Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog


Displaying 1 - 5 of 7

Page 1 2

What Do Campbellites Look Like?

Friday, May 17, 2024

What Do Campbellites Look Like?

By Larry Coffey

I recently read a book about the life of Elder John Smith who was born in east Tennessee in 1784, and moved with his family to Kentucky in 1795. He became a gospel preacher and devoted most of his work to central and southern Kentucky during the first half of the 19th century. It was noted he lived in rural areas, among the coons, and that, along with his colorful nature, caused him to be referred to as Raccoon John Smith. He was greatly influenced by Alexander Campbell’s teaching and writing. Campbell was the most noted preacher during the “restoration movement” and those who followed his teaching were called Campbellites.

On a trip John Smith made to Alabama in 1834, he stopped for breakfast at an inn on the roadside near Sparta, TN. He asked the innkeeper about the different religious denominations in the neighborhood. She told him and asked where he was from. When he told her Montgomery County, KY, she put down her coffee-pot, and looking at him somewhat curiously, said: “Travelers tell me that there is a strange sort of people up there in Kentucky called Campbellites.”

“Yes madam” replied Smith, “there are some in my own neighborhood.”

“You have seen some of them then?” she said.

“Yes madam, but they don’t like to be called that name.”

“Well, how do they look? Do tell me sir.”

“Those I have seen look pretty much like other people.”

“I would really like to see one so much,” she said. “I’d give more to see one of those people than any show. I’m told that when anyone wants to join them, they just put them under the water, and then let them go. One man told they would sometimes take people by force, and then drag them down into the water; that they even chased after people, and ran them down; that they once took a fancy to a poor fellow, and ran him five miles before they caught him, and then, after putting him in, they just left him there to get home, or go to heaven, the best way he could. I don’t know what I wouldn’t give to see one of them,” she said pouring out a cup of coffee.

“How do you think a Campbellite would look?” inquired Smith.

She said, “Well, I imagine they have sort of a wild, fierce, fanatical look about them.”

“I think I can manage for you to see one.”

The lady said, “I would give anything almost, if you would, sir.”

“Madam”, said Smith, “look right at me and you will see one. But, don’t be afraid because I am a civil Campbellite, and will not chase you into the water.”

He then asked her to be seated and listen to what he had to say about those people. He told her what they believed, and preached, and corrected all the wicked stories that had been told her about them. He said upon his return he would be speaking in Sparta and got her to agree to come and hear him preach.

Romans 1:16 says, ”For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” After much study, Campbell, Smith and numerous others began preaching this gospel in the early 1800’s and the national census for 1870 ranked the churches of Christ fifth in size in the nation, having 2,822 local congregations. That is unbelievable growth for a group that was not known when the 19th century started. It shows what the gospel can do when taught as it is described in the New Testament.

Today, it would be rare for any of us to be called a Campbellite. It should be pointed out that nothing we teach “originated” with Alexander Campbell. He taught from the Bible as we do. However, one might wonder if we were called Campbellites, would we be compelled to be more diligent in our efforts to teach the truth to others?

Nathanael’s Confession

Friday, March 22, 2024

Nathanael’s Confession

By Paul Earnhart

The accounts of the life of Christ are filled with testimonies concerning Him.  John the Baptist called Him the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29)  Andrew called Him the Messiah (Jn. 1:41), and Philip spoke of Him as the one of whom Moses wrote in the Law and the prophets. (Jn. 1:45)

Some people today dismiss such testimony as mere superstition among primitive people who wanted to believe in a divine messenger.  But many of those who ultimately believed in Jesus were at first skeptical.  When Nathanael was first informed about Jesus he asked, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  Philip did not argue with him.  He simply said, “Come and see.” (Jn. 1:46)

John 1:47-49 tells of Nathanael’s meeting with Jesus.  Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him and said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.”  Nathanael said to Him, “How did you know me?”  Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.”  Nathanael said, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the king of Israel.”

Many people in our time who are skeptical of the claims about Jesus have never really met Him.  Now, of course, they cannot meet Jesus in person as Nathanael did.  But the gospels are written to provide us with evidence equal to what Nathanael observed.  John wrote in his gospel, “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.”  (Jn. 20:30-31)

When people question the divinity of Jesus, the best thing we can say is, “Come and see.”  Read with them the inspired records of the life of Jesus.  Millions who have read have exclaimed as Nathanael did, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God.”  Those who will not read, must admit to dishonest prejudice.

Andrew Finds Peter

Friday, February 23, 2024

Andrew Finds Peter

By Paul Earnhart

One of the first disciples of John to follow Jesus was a man by the name of Andrew.  Andrew was doubtless a good and faithful man.  He later become one of the apostles of Jesus.  But Andrew will always be known for the fact that he brought someone else to Jesus.

John 1:40-42 tells about it: “One of the two that heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He found first his own brother, Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ).  He brought him to Jesus.”

It is great to find Jesus and to obtain the benefits that come from knowing Him.  It is even greater to share that knowledge with others.  And, unlike the sharing of many other things, the more we share our knowledge with others, the better we know Jesus.

Most of us like to share good news.  If we discover a useful product, we tell others about it so they can also enjoy it.  If we find a good sale somewhere, we tell our friends about it so they can go and buy at a good price.  But somehow, we are reluctant to share our knowledge of Jesus.

These days, religion is considered a very private matter.  People talk about everything else, but the subject of religion must be avoided.  If another person has no religion, that’s his business and we must not meddle.  If another person has a religion which is very clearly false, we must not even dare to question what he believes or to show him something better.

People who reason this way simply do not realize the seriousness of false religion, nor the importance of knowing Jesus.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man come to the Father but by me” (Jn. 14:6).

Once we have found Jesus, love for others demands that we do exactly what Andrew did…we must go and find them and share that knowledge with them.  It is the greatest favor we can possibly do for them.

Getting Back to the Basics of Being a Christian

Monday, January 23, 2023

Getting Back to the Basics of Being a Christian

By Gary Watson

As a teacher I long ago learned that youngsters cannot learn without knowing some basics such as reading, writing, math computation, etc.  Maybe we sometimes forget some basics of pleasing God.

I remember a little sentence which says that what it means to be a Christian is to know that without Christ, I am nothing.  Self examination should prompt us to evaluate whether our lives are something if we are pursuing what it means to please God.

If I am pleasing God, I will do what He wants me to do and be what he wants me to be.  Obviously, I do not deserve salvation for my meritorious works (Ephesians 2:8-10), but if I am trying to please God, I will do His works.

What will a faithful Christian do?  Here are a few suggestions for us to think about:

1). Spend time in the Word so that I will know what to follow and what not to follow.

  • Psalm 1:1-2:  1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

2). Pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Communicating with the Father through prayer has many beneficial blessings.  Here is one of many:

  • Matthew 26:41: Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

3). Meet often with Christians.  We should know that attendance alone is not a good work that merits salvation, but there are several reasons that we should meet with fellow Christians.

  • First, it is a command according to Hebrews 10:24-25:  24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
  • In addition to being a command, we also worship God and remember His Son’s death on the first day of the week.  Some might ask, “Well, how often should I assemble?”  That is a works focus rather than a spiritually minded focus.  If the doors are open and you are able, assemble.

4). Let my light shine.

  • Our influence on others should be apparent in our lives.  Here again, how we live does make a difference, for our manner of life should have an influence on others for the right reason.
  • Matt. 5:13-16:  13 You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

5). Teach others

  • There are many ways we can teach others: verbal teaching of the Word to those who are willing to listen, inviting others to assemblies, and living a life pleasing to God are a few.

2 Timothy 2:1-2:  1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, 2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.

6). Love the Brotherhood. 

  • 1 Peter 2:17:  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
  • The apostle John wants us to know this, as written in 1 John 3:14-18.
    14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. 15 Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. 16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world's goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
  • “There are some simple signs of affection, which - if genuine - are perfectly right and to be encouraged, but do not in themselves fulfill the full measure of brotherly love. To smile and greet your brethren with warmth, courtesy and hospitality. To shake someone's hand or give someone a hug. That kind of attention is certainly acceptable and can be of service in our relationships with each other.
    “But let's not entertain the idea that these gestures somehow complete our obligation. The apostle John is telling us of the extent of brotherly love. Verse 16 requires no spin; it is not written in apocalyptic language. ‘By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.’ (1 John 3:16)
    “This is love for the brethren that finds ultimate expression in an act of sacrifice that is exemplified by THE SACRIFICE of all sacrifices. The question needs a lot of thought. I shake hands with my brethren; I greet Christians; I may give someone a hug and to the extent of my ability, I may write a check to help a brother in need. All of that is fine - but I'm not yet to the matter at hand. Would I give my life for the good of my brother in Christ? Let's be clear, John says we ought to! This is not about dying for buildings or even an idea! NO, this is giving yourself, your life, for your brother. That's what it means to love the brotherhood.” (By Warren E. Berkley from Expository Files 14.4; April 2007) 1.

7). Always use pure speech. 

  • God’s Word is full of admonitions about what we say and the way we say it.  James 3:10-12:  10 From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. 11 Does a spring pour forth from the same opening both fresh and salt water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a salt pond yield fresh water.

James 1:19-21:  19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

  • Never holding a grudge is an integral part of pure speech and proper attitude.

Eph. 4:31-32:   31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

8). Follow Jesus' example.

  • 1 Peter 2: 21"   For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
  • “Jesus left us the perfect example. He is the perfect "writing copy" we must strive to reproduce in our own life. His sinless perfection is apparent from the couplet quoted from Isaiah 53:9    "Who committed no sin, Nor was guile found in his mouth." While Peter refers especially to Jesus' perfect example of patience in suffering, Isaiah spoke prophetically of the Lord's absolute freedom from sin, as other writers and the history of Jesus' life show. No other human ever lived without sin. Even the most righteous men are examples to others only as they follow Jesus (1 Cor. 11:1). Jesus lived above sin because he had perfect self-control and because he had a perfect consciousness of God, being fully committed to him in all things.” (Earl Kimbrough in Guardian of Truth XXXVIII, No. 22, p. 1, December 1, 1994)

9). Buy the truth.

  • God’s truth is so valuable that we should invest in it heavily.  We should live by God’s truth, study His truth, make application of His truth to our lives.

2 Thess. 2:10-12:   10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, 12 in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

Proverbs 23:23:  Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.

10). Not resent correction.

  • It is easy to become defensive when others ask us about our actions and words and offer correction.

Hebrews 12:5-11:   5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?  My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him.  6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.  7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

Let us strive to be Christians who please God.


1.The section quoted in number 6 comes from Expository Files.  Following is a quote on using material from their site: “Feel free to upload EXPOSITORY FILES into local BBS networks. And, if you want your friends and associates to have a copy, regard this as freeware; load it onto a disk and pass it on.”

2.Scripture quotes are from the ESV.


What Makes Christianity Unique?

Saturday, October 30, 2021

What Makes Christianity Unique?

By Mark McCrary

Of all the world’s religions, what makes Christianity unique? Why should it be considered above all others?

Like most religions that revolve around a concept of a singular God, Christianity emphasizes the holiness of God. But Christianity’s take is somewhat different than many others; it is not simply that He is a good God, but His holiness means He is a perfect God - there is no sin in Him. Because He is holy, if we are to have a relationship with Him, we must be holy as well (“…but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy’”). God is so perfect, in fact, He cannot tolerate the presence of sin. Isaiah 59:2 tells us, “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

Such holiness demands that God be just. Unlike the teachings of some religions, He can’t look at our lives and, if there is more good than bad, wave away that bad as if it didn’t happen. It did; and His holiness can’t ignore it. There must be a price paid for those wrongs (“And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission,” Hebrews 9:22).

But, Romans 3:26 tells us something beautiful: because God is holy, He must be just; to be less than just would make Him less than holy. But—importantly— He is also the justifier (Rom. 3:26, “…To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus”). What makes Christianity unique, ultimately, is Jesus Christ—God coming down in the form of man to pay the price for our sins (Hebrews 9:22) and reconcile us to the Holy God.

“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation,” Rom. 5:6-11.

Christianity presents a God who is so holy He cannot tolerate sin. Yet, for some reason He paid the price for our sins through His Son Jesus Christ. Why would He do such a thing? Because “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

That’s what makes Christianity unique.

Displaying 1 - 5 of 7

Page 1 2