Monthly Archives: November 2015

In Everything Give Thanks

We should always be thankful to God for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us (I Tim. 5:18). Too often, we neglect to give thanks for God’s bounty. I want to remind us of a few things for which God’s word tells us we should be thankful.

First, let us be thankful for His Holiness. “Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness” (Psalms 97:12). Holiness is separateness; set apart. God is truly the only Holy One. We can only try to be like Him, whereas He is Holy by virtue of His nature. Consider:

  • There is no one like Him: Exodus 15:11 – Who is like unto thee, O Lord, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
  • His name is Holy: Psalm 99:3 – Let them praise thy great and terrible name; for it is holy.
  • He is holy in all His works: Psalm 145:17 – The Lord is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works.
  • His throne is Holy: Psalm 47:8 – God reigneth over the heathen: God sitteth upon the throne of his holiness.
  • His temple is holy and demands a response of respect and awe: Habakkuk 2:20 – But the Lord is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him. Again in Exodus 3:5 – And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.

His holiness demands a response from us: I Peter 1:15-16 – But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; [16] Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”

Second, let us be thankful for His Mercy. “O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (I Chron. 16:34). Mercy is “compassion: kindness or forgiveness shown especially to somebody a person has power over.” God does not have to be merciful to us. But God is the Father of mercies (II Cor. 1:3). He gives mercy, as He gives grace and peace: “Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord” (I Tim. 1:2). I am thankful for His mercy because He saves us by it: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost” (Tit. 3:5). Therefore, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Third, I am thankful for His Unspeakable Gift (II Cor. 9:15). Paul explained, “But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. [16] And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. [17] For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:15-17). I am thankful that while the wages of sin is death, the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ (Rom. 6:23).

Fourth, I am thankful for the Victory He affords us. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:57). “O sing unto the Lord a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory” (Psalm 98:1). Not even death can ultimately gain the victory over us because of Christ. “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. [55] O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? (I Cor. 15:54-55). We obtain that victory ultimately by being faithful to Him. “ For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (I John 5:4).

Finally, I am thankful for the reward of an Inheritance He has promised us for faithfulness. “Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). We should have confidence, and be thankful, because we know the Lord will reward us with a great inheritance because we serve Him (Col. 3:24). We know that he that overcomes will inherit all things the Father hath promised to those follow Him regardless of the consequences (Rev. 21:7). Christ has become the Mediator of the New Covenant so that we might receive the promise of this eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15). We will not receive a laurel wreath that fades and decays over time, but we will receive “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven” for us (I Pet. 1:4).

For these and many other blessings, both spiritual and material, I am indeed thankful both now and always.

Eric L. Padgett

How Beautiful Is The Light

When I was but a wee lad, I was afraid of the dark. I wanted a light on at night. I was afraid to walk through a dark room. After all, who knows what creatures might be waiting there in the dark? I’m a little ashamed of admitting it, but I probably was not alone in that childish fear. As I matured, however, I mostly lost my fear of the dark, with the exception that I still do not like the little creepy crawly things that seem to like the darkness the most. But as an adult, having studied God’s word, I began to realize there may be some truth to those unsophisticated anxieties of my youth.

The Bible says that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5). The Pulpit commentary correctly observes here that God is not merely “a light” or even just “the light” but He is Light, it is His nature. “This sums up the Divine essence on its intellectual side, as “God is love” on its moral side” (Pulpit Commentary). In other words, it might be expressed, that God is Perfect in all His attributes, perfect in every way, and infinitely so. There is no error, no wrong, no mistake, no flaw, no imperfection, no darkness at all in Him or about Him. That, among other things about His nature, makes Him God. His is the light that no man can approach unto (I Tim. 6:16).

James says, there is no variableness with God, nor shadow caused by turning (James 1:17). God is not ambiguous. He does not alter Who He is or What He is. “He abideth faithful, He cannot deny Himself” (II Tim. 2:13). Everything associated with God is light and goodness and holiness and purity. When the Lord God went before the children of Israel by a pillar of fire, He gave them light (Ex. 13:21). Even so, if we follow the Lord, He will give us light that guides our path. As the Psalmest said, “In Thy light, we shall see light” (Psalm 36:9). Again, as David says, “For thou art my lamp, O LORD: and the LORD will lighten my darkness” (II Samuel 22:29).

The world, however, doesn’t like the light because the world loves evil (John 3:19) and the light reproves the evil, just as it dispels darkness (John 3:20). Oh, how the roaches scatter when the light comes! When the light of truth is shined on the darkness of sin and error, those who walk in darkness will be the ones to oppose it the loudest. They will not allow their error or sin to be exposed by the light, they will not allow their actions or beliefs to be seen for what they are, whether good or bad, but they will cloak their unrighteousness in the blackness of subterfuge and in the obscurity of nuanced words. They even resort to attacking the light-bearer, because they can by no means allow the light to expose them for what they really are. And while satan may transform himself into an angel of light, he cannot hide what he really is nor alter his eternal destiny because of it (John 8:44; Matt. 25:41).

Even as the Light of God is manifested by the material creation (Psalm 97), Jesus brought the Light of God more clearly into focus for us. Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness” (John 12:46). He further said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). John said of Jesus “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Unless the teaching of Jesus instructs and informs our world view, we live in a most horrific, impenetrable darkness. No one can truly understand the truth, unless they understand Jesus for He is the way the truth and life (John 14:6). He Who dwells in the Light which no man can approach unto, is the brightness of His glory and the express image of His Person (Heb. 1:3). He is the “Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2) and the “light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:32). “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” (Eph. 5:14).

James also says God is the Father of lights (James 1:17). He created the physical lights in the world (Gen. 1:3) but, even more importantly, we, as His children, are also to be lights in the world. Paul wrote, “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). Therefore, we must let our light shine before men that they may see our good works and glorify our Father which is in Heaven (Matt. 5:16). Paul reiterates, “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:14,15). Paul describes us “the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (I Thess. 5:5).

As Christians, we manifest the light by our lives and by the teaching of the Word of God. His word is light. “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” saith the Psalmest (Psalm 119:105). We walk in that light and thereby have fellowship with Him (I John 1:7). “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them” (II Corinthians 4:3-4).

Throughout all our lives we are bathed in the light of God. We live both in the light of the material creation and in the light of the new creation. And even when this material life comes to a close, and we receive our just but merciful reward, those of us who have walked in the light of His word will be “partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12). In heaven, there will “be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light” (Rev. 22:5). The New Jerusalem will have no “need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it” (Rev. 21:23). “And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there” (Rev. 21:25).

I do fear the darkness of sin and ignorance and hell. But how beautiful is the Light!

Eric L. Padgett

Why Heaven and Hell?

One of two destinies await all men: Heaven or Hell. Why? Why are these the only two options? Why can’t there be something else? Why can’t we “live forever in a paradise on earth”? Why does there have to be a hell at all? Why not just annihilate those that are evil?

First, it is logical. In logic there is something that is called a “strong disjunction.” A strong disjunction is a precisely stated proposition in which there are only two possibilities, one of which is the negation of the other. Logically it is represented as either “A” or not “A” and in symbols as (A v ~A). Jesus essentially asserted a strong disjunction when He said, “He that is not with me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30). There are only two options in life, the straight gate and narrow path which leads to life or the wide gate and broad way which leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13,14). If you take away all that is associated with heaven, God’s Presence, His Love, His Power, His Goodness, etc., then you have not God’s Presence, not God’s Love, not God’s Power, not God’s Goodness, etc. and that is hell!

Second, it is just. God’s Nature is pure, uncontaminated and uncontaminatable. He is of purer eyes than to behold evil (Hab. 1:13). Evil shall not sojourn with God (Psalm 5:4). He is the Just One (Acts 22:14). But when men violate that holiness by rejecting His equally holy will (Rom. 7:12), there is no other option for a just God but to commit the offender to a just punishment (Heb. 2:2). It is not the hearers of the law that are just before God, but those that do it (Rom. 2:13). God’s will is so pure and perfect, that disobedience to it demands eternal damnation (Matt. 25:46). Obedience to it also requires a just reward and nothing short of abiding in the presence of God satisfies it (Rom. 8:18).

Third, it is moral. As noted above, God is holy and that holiness cannot be contaminated. The separation of the wicked from the righteous is something that God demands of us even in this life. Paul clearly taught this is II Cor. 6:14-18:

“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

There can be no mingling of the righteous with the unrighteous. Heaven and Hell preserves that moral separation throughout eternity.

Fourth, hell is deterrent to wickedness. Jesus warned that eternal punishment, that is, hell fire, awaits all those who do not obey his will (Matt. 18:8,9). A 2012 study by University of Oregon professor Azim F. Shariff examined “26 years of data involving 143,197 people from 67 countries” and concluded that “a nation’s rate of belief in hell predicts lower crime rates.” It also showed that people who have a distorted view of God’s forgiveness are more likely to commit crimes. The study also showed there was no correlation between poverty and crime. It is not poverty that causes a person to commit a crime, but a lack of a moral standard. The realization of the possibility of hell, encourages obedience. Peter wrote, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (II Peter 3:11).

Finally, heaven is an incentive to do right. Immediately after writing about judgement and hell, Peter wrote about heaven: “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (II Peter 3:13,14). Jesus said, “Come unto Me…and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28). “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (I John 3:3). Heaven is the only place pure enough for a soul without spot or blemish or any such thing to live (Eph. 5:27).

Eric L. Padgett

Pew Research: Decline in “Christian” Population

Pew Research released its 2014 Religious Landscape Study recently. This survey was “based on telephone interviews with more than 35,000 Americans from all 50 states.” This is the second study of its kind, the first being conducted in 2007 with the same number of respondents. As with many of these kinds of surveys, this most recent study has some warning signs for those interested in the future of the Lord’s church in America and even the future of America itself.

According to this survey, the muslim population in this country is less than 1 percent while the number of “Christians” make up over 70 percent of the U.S. population. The term “Christian” here includes, of course, not just New Testament Christians but all those who profess Christianity, including Protestants, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses and other groups. Nevertheless, isn’t it strange that while muslims make up less than one percent of the population–a very tiny minority–they have succeeded in pushing their agenda on the rest of society, even after the tragedy of 9-11 and after news of the terror ISIS is spreading around the world! This speaks to the lack of militancy in those professing to follow Christ.

Overall, according to the Pew study, America has become slightly less religious since 2007. In 2007, 92% believed in God, while in 2014 only 89% believed in God. Daily prayer decreased from 58% in 2007 to 55% in 2014. In 2007 56% held religion as very important to them while that number was only 53% in 2014. Attending a religious service at least once a month declined four percent, from 54 to 50 percent. The number of those who are religiously unaffiliated grew from 16% in 2007 to23% in 2014. The number of those professing Christianity fell from 78% in 2007 to just under 71% in 2014. Those two final statistics are particularly troubling.

The good news is that the number of those professing New Testament Christianity, along with those in the “evangelical Protestant tradition,” has either increased or stayed the same, except for those in the 30 to 49 year age bracket. This is different from the Barna study conducted in 2014 but which used a far smaller sample. In that study, the Millennials, those from age 18-29 were the ones causing a decline in the number of Christians in America. But both surveys bear out that the younger you are in modern America, the less likely you are to be a Christian.

This is disturbing. As the younger generation ages, the more the population will leave Christ behind. This must mean God’s people are not doing enough to instill in the younger generation the knowledge of God’s word and how to defend it. And perhaps the reason for this is the older generation doesn’t have that knowledge themselves. It also means the Lord’s people are not doing enough to defeat erroneous religious systems being advocated by the small but vocal minorities.

Another disturbing finding of this survey is that people no longer have a clear sense of right and wrong, or the standard by which to determine right from wrong. When asked about whether there were absolute standards for right and wrong, only 33% affirmed that there were “clear standards for what is right and wrong” while 64% affirm that right and wrong depend on the situation. When belief in God is present, there is a firm belief in right and wrong. According to the survey, ninety percent of those who believe in God affirm there are clear standards for what is right and wrong. But the further our society moves away from God, the weaker the belief in absolute standards becomes and the greater moral confusion prevails.

The Lord’s people need to work harder at teaching the truth, work harder at understanding the issues and be less timid and afraid to take a stand. We need to work harder at drawing people back to the Bible as the standard for right and wrong. Maybe there is nothing we can do to stem the tide away from the truth of the gospel or the traditional moral values that have guided this nation. Paul said evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse (II Tim. 3:13). But as Christians we have the obligation to fearlessly take the gospel to the world and to be lights in the darkness (Matt. 5:23). We need to be able to give a sound defense for the hope that lies within us, and maybe in the process we can influence our culture at the same time.

Eric L. Padgett