Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog

Truth

Nicodemus Comes To Jesus

Friday, May 24, 2024

Nicodemus Comes To Jesus

By Paul Earnhart

Early in the preaching of Jesus, He was visited by a prominent theologian named Nicodemus.

I have often wondered why Nicodemus visited Jesus.  I know some of the reasons people today show interest in religion.  Some are driven by intellectual curiosity.  They want to know a little about everything that is going on in the world.  Others are selfishly motivated…they hope for some material gain by connecting themselves with religion.  Still others feel that they have something to offer to help a good cause…perhaps they have money or talents or influence.

Any one of these may have motivated Nicodemus.  He may have heard of Jesus and been interested in learning what he could about Him.  Or, he may have thought that Jesus would gain a large following and hoped that he might share in His popularity.  More likely, I think he felt that he could help this young teacher.  After all, Nicodemus was a ruler of the Jews, and he could contribute both influence and protection if they were needed.

Nicodemus came with a compliment for Jesus.  He said, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him.” (John 3:2)

How surprised Nicodemus must have been at the response of Jesus: “Truly, truly I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)  It was obvious that Jesus was neither awed nor intimidated by this ruler of the Jews.  Jesus was no respecter of persons.  He was not concerned with what Nicodemus could do for Him.  Instead, He was concerned that Nicodemus should enter the kingdom of God.

What is your interest in Jesus…some material benefit He can give you or some favor you might do for Him?  If so, Jesus would respond to you as He did to Nicodemus: “You must be born again.”

How Would You Like Your Obituary to Read?

Friday, March 15, 2024

How Would You Like Your Obituary to Read?

By Larry Coffey

In Revelation 14:13, we read as follows: And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”

As we know, obituaries are generally always very positive with a list of accomplishments and great character traits in addition to family connections. Rarely is anything negative included regardless of a person’s real character. For example, I read these in a recent Louisville Courier Journal Sunday edition.

--Mike was a brilliant man that lived with conviction, led with wisdom and always left room for humor. He had unparalleled wit.

--David was a graduate of the University of KY and achieved his most valued personal accomplishment when he earned an M.B.A. from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He was an avid reader, an intellectual conversationalist and a supporter of the arts.

--Sandra dedicated her life to being a fantastic and wonderful mother and was the foundation of the family. She was an excellent gift giver, always knew the right thing to say, never missed a special date, and was a constant cheerleader and supporter.

In contrast and quite unusual, I read the following obituary in the September 9, 2023 edition of the Grayson County News.

--Butch died on August 28. One could say it was an unsuspected passing, but this sort of ugly, unceremonious death can always be expected when you choose drugs over anything else, including your own children. These children (names listed) aren’t left to “honor his memory”, they are left to wonder why they were never enough for him to get clean, and to deal with the pain of never having a real, present father. If you are reading this and thinking it is terrible, you’re right, it’s terrible, the terrible ugly truth of the consequences of living a life of drugs. Butch will be cremated with no public service.

Like me, you probably never read an obituary that told the ugly truth about someone. It reminds me of a story I heard a long time ago (probably not true, but humorous). I was told a man was attending a funeral and the preacher was going on and on about how great the deceased was, and the man spoke up and said, “Who is that man up there in the casket? It sure isn’t the man I knew.”

The point of this article is that if you knew that your obituary was going to reflect the real person you were in life, the one the Lord knew, how would it read? We need to be sure we live a life that could have an obituary that is full of deeds which follow us that please our Lord.  

Christmas

Friday, December 22, 2023

Christmas

By Paul Earnhart

This is the time of year that the world has set apart for celebration of the birth of Jesus.  All Christians should rejoice that Jesus did come into the world as recorded in the Bible.

At this time of year, there are two things which are always amazing to observe.  The first is that individuals who claim to be honoring Jesus, do so in ways that are so contrary to His teaching.  Why would a person wishing to honor Jesus do so by getting drunk and losing complete control of his own conduct?  How is Jesus honored by lewdness and immorality?  Would Jesus approve of individuals going deep into debt to purchase useless trinkets that only feed the pride of those receiving them?  The fact is that much of the celebration is no more than an excuse for doing what we want to do, rather than what Jesus would want us to do.

The other thing that is amazing is the amount of misinformation that circulates concerning Jesus at this time of year.  The Bible is the only dependable source of information about Jesus.  The story as we read there is a marvelous story (Mt. 1:18-2:11; Lk. 2:1-20).  But many people are not satisfied with that.  They embellish the Bible story with all kinds of imaginary details which are not in the scriptures and actually contradict facts clearly revealed in the scriptures.  Much of what you see on TV or the movies or hear on radio is without any basis whatever in truth.  Even the idea that Jesus was born on December 25th is without any foundation in scripture whatsoever.

If you really wish to honor Jesus, the best possible way to do it is to study carefully what the Bible says about Him and become obedient to His will.  In our media messages and in our worship, we always strive to concentrate on facts about Jesus and teaching from His lips as revealed in His word.  We welcome all to join with us as we lift up our Savior in glory and honor and praise, not just at this time but for all time.

What Is Truth? - Part 2

Friday, October 06, 2023

What Is Truth? - Part 2

By Boyd Hurst

In Part 1 of this article, we began to discuss how one should answer Pilate’s question “What is truth?”  We discussed how Jesus is full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14) and is thus the purveyor of truth and we should listen to Him.  However, the devil is doing everything within his power to confuse and destroy the truth just as he did in the garden at the beginning of time.  We need to be mature enough to discern good from evil as we face the challenges of our increasingly ungodly environment.

Everyone surely realizes there are fundamental truths that do not change.  In the morning the sun is seen first in the east, 2+2=4, water at sea level freezes at 32°F and boils at 212°F, etc.  God is like that according to Mal. 3:6 which states, “I am the Lord, I do not change.”  Daniel prophesied that the Roman empire would “speak pompous words against the Most High, persecute the saints of the Most High and intend to change times and law” (Dan. 7:24).  However, he goes on to say that this kingdom will be destroyed and the kingdom of the Most High will arise as an everlasting kingdom that all dominions shall serve and obey.  Not even the powerful Roman empire could change God’s law nor can any other.  It is not up to a nation or individual to determine what is truth.  God’s truth is always victorious and is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my pathway” (Psa. 119:105).  Jesus told His apostles that He would send them the Spirit of truth (Jn. 15:26) who will “guide them into all truth” (Jn. 16:13) and Jesus prayed for them to be sanctified by the truth of God’s word (Jn. 17:17).

Even though we may think we understand the principles stated previously, the Scripture teaches that the devil is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8) and false prophets appear as wolves in sheep’s clothing (Mt. 7:15).  Just like Satan manipulated the language in Genesis 3 to entice Eve to sin, we see the same thing happening today.  Society has given the right for biological males to declare they are female and vice versa.  The medical world has assisted by creating drugs and surgical procedures that cause women to appear more masculine and men to appear more feminine.  As members of this society, we are called upon to address these “changed” individuals by specific pronouns, either the opposite gender or neutral to not offend them.  It is clear that these superficial changes have not rendered a fundamental change since DNA is still the same.   Also, male athletes who were only mediocre competing against males have risen to the top of women’s sports by declaring they are female even though they have obviously not lost their maleness.  Just as Jeremiah prophesied against Jerusalem when it fell into sin, “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination?  No!  They were not at all ashamed; nor did they know how to blush” (Jer. 6:15). 

When asked to define “woman”, the latest supreme court justice, Ketanji Jackson, refused to answer thereby underscoring the confusion that is being perpetrated by an ungodly society.  In fact, articles and even books have been written to try to define a woman according to the latest academic ideologies.  It used to be very simple (and still is), but it has been made very complicated in order to satisfy a current narrative/agenda.  It makes one wonder what the next redefinition of terms will be to contradict the clear and obvious meaning of a descriptive term.

This redefining of terms would be laughable if it was not so serious and detrimental to a belief in God.  The very fact that this is being embraced in our culture reveals the depravity that now exists.  When we condemn the practice of homosexuality and same-sex marriages, we are called homophobes because society has changed the definition of marriage such that it can be between a man and a woman or between two people of the same sex.  When we say only women can give birth, we are called transphobes.

At the creation, God created everything to serve His purpose and He proclaimed them good.  All things created were holy and distinct and perfect.  Male and female were created to complement one another and to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.  It is incredible that feeble men have the audacity to even consider the alteration of God’s plan.  Paul, in the Colossian letter, warned of this very thing: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and vain deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ”, Col. 2:8.  Just as the cucumber can be turned into a pickle by vinegar, we can be changed by this world if we allow ourselves to be immersed in it.  As Paul states in Rom. 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

It is time that we realize and proclaim that “truth” is not subjective.  In religion, there is not your truth and my truth or our truth and their truth, there is simply truth.  God’s truth is universal and absolute since He is the originator and purveyor of truth.  In answer to Pilate’s question “What is Truth?”, we can surely and confidently answer that God’s word is truth.  Let us all seek, find and courageously follow the truth of God’s word.

What Is Truth? - Part 1

Friday, September 29, 2023

What Is Truth? - Part 1

By Boyd Hurst

You may recognize the title of this article is taken from Pilate’s reply to Jesus in Jn. 18:38. Jesus has just stated that His purpose for coming into the world was to bear witness to the truth and that everyone who is of the truth listens to His voice.  The question that Pilate raised, perhaps cynically, is a question that faces us daily in our current society.  Indeed, we need to embrace the idea of “truth” even more as we see the erosion of adherence to an absolute and true standard and the befuddlement of truth.

First, we must recognize that Jesus is the expert on truth.  In Jn. 1:14 we read that Jesus is “full of grace and truth.”   Jesus told His disciples in Jn. 8:31 that they would know the truth and the truth would make them free.  He uses the term “truth” seven times in this discourse emphasizing that He is the purveyor of truth, and they need to listen to Him.  The King of truth tells us how to be part of His kingdom, and it is this truth that will save us.

In Jn. 8:44 Jesus references how truth has been under attack by Satan since the beginning of time.  We all know the story of Gen. 3.  God had placed Adam and Eve in a beautiful garden, and they had a wonderful relationship with each other.  However, a choice tree had been placed in the garden, and God warned them not to eat it or touch it lest they die.  Satan enters and creates doubt by manipulating language and using lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh and the pride of life to entice Eve to sin. 

As someone has said, “sin is not hurtful because it is forbidden, it is forbidden because it is hurtful.”  In Isaiah’s prophecy against the northern kingdom in Isa. 59:14-15, he describes how truth was being maligned.  He states there is no justice or righteousness because “truth stumbles in the public squares” and is therefore “lacking.”  “And he who departs from evil makes himself a prey.”  Earlier in the book of Isaiah we have the familiar woe pronounced upon those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, and who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter, Isa. 5:20.  Does this remind you of some in our current society who have chosen to redefine terms to satisfy their agenda?

Propagandists in power have long known that if you boldly lie to the public and loudly proclaim the lie often enough, you will convince many that it is the truth.  Or if the facts are ignored or suppressed along with the objections of some who are trying to expose the truth, then the lie will prevail.  It is clear that truth is not being reported today in the mainstream media, only the narrative that the media wishes us to hear.  Those who would try to speak the truth are deplatformed, shouted down and/or canceled, and their words go unreported…they have become a prey.

We need to be mature and able to discern between good and evil as exhorted by the Hebrew writer in Heb. 5:14. The apostle Paul instructs to “abhor evil and cling to good,” Rom. 12:9.  And also he states in Rom. 3:4 “let God be true and every man a liar.”  In our increasingly ungodly environment, we have a challenge to find truth.  However, the Christians in the first century faced similar obstacles as they dealt with the bias of the Jews and idolatrous pagans.  The gospel was not “good news” to the people of the day who were determined to continue in their ways in spite of the truth of the gospel.  We know that even within the early church there were Judaizing teachers wanting to hold on to the old law and Gnostics who introduced their own standard of religion based on the eradication of ignorance rather than sin.  They rejected the idea of creation by a supreme being and had various ideas about the origin and deity of Christ.  They promoted the freedom of the individual to develop their own philosophical view of religion which they referred to as enlightenment.  This is similar to the situation we find in the book of Judges where the statement is made that there was no king in the land at that time and everyone did was right in their own eyes (Jdg. 21:25).

People of my age and even younger are amazed at how rapidly our country is moving to the left or liberal side of the spectrum.  We have seen this tendency over the last few decades but are shocked at the current progression.  Certainly, one of the major contributors to this shift is the introduction of “Values Clarification” in the curriculum of public schools.  This idea is nothing but a thinly veiled cover for the “religion” of humanism, the objective of which is to do away with traditional beliefs that place God as the ultimate authority and replace this with the individual standard of each person.  The idea that “I’m OK, you’re OK” and “if it feels right, do it.”  Thus, if there is no objective standard, one can engage in immorality, theft or even murder if it is satisfactory by their standards.  By introducing these concepts in the minds of impressionable young students, it becomes a familiar philosophy that is embraced when the traditional values have either not been taught or emphasized enough by parents and Bible teachers.  (to be continued)