Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog


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Jesus Commends Nathaniel

Friday, March 08, 2024

Jesus Commends Nathaniel

By Paul Earnhart

When Jesus left Judaea after His baptism, He left with at least five disciples.  At first, only two had followed Him: Andrew and an unnamed disciple who was probably John, the author of the gospel.  But Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus.  And in John 1:43 we see Jesus inviting yet another man to go with Him.  “The next day He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me.’”

Philip did follow Jesus, but before they left Judaea, Philip did exactly what Andrew had done: he went and found someone else to bring to Jesus.  John 1:45 reports that “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’”  Nathanael was at first skeptical, asking, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”  But Philip did not argue with Nathanael; he simply said, “Come and see.” (John 1:46)  If WE can only get people to COME and SEE Jesus, Jesus will convince them.  He is His own best witness.

When Nathanael met Jesus, Jesus did not show resentment because of Nathanael’s reference to Nazareth; and He certainly did not begin an argument with him about His hometown.  Rather, Jesus complimented Nathanael by saying, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile.” (John 1:47)

We can learn much about the rearing of children from the manner in which Jesus trained His disciples.  To Simon, Jesus gave a name which he did not deserve at the time, but one that would challenge him to become what he could become.  And to Nathanael He gave a compliment.

Children should never be told that they are bad, even when their conduct is bad.  They are basically good, and they need to be constantly reminded of that.  Bad conduct is simply inconsistent with the good children they are.  And children need to be commended for every good quality they demonstrate and for every good deed they do.

Jesus Names Peter

Friday, March 01, 2024

Jesus Names Peter

By Paul Earnhart

According to John 1:42, when Andrew brought his brother Simon to Jesus, “Jesus looked at him, and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John, you shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter).”  From this time onward, almost without exception, the scriptures refer to him as Simon Peter or simply as Peter.

The word “Cephas” means a stone.  Peter means the same.  Simon’s friends must have been surprised when Jesus renamed him Peter.  They may even have questioned the insight of Jesus.  When we see this man in his early association with Jesus, he would scarcely suggest the character of a stone.  He seems more like sand or even Jello.

But Jesus was not seeing Simon as he was; Jesus was seeing what he could and would become.  Giving him the name Peter must have been a challenge to him; it may well have been a factor in Peter’s becoming the strong disciple of Jesus that he actually became.  When we see him in Acts chapter 2, preaching fearlessly about Jesus (Acts 2:36); when we see him in Acts 5 before the Jewish council declaring that he would obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29); when in Acts 12 we see him soundly sleeping in the prison even with the sentence of death already upon his head (Acts 12:6).  These are pictures of Peter, a man of stone, just what Jesus knew he would be.

You know, Jesus does for all Christians just what He did for Peter.  He names them children of God (Rom. 8:16), even when they are as yet very much unlike God.  He calls them saints (1 Cor. 1:2), even when they seem to be far from sanctified.  He sees what we can be by His grace and Spirit, and He challenges us by calling us that.  May God help us to rise to the challenge as Peter did.

Nothing of God Dies

Friday, March 03, 2023

Nothing of God Dies

By Victor A. Osorio

Change in life is inevitable. We know that. We understand the importance of flexibility and resilience. However, change is often challenging…and the church is not immune.

The Israelites were struggling with change as we begin reading in the book of Joshua. Moses had just died. The people were in shock. Leadership was paralyzed. Followership was stunned. Then God speaks. In Joshua 1:2, God tells Joshua, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them…”

It seems subtle. But do you wonder why God told Joshua “Moses My servant is dead”? After all, in Deuteronomy 34:8, we read, “So the sons of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses came to an end.” So, the Israelites, including Joshua, were well aware Moses was dead. This makes one wonder – did God tell Joshua this fact plainly for Joshua to begin to accept reality and move on?

It was at this point we see Joshua begin the transformation into the mighty man we quote in Joshua 24:15, and revere for leading God’s people in battle. But he didn’t seem to be completely that way at first. Four times in the first chapter of Joshua he is commanded or encouraged to “be strong and courageous” – three times by the Lord (Joshua 1:6, 7, and 9) and once by the people (Joshua 1:18).

We, too, in the local outpost of the Lord’s army, can become disoriented when a leader moves on. The history of God’s people is, unfortunately, riddled with stories of churches who struggled when an elder, preacher, or beloved member passes on, becomes incapacitated, or moves away. The story of Joshua tells us that ought not to be so. The Lord’s church is greater than any one person.

A.W. Tozer wrote, “When a man of God dies, nothing of God dies.” How true is that!? While Moses passed on, God was still sovereign. When the people were mourning, God’s care was still omnipresent. When Joshua’s vision of what to do next was disoriented by death, God’s omniscience was unclouded. When the people went into battle with an unproven commander, God was still omnipotent. When God’s people are in a period of change – God is unchanging. And we are His church.

Kerry Keenan is a great man of God. I remember vividly as a new convert back in 1997 when a beloved leader of the congregation passed on. Kerry, with His godly heart and strong leadership, while not the full-time preacher at the time, got up and challenged us young men to “fill the gap.” After recapping all the fallen leader had done and how he would be missed, he didn’t end there. Rather, Kerry focused on all the work of God that needed to be filled – by someone. I was reminded of this recently when I read that at Winston Churchill’s funeral, by his request, one bugler played “Taps” as another simultaneously played “Reveille.” Churchill wanted the people of Britain to know his death was by no means England’s last note, but a call for others to stand up for action.

No doubt, our church will face seasons of change. Those seasons may include losing people we love, look up to, and who will leave large gaps in the work. God’s message to us then will be the same, “Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go!” In those times, true leaders will have to emerge and fill the gap, even if the gap is so large it takes two, or even three, to fill. We will have to have the wisdom to know when to insist the bugler change the tune, or courage to take the instrument from his hand. Most importantly, we will have to remind each other of Tozer’s words – nothing of the great God we serve is dead.     

Elders and Leadership

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Elders and Leadership

by Gary Watson


The role, work, and characteristics of elders are clearly listed in Titus and 1st Timothy.  Examining the nature of elder leadership will help us understand God’s plan for the effective work of congregations.

“Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to "win" as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.  Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.”  (

The professional  and business world knows the importance of good leadership for accomplishing their goals.  Following is an analysis of leadership skills from the business and professional world coupled with appropriate scriptures.


1.Open-minded  and Humble

Is he self-willed (head strong, contentious)? (Titus 1:7)

*Greek word authades ‘selfwilled’ is used twice in the NT, here and in II Peter 2:10.  Denotes one who is “dominated by self-interest, and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserts his own will” (Expository Dictionary of NT Words, by W.E. Vine).

*“one so far overvauling any determination at which he has himself once arrived that he will not be removed from it (Trench’s NT Synonyms).

*Such words as “self-satisfied, arbitrary, unconsidered, morose, gruff, blatant, and shameless” (Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of NT)

*“human impulse violating obedience to the divine command

Meek, considerate, kind, peaceable. Able to bear, endure strain. Not harsh nor unkind in manner.


2.Empathetic- Just (Tit. 1:8).     One fair in his dealings, exact, upright, acting without partiality.


3.Visionary- Vigilant

*“Watchful and vigilant imply acute perception of what is dangerous or potentially so” (Duncan, p 23)

*Watchful, both for himself and all the flock (Acts 20:28).

Given to hospitality (1 Tim. 3:2Tit. 1:8). A lover of hospitality. Not forgetful to entertain strangers (Heb. 13:2). Entertains members and strangers in the home - having the spirit of the good Samaritan. Shows a warm welcome to visitors at services, sets an example for the flock to follow.

*Gentle -- patient (1 Tim. 3:3).

*Meek, considerate, kind, peaceable. Able to bear, endure strain. Not harsh nor unkind in manner.

*Greek word translated “patient” occurs 5 times in the Greek.  In Titus 3:2James 3:17I Peter


4.Confident- Desire the work (1 Timothy 3:1).

*Desire is translated from 2 Greek words.  First, “to stretch one’s self out in order to touch or grasp something, to reach after or desire something” (J.H. Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the NT, p 452).  The second, “to have a desire for, long for” (Thayer, p 238).  The later is equal to our expression, “to set one’s heart upon” (Thayer). 


5.Ethical and has Integrity       Is he a lover of money (covetous, greedy)? (1 Tim. 3:3)

*An unhealthy desire for material possessions – an inordinate desire for money. Unholy desire for gain.

*“not covetous” I Tim 3:3 literally means “not to be fond of silver”.  Same Greek word appears in Heb 13:5

Blameless -- above reproach (1 Timothy 3:2Titus 1:6).

*One against whom no evil charge can be sustained -- innocent -- not guilty of evil. This does not mean that elders must be sinless (Romans 3:23I John 1:8). Jesus is the only man who ever lived a sinlessly perfect life (Heb 4:15). This man must be a man about whom no uncomplimentary evil rumors are circulated; character is to be unimpeachable. Elders must be men who live pure, clean lives.


6.Positive and Decisive- Sober -- sober-minded (1 Timothy 3:4Tit. 1:8).

*Good common sense, mature in judgment, not frivolous, flighty, or flippant. But prudent, dignified, quiet, cool, collected, grave. Realizing the importance and earnestness of life.

*Humble- Not a novice  from the Greek is “newly planted”.  KJV margin note – “One newly come to the faith”. 

*Why?  “lest being lifted up with pride he fall into condemnation of the devil” – suggesting the sin for which Satan was expelled from heaven was the sin of pride (Luke 10:18).


7.Communicative, Accountable- 1 Peter 5:3  not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.

Temperate (Tit. 1:8).

*Greek word naphalios signifies “abstinate with respect to wine” By association it means sober, careful, circumspect, I Thess 5:6,8II Tim 4:5 (Deaver, 12)

*One self-controlled, using moderation so as to blend the faculties to the highest degree. Ability to deny self.

Not given to wine (no brawler)     Does he drink alcoholic beverages?

*The Greek word paroinos, literally means “by or beside wine”.  A marginal note in the KJV says, “ready to quarrel, and offer wrong, as one in wine.”  The ASV translates the word “no brawler”. 

*Wine is generic determined based upon context.  It can mean in the grape, freshly squeezed, or fermented. 

*If drinking any amount of alcoholic beverages is wrong, why didn’t Paul say that elders should not drink wine at all?

*Elders cannot be brawlers b/c their examples would be tarnished and it is behavior that is contrary to the kingdom of our Lord.

*Elderships would be unable to meet and make decisions without brawling, quarrelling, being contentious, as if they had been drinking strong fermented drink.

*Is he soon angry (quick tempered)? (Titus 1:7)


8. Disciplined and character-     Good testimony (report) from without (1 Tim. 3:7).

* One who has a good report from those which are without (not members of the church). Well respected by those outside the church. Well thought of by outsiders.

*“What kind of reputation does he have among the people with whom he lives and where he work?

*What do the people with whom he has done business think of him?

*What kind of reputation does he have among his own neighbors?

*What kind of estimate of the church will these people have when they learn he has been appointed to serve as one of the overseers of the flock


9.Influential and Loyal- Rule well own house (1 Timothy 3:4-5Titus 1:6).

Well governed, able to manage own household well.

A. His children not accused of riot or unruly.

B. His children must be in subjection with all gravity.

C. His children must be faithful, believing.

D. His wife cannot be the "boss" but must be in subjection

     (Ephesians 5:22).

E. The reason: "For if a man know not how to rule his own house,

     how shall he take care of the church of God?"

F.  To meet the qualifications, an elder MUST have children.  If he

      has none, there is no way of knowing whether he has the ability

      to so govern and rule the congregation.   


10.Courageous       It takes a lot of courage to correct others.      Convince ejlegcw — el-eng’-kho; of uncertain affinity; to confute, admonish: — convict, convince, tell a fault, rebuke, reprove.


Elders and all members are important to the work of the church, evangelism, and achieving the goal of eternal life with our Father.


(This writing is based on:  Here are the top 19 leadership qualities you should look for in a candidate.

Leadership from Preachers

Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Leadership from Preachers

by Mark McCrary


I wasn’t a good leader when I first started preaching.  In fact, it is generous to even say I wasn’t good at leading.  I didn’t lead.  At all.

You see, I grew up hearing, “The preacher isn’t a pastor!” So naturally, when I started preaching the last thing I wanted to be seen as was a pastor.  After all, that was one of the big problems in denominationalism, right? Biblically, formal church leadership is found in the form of elders (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9).  They shepherd and protect the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 5:1-4), while the preacher’s primary task is preaching the word (1 Tim. 4:2).

Looking back, there were numerous times when I wish I had asserted more needed leadership in the first two churches for which I preached. But, because I didn’t want to be viewed as a pastor, I wasn’t even a leader.  To be honest, I probably was rarely even a suggester.

Then, something remarkable happened.  I actually read the Bible.  Specifically, Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus. These books, written to preachers, are about leadership.  A preacher’s leadership. I learned that while a preacher still isn’t a formal leader like a pastor (elder, shepherd, overseer), he is still an informal leader and should embrace that leadership role.

Take for instance Timothy.  He was young and unsure of himself (2 Tim. 1:3-7). Yet, despite this, he was called to be brave (1 Tim. 1:18), see to the appointment of shepherds (1 Tim. 3:1-7), teach and command the things Christians need to hear (1 Tim. 4:6-8; 11), set a good example (1 Tim. 4:12; 6:11-16; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2 Tim. 2:22-25), use his “gift” (1 Tim. 4:14), manage people (1 Tim. 5:1-16) and church disputes (1 Tim. 5:17-6:2; 2 Tim. 2:14-19), and watch out for false teachers (1 Tim. 6:2-5).

Titus, too, was to lead by appointing shepherds (Tit. 1:5-8), silence false teachers and trouble-makers (1:10-14; 3:9-11), teach “sound doctrine” (2:1), set a good example (2:7-8), and remind people to be obedient to civil rulers (3:1-2).  Paul summed up Titus’ work—the preacher’s work—with these words, “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you” (2:15).

Living right.  Standing for truth.  Confronting people dangerous to the flock.  Teach.  Set the right example. Deal with problems.  These are all things leaders do. These are things preachers do.

Now, to be clear, when elders are present, preachers are to follow as well.  But, they still are to show godly influence in the church through informal, yet necessary acts of leadership.

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