Monthly Archives: March 2013

Memorizing God’s Word

“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11).

The heart is the very center of man, the deepest part, which involves our thoughts, our feelings and our volition (I Pet. 1:22; Prov. 4:23; Matt. 5:8; Heb. 4:12; etc.). It is the part of man to which God appeals when He speaks to us through His revealed will (Acts 2:37). This intimate core of our being is the part of us in which God’s word is to find a permanent, undisturbed lodging.

God’s word is to be hidden in our hearts. Just as baby Moses was hidden from Pharaoh or as the two Hebrew spies were hidden by Rahab, so God’s word is to be hidden in our hearts (Ex. 2:2; Josh 2:4). It is to be hidden from the reach of satan who will gladly snatch it out of our hearts that it cannot influence us any longer (Luke 8:5,12). It is to be so deeply rooted that no weeds can choke it out (Luke 8:7,14). It is to be meditated upon daily (Psalm 1:1-3). It should ever be our delight and our counselor (Psalm 119:24; Rom. 7:22).

Some people can recite quite from memory a letter or a statement from loved ones now removed from their presence. Each word is like a beautiful note and all notes together like a beautiful melody. These words are so easily remembered because that person touched their heart. They remember not the words of the grocer nor the orations of public officials but they remember those simple, unremarkable words which reached their heart because that is where that person lived–in their hearts.

How much more should the word of God so impact our lives so that it is ever on our tongues and our meditation all the day long? We must let the word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col. 3:16). Timothy knew the Scriptures from a child, instilled in him by his precious mother and grandmother (II Tim. 1:5; 3:14-17). What a precious jewel it is when a family, united in love, studies God’s word together.

It is said of Thomas Campbell that:

“The holy oracles were not only always on the table, but daily in the hands of his family, children, and servants. They were read in the family every morning; a portion was memorized every day, and recited every evening. They were, again and again, reviewed and recited at special intervals; whole epistles were committed to memory, and repeated especially on Lord’s day evenings. Thus the Divine word became, as it were, incorporated with the minds of his household.

‘Attending church,’ or ‘going to meeting,’ as it happened to be called, was, in his family, a rather grave and serious matter. Every member of the family, child or servant, that attended church, “went to meeting” with the understanding that he or she was to give an account of what was spoken; not only of the text or topic, as it was called, but also a sort of synopsis of the discourse. In fact, this review was a miniature of the sermon or lecture, as it happened to be called.” (Alexander Campbell, Memoirs of Elder Thomas Campbell, together with a Brief Memoir of Mrs. Jane Campbell (Cincinnati: H. S. Bosworth, 1861), 265-267.)

Oh, that the word of God were so adored today by those professing faith in Christ. If it were, there would be no unwanted efforts to memorize it, just as one does not set out to memorize a letter by a loved one. It cannot help but be remembered, when it is in the heart. This is what God wants of us.

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest (Hebrews 8:10-11).

Does the Word of God abide in your heart?

Eric L. Padgett

Doctrine of Proclamation (4)

This is the final installment on the Biblical Doctrine of Proclamation, our study of the words descriptive of the kind of preaching in which inspired men in the first century engaged and of which God approved. The references are all found in the book of Acts.

Teachers (DIDASKALA) – 13:1: This word is variously translated in the New Testament as master (Matt. 8:19, of Christ; Matt. 10: 24, of any teacher; John 3:10, and of the Jewish Pharisees), teacher, and doctor of the Jewish law (Luke 2:46). According to Thayer it means one who is fitted to teach or thinks himself so. This word does not inherently imply good or bad, only the context can determine which (cf. II Tim. 2:11 with 4:3).  

peter_preachingA master is one who is accomplished in his work.  A master woodwright has reached the point where his knowledge and skill is of the highest quality.  Those who take upon themselves the grave responsibility of teaching publicly, must be masters, hence eminently knowledgeable and skilled, in the use of scripture, language, reason, and persuasion.  A master woodwright whose work is shabby would not last long in his trade.  A preacher who unskillfully uses the tools of his trade can cause untold eternal harm to precious and growing souls.

Reasoned (DIELEGETO) – 17:2:
The Analytical Greek Lexicon defines this word as “to discourse, argue, reason; to address, speak to; contend, dispute.” Preachers of the gospel are to reason “out of the scriptures” (Acts 17:2), reason daily (Acts 19:9), and reason with others as long as it takes (Acts 20:9- cf. I Tim. 4:2).   Paul reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and of judgment to come and it caused Felix to tremble (Acts 24:25; II Tim. 4:2).

This word justifies logical, necessary inference from what the scriptures imply.  To reason is to be in a mental confrontation.  Paul compares the Christian life to warfare. Hence we are to put on the whole armor of God, including the sword of the Spirit, “which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).  We are to battle against “spiritual wickedness in high places (Eph. 6:12; II Cor. 10:4,5).

The Lord’s church grew when it engaged in rigorous, spiritual battle with the religious error that surrounded the camp of the saints.  The Lord’s church today has ceased to grow as it has in the past not because it hasn’t compromised, but because it has called a truce with error and the errorists have infiltrated–no, rather, have been invited into–the city of God.  We need more men skilled in the ability to reason and who will confront, not coddle, the pervasive errors of the day.

Opening (DIANOIGO) – 17:3: This word means to “open thoroughly, literally (as a firstborn) or figurative (to expound).  It is also used of the ears of the deaf being opened (Mark 7:34).  Gospel preaching should enlighten the hearer with a better understanding of God’s will.  Preaching should be plain enough for all to understand (Hab. 2:2).

Alleging (PARATITHEMI) – 17:3:
 In Acts 16:34 the Philippian jailer is said to set meat before Paul and Silas. The ideal then, is to “set before.”  Gospel preachers are to make plain (DIANOIGO) the message and set it before the hearers.  While, as stated earlier, the sermon should not be aimed at simpletons, neither should one try to overwhelm the hearer with verbiage.  And yet, the sermon should challenge the hearer to grow in grace and knowledge (II Pet. 3:18).  If the gospel is plainly set before the hearers, then it becomes their responsibility to respond to it (Rom. 10:13-17).

Declare (KATANGELLO) – 17:23:
To “declare” is “to announce, proclaim, laud, celebrate.” Thayer defines it as “to announce, declare, promulgate, make known, to proclaim, publish with the intended idea of celebrating, commending, openly praising.” We should never apologize for the preaching of the gospel regardless of who it may offend. What should we be ashamed to preach? The resurrection (Acts 4:2), the word of God (Acts 13:5), that men have sins and that there is a plan by which they can be forgiven (Acts 13:38), Jesus (Acts 17:3), God (Acts 17:23), faith (Rom. 1:8), the testimony of God (I Cor. 2:1), the gospel (I Cor. 9:14), and the Lord’s death {Lord’s supper} (I Cor. 11:26)?  How can we be ashamed to speak these things? “And oh may this my glory be, that Christ is not ashamed of me!” (Tillet S. Tedlie).  

In a world where even the most offensive acts are celebrated on the air waves, in magazines, by educational institutions, and even in the highest political offices in the land, gospel preachers need now, as much as ever, to publish the good news of the glad tidings of salvation. Preaching the gospel of Christ is an awesome responsibility that no one should take lightly. Precious souls lie in the balance. When the truth of the gospel is forcefully proclaimed today with the same fervor, strength of reason, fearless confidence, and sober dignity that it was proclaimed with in the first century, souls will be added to the Lord’s church and God will be exalted in the minds and hearts of men. May the Lord raise up gospel preachers who will, with great courage, publish the message throughout the land.

Eric L. Padgett

Doctrine of Proclamation (3)

We continue our study of the words descriptive of the kind of preaching in which inspired men in the first century engaged and of which God approved. The references are all found in the book of Acts.

20400pPreached (EUENGELISATO) – 8:35: This word “is almost always used of the good news concerning the Son of God as proclaimed in the gospel” (except in I Thess. 3:6).  Observe that the preaching was from the scriptures. The scriptures make us wise unto salvation (II Tim. 3:15). The completed revelation of God’s word forms the body of doctrine from which sermons are to be preached (Eph. 4:11-15; Rom. 6:16,17; Tit. 2:1; Gal. 1:6-9, 23; Jude 3; II Tim. 4:1-5; 3:16,17). Note, too, that Jesus was preached from the OT. This teaching from the Old Testament about Jesus led to teaching doctrine (e.g., the necessity of baptism).  Preaching Jesus means preaching the good doctrine.  Those who teach other than wholesome doctrine are to be withdrawn from (I Tim. 6:3-5).

Proving (SUMBIBAZON) – 9:22: According to Thayer this means to put together in one’s mind, to prove, to demonstrate. Paul so thoroughly constructed an undeniable argument for the deity of Jesus that it confounded the Jews. Christians are commanded to prove all things (I Thess. 5:21). Thus, Christianity is rational and logical (Rom. 12:1,2). Preachers of the gospel must give sufficient thought to the sermon they preach to make it logically coherent.  The sermon is to come to a point.  They must also prepare to deliver it in a way that convinces and moves the hearer to respond.  Unprepared delivery takes away from even the most well designed lesson.

Disputed (SUNEZETEI) – 9:29: To dispute is to seek, ask, or inquire with another; deliberate, debate, to hold discourse with, argue, reason, to question, dispute, cavil. This word is used of the Pharisees as they “questioned” with Jesus, tempting Him by seeking a sign (Mark 8:11). It is also used of Stephen in Acts 8:9. Verse 10 states, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake.” It is not wrong to debate, as long as the truth is preached in love, both for the truth itself and for the souls of men (Eph. 4:15). Alexander Campbell wrote of the controversial nature of Jesus in the very first issue of the Millennial Harbinger that Jesus “never sheathed the sword of the Spirit while He lived; He drew it in the banks of the Jordan and threw the scabbard away.”

Rehearsed (ARXAMEVOS) – 11:4: “Peter confines himself to a careful recital of those incidents mentioned in the preceding chapter…” There is great good accomplished by the rehearsal or review of past events. It is especially scriptural to preach the same lessons once and again. Paul wrote, “To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not greivious, but for you it is safe” (Phil. 3:1). Every preacher should only have one gospel sermon. There may be different ways of presenting the same message, but the message of salvation should always be there, always designed to instruct the hearer to render obedience to Christ.  

Paul’s wrote: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Cor. 2:1-2). Preachers should not let their desire for novelty or style interfere with the simple proclamation of the good news of Jesus Christ. Never sacrifice truth for invention or entertainment. Worship is not a spectator’s sport or a sport of any sort. If the hearer is not moved by the stirring truth of the gospel powerfully and rationally delivered, regardless of how many times it has been heard, then anything else that may move the hearer, moves the hearer for the wrong reason.

Expounded (EXETITHETO) – 11:4: According to the Analytical Greek Lexicon, this word means “to place outside, put forth; to expose; to set forth, declare, explain.” This word gives authority for interpretation. Indeed, without interpreting the Bible we could not understand it. Preachers are in the business of explaining the scriptures (cf. Neh. 8, esp, v. 8). Aquilla and Priscilla expounded the way of God more perfectly to Apollos (18:26) and Paul expounded the truth to all that would come unto him in Rome when he was in his first captivity (28:23). This all implies that one has studied the word and has garnered something from it to present.

More next week.

Eric L. Padgett

Doctrine of Proclamation (2)

We continue our study of the words descriptive of the kind of preaching in which inspired men in the first century engaged and of which God approved. The references are all found in the book of Acts.


Testify (DIEMARTURETO) – 2:40: The Analytical Greek Lexicon gives the following definition: “To make solemn affirmation, protest; to make a solemn and earnest charge; to declare solemnly and earnestly.” The “witness” (MARTURION) is intensified by the preposition “through” (DIA). This word emphasizes three aspects of gospel preaching: truth, teaching, and a solemn charge (cf. I Tim. 5:21; II tim. 2:14; 4:1). Although we cannot testify or witness in the sense in which the apostles did (see Acts 10:41), we can solemnly affirm the truth, protest the wrong and charge others to obey.  

Implied in all this is that there should be no frivolity in gospel preaching. This does not mean that good, purposeful humor should not be occasionally employed.  It does mean that because the subject matter is of such eternal importance and enormous magnitude, the task of preaching the gospel to others should not be taken lightly (II Cor. 5:9-11).  Diligent study and preparation for preaching must be second nature to the gospel preacher (II Tim. 2:15; 4:13).  

Exhort (PAREKALEI) – 2:40: To exhort is “to call for, invite to come, send for, to call upon, exhort, admonish, persuade, to beg, beseech, entreat, implore.” Vine States: “To call on, entreat; to admonish, exhort, to urge one to pursue some course of conduct (always prospective, looking to the future, in contrast to the meaning to comfort, which is retrospective, having to do with trial experienced).”

This word is used of the Ethiopian nobleman when he besought Philip to join him in the chariot (Acts 8:31). Paul also used this word of himself when he besought the Lord to remove his thorn in the flesh (II Cor. 12:8). The Bible teaches that our exhortation should be by the mercies of God (Rom. 12:1), by the authority of Christ (I Thess. 4:1), out of love (Philem. 9), growing daily (Heb. 3:13), and coupled with reproof, rebuke, and longsufferingness (I Tim. 4:2). Faithful Gospel preaching should always bring the hearers to be motivated to action.

Boldness (PARRESIAN) – 4:13: A combination of definitions reveals that boldness involves freedom in speaking, unreservedness of utterance, the absence of fear in speaking boldly. It involves a licence to speak; an authority, confidence, assurance, frankness, openness in making truths known. To speak with plainness, perspiciousness, unambiguousness, free and fearless confidence before all. To have cheerful courage, the deportment by which one becomes conspicuous or secures attention.

Peter and John’s bold proclamation of the gospel in the face of opposition should really be no surprise. They were simply following the example of their Lord (cf. Mark 8:32; John 7:26). However, the transformation of Peter from one who rebuked the Lord for His boldness to one who was himself bold is quite a commentary upon the gospel’s power to change men’s lives and upon the way the gospel should be preached.

Indeed, it should embolden gospel preachers, and all Christians, to know that they declare a message so powerful (Rom. 1:16).  The teaching of Peter and John was a confident and unambiguous presentation of the truth in the face of real and serious opposition.  The apostles did not water down the gospel to placate the assembled inquisitors but with cheerful courage and fearless confidence proclaimed that Christ was the only source of salvation (4:12).

Power (DUNAMEI) – 4:33: Power means might, strength, or force. This word has reference to the miraculous power which accompanied the teaching of first century, inspired men in order to prove it’s validity. (cf. John 20:30,31; Heb. 2:2-4). Every time this word (DUNAMIS) occurs in the book of Acts it has reference to the miraculous. This was not just miraculous power, but “great” (MEGA) power. Although we do not possess the miraculous, we have the divinely confirmed word of God. Therefore, when we preach the pure gospel of Christ, we have the power (DUNAMIS) of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). And the result will be the same as it was then: “great grace was upon them all.”

Taught (EDIDASKON) – 5:21: “To teach in a public assembly; to direct or admonish; to hold discourse with others in order to teach them; deliver didactic discourses; to impart instruction, to instill doctrine into one.” According to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, this “usual word for `teach’ in the N T signifies either to hold a discourse with others in order to instruct them, or to deliver a didactic discourse where there may not be direct personal and verbal participation. In the former sense it describes the interlocutory method, the interplay of ideas and words between pupils and teachers, and in the latter use it refers to the more formal monologues designed especially to give information.”

This proclamation was both public and private on a daily basis (Acts 5:42). Notice, too, that when the apostles received the word to preach, even though their life was in immediate peril, they responded promptly.  Furthermore, this teaching, like the teaching of Jesus Himself, was not done in a secret (John 18:20).  According to the angel’s instruction they went to the temple and taught openly.

Eric L. Padgett