Monthly Archives: August 2015


Worship is an important element in the life of the Christian. While it is a command of the Lord to worship Him (i.e., Rev. 22:9), it should also be an automatic response of a grateful soul for the blessings of life and salvation. Indeed, in all human beings, whether they openly profess to be religious or not, there seems to be a tendency to worship. However, most direct their worship to the wrong object. Some worship their ancestors, others worship the heavens, some worship an object crafted by their own hands and others worship themselves (Rom. 1:21-28). While the desire and need to worship is there, the knowledge of Whom to worship and how to do it is not. God’s word teaches us about the proper object of worship and the proper way to do it.

First, only God is to be worshiped. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14). Because all other objects and persons are created by God, only He is worthy of worship (Ps. 100; I Chron. 16:25,26). Since Jesus is also God, and, along with the Holy Spirit, was involved in the creation of the world (Gen. 1:1,2; John 1:1-3), He is also worthy of worship (Mark 5:6; Rev. 4,5). Many, however, often without even realizing it, worship things other than God. Some worship wealth or possessions and others worship fame and status. But Jesus made it clear that we cannot serve God and mammon and be acceptable to Him (Matt. 6:24). God is the only authorized object of worship.

Second, reverence must be exhibited when approaching God in worship. When Moses approached God in the burning bush, God told him that the place whereon he stood was “holy ground” and that he should remove his shoes as a sign of reverence (Ex. 3:5). Today, of course, we do not show reverence by removing shoes, but we should show reverence in the way we approach God in worship by the way we dress, by the way we conduct ourselves and by the way speak. David said he would not offer to God that which cost him nothing (II Sam. 24:24). We should be willing to sacrifice in order to come before God. Like the four and twenty elders before the throne, we should cast down our crowns before the Lord (Rev. 4:10). Our attitude toward God will be manifested by how we present ourselves before Him (I Chron. 16:29; Psalm 92:2).

Third, God must be worshiped according to His will. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” God must be worshiped both in spirit and in Truth (John 4:24). To worship God in spirit is to worship Him with the right attitude or disposition of heart, which we just mentioned. But God wills that we worship Him according to truth as well, which means it must be done the right way.

For example, when Abel offered the wrong sacrifice, God was not pleased (Gen. 4:4,5). Cain chose to offer that which God had not commanded and was condemned for his unfaithfulness (Heb. 11:4; Rom. 10:17). Likewise, Nadab and Abihu offered the wrong fire in worship, a fire which God had “commanded them not,” and were destroyed because of it (Lev. 10:1,2). God said He was going to be sanctified in those that come nigh Him (Lev. 10:3). The world attempts to worship God in it’s own way, and God will have none of it. Ignorant worship is false worship and is not acceptable to God (Acts 17:23). Jesus condemned this kind of attempt to worship God when He said, “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:9).

Fourth, scriptural worship of God consists of specific actions which God has authorized. Some have said in the past that all that we do in life is worship. Such a view is completely without scriptural support. For example, when Abraham obeyed God’s command to offer Isaac, Abraham said “abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship” (Gen. 22:5). Abraham was not worshiping as God commanded until He went to the place and performed the actions God had commanded. Abraham lived during the Patriarchal dispensation when God spoke directly to the fathers (cf. Heb. 1:1,2). Today, however, we live in the Christian dispensation and we are to listen to the Lord and the Lord only (Heb. 1:1,2; Matt. 17:1-8).

Under Christ, worship consists of five specific acts: Teaching/preaching, prayers, singing, giving, and the Lord’s supper. Very early on in the inspired account of the establishment and growth of the Lord’s church we are given a list of things in which Christians strictly continued and these five items are subsumed under them. Acts 2:42 states: “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” While we cannot here go into detail about each of these avenues of worship, a brief summary will suffice to show the example of the first century church.

The book of Acts records that upon the first day of the week, the early church gathered to hear the gospel preached, which was the equivalent of the apostle’s doctrine being taught (Acts 20:7). The apostles doctrine involves teaching/preaching. This passage (Acts 20:7) also states that they partook of the Lord’s supper, or broke bread, on the first day of every week (I Cor. 10:16). Prayer was also an important and mandatory part of the services of the Lord’s church in the first century (Acts 12:12). On the first day of every week, first century Christians were commanded to lay by in store as God had prospered them (I Cor. 16:1,2). Finally, singing was a part of the worship of the assembled church (Heb. 2:12; Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16; I Cor. 14:15). Singing was also a way of “teaching and admonishing” which is referred to in Acts 2:42. Anything more than these adds to the worship and anything less, on the Lord’s day, takes away from God’s commands and corrupts the New Testament pattern.

God demands our worship be pure. Therefore, “let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker” (Ps. 95:6) and let us “give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (I Chron. 16:29).

Eric L. Padgett

Why Didn’t Jesus Think of That? (or, Where does it all end?)

As noted last week, Jesus set the mission of the Lord’s church: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mark 16:15,16). This is a focused, unconfused mission. I am afraid, however, that many are no longer satisfied with that simple charge and have sought out more liberal and more personally gratifying goals.

The “church of Christ” at White Station in Memphis, to use one example, operates a “community Life Center” in an effort to “connect with the community that surrounds” the building. The community is invited to “participate in activities and programs” that the church provides. In this facility there are many pieces of exercise equipment and all in the community are invited to “come and exercise in this safe and friendly environment.” They believe they serve the community by offering exercise classes, basketball, pickleball, and zumba dance classes. Besides all this, they operate the “Common Ground Coffee House.” Other congregations have a “motorcycle ministry,” offer employment services, alternative Halloween events like gluten free/dairy free trunk or treat and one even offers a golf tournament!

Now, why didn’t Jesus think of that? If Jesus had only offered a dance class or golf tournament, maybe the Pharisees, but, I am sure, especially the Sadducees, being the more open-minded group, would not have been so critical of Him. If He had only “reached out” more to the “community” and been less critical of others, less dogmatic, He would have attracted a greater following and not suffered such rejection and isolation.

My friends, where does it all end? If we can have Zumba classes and basketball courts, why not something that I like? Let the church have classes on woodworking and metal shop. After all, if the church can offer employment services, then why can’t it train people for employment in specific areas? Since people need to eat, why can’t the church offer classes on gardening and hunting. And if it can offer classes on hunting, why not have a class on the proper use of firearms. And since it can have this, then operating a shooting range should not be out of the question. We could have a church of Christ shooting range and we could call it “Missing the Mark” Shooting Range! Again, I ask, where does it all end?

The Lord’s church used to be known for its members always having a book, chapter and verse for what it practiced. We used to adhere to the slogan: Let us speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent. We called Bible things by Bible names and did Bible things in Bible ways. When we spoke, we spoke as the oracles of God (I Pet. 4:11). Now, not so much. Now, in some quarters, hardly at all.

The New Testament authorizes by command, binding account of action and by implication. If we don’t have a command, if we don’t have an example, or if we don’t have an implication for what we do, then what we are doing is not an authorized New Testament practice and we should quit that practice. This was the Restoration plea that defeated denominationalism and brought about a restoration of simple, New Testament Christianity. It was the practice of the first century, New Testament church (II Thess, 3:6-15; II John 9; Rom. 16:17). This was the teaching of Jesus (Matt. 15:1-9). Jesus violently condemned those “religious” men who abused the Temple of God (Matt. 21:12,13) by turning that holy house of prayer into a den of thieves. Would He not also righteously condemn those who have turned the true tabernacle into an amusement park?

Eric L. Padgett

On “Mission Statements” and “Visions”

I often search the internet looking at examples of web sites various churches keep to get ideas on how to make the web sites I maintain better. I see some things I like but there are many things I see which disturb me greatly. One thing which I often see on many church web sites is a “mission statement.” But it is curious to me that a congregation would need to develop their own modern mission statement or a “vision,” and these are often quite broad in scope and complex, when the Lord has given us a very complete and concise “mission statement” already:

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).

And again:

And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16).

Jesus was clear. The mission of the church, as He delivered it to the apostles, was to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” This is simple, direct, clear and concise. But what do many mission statements of modern “churches of Christ” say? Let’s look at one example of a “mission statement” that was the first I came across just randomly searching for “mission statements” (but it is not alone in either it’s content or thrust).

“The [name withheld] Church of Christ is a body of Christ-centered believers who submit to God’s word through faithful living and works of service, empowered by His Spirit to become a marriage- and family-friendly community of faith which embraces the blessings of our God-given diversity.”

What is this? Whatever it is, this is not the great commission! What this is is a piece of politically correct mumbo-jumbo designed to confuse people about the purpose of the Lord’s church. What is a “Christ-centered believer?” This is nothing but warmed-over, liberal denominational terminology. Scripturally, the church is the saved (Acts 2:47). Whatever happened to the time tested, biblical principle of calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways (I Pet. 4:11)?

Is the purpose of the church to “submit to God’s word through faithful living and service?” It is not the purpose of the church to submit to God’s word, that is the nature of the church. Those who have obeyed the gospel have already submitted to God’s word by believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized (Rom. 6:16-19).

The notion of service also gets abused. Yes, we are servants of the Lord. The word “servant” used in the New Testament is the word for a bond-servant. A slave. As Christians we are His servants and must please Him, not men. Paul said, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). But too many see themselves as the servants of men first and of God last. These make an industry out of “service.” I will have more to say about this in a later post.

The errors encompassed in the statement “empowered by His Spirit” are too many to answer in this short post. Let it suffice to say that the Spirit works through His revealed word (Eph. 6:17). And while that revealed word teaches us about God’s design for marriage and the family, the Holy Spirit does not “empower” us to be “marriage- and family-friendly.” That is a choice we make, just like everything else we do.

The expression “community of faith” in the above “mission statement” is foreign to the scriptures. You cannot find it in God’s word. God’s people are the “called out,” the church. The church is the “house of God” (I Tim. 3:15). The English word “church” comes from the Greek word “kyriake (oikia), kyriakon doma ‘Lord’s (house).'” Jesus didn’t say “Upon this rock I will build My community” but “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Such expressions as “community of faith” are more at home in socialism and liberalism than they are in the Lord’s house.

Finally, the idea that the Lord’s church was created to “embrace diversity” is simply another effort at using modern social issues to alter the nature and purpose of the Lord’s church. We all are to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). We are to have the same mind and the same judgement (I Cor. 1:10). The mind that was in Christ Jesus is to be in us (Phil. 2:5-8). Instead of focusing on and “embracing diversity,” the Lord tells us to focus on and be conformed to the truth (John 17:17-21).

All attempts at developing modern “mission statements” by churches of Christ, or statements expressing their “vision,” are against the genius of New Testament Christianity. I know our society presses us to be conformed to the religious world around us and focus on issues that tantalize and fascinate. But let us, as New Testament Christians, reject all such exotic missions. Let us insist on going back to the New Testament for our faith and practice. Let us insist on speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent and calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways.

Why should we, as Christians–disciples of Christ–want anything more than His Great Commission: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.

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