Monthly Archives: September 2015

Suggestions for Worship

Psalm 5:7 – But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

Worship is not just something we do that is pleasing to us, though sincere and heartfelt worship is that, but it is directed to the God of all Creation and should be approached with great reverence and fear. As we worship, we should “give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name” and “worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness” (Psalm 29:2). Jesus said true worship is done in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). If our heart is not in our worship, if our minds are wandering on things other than the worship of God, then we are offering vain worship to God.

There are things we can do to make our worship better. Though not original with me, I offer these “Suggestions For Worship” for your consideration.

  1. PREPARE FOR WORSHIP – Start preparing for worship before it begins.  The night before worship, lay out the clothes you will wear to worship, study the Bible lesson for the class, bring your Bible, pray for the worship service and those leading it.
  2. COME – Never miss a worship service unless it is absolutely necessary. Of George Washington it was once said: “No company ever kept him away from church.”  Heb. 10:25.
  3. COME EARLY – Rushing into the assembly at the last minute is not conductive to worship … neither for you nor the other worshipers.
  4. BRING THE ENTIRE FAMILY – The worship hour is not a convention to which you may simply send a family delegate.
  5. BE SEATED CLOSE TO THE FRONT OF THE AUDITORIUM – Leave the back seats for those who may arrive late and for mothers with small children.
  6. BE REVERENT – The meeting house is not a theater of place of amusement. You have come to worship God, not to laugh, whisper and visit. The worship service deserves our utmost reverence.
  7. BE CONSIDERATE – Don’t make a haystack of yourself at the end of the row and expect others to crawl over you to reach a seat.
  8. PARTICIPATE – Join in the worship service. Be a good listener during the sermon. Be sure to sing. Don’t just sit as a spectator.
  9. BE THOUGHTFUL OF VISITORS – They are our special guests. Treat them with the same courtesy as you would if they should visit in your home.
  10. CONTRIBUTE GENEROUSLY – God loves a cheerful giver. Freely ye have received; freely give. Remember YOUR OFFERING IS TO GOD.
  11. LINGER – Never rush for the door after the closing prayer as if the building were on fire. Speak to others, be friendly.
  12. BE PRESENT – Don’t stay away from services because you see imperfections in the church. How utterly lonely you would feel in a perfect church.

Who Shall Abide In Thy Tabernacle?

What kind of person would you allow to live in your house? Would you accept just anyone? An incessant liar? A person who always talks about you behind your back? Someone who harms the helpless? Would a vile person or someone who held vile and contemptible people in high esteem be accepted? As a rule, you rightfully would reject such people, as most right thinking people would. In fact, God does want just anyone to come and abide in His house. Yes, He wants everyone to abide in His house but only if they behave themselves certain ways.

The fifteenth Psalm sets forth in general terms those whom God would allow in His Tabernacle under the Old Covenant. Under the New Covenant, the Tabernacle of God is the Lord’s church (Heb. 8:1). The Lord’s church is also spiritually designated Zion (Heb. 12:22,23). Who, then, does God want in His house, the church?

He wants those who walk uprightly in His House (v. 2). Our “walk” is our manner of life. This is a reference to our whole life, not just on Sunday morning, or on Wednesday evening or only when it is convenient. We are blessed when we do not walk in the council of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1). John says our life is to be continually lived in the light, indicated by the present tense of the verb “walk” (I John 1:7). A Christian is one who has changed his whole life (Eph. 2:2,3; Rom. 6:4). To walk uprightly, Paul says, is to walk “according to the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:11-14).

Only those who work righteousness can abide in the House of the Lord (v.2). William Tyndale translated the Greek term which is translated as “righteous” in our Bibles as “rightwise” or “rightways.” That word means in the right manner or way (cf. Matt. 1:18 “on this wise”). It is to be justified or just. It is not merely being right, but being right with God. The Jews failed to understand this about Jesus. They sought to establish their own righteousness based on law and rejected Christ (Rom. 10:1-3). True righteousness is found only in God’s word (Psalm 119:172; Heb. 5:13; Rom. 1:16,17).

Speaking the truth in your heart is a necessary quality for abiding in the tabernacle of God (v.2). Truth is vitally important (John 8:32; John 17:17; I John 5:13; 2:3, etc.) but we must speak the truth in our hearts, as well. It is easy to tell someone else what the truth is and what they should do, but it is much more difficult to examine our own hearts to find what is there. We must examine ourselves (I Cor. 13:5). We are frequently willing to dismiss what we do wrong while condemning it in others (Matt. 7: 3,4). If we do not deal with our problems in the here and now, God will deal with them in the there and then!

God does not want backbiters in his House (v. 3). Backbiting is the malicious defamation of someone’s character behind their back. It comes from a word meaning to “espy; to roam from house to house learning secrets and disseminating them.” Sometimes we must speak about other’s problems, but only with a view to help them. However, backbiting is condemned in scripture (Rom. 1:30; II Cor. 12:20). Some men’s tongues, it seems, bite worse than their teeth.

Doing evil against your neighbor disqualifies you from living in the House of God. “Evil” falls under two categories: Physical evil, which is unpleasant and unwanted events, and spiritual or moral evil. Sin is the only intrinsic evil and is always evil (I John 3:4). Physical evil cannot be completely controlled by us but moral evil is under our complete control. The Law of God’s House is fulfilled in one word, namely “love your neighbor” (Rom. 13:9,10).

To abide in the House of God we must not take up a reproach against our neighbor (v. 3). We should not be willing to listen to, much less believe, every evil report that is brought our way unless there is obvious reason. William Perkins gave this advice: “If we cannot excuse his doing, excuse his intent; if the deed is evil, think that it was done in ignorance; if there is no way to excuse him, think that some great temptation befell him, and you would do the worse if such a temptation befell you. And give God thanks that no such temptation has yet befallen you.” Remember Jesus was lied against by false witnesses (Matt. 26:57-61).

In the House of God the vile are contemned and those that fear the Lord are honored (v. 4). Who are our heroes today? Do our heroes epitomize the truth, goodness, honesty, and integrity? Do they exemplify biblical virtues or do they exhibit a rebel spirit? In the House of God, there are some things which are done by evil men of which we should be ashamed even to speak (Eph. 5:10-12).

The kind of man that God wants is one who keeps his word (v. 4). Jesus said we should let our word be our bond (Matt. 5:33-37). We should not be in the habit of promising what we cannot keep and should keep what we promise, no matter how insignificant the matter. It should be a matter of integrity for us even if, in the end, we find that it will hurt us. When we open our mouth to the Lord, we cannot go back (Jud. 11:35).

A person who abides in God’s House does not use his wealth to hurt others (v. 5). While there is nothing wrong with wealth in and of itself (e.g., Abraham was wealthy) we must never use the power which wealth carries with it to injure those less blessed. Indeed, a greater obligation rests upon those who have more to do more (Eph. 4:28). We should realize that we will not be able to keep our money once this life is through (I Tim. 6:6-10).

Under the New Covenant, we must obey the gospel to be added to the Lord’s church, the House of God (Acts 2:38, 47). But the kind of person God wants in His house under the New Covenant is essentially the same in character as those under the Old. Let us diligently strive to be those things God requires of us to enter into His Holy Hill and the Tabernacle not made with hands so that we may dwell there in the approbation of God.

Eric L. Padgett

God’s Word: Aleph to Tau

The 119nth Psalm is the longest Psalm in the Book of Psalms and is the longest section in the Bible, having more verses than 17 Old Testament books and 14 New Testament books. The Psalm is divided into twenty-two sections. Each of the twenty-two sections provide eight statements regarding the nature of the word of God, each of those statements beginning with the same corresponding Hebrew letter of the Hebrew alphabet, first aleph, then beth, then gimel, then daleth, and so on until the whole alphabet is represented. Let us notice at least one statement out of each of these twenty-two sections on the nature and importance of the word of God.

Psalm 119:4 – Thou hast commanded us to keep thy precepts diligently. Living for God half-heartedly is not an option. We are commanded to diligently keep His precepts. He that cometh to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those that “diligently” seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

Psalm 119:11 – Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. God’s word is not something that we are to just look at on Sunday mornings or Wednesday evenings, it is to be our meditation day and night (Psalm 1:2).

Psalm 119:24 – Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors. The way of man is not in himself, it is not in man to direct his own paths (Jer. 10:23). We need the guidance of the word of God as our counsellors.

Psalm 119:27 – Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous works. There is a time in our lives that we must teach the word of God to others, a time when we are teachers (Heb. 5:12). Just as the first century church did, we ought to go everywhere preaching the word (Acts 8:4).

Psalm 119:40 – Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness. How much of a desire do we have for the word of God? Do we hunger for it just as newborn babes desire the sincere milk of the word that we may grow thereby (I Pet. 2:2)?

Psalm 119:46 – I will speak of thy testimonies also before kings, and will not be ashamed. Are we ever ashamed of the word of God? Do we have opportunities to teach others but do not take them because we are ashamed? Paul said he was not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16).

Psalm 119:51 – The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law. What do we do when people oppose us because we stand for the truth? Do we give up? Give in? Compromise? Or do we stay the course? We ought to obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29).

Psalm 119:59 – I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies. We ought to study to show ourselves approved unto God (II Tim. 2:15). God’s word is a mirror that allows us to examine ourselves whether we are in the faith (James 1:23-25; II Cor. 13:5).

Psalm 119:72 – The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. God’s word is better than all worldly goods. Jesus asked, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul (Matt. 16:26)? We should never place mammon above God or His word (Matt. 6:24).

Psalm 119:74 – They that fear thee will be glad when they see me; because I have hoped in thy word. Not all men will be pleased to see us. To some we will be counted as enemies because we stand for the truth (Gal. 4:16). But if we love the Lord, we will be accepted and welcomed by those that love the Lord (Acts 9:13-19).

Psalm 119:81 – My soul fainteth for thy salvation: but I hope in thy word. Our hope lies in the promises we find in God’s word. His word is Truth (John 17:17). We live in hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began (Tit. 1:3).

Psalm 119:89 – For ever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven. Contrary to what many believe, there will be no new revelation (Jude 3). That which has been revealed is complete and will make the man of God perfect, completely furnished unto all good works (II Tim. 3:16,17).

Psalm 119:104 – Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. God’s word provides us with the truth. If we love the truth, then we will hate and expose the evil (Eph. 5:10,11).

Psalm 119:112 – I have inclined mine heart to perform thy statutes alway, even unto the end. We must learn to develop faithfulness in our lives and never leave that path even at the cost of our lives (Rev. 2:10).

Psalm 119:113 – I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love. We must remove from our minds all empty and vacuous thoughts and replace these with ideas emanating from God’s word. We need to be “renewed in the spirit of your mind,” putting on “the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23-24).

Psalm 119:128 – Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way. God’s word is the truth on every issue on which it touches and it’s precepts must form the basis of our world view. It throughly furnishes us with all truth in all things (II Pet. 1:3; II Tim. 3:16,17).

Psalm 119:136 – Rivers of waters run down mine eyes, because they keep not thy law. If we love the Lord and His word, we should be greatly burdened over the breaking of God’s laws. Paul warned the brethren night and day with tears (Acts 20:31).

Psalm 119:140 – Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. Every word of God is pure (Prov. 30:5). The reason we should love God’s word is because it is the only perfect word-revelation of the mind of God delivered to man (I Cor. 2). God’s word is perfectly pure, as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times (Psalm 12:66,7).

Psalm 119:152 – Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever. The works of God’s hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness (Psalm 111:7,8). Whatever God does, shall stand forever (Eccl. 3:14). God’s word will never pass away (Matt. 24:35).

Psalm 119:155 – Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes. The wicked cannot obtain salvation because the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7). To be saved, we must first come to a knowledge of the truth (I Tim. 2:4).

Psalm 119:162 – I rejoice at thy word, as one that findeth great spoil. The gospel is as a pearl of great price for which a person will sell all that he has in order to obtain it (Matt. 13:45,46). Do we rejoice at having such a valuable object in our possession and do we do all to keep it and to know it?

Psalm 119:170 – Let my supplication come before thee: deliver me according to thy word. God keeps His promises. The knowledge of God provides for us exceeding great and precious promises and by these we can escape the corruption that is in the world (II Pet. 1:4).


Eric L. Padgett

From Abel to John

Sacred history is replete with the accounts of God’s people who would not bow down to the will of men but rather stood stalwartly for the will of God regardless of the consequences. They present for us an enduring and compelling example of courage in the face of the most arduous circumstances and vicious opposition.

Among those examples the Bible records that Abel offered to God a sacrifice that was according to God’s commands, even though his brother, Cain, did not (Rom. 10:17; Heb. 11:4). Consequently, Cain “talked with Abel his brother” (Gen. 4:8). While ancient, Jewish writers speculate as to the substance of that conversation and the manner in which it proceeded, we do not know the details. We only know that Abel payed the ultimate price and suffered death at the hand of his brother because he obeyed the commands of God.

Righteous Lot was vexed by the “filthy conversation of the wicked,” and he did not give in to their sordid demands by delivering the divine personages into their unholy hands. In return, the sinners of Sodom sought to deal worse with Lot than they had planned on dealing with the heavenly visitors. It was only through divine intervention that Lot was saved from that vile fate.

Moses, by faith, “when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Heb. 11:24-27).

The prophet Jeremiah was dauntless in his preaching all the “words of this covenant” to the people of Judah, but their hearts were hardened and they refused to hear the word of the Lord. When Jeremiah pointed out by inspiration that the leaders of the land had become brutish and had not sought the Lord, they sought his death. Even his own relatives conspired against him (Jer. 12:6). When the people refused to hear his warnings about resistance against God’s judgement through Babylon, they threw him into a prison and into a filthy, miry pit in the dungeon of Malchiah (Jer. 38:11). While he was delivered from his fate by more friendly faces, he suffered severely for his stand with God.

During the Babylonian captivity, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah refused to fall down at the appointed time to worship the image of Nebuchadnezzar, neither would they worship the false gods of Babylon (Dan. 3:12). In the typically ignorant manner of self-centered men and in retaliation for their refusal to substitute the will of a man for God’s will, Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into a fiery furnace made seven times as hot as normal. But the fire of the furnace had no power over those who walked with the Son of God and Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah walked free after they had stood their ground with God.

The native authorities in Babylon, jealous of Daniel’s advancement by Darius over the whole kingdom, sought occasion to destroy him. They could find no occasion nor fault “forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him” (Dan. 6:4). Their only means of attack was to use his faith in God against him. So they wrote a law which, because of his faithfulness to Jehovah, they knew he could not keep. In reality, no one else could keep it either and there was no way to enforce it universally. But they lay in wait to find him breaking the unjust law so that they could pounce. His penalty was to be cast into a den of lions from which the Lord graciously delivered him.

John the Baptizer publicly spoke out against the heinous sins of Herod. As a consequence, Herod had John beheaded (Matt. 14:1-12).

When, in the temple after the Lord’s ascension, Peter and John preached through Jesus the resurrection of the dead, the priests, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees cast them into the hold, grilled them then charged and threatened them that they should not speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:1-22). When the apostles continued to preach and teach in the name of Jesus anyway, they were again thrown into prison and questioned why they had not followed their injunction. They responded simply, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

The apostle Paul suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. He was beaten with stripes above measure, was frequently cast into prison, at the point of death often, of the Jews five times received forty stripes save one, thrice beaten with rods, once stoned, in perils by his own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, and in perils among false brethren (II Corinthians 11:23-26). Finally, he languished in a Roman prison until he was martyred for his Lord (II Tim. 4:1-8).

First century Christians likewise faced great tribulation and persecution for the Cause of Christ (Matt. 24:21; Rev. 7:14). Some would resist the taunts of the world striving against sin, even to the point of drawing blood (Heb. 12:4). For many, it cost them their lives (Rev. 2:10). Paul informed us that all that live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution (II Tim. 3:12).

John was in the isle of Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ (Rev. 1:9).

Our own sinless Lord, Himself, was cruelly and unjustly beaten and scourged and then hung on a cross to a chorus of taunts from sinful, ignorant and foolish men. The Lord reminded the apostles: “Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20).

While few would have believed it possible that one could suffer persecution in America for practicing the teachings of Christ, it should become increasingly obvious that Christianity is now under open attack by many holding seats of power. Others who may not share the same views are too timid to speak out against such abuses of power. We can expect this madness and insanity to get much worse before it gets better, if it gets better at all. But we should not be discouraged. Faithful followers of God have suffered in the past and we have the assurance of the Lord that they will in the future, as well. But God ultimately rewards the faithful.

The only question that remains for us is where we will stand in all of this? With the Lord, even in the face of dire persecution, or with the world? Will we stand with Abel and Lot and Moses and Jeremiah and Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah and Daniel and John the Baptizer and the apostles of the Lord and faithful first century Christians or will we let the Lord down go away quietly into the night?

Eric L. Padgett

A Constituency of One

Politicians are elected and paid to represent the will of their particular electorate, their constituency. That is as it should be in a Republic, such as we have in America. But a politician’s constituency is usually quite large. A Senator’s constituency is one of the fifty states. A congressman represents the people of his district. A mayor works for the people of his city. A president usually seeks to represent all the people of the United States. (Sadly, however, some politicians use their office only to satisfy their own unlawful, immoral appetites.) But when your constituency is so large, it is nearly impossible to satisfy everyone.

A Christian, on the other hand, really only has but one constituency. It is true that as we live the Christian life we should consider others and not go out of our way to offend or seek conflict. We should try to please our neighbors and help to bear their burdens and not seek to please ourselves (Rom. 15:1-3; Gal. 6:2). We should always reply with a soft answer (Prov. 15:1). Our speech should always be spoken with grace, our answers seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6). We should, as a matter of principle, try to get along with others, even taking the wrong if necessary (Matt. 5:39; I Cor. 6:7). But, in the end, when it comes to right and wrong, when it comes down to truth or error, when eternal life and eternal damnation are in the balance, we have a constituency of but One, that is, God.

Paul wrote, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15). Our goal as Christians and as gospel preachers should be to please God, not men. To that end, we study and work and rightly divide the word of truth. Our understanding, our preaching and teaching and our actions should not be influenced by how others will respond to the truth. Preachers forsake their obligations when they try to please everyone instead of focusing on teaching the truth that man needs. People will always want to have their itches scratched and they will find a man to do it if they can, but faithful gospel preachers will not succumb to that temptation (II Tim. 4:1-5).

Again, after expressing dismay that brethren in Galatia had so quickly allowed error to creep in amongst them, Paul wrote, “For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). For many Christians and preachers, popularity and acceptance are more precious than truth or serving Christ. No one wants to be disliked but if that is the price for pleasing God, then so be it. Many errors have been promulgated in the name of Christ because some weak-minded Christians have wanted to either entice or appease the sinner. Many have not learned the lessons that James taught: “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).

Others teach things they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake (Tit. 1:10,11). How many sermons have been altered or not preached at all because the preacher was afraid he would lose his position if he spoke the truth? “They that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple” (Rom. 16:18). How many elders have asked the preacher to not preach the truth because they were afraid they would lose members, and thus lose money, if the truth was spoken (Tit. 1:7). Thank God for preachers who will preach the truth regardless of what others may say, even though it may (and often has) cost them their positions (II Tim. 4:2). Thank God for elders who demand their preachers speak the truth regardless of what some members may say or do.

Like Israel of old, too many brethren today trust in the shadow of Egypt (Is. 30:1-7). They take counsel, but not of God. Isaiah described their attitude: “this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us” (Is. 30:9-11). Some criticize us because we don’t keep up with the times or what the people will tolerate or the latest homiletical fads or social trends. They criticize those who teach doctrine instead of how to feel better about yourself; they despise those who would warn against error instead of embracing the denominational world as fellow-laborers; they turn up the nose to those who boldly wave the Banner of the Old Jerusalem Gospel instead of appeasing the populace with “community outreach.”

If preaching the Old Jerusalem Gospel is out of step with the times, then I am out of step with the times. Truth is, the Old Jerusalem Gospel has never been popular with the devil. As Christians, we should be concerned about how we walk and please God not men (I Thess. 4:1). Pleasing men is fine if it falls within the parameters of pleasing God first (Acts 5:29). God is our only real constituency.

Eric L. Padgett