as well as to every obedient child of God, to carefully study the words chosen by the Holy Spirit to describe God-approved preaching.  The book of Acts, replete with examples of approved gospel preaching by men who were taught by the Master and led by the Spirit of God, provides for us perhaps the richest description of acceptable proclamation of truth. While the following list is certainly neither exhaustive nor complete in its application, it is hoped that it might form the basis for further reflection by those interested in conforming their preaching to the pattern revealed in the New Testament.
Lifted (EPERE) – 2:14:
This word is used of the eyes (Matt. 17:8), head (Luke 21:28), hands (Luke 24:50), a sail (Acts 27:40), man (II Cor. 11:20), and “every high thing” (II Cor. 10:5), as well as the voice (Acts 2:14 et. al.).  It means to lift up, raise, elevate; to hoist; and when used of the voice, to lift up the voice, to speak in a loud voice. Although his sorrowful sobs of denial had filled Jerusalem earlier, Peter’s voice was now raised in prophecy and praise.

This word is not suggestive of “yelling” or “hollering” as so many modern, denominational preachers–and, unfortunately, even many in the Lord’s church–are wont to do, but of confidence.  Christians carry a message that is desperately needed by the world.   Peter, along with the other apostles, with a confidence that grew out of knowing the Lord was resurrected from the grave, raised the volume of his voice that he might be heard above the noise of the crowd.  Just as a sail might be hoisted to catch the winds, or as the eyes are lifted to catch a glimpse, Christians must raise their voice so that the gospel can be heard.

Said (APEPHTHEGXATO) – 2:14:
This word is “expressive of the solemnity of the utterance” and shows “that St. Peter’s words were inspired.”  It was not used of ordinary speech in the LXX, but of the speech of prophets and it was used by the Greeks of the sayings of the wise and philosophers.  Thayer says of this word, “belonging to dignified and elevated discourse.”  Gospel preaching is not to be childish or vulgar.  While it is true that a sermon should be able to be understood by common folk (Mark 12:37), there must be a dignity about the lesson.

Just as those who study God’s word are noble (Acts 17:11), those who preach it should be dignified. Nor should God’s word be aimed at simpletons. Gospel preaching should appeal to the intellect (Eph. 5:14-17; II Tim. 2:15) as well as to the emotions (Acts 24:25).  This word is found only three times in the New Testament, all in Acts (Acts 2:4,14; 26:25).  In 2:4 it is used of the Spirit-inspired “utterance” that was given to the apostles in the baptism of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.  In 26:25 Paul contrasts his speech with that of a madman, which he was accused of being.

(To be continued)

Eric L. Padgett

God is Love

John is often spoken of as the “Apostle of Love.”  And there is no doubt that the word “love” is very much a part of John’s vocabulary.  It is found in his gospel account and in his epistles.  It is in his first epistle that the expression in the title of this entry is found (I John 4:8).  And yet, while John does speak of love, that is not the focus of his epistle.

John was writing to answer an insidious heresy.  If it was not full blown gnosticism it was at least proto-gnosticism.  Gnosticism is the view that all matter is evil.  The body was evil, the world was evil.  The problem this posed for the advocates of gnosticism was what to do with Jesus?  Jesus had a body.  Was it evil?  Some Gnostics, those of the Docetic brand, “solved” the problem by saying that the body of Jesus was only a phantom; it wasn’t real flesh and blood. The Cerinthian brand of gnosticism “solved” the problem by saying the power of Christ came on Jesus at His baptism and left before His crucifixion.  Thus, they denied Jesus had come in the flesh and died.

Their view also posed a problem with their own bodies.  If the flesh was evil, then what could they do with their own bodies?  They “solved ” this problem with one of two positions.  Some claimed because the body was evil, they had to control the body through ascetic practices.  However, others “solved” the problem by saying that because the body was evil, it didn’t matter what they did with it as long as they possessed special knowledge or enlightenment which only they knew.  Because they had this special insight, this “gnosis,” sin was no problem to them.

In his first epistle, John is answering these insidious false doctrines from the outset of the epistle.  John had heard, seen with his own eyes, looked upon and his hands had handled the Word of Life, Jesus.  Jesus was real, flesh and blood real.  Those who denied that Jesus had come in the flesh were “false prophets” and “antichrists” and were to be tried (I John 4:-3).  This is the reason John wrote the letter. 

Furthermore, sin was real.  John writes to make clear that one can sin but that Jesus died as a propitiation for our sins (I John 2:1-3).  If a person was to claim they had no sin, they were liars (I John 2:22).  Remember, this is the “Apostle of Love” who is calling the advocates of gnosticism liars and seducers (I John 2:26)!  Sin, John said, was the transgression of the law (I John 3:4).  Those who said sin was not real were liars and deceivers.

And this is where love comes into the picture.  Because God loved us, this proves Jesus came in the flesh and died for us (I John 3:16).  The reason John speaks about love is not because it is a gooey, blind to all sins, answer to all problems attitude, but because it defeats the Gnostic heresy.  God’s love was manifested when He sent His only begotten Son into the world to die for our sins, so that we might live through Him (I John 4:7-10).  God’s love disproves the notion that sin is not real and that Jesus did not come in the flesh, thus defeating gnosticism.

So when we speak about God being love, we are making a statement about our own spiritual condition, that sin, transgression of God’s law, is real (I John 3:4) and that Jesus really did come in the flesh so that we might be able to overcome sin (I John 5:1-4).

Eric L. Padgett

Love Not!

heartAs Valentine’s Day approaches we are given occasion to think more about the subject of love. It ought to be something we think about often, as it is a vital part of our existence. Most human beings thrive on the knowledge that they are loved by someone and can love others. Indeed, it is the very heart of the law of God, said Jesus (Matt. 22:34-40). God’s matchless love for us was manifested in His offering of His Son upon the cross (John 3:16; Eph. 2:4). Even though we were His enemies, He still offered His Son as a propitiation for our sins (Rom. 5:5-8; I John 2:1). However, while love is necessary and commanded, there are some things that we should not love!

The wise man Solomon said, “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread” (Proverbs 20:13). This wise instruction warns us against laziness. It is so easy to put things off, to think we have done enough, or think we have more time. But who knows what a day may bring forth, it is so like a vapor that appears only for a short time (Prov. 27:1; James 4:13-17). This day our soul may be required of us (Luke 12:20). A rest will come, but is not now (Heb. 4:1-11).

Jeremiah warned of the prophets that prophesy falsely and priests that bear rule by their means. And he notes that “my people love to have it so” (Jeremiah 5:31). How true it is that so many love to “heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears” who “turn away their ears from the truth” and turn unto fables (II Tim. 4:1-4). We must always be on guard against these false teachers who have gone out into the world (I John 4:1). No matter what we hear, and no matter who we hear it from, we must always search the scriptures and have a thus saith the Lord for all we do or believe in matters of faith and practice (Acts 17:11; II Tim. 2:15).

The love of money is also something that must be avoided, as it is leads to all kinds of evil (I Tim. 6:10-11). Money is not evil in and of itself, for we must work to have to give to those who are in need and provide for our own (Eph. 4:28; I Tim. 5:8). But when money is put ahead of everything else, when we pursue it to the point of covetousness, we are guilty of idolatry (Col. 3;5). Those who have coveted after it have “have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

Finally, John warns us “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (I John 2:15). Our lives being very much like a vapor, we are only here for a relatively short time. No matter what we obtain in this life, no matter how many treasures we hoard, we cannot take this world’s goods with us (I Tim. 6:7,8). Our focus ought to be upon laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven, which are everlasting treasures (Matt. 5:19-21). We can obtain a crown of life if we but realize we are only temporary tenants of this mortal coil (II Cor. 5:1-4; Rev. 2:10).

So yes, let us love. Purely. Holily. Let us love only the things which God loves. But let not our love be misplaced. Just as we should always and only be ravished with the love of the wife of our youth and never desire to embrace the bosom of a strange woman (Prov. 5:15-21), may we always be only the bride of Christ and never be enamored of some gaudy, false doctrine or desire to embrace in our bosom some strange religious system or some cruel, tortured way of life (II Tim. 3:1-9). Such folly will be made manifest.

Eric L. Padgett