Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog


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The First Disciples

Friday, February 16, 2024

The First Disciples

By Paul Earnhart

John the Baptist had disciples who followed him as he preached and baptized.  The gospel of John, chapter 1, tells us that two of those disciples heard John say of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God.”   From that time onward, they followed Jesus (Jn. 1:35-37).

Those disciples did the right thing.  John was a great teacher.  Jesus said of him that no previous servant of God was greater than John (Mt. 11:11).  Yet, Jesus was greater than John, and those disciples would have been wrong to remain with John when they could follow Jesus.  In fact, they honored John by following Jesus.

Today, there are many fine men and women who may attract our favorable attention.  Some of us have been blessed with godly parents and spiritually minded teachers.  They have taught us many valuable lessons.  But if they have been truly wise teachers, they have pointed us to Jesus.  We may sometime come to know Jesus better than they have known Him.  We may learn that they were not entirely right in their thinking about what Jesus taught.  This may bring us to a difficult decision; shall we follow what our parents or teachers believed, or what we see to be the true teaching of Jesus?  By all means, we must follow Jesus, even if it should mean leaving the things taught by others.  Of course, in following Jesus, we actually honor those who have taught us to honor Him above all others.

John was not envious of Jesus.  He was not jealous of his own position as a leader.  Indeed, he was glad to see his disciples leave him to follow Jesus.  Later he said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30).  John is a good example for all of us who teach.  We must point others to Jesus.  We must impress upon those that Jesus is the only leader worth following.  We must be wise enough to reject the allegiance due only to Him.  Paul said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…” (2 Cor. 4:5).

The Lamb of God

Friday, February 09, 2024

The Lamb of God

By Paul Earnhart

After His temptations in the wilderness, Jesus returned to the Jordan river where John was baptizing.  As Jesus approached, John exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). 

How was Jesus the Lamb of God?

There are several significant things about a lamb.  Lambs are harmless.  Perhaps for this reason they have become a symbol of innocence.  Among intelligent human beings, Jesus was the truly innocent person who ever lived.  Peter, who knew Him well, was guided by the Holy Spirit to say that He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth (1 Pet. 2:22).

Sheep, and lambs in particular, are noted for their complete submission to domination.  Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is silent, He would not even open His mouth ( Isa. 53:7).  Jesus fulfilled this prophecy toward the end of His life when He allowed Himself to be arrested and tried.  He spoke only when spoken to and never raised His voice in His own defense.  He submitted to wicked men because He was completely submissive to God and realized this was God’s will for Him.

But the primary reason for calling Jesus a lamb was He came to be a sacrifice.  Through the years, millions of innocent lambs had been sacrificed upon the altars of sinful men.  The lambs had died that men might not have to be separated from God…the lambs died in their stead.  Of course, the death of lambs could not substitute for the death of sinful men.  Those lambs were but a symbol of the eventual sacrifice that would be sufficient as a substitute for all sinners of all time (Heb. 10:11-14).  Jesus came to be that sacrifice, and so He is called “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” 

Is He your sacrifice?  He is only if you obey Him.


Friday, June 23, 2023


By Larry Coffey

A few weeks ago, a friend told me about a man she knew who had decided he no longer wanted to undergo kidney dialysis on which his life depended. As a result, he died in less than 24 hours. She further stated he had instructed his family to have Frank Sinatra’s popular song, “My Way,” played at his funeral services. That song always makes me think about humility, or the lack thereof.

The lyrics of the first stanza of that song are as follows:

“And now the end is here

 And so I face that final curtain

 My friend I’ll make it clear

 I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain

 I’ve lived a life that’s full

 I traveled each and every highway

 And more, much more

 I did it, I did it my way”

There are three more stanzas to the song all of which end with “I did it my way.”

A number of themes are found in the Bible such as faith, love, obedience, and others which include humility. The Bible clearly teaches no one can please God who is not humble in spirit. We see many Bible examples of those who were not humble, those who did it their way. In Ex. 5:2, Pharoah says, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, l will not let Israel go.”  God said to Pharoah, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” (Ex. 10:3) We know how that ended for Pharoah.

Nebuchadnezzar was the great king of Babylon. He rejected Daniel’s advice and said in Daniel 4:30, “Is this not the great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power as a royal residence and for the glory of my majesty?” He did it his way. While he was speaking, the kingdom was taken from him and he ended up in the fields eating grass. After learning his lesson, his kingdom was restored and his speech changed as recorded in Dan. 4:37, “I praise and honor the King of heaven, for all his works are right and his ways are just, and those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” In Acts 12, we have King Herod receiving praise and being exalted in pride, and he was eaten by worms and died.

The biggest threat to our efforts to be humble is success. It is hard for the Super Bowl winner not to think how great he is. Or, the CEO of a large corporation not thinking the success of the company is due to his unique skills. However, it is not limited to these kinds of successes. I have known gospel preachers who were sought out for gospel meetings across the country and being told what wonderful preachers they were, to allow that success to affect their humility. Dee Bowman told a story about a preacher friend. He said they were talking on the phone on a Monday and he asked how services had gone where the preacher spoke on Sunday. The preacher said great. He said it was probably the best lesson he had ever preached. When Dee asked the topic, the preacher said “Humility.” I suspect Dee was jesting. I do well remember Gerry Sandusky when receiving compliments for his preaching, always deflected the comments about himself by responding, “Isn’t God great?”

No one is exempt from the temptation to think highly of themselves. We all have degrees of success and it is easy to start taking credit for the abilities and opportunities God has given us. No matter what we may achieve, it is God that needs to be thanked. God said in Is. 57:15, “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.”  Is. 2:11 says, “The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”

Of course, our best example of humility is Jesus. In Mt. 11:29, he said he was meek and lowly in heart. In John 13, he washed the disciples’ feet. In Phil. 2:8 we read, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” He said in Mt. 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

We must remember it is not “my way” that is important. Rather, it is God’s way to which we must humble ourselves and follow.

Jesus, Born to the Poor

Friday, June 16, 2023

Jesus, Born to the Poor

By Paul Earnhart

God simply does not think as men think. If men had been planning a home for God's son they would surely have chosen a very wealthy family to care for Him. They would have wanted Him to grow up among highly cultured and educated people. And if He was to be a king, they surely would have planned for Him to live in an imperial palace in some great world cIty.

Instead, God chose for His son a poor young mother in an obscure village. Mary, His mother, perceived the significance of this choice. In her song, recorded in Luke she said: "My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on, all generatrons will count me blessed” (Lk 1:46-48). Later in the same song she said: “He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.  He has brought down rulers from their thrones and has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good thIngs and sent away the rich empty-handed” (Lk 1:51-53).

The Son of God grew up, not only as the foster son of a carpenter, but also a carpenter himself. Throughout His life on earth, He lived as a common man among common people. He had good words for the poor and humbIe, and He had no special respect for anyone simply because he was rich or famous. And the scriptures say that "The common peopIe heard Him gladly.“ By contrast, as a rule, the rich and famous, even famous theologians, mistreated Him and finally crucifIed Him.

If Jesus were now on earth in physical form, I have no doubt the theologians would oppose Him and people in power would be offended by Him.  But the common people would still hear Him gladly.  Are you humble enough to be included? This does not mean that the rich and famous cannot follow Him. But, to do so they must, like Nicodemus, be born again. And, like the apostles, they must be converted and become as little children.

The BE-Attitudes

Friday, March 31, 2023

The BE-Attitudes

By Victor A. Osorio

Many of us in the congregation are studying the Sermon on the Mount in various groups. The Sermon on the Mount is the best sermon ever preached. Jesus said in 10-15 minutes more than what the volumes of books that have been written on the sermon ever could.

Jesus begins the sermon with a grabbing introduction – what we call the “beatitudes.” The introduction has emphatic repetition about being “blessed.” It presents eight character traits we should possess, followed by eight promises that will follow if we do.

But what is “blessed”? Most say, “happy.” And, well, so does the Greek. But what do we mean by “happy”? A passage that drives home this concept well is in Luke 11:27-28. “Happy” is the concept of knowing where we stand at all times because we are “God approved” (Psa. 1).

The first four beatitudes correspond to our relationship with God. They are vertical.

Take the first, poverty of spirit (Mt. 5:3). It is a personal acknowledgement of our spiritual bankruptcy before God. We know we are empty before God, and bring nothing of value to the relationship. It is the attitude displayed by the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14 and confirmed in Isa. 64:6.

The second builds on the first – those who mourn (Mt. 5:4). The Greek word “mourn” here is a passionate lament. It is the strongest word for “mourn.” We mourn over our sins when we realize the deficiencies that make us so bankrupt before God. We are aware that we are not what we need to be and mourn for what is missing. It is how Isaiah and Paul felt in Isa. 6:3-5 and Rom. 7:21-25, respectively. While it is humbling, notice the result is comfort – both in this age and the one to come.

Third to be blessed are the meek (Mt. 5:5). Meek are not the weak. After all, Moses was said to be the meekest man alive (Num. 12:3). And the only time we have recorded where Jesus explains his temperament, He said He was meek (Mt. 11:28-30).  Meekness is when we allow another’s interest to advance over our own, even when we do not have to (e.g., Abraham with Lot on choosing the land). It is strength under control. Just because a wild horse is broken, does not mean it loses the great strength that once fueled its wild nature. But it chooses to give up to the reins.

Fourth, highlighted are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (Mt. 5:6). It is only when we realize that tending to our spiritual needs is more important than our physical needs of eating and drinking that we will be truly satisfied.

The first four characteristics are followed by our relationship with our fellow man. These are horizontal.

It is the merciful who will receive mercy by God. Grace is a loving response to someone who does not deserve it (Barnabas with Saul). Mercy is a loving response to someone who does not deserve it, and cannot do anything about it (e.g., the story of the good Samaritan). But we cannot just recognize others’ needs, we must do something about them (James 2:5; 1 Jn. 3:17).

To see God, we must be pure in heart (Mt. 5:8). That is, we must be free of duplicity and hypocrisy. Our faith must be authentic.

With others, we must also be peacemakers (Mt. 5:9). That does not mean we compromise truth. Or, we are for peace at any price. It means we are people who relieve the tension, not intensify it. We seek solutions, and do not just focus on problems. We calm the waters, not stir them up. We seek win/win without compromising God’s word. The result is that people will know we are believers.

Finally, blessed are those who are persecuted or reviled (Mt. 5:10). It is not a matter of if, but when. The world will despise our godly beliefs and lifestyle, because through these we shame the world and convict it.  Just as the world persecuted Jesus, it will do so to us (Jn. 5:20+). We must have soft hearts, but tough hides.

So, can we be “happy”? We certainly can. Knowing we possess the characteristics that make us approved by God can deliver us happiness, regardless of our circumstances.

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