Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog

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Jesus Baptized

Friday, October 27, 2023

Jesus Baptized

By Paul Earnhart

When Jesus was about 30 years old, His cousin, John the Baptist, began his preaching campaign.  “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’” (Mt. 3:1-2). John was preparing the way of the Lord.

Mark records in Mark 1:4-5 that John’s preaching included “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.  And all the country of Judea was going out to him, and the people of Jerusalem; and they were baptized by him in the Jordan river, confessing their sins.” 

Verse 9 tells us that “in those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.” (Mk. 1:9)  John was actually reluctant to baptize Jesus.  John’s baptism was “for forgiveness of sins.”   But Jesus had no sins, so “John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’  But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time, for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness’” (Mt. 3:14-15).

From the very beginning of the mature life of Jesus, we see His firm determination to do everything God wanted done.  Coming to John for baptism was not a convenient thing for Jesus.  In fact, He had to walk about 60 miles from His home to get to the place where John was baptizing.  He did not need baptism, as others did, for the forgiveness of sins.  But John was a preacher from God, he was preaching baptism, and Jesus wanted to do whatever God wanted people to do.  Do you want to do God’s will enough that you would walk 60 miles to do it?

Jesus has commanded baptism for us (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38).  Many people, however, hesitate.  Some do not feel it is necessary; others complain that it is inconvenient.  Such excuses are not Christ-like.  He was determined to “fulfill all righteousness.”  Are you?

When Jesus Was Baptized

Friday, October 20, 2023

When Jesus Was Baptized

By Paul Earnhart

Mark records the baptism of Jesus in these words: “And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.  And immediately coming up out of the water, He saw the heaven opening, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon Him; and a voice came out of the heavens: “This is My beloved Son, in Thee I am well-pleased.”  (Mk. 1:9-11)

There are some interesting things here.  One is the fact that Jesus was baptized in the Jordan river-not near it, but in it.  Furthermore, He came up out of the water after His baptism.  The word baptize means “to dip, to plunge, to immerse.”  If Jesus was not immersed in the Jordan, there was no point in His going into it.  Did you come up out of the water after you were baptized?

Another thing is made very clear…what Jesus did was approved by Heaven.  The Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a dove, and God spoke in a voice from heaven, confessing Jesus as His Son.

The confession that God made is one that we all must make if we are to be saved.  Rom. 10:10 says, “For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.”  All men will eventually confess Him.  Phil. 2:9-11 tells us that “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

How much better to confess Him now…while we live…and be saved, than to wait until it is too late when we confess Him when He comes in judgment.  If this confession is to be valid, however, it must be backed by complete submission and obedience to Him as God’s Son.

Those 18 Years

Friday, October 13, 2023

Those 18 Years

By Paul Earnhart

Many people have more curiosity about what the Bible does not say than have about what it does say.  If someone claims to have found a “Lost book of the Bible,” they will buy the book and read it carefully, even though they have never read the books that ARE in the Bible.  And they will latch onto any new story about Jesus which is NOT in the Bible, even when they have not studied the stories about Him that ARE there.

Many stories have been fabricated about the places Jesus went and the things He did in the 18 years between the time when he was 12 and the time when he began his ministry at 30.  Some of the stories simply have no basis whatever in fact, while others contradict what the Bible says. For example, John tells us in John 2:11 that turning water into wine was the beginning of His miracles.  This means that all of the stories you may hear or read of Jesus working miracles when He was a child are false.

Other than those general statements in Luke about his being subject to his parents and about his maturing into manhood, the only clue we have to his activities during those years is found in Mark 6:3.  After he had begun His ministry He returned to Nazareth and taught in the synagogue.  His former neighbors were astonished at His teaching, and they asked, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, Joses and Judas and Simon?  Are not His sisters here with us?”

Notice two things in this reading.  First, Jesus had brothers and sisters and, second, they called Him the carpenter, not the son of the carpenter.  This means that during the years after he reached manhood, he actually worked as a carpenter in Nazareth.  Joseph was likely dead by this time and this made Jesus as the eldest son the breadwinner for His family.  Jesus was not too good to work with His hands to make a living.  This is what He was doing between the age of 12 and the age of 30.

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)

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