Monthly Archives: June 2016

Proclaim Liberty!

In ancient Israel, God instituted the observance of the Year of Jubilee. This came at the end of seven sabbaths of years, or forty-nine years, after which the fiftieth year was to be hallowed or set apart. In this year, the children of Israel were to give the land rest, they were to restore land back to its original tribal owners, and slaves were to be freed. This last point coincides with the requirement that on the fiftieth year, liberty was to be “proclaimed throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof” (Lev. 25:9,10).

Liberty, or freedom, is important. So important, in fact, that God saw fit to create mankind as free, moral agents. God wants us to worship and serve Him, but He allows us to chose whether or not we do so. Of course, there are consequences to disobedience. We might pay for bad choices, but we are free to chose, nevertheless.

In the New Covenant, freedom is equally precious. When Jesus came into the synagogue in Nazareth, the town were He had been brought up, Jesus took the scroll and read from the prophet Isaiah (61:1): “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord” (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus came to preach deliverance to the captives and set at liberty them that are bruised.

Just as in the year of Jubilee the captives were liberated, so in this “acceptable year of the Lord” the captives are set free, as well. Only, then, those that were liberated had been physically enslaved, whereas under the New Covenant it is those who are spiritually enslaved who are set free. While physical bondage is demeaning and detestable, spiritual bondage has far worse and lasting consequences. Indeed, they are eternal and damnable and irreversible consequences.

Sadly, many people who are captives to sin, do not know it. They may feel the burden and weight of sin in their lives, but they are either too blind or too deluded to see the spiritual shackles that bind their souls. They long for something, but do not know what it is they want. They want freedom, but do not understand the causes of their enslavement and consequent unhappiness. They do not understand that in their freedom to chose, they have chosen to be slaves to sin (John 8:34).

How do we obtain this spiritual freedom Jesus offers? Jesus said it comes through knowing the Truth. By continuing in the words of Christ, by being obedient to His teaching, we know the Truth and it is the Truth that makes us free (John 8:32). And if the Son make you free, you shall be free indeed (John 8:36).

May Liberty be proclaimed through all the land!

Eric L. Padgett

Does I John 5:7 Belong in the Bible?

Recently an individual engaged me in a very brief discussion about the reliability of the King James Version of the Bible. His argument was that the Greek text behind the King James Version was inferior to the Greek texts which underlie most of the modern versions. Besides his confident affirmations of the same, and his claim that he had studied Greek (“In the future, I would suggest not arguing with me about textual criticism. This is an area I know very well. I minored in Greek in college.”), he argued that “The Wescott Hort (sic) set of manuscripts is superior to the Byzantine family, which produced the Textus Receptus.”

The one proof that he offered was I John 5:7. He wrote, “How do I know that? 1 John 5:7. Almost all of that verse is not in the original. John didn’t write it. You won’t find any church father quoting that verse to prove the Trinity. It didn’t exist when the church fathers were around.” Therefore, he argued, the text behind the KJV is inferior because it includes this verse.

First, I pointed out that his reasoning was circular. He claimed that the Westcott and Hort set of manuscripts (i.e., Alexandrian Text Type) was superior to the Byzantine Text Type because I John 5:7, which is found in the Textus Receptus, was not in the “original” and “John didn’t write it.” But how he knows they are not in the “original” and that John didn’t write them is because the Westcott and Hort texts don’t have them! This is circular reasoning.

Second, concerning the claim that no church father quoted the verse to prove the “Trinity,” consider the following. Cyprian, who became the “bishop” of Carthage, lived from 200 to 258 A.D. He wrote in his Treatises (1:6): “The Lord says, ‘I and the Father are one;’3117 and again it is written of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, ‘And these three are one.’3118” You can find this at the Christian Classics Ethereal Library . I left the citations in this quote from the  CCEL because they give the citation for 3118 as “1 John v.7.” They, themselves, say it refers to I John 5:7 and that Cyprian was quoting from it.

Does Cyprian cite this verse to “prove the trinity”? He is arguing the purity and unity of the church based on the nature of God’s unity. In the very next sentence he writes: “And does any one believe that this unity which thus comes from the divine strength and coheres in celestial sacraments, can be divided in the Church…” Certainly he is talking about “divine unity.”

Furthermore, this citation in Latin predates the Greek texts of Alexandrian Text Type. (The Codices Vaticanus and Alexandrinus date to the fourth century and the Codex Sianaticus dates the fifth century while Cyprian wrote in the third.) Since the autographs were originally written in Greek, then this quote from scripture in Latin probably had to have a Greek source that predated it, making that reading even older than the Cyprian quote.

Codex Vaticanus, by the way, indicates in the margin that there was a textual irregularity or variant here of which the scribe was aware. Obviously, the hand that wrote the Codex Vaticanus was aware of an alternative reading for the verse but did not include it.

Some argue that Tertullian refers to this passage in the following: “Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are one essence, not one Person, as it is said, “I and my Father are One,”8116 in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number.” (Tertullian). Tertullian may or may not have reference to I John 5:7 specifically, but what he writes certainly contains the element of that verse in question, “These three are one.” This expression in scripture is unique to I John 5:7.

Athanasius (296 – 373) quotes this verse and specifically states that John said “these three are one,” which is clearly a quote from I John 5:7. “Pros de toutois pasin Ioannes phaskei, Kai oi treis to ev eisen.” Find this quote here. See lines [01557] and [01558].  Translated to English, this is “In addition to all these, John affirms, ‘and these three are one'” (translation by KJV Today)

Commentator John Gill observes: “it is cited by Athanasius (a) about the year 350; and before him by Cyprian (b), in the middle, of the “third” century, about the year 250; and is referred to by Tertullian (c) about, the year 200; and which was within a “hundred” years, or little more, of the writing of the epistle; which may be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this passage; and besides, there never was any dispute about it till Erasmus left it out in the first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation.”

Several other ancient authorities refer or allude to this passage as authentic and original, as well.

How, then, did it come to be removed from scripture in so many Greek manuscripts?

In his Prologue to the Canonical Epistles Jerome (c. 347 – 420) states that there were many trying to alter the passage contrary to the truth of faith. “Just as these are properly understood and so translated faithfully by interpreters into Latin without leaving ambiguity for the readers nor [allowing] the variety of genres to conflict, especially in that text where we read the unity of the trinity is placed in the first letter of John, where much error has occurred at the hands of unfaithful translators contrary to the truth of faith, who have kept just the three words water, blood and spirit in this edition omitting mention of Father, Word and Spirit in which especially the catholic faith is strengthened and the unity of substance of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is attested.”

Matthew Henry suggests that “It was far more easy for a transcriber, by turning away his eye, or by the obscurity of the copy, it being obliterated or defaced on the top or bottom of a page, or worn away in such materials as the ancients had to write upon, to lose and omit the passage, than for an interpolator to devise and insert it. He must be very bold and impudent who could hope to escape detection and shame; and profane too, who durst venture to make an addition to a supposed sacred book.”

Much more could be written and has been by others. The truth is that God’s word has been preserved (Psalm 12:6,7). We can trust Jesus’ promise that heaven and earth shall pass away but His words would not pass away (Matt. 24:35).

By the way, the individual with whom I was discussing this issue abruptly ended the discussion and removed the dialogue from his Facebook page, citing my evidence as too flimsy.

Eric L. Padgett

Father’s Day

Father’s Day is set aside to commemorate the important role fathers play in our society. More importantly, fathers are an essential and vital and cherished part in the God-ordained structure of the family and a foundation block of moral order (Gen. 2:21-25). The Bible teaches us that God is our heavenly Father (Matt. 6:9). As the perfect Father, He is the role model for all fathers. The following are some truths we find in scripture about God’s Fatherhood and an application of those truths to our own condition.

The Bible tells us that Jesus sat down with His Father in His throne (Rev. 3:21). We have no earthly way of knowing what that was like but it must have been and continue to be glorious beyond our ability to imagine (John 17:1-5). They could sit down together because they were one and united (John 10:30). One of the greatest blessings I have received in my life is to sit down with my Dad and talk with him and enjoy the fellowship of his presence (I John 1:3). Sometimes we don’t even talk, we just sit down together. But it is good to be with him. Sons and daughters who are estranged from their father miss out on such a wonderful blessing.

What a blessing it is also to wear the name of God, to be called His son (II John 3:1). We should try as hard as we can to not bring reproach upon that good name (I Pet. 4:16). I am also thankful to wear my father’s name. My Dad tells the story that when he was younger, the barber would ask him how his dad, Elmer, was, and to tell him that any time he needed a haircut to come in and it would be free. My grandfather had let him stay in one of his houses for free until he could get back on his feet, and the barber felt indebted to him. My grandfather’s good name was known and entrusted to my Dad, who bears it well. I hope to wear my family name well and honor my father.

God is not a respecter of persons (I Pet. 1:17). God does not favor one of His children over another, but encourages and expects the best of all. Quite differently, Isaac and Rebekah played favorites with their children (Gen. 25:28). Jacob played favorites with Joseph (Gen. 37:3). When parents do this, it brings division and hatred and trouble in the family (Gen. 37:4). I am thankful that my Dad has never played favorites with his children. He loves them all equally. He rejoices when one suceeds, and is saddened when one fails. A good father does not play favorites just as God does not play favorites.

Another blessing that comes from God as our Father is that He bestows on His children great and timely gifts; gifts that are just what is needed. The Bible tells us every good and perfect gift cometh down from the Father of lights (James 1:17). Good gifts are not defined as everything a child wants, for children often want what is not best for them. Good gifts are what are needed. My Dad has given me many gifts. Some of those gifts, however are long gone, worn away with time. The best gifts that he has given me are his love, time, attention and direction in life. These are gifts that are always with me.

God also provides correction to His erring children. “For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth” (Heb. 12:6). Discipline is not a sign of hatred, but of love when it is carried out for the right reasons and in the right way. Some of the greatest tragedies of fatherhood have occurred because fathers did not discipline their children (e.g., I Sam. 3:13). My Dad never spanked me or hit me (but my Mom did–and I’m better for it!) but he talked with me and explained to me why I had done wrong. I never felt as bad in life as when I had let him down by my actions.

Our Heavenly Father is also our teacher. “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am He, and that I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). Father’s should be full time teachers of their children (Deut. 6:6,7). The public schools may be given charge of the children by parental consent, but they are not the main teachers, or shouldn’t be.

Fathers are to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4). One of the fondest memories I have is sitting with my Dad and reading from a book I had checked out of the school library. My Dad also taught me the really important things in life like the importance of family, the importance of being a man of your word, the importance of standing for the right. He taught me things that had eternal value and I am eternally indebted to him.

May God give us more fathers like our Heavenly Father.

Eric L. Padgett

Be A Christian Where You Are

Some members of the Lord’s church are often discouraged because they feel that they are not good enough. Actually, a sense of inadequacy is a good attitude to have, as long as it is held in the proper perspective (Luke 17:10). We should never feel complacent as Christians and should always strive to be better today than we were yesterday and better tomorrow than we are today (I Cor. 10:12). But sometimes Christians try to hold themselves to a standard that cannot be realistically met and thus are needlessly discouraged (Acts 15:10).

While the apostle Paul is certainly to be emulated (I Cor. 11:1), as are those who follow his example (Phil. 3:17), very few of us, if any at all, will ever attain to the level of intensity that he had as an apostle of the Lord. Not all of us can travel the globe preaching the gospel, as did Paul. While many faithful brethren do engage in tireless efforts for the Cause of Christ, I am certain that most would humbly admit that they compare unfavorably to the apostle in every respect. Very likely none of us have received 39 stripes once, much less five times, or have been beaten with rods or spent a day and a night in the deep in the service of our King, as did Paul (II Cor. 11:25). But the truth is, we do not have to do all these things to be faithful to the Lord. We can be a Christian right where we are!

While I may not be able to travel the globe preaching the gospel to those in darkness and stand before kings and dignitaries (Acts 9:15), I can teach the people I meet every day who need the Light of Life. I can find ways of talking to others about Christ in my every-day conversations with my family, friends, co-workers and individuals I meet along the way.

While I may not be chained and imprisoned in dank and dark dungeons for preaching Jesus (however, watch out, this may come sooner than you might think), I may be rejected by others simply because I live my life according to the Will of God (Matt. 5:1-12). For instance, a boss may not promote me even though I am worthy because he does not like Christians or associates may mercilessly tease me about my faith.

While I may not wield great influence around the brotherhood and my name may not be a household name among the faithful, I can wield influence by my example to those who see me every day (Matt. 5:13-16). When I am tempted to cheat to get ahead at work, I can choose the honest way. When I am tempted to be angry at some wrong perpetrated against me, I can be even tempered (Matt. 5:43-48).

While I am may not have the time to devote hours of study in God’s word, or while I may never become a renowned Bible scholar and pen notable volumes that receive world acclaim, I can study to show myself approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). I can know what I must do to be saved and teach others the same, simple truth.

My salvation does not depend on being better than some other Christian, only in being a faithful Christian. There will always only be one Noah, one Abraham, one Moses, one Joshua, one David, one Isaiah, one Jeremiah, and only one Peter and only one Paul. While I admire and follow their example of faith, I cannot be them. I have found that I am better at being myself than anyone else and that is all I need to do, as long as I am genuinely trying to follow the Lord.

Now some may feel inadequate because they do not try to do what they know they ought. That is sin (James 4:17). But Paul said there was a crown laid up for him because he fought a good fight, finished the course and kept the faith (II Tim. 4:8). John said, “hereby we do know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments” and His commandments are not grievous (I John 2:3; 5:3). Jesus said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Just be a Christian where you are.

Eric L. Padgett

God, Gorillas and Babies

Let’s just be clear from the beginning, a human baby is worth more and is more important than any single gorilla or all the gorillas in the world. However, if you have listened to the news or paid attention to social media lately, you might not get that impression. Everyone is concerned about the gorilla that was killed by zookeepers when it had taken possession of a young child who had fallen into an exhibit at the Cincinnati zoo. However, I have heard very few people express similar concern over the young child’s safety.

People have been in a frenzy over the death of this animal. They have put up a memorial for the gorilla. I have seen photos of young children putting flowers at the memorial to mark the death of this animal. There have been death threats against the parents of this young child. A petition has been created at one website asking for “Justice for Harambe,” which was what this gorilla was named. The petition calls for the “Cincinnati Zoo, Hamilton County Child Protection Services, and [the] Cincinnati Police Department” to “hold the parents responsible” because of their “lack of supervision and negligence that caused Harambe to lose his life.” Amazingly, at the time of this writing, 457,310 people have signed the petition.

We all like animals. Many have animals as pets and we often become attached to them. We like to feed the cute squirrels and birds and few can resist the cuteness of a puppy. The dog, as they say, is man’s best friend. Everyone in their right mind opposes the senseless killing of animals. But in the end, they are just animals. The reason so many people have a misplaced concern about the value of animals is that their view of the world is skewed by the influence of evolution which says that we are all related animals, and the so-called “higher primates” are most closely related to us. The most fanatical even prefer the animal over the human.

The Biblical world view, however, places man far above the animals. God created man in His own image and likeness and gave him “dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26-28). After the flood, every–mark that word, “every”–non-human, living thing was to be meat for mankind (Gen. 9:1-3). Every beast may be and has been tamed by mankind (James. 3:7). By inspiration of the Almighty, David wrote:

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas (Psalm 8:4-8).

Man is over and above all of God’s physical creation. Even over gorillas. To be sure, we must be good stewards of the things with which God has entrusted us (I Cor. 4:2). There can be no question that the life of this child was to be preferred over the life of the gorilla. As zoo director Thane Maynard observed, this is an animal that he had seen crush a coconut with one hand. This animal had the child and dragged him around the exhibit, banging his head against concrete walls. Those who ascribe to this gorilla human values are simply misguided and misinformed.

Some have said the gorilla looked like it was trying to protect the child. This is falsely ascribing human intent to an animal. The gorilla may have been trying to protect the child, in the same way a dog protects it’s play thing. There was no sense of the worth of the child to the gorilla. It was merely something to possess. If the gorilla understood the value of the child, it would have climbed the wall and given the child back to it’s mother. But it didn’t because it couldn’t because it was only an animal.

The question of whether the parents were negligent is a different question, altogether. However, law enforcement has decided against bringing any charges against the parents. Eyewitnesses to the events say the parents did nothing wrong. Every parent, I am sure has experienced an incident when their child did something they could not control that could have potentially been dangerous. We were not there and so we cannot know for certain, but even if the parents were negligent, the child was still more important. The parents alleged negligence would not have mitigated against the child’s priority over the animal.

This incident and people’s reaction to it reveals how far America has removed from a theocentric world view. It is sad, indeed, when people are more concerned about an animal’s life than they are about a innocent human’s life. The reason the world is in such dire condition is because they reject the authority, God’s revealed will, that places man in a place of prominence over the beasts of he field.

Eric L. Padgett