Growing In Godliness Blog
After Baptism – Temptation
By Paul Earnhart
The baptism of Jesus in the Jordan marks the beginning of what is commonly called His personal ministry. This ministry began with a significant testimony of divine approval; the Holy Spirit descended upon Him, and a voice from the Father in heaven acknowledged Him as His Son. All of this was surely a strong encouragement to Jesus as He embarked on the work for which He had come.
But Satan was not willing to allow Him to begin that work unchallenged. Just as Satan had tempted Adam and Eve soon after their creation, now he moved to tempt Jesus. God was willing that this temptation should take place for the scriptures tell us that “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” (Mt 4:1).
Why did the Spirit lead Jesus to be tempted? Two reasons seem clear:
First, Jesus had come to be our priest; that is, our representative before God. Isaiah had prophesied 700 years earlier that He would make intercession for the transgressors (Isa 53:12). In order to understand the problems we face in trying to do what is right and to be our priest (or advocate) before God, He had to be tempted. Hebrews 2:18 mentions this: “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.” Hebrews 4:15 states this negatively: “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”
One other thing may account for His temptation. Overcoming temptation strengthens us. James 1:2 says, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.”
Jesus was human enough to need the strength that comes from successful encounters with temptation. And so do we! When we are tempted, we should view it as an opportunity for growth…IF WE RESIST!
Jesus Increased in Favor with Men
By Paul Earnhart
The Bible says very little about the early childhood of Jesus. It does inform us in Luke 2:52 that He increased in favor with man. This tells us that Jesus was the kind of child that adults admired. Every parent desires to have such a child.
How did Jesus grow in favor with good men. Certainly not by being a smart-alecky spoiled little brat. No adult likes to be around that kind of child. Rather, as we are told in the other parts of this verse, Jesus grew in wisdom, in stature and in favor with God. Good people admire that. In addition, they appreciate children who are respectful of adults, obedient to their parents, careful with property and considerate in their relations with other children. Growing in favor with God would require all of this, and what we see of Jesus in His teen years (and later) clearly indicates that this was the kind of child he was.
If you are a child, let me remind you that if you want to be like Jesus, this is the kind of boy or girl you must be. It is not time yet for you to be travelling over the country preaching as Jesus did. But it is time for you to be applying yourself to getting a good education, to developing a strong body and to being right with God. One way to determine whether you are succeeding in this is to watch how good adults feel about you. If they admire you and speak of you as a good child, then you must be doing as you should. If they dread being around you and clearly do not like you, then you probably need to make some changes in your behavior and attitude to be like Jesus.
If you are a parent, let me remind you that you are responsible for the development of your child. If your child is a terror to others, you need to be making some changes in your method of handling the child. As the child grows older, the problems will only increase. Perhaps you should begin with yourself. Disciplined children must have disciplined parents…it’s the only way.
Jesus Increased in Favor with God
By Paul Earnhart
Luke 2:52 tells us that as Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, He also increased in favor with God. This is the most important increase of all. All other progress in the development of a child is of temporary value. The wisdom he learns will someday be forgotten. His physical body, regardless of how strong, will someday weaken and die. And the favor of men can vanish in a moment of time. But favor with God prepares us for eternity.
Favor with God is obtained by godly living. In 1 Peter 3, beginning with verse 10, there is a quotation from the Psalms which is true for all times: "Let him who means to love life and see good days refrain his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking guile. And let him turn away from evil and do good. Let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous and his ears attend to their prayers, but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil." (1 Pet. 3:10-12)
Children do not grow in the favor of God by accident. This is especially true in our own day when so much ungodliness is being fed to children on television, in school, and through their companions. If children are to increase in the favor of God, they desperately need parents who have spiritual goals for them and rear them “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord" (Eph. 6:4).
What of your children? Do you feel that God is increasingly pleased with them as they grow older? What are you doing to help them in that direction? Do you read the Bible and pray with them? Do you take them to Bible classes? Do you give them an example of a god-fearing parent? What your children become is largely up to you. But you must act now!
Jesus Increased in Wisdom
By Paul Earnhart
Very little is known about the childhood of Jesus. Many fictitious stories have been circulated; some have even been dramatized on television. But all we really know is what the Bible tells us. And all that the Bible tells us about His life in Nazareth, before He was twelve years old, is found in Luke 2:52. That verse tells us that Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and men.
It is interesting to learn that Jesus increased in wisdom. Though He was the Son of God, it is evident that in becoming a man He gave up His divine knowledge of all things. The fact that He INCREASED in wisdom proves that He did not have it all as an infant.
Jesus must have increased in wisdom as all other young people do. Doubtless He gained some wisdom from the instruction of His parents. Good parents are important to a young person's development.
We can believe also that He increased in wisdom through life’s experiences and through observation of life around Him.
I do not know if schools were available to Him or not. From some source He learned to read and write, and we can be sure that He took advantage of every opportunity of this kind.
Prayer must have had its part even for Jesus as a child. James tells us that if we lack wisdom, we should ask of God and it will be given to us (Jas 1:5). Of course, when we pray for daily bread, we work for it also. And as Jesus prayed for wisdom from God, He must have read and studied God's word which is a major channel through which God gives us wisdom.
Jesus is an example for young people and older people as well. Each one of us should take advantage of every opportunity to grow in wisdom.
By Larry Coffey
Ed Byers, my father-in-law, was a charter member of the Douglass Hills church. He served as an elder of this church for 26 years. I know of no one who was more devoted and worked harder for this church than he did. Also, I have never known anyone who attributed more importance of attending our worship periods than he did.
Of course, he knew and taught there was more to being a Christian than attending the worship services. His view was like that of long-time preacher, Roy E. Cogdill, who wrote in the Expressway church bulletin in 1977 the following: “Attendance at the services of the church is the best index of interest in one’s own spiritual growth, and is a certain indication of one’s own interest in the Lord’s church.”
When encouraging members to attend our worship periods we often quote Hebrews 10:24-25 which reads: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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.”
Bobby Graham does a Q. A. column in Truth Magazine each month and in the April, 2022 edition, writes the following regarding Hebrews 10: 24-25: “In my judgment, the Holy Spirit was appealing to the Hebrew Christians to rescue them from drifting away from Christ in their disastrous return to the Law of Moses. One should get the point here: their assembling with each other, and the beneficial effects noted in verses 24 and 25, was one divine provision for their spiritual strength/stamina, so that they remain faithful to Christ. They needed such assemblies for their spiritual survival.”
Here is a story that appeared in church bulletins several years ago relating to the importance of attendance: “Paul Harvey once reported news of a 73-year-old man who was pinned beneath his farm tractor for four days and nights in rain and a terrible storm. Concerned friends went to see about him just in time. He lived after his ordeal but lost a leg. Several newspapers picked up on the story and centered upon the amazing fact that a 73-year-old man could live after being pinned beneath a tractor for four days. That is amazing, but what is more amazing is what caused his friends to go see about him. One friend said the reason was that he missed prayer meeting on Wednesday night. That’s all? He just missed one service and his friends went to check on him. This man was so faithful and regular in his church attendance that everyone knew if he was not there, something had to be seriously wrong. A question. What if you had been the one pinned under the tractor? Would your absence have been noticed? Or would you have died under the wheel?”
Brother Ed knew there were times when members could not attend services, such as sickness, disabled, etc. But he also knew people gave all kinds of excuses for not attending when they were perfectly capable of doing so. People claim they can’t come to the worship periods, but they can go lots of other places, such as restaurants, shopping, vacations, doctor check-ups, etc.
He was concerned for the souls of his brethren and did not hesitate to try to encourage them often to demonstrate their love for the Lord by attending every worship period available. He knew their spiritual health was far more important than their physical health.
I agree with my father-in-law. I love and miss you brother Ed.