Monthly Archives: March 2015

Adding and Subtracting

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2)

The prohibition against adding to God’s word or taking from it is, perhaps, one of the best known but least obeyed commands of God. It is regularly violated with impunity. It was the first sin to be committed, when Eve added to God’s word, the words “neither shall ye touch it,” and satan added the little word “not” to God’s condemnation “Ye shall surely die.” This prohibition has been repeated throughout God’s word. It was repeated in the Law of Moses (Deut. 13:1-4). Jeremiah reminded the people of Israel that they were not to diminish a single word from the Law (Jer. 26:2). The wise man warned against adding to the word lest we be made liars (Prov. 30:6). Jesus said one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled (Matt. 5:17). The warning is finally repeated at the conclusion of the Revelation (22:18,19). Jesus condemned those who engage in vain worship by “teaching for doctrine the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:9).

There are those who intentionally rebel against God’s express will and follow their own designs. These, Paul said, are “men of corrupt minds,” “reprobate concerning the Faith” and “always resisting the truth” (II Tim. 3:8). Sometimes they come in the form of ravening wolves disguised in sheep’s clothing, as Jesus described them (Matt. 7:15), or as “vain talkers and deceivers, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucres’ sake (Tit. 1:10,11). Others wrest the scriptures just because they are unlearned and unstable (II Pet. 3:16). This sin manifests itself in many ways.

God’s word teaches “sing and make melody in your heart” (Col. 3:16; Eph. 5:19). Some, however, want to add the instrument to this command or use their voice to make the sound of an instrument.

God’s word teaches that we are to take the Lord’s supper on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). Some, however, want to take it once a year, or during special occasions.

God’s word teaches to lay by in store upon the first day of the week (I Cor. 16:1,2). Many, however, want to take up a collection any time they can.

God’s word teaches that His word is to be taught faithfully (II Tim. 2:2). Some, however, want to teach anything but the word.

God’s word teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman (Gen. 2:18-25; Matt. 19:1-9). But some want to pervert God’s design for marriage into something it is not.

God’s word teaches that Holy Spirit baptism was given to the apostles for the purposes of revealing and confirming the word (John 14:26; 16:13; Heb. 2:1-4; etc.). But a few want to claim this was and is given to all Christians.

God’s word teaches that baptism is for the remission of sins (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38). Some, however, want to say that baptism does not wash away sins.

On and on the list could go. There is an infinite variety of ways to pervert God’s word, but only one correct way to understand it.

Doctrine is undeniably important. The prohibition against altering or changing God’s word is very clear indeed. “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (II John 1:9-11).

Eric L. Padgett

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

Do You Know This Jesus?

Many people know of Jesus’ kindness and love. We read of His cradling a little child in His bosom (Matt. 17:3), touching the untouchable leper (Matt. 8:2,3) and protecting the harlot from being stoned (John 8:10), of His speaking to the shunned Samaritan woman (John 4), and His dining among publicans (Luke 5:29). We read of His unparalleled teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, turn the other cheek, bless those which curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,” etc. The world in general and the religious world in particular knows and generally admires these qualities of Jesus.

Yet, while these things present a picture of Christ that is not untrue, it is also not complete. There was and is another side to Jesus. Jesus also overthrew the moneychangers tables and scourged those who made merchandise of the house of God (Matt. 21:12,13), He condemned the Pharisees and scribes as hypocrites (Matt. 23:27), He scolded Jerusalem and said He would return in judgement (Matt. 23:34-24:2) and told people bluntly that they were in error (Matt. 22:29). Another passage we want to examine is found in Matthew 7:21-23:

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Several lessons can be learned from this passage:

First, Jesus clearly taught that not everyone will be saved. However, there are some in the religious world who do not believe this. The Universalist, for instance, believes “that all people, no matter how evil they may be, are created by God; and that God…will eventually bring all people back to Himself and into Heaven, by means which we cannot know or understand” ( In contrast to this, Jesus unmistakably said some “shall go away into eternal damnation” (Matt. 25:41).

It is not that God is not able to save. The Bible teaches He is able to save them to the “uttermost” who come unto Him by Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:25). No, God’s arm is not shortened that it cannot save (Isaiah 59:1). It’s not that salvation is limited, either. Contrary to what some teach, God has not chosen just a few for salvation. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (I Tim. 2:4). But God never has saved all people, though He wants to do so. In Moses’ day, for instance, the majority were lost and only eight souls were saved (I Pet. 3:20). Of the millions who came out of Egypt, only Joshua and Caleb were able to visit the promised land (Deut. 1:35-38).

Second, it is clear from Jesus’ teaching that only those who obey God’s will can be saved. Obedience is absolutely essential to salvation. Paul stated that obedience must be rendered to the faith (Rom. 1:5). He said there will be tribulation on every soul that does not obey (Rom. 2:8,9). In fact, it is through disobedience that sin came into the world (Rom. 5:19). We must be doers of the word and not hearers only, says James (1:22-25). On and on the list could go. But it is clear that salvation only comes through obedience to God’s word. That is why the view of “faith only” is manifestly false (James 2:10-26).

Finally, and sadly, many are mistaken about God’s will. Jesus said many will claim that they have done many good things in His name, yet He will say “I never knew you. Depart from Me.” Cornelius is a good example of one did many good things, he believed, for God, and yet needed salvation (Acts 10:1-6; 11:14). Apollos, was another good man that needed to be taught correctly (Acts 18:24-26). I know a lot of decent people, but they sadly close their ears to the truth. Some in the Bible, like the Athenians, heard the truth but rejected it (Acts 7:32). Festus and Agrippa are two good examples, as well, of those who were almost Christians (Acts 26:24-29). It is not that God’s word cannot be understood, but that some men will not submit themselves to it.

It is true, God is love (I John 4:8,16). It is also true the He loved us so much He gave His Son to die in our stead (John 3:16). It is equally true that Jesus gave us a commandment to love one another. But there is another side to Jesus. His character demands that justice also be meted out. He will deny us if we deny Him (Matt. 10:32). It is one thing to profess to know God, it is quite another to have God know you. May we never, ever hear Christ speak to us those dreadful, terrifying words, “Depart from Me, ye that work iniquity, I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23).

Eric L. Padgett

Behold the Treasures of the Snow

Many people have made it very clear that they are tired of the snow. Personally, I love the snow and the cold. Always have. Yet I understand the desire many have for warmer weather. After being shut up inside all winter long, even I have to admit, it does feels good to get out and stretch a few months. But while so many long for the steamy hot days of summer, let us not dismiss the blessings of snow so quickly.

In God’s response to Job’s questions, among other things, the Lord asked him: “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?” (Job 38:22). The word for “treasures” here can be used of a storehouse (I Chron. 9:26), but it can also be used of the treasures themselves (cf. II Chron. 12:9; Prov. 21:6). I think it used in this latter sense here.

There are material benefits to snow. Snow sometimes functions as an insulator in very cold weather. The expression “a blanket of snow” is more meaningful than a lot of people think. Fresh, uncompacted snow is 90 to 95 percent trapped air, which is a good insulator, and the ground temperature can be as much as 40 degrees warmer than the air temperature with a blanket of nine inches of snow. Root systems subjected to extended periods of cold weather can be damaged if there is no snow to insulate the ground.

Snow also serves to replenish the water supply in the ground. Five inches of snow can equal one inch of water when the snow is wet. This “white gold” adds much needed moisture to plants, which continue to lose water through evaporation over the winter. Even in areas where there is no vegetation, the soil still retains the moisture for later growth. The snow also returns chemicals and nutrients to the ground that have been removed by natural process.

Snow melt gives an extra punch to vegetative growth in the Spring. As Isaiah wrote, “For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater” (Is. 55:10).

In scripture, snow is used as symbol for purity: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow” (Is. 1:18). When Jesus was transfigured, His raiment was as “white as snow” (Matt. 28:3), so white no fuller on earth can white them (Mark 9:3). Daniel saw the same thing (Dan. 7:9). When John saw Jesus, the hairs of His head were as white as snow (Rev. 1:14).

Before we complain about the snow too much, let us realize that it is God that gives us the snow (Ps. 147:16; Job 37:6). It fulfills His word (Ps. 148:8). Though it can be harsh at times, it is a symbol of purity. Behold, the treasures of the snow!

Eric L. Padgett