Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog

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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.”

What Do Campbellites Look Like?

Friday, May 17, 2024

What Do Campbellites Look Like?

By Larry Coffey

I recently read a book about the life of Elder John Smith who was born in east Tennessee in 1784, and moved with his family to Kentucky in 1795. He became a gospel preacher and devoted most of his work to central and southern Kentucky during the first half of the 19th century. It was noted he lived in rural areas, among the coons, and that, along with his colorful nature, caused him to be referred to as Raccoon John Smith. He was greatly influenced by Alexander Campbell’s teaching and writing. Campbell was the most noted preacher during the “restoration movement” and those who followed his teaching were called Campbellites.

On a trip John Smith made to Alabama in 1834, he stopped for breakfast at an inn on the roadside near Sparta, TN. He asked the innkeeper about the different religious denominations in the neighborhood. She told him and asked where he was from. When he told her Montgomery County, KY, she put down her coffee-pot, and looking at him somewhat curiously, said: “Travelers tell me that there is a strange sort of people up there in Kentucky called Campbellites.”

“Yes madam” replied Smith, “there are some in my own neighborhood.”

“You have seen some of them then?” she said.

“Yes madam, but they don’t like to be called that name.”

“Well, how do they look? Do tell me sir.”

“Those I have seen look pretty much like other people.”

“I would really like to see one so much,” she said. “I’d give more to see one of those people than any show. I’m told that when anyone wants to join them, they just put them under the water, and then let them go. One man told they would sometimes take people by force, and then drag them down into the water; that they even chased after people, and ran them down; that they once took a fancy to a poor fellow, and ran him five miles before they caught him, and then, after putting him in, they just left him there to get home, or go to heaven, the best way he could. I don’t know what I wouldn’t give to see one of them,” she said pouring out a cup of coffee.

“How do you think a Campbellite would look?” inquired Smith.

She said, “Well, I imagine they have sort of a wild, fierce, fanatical look about them.”

“I think I can manage for you to see one.”

The lady said, “I would give anything almost, if you would, sir.”

“Madam”, said Smith, “look right at me and you will see one. But, don’t be afraid because I am a civil Campbellite, and will not chase you into the water.”

He then asked her to be seated and listen to what he had to say about those people. He told her what they believed, and preached, and corrected all the wicked stories that had been told her about them. He said upon his return he would be speaking in Sparta and got her to agree to come and hear him preach.

Romans 1:16 says, ”For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” After much study, Campbell, Smith and numerous others began preaching this gospel in the early 1800’s and the national census for 1870 ranked the churches of Christ fifth in size in the nation, having 2,822 local congregations. That is unbelievable growth for a group that was not known when the 19th century started. It shows what the gospel can do when taught as it is described in the New Testament.

Today, it would be rare for any of us to be called a Campbellite. It should be pointed out that nothing we teach “originated” with Alexander Campbell. He taught from the Bible as we do. However, one might wonder if we were called Campbellites, would we be compelled to be more diligent in our efforts to teach the truth to others?

Can One Believe in Science and God? - Part 2

Friday, May 10, 2024

Can One Believe in Science and God? - Part 2

By Tom Rose

Some scientists realize there are serious intellectual problems with macro-evolution, but still they do not want to accept Creation, perhaps because in accepting Creation they would have to deal with The Creator. On the other hand, if a scientist truly believes in God, doesn’t it seem illogical for him/her to accept what the Bible teaches about sin and salvation and reject what it says about Creation? Such are some of the dilemmas facing each individual as he/she decides on how the world and all its multiple life forms came into existence .

In addition, these individuals must also account for the complexity of man if he is not a special creation. Today, science affirms that man has the largest of all brains (to compensate for duller senses compared to other animals), is able to converse and communicate with true speech, can learn multiple languages, achieves based on the learning of his ancestors, and lives a reasonably lengthy life-span yet has the longest period of parental dependence (18-25 yrs.). These traits, common to all mankind, leave a huge gap between man and other animals in the primate family.  Also, those who believe in the Bible and macro-evolution will have to explain the origin of man’s soul, his desire for worship, and a belief in the hereafter.  Taken side by side, creation and macro-evolution are both belief systems.  Neither creation nor evolution is truly a scientific theory, because neither can be proved nor disproved by the evidence available.  In truth, both positions require faith: one theistic, the other atheistic or materialistic.   

If one goes outside on a clear dark night and glances up into the starlit skies, what do they see?  Order and beauty.  If one looks into the regions of smaller and smaller objects, what is seen there?  Order and beauty.  Whether in the far reaches of space or in the sub-atomic world of matter, scientists will forever be impressed with the detail, intricacy and energy that comes into their fieId of view. Moreover, throughout history man has been curious about his origin along with other elements in the natural world.  Even Job asked, “Has the rain a father?  Who has begotten the drops of dew?” (Job 38:28)

Ladies, did you ever see a beautiful afghan or quilt and fail to ask: who made it, where did you get the pattern, how long did it take?  Gentlemen, did you ever gaze on a refurbished antique automobile and fail to ask: where was it manufactured, how did you find all the parts, can you start it up?  Why don’t we ask the same questions when we look through a telescope or a microscope?  I suggest that modern culture separates out a belief in God from our scientific discoveries.  Thus, I worry as much about the atheist who denies the existence of God, as the Christian who works so hard in his attempt to control his destiny that he fails to truly need and trust God.

In conclusion, scientific knowledge should increase our faith and belief in God because the more we understand about the universe and how it works, the more we should be convinced that the universe could not have "just happened" by chance.  “For by Him (Christ) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.  All things were created through Him and for Him.” (Col. 1:16)

Therefore, for those who believe in God, science becomes the means by which we can explain how the universe was created and now functions.  Rather than using science to explain away God’s existence, one may view science, coupled with God’s Word, to point to a marvelously designed creation. One planned by an all-powerful Creator whose existence and etemal power “is before all things and in Him all things consist.” (Col. 1:17)

Can One Believe in Science and God? - Part 1

Friday, May 03, 2024

Can One Believe in Science and God? - Part 1

By Tom Rose

We live in an age in which people all but worship the word 'science.’  In essence, science enables us to explain and understand how the universe, and the world in which we live, works and operates.  Yet because of this knowledge many have come to believe that science has made a belief in God unnecessary or obsolete.  Some think that one no longer needs to believe that God is behind the origin of life since many of its operations can be understood and explained by modern scientific inquiry and analysis.  Is such thinking valid?  What would you think if someone told you that airplanes did not have to be made by anyone, because we can understand and explain how they work and operate?

When one considers the topic of evolution, it is important to establish the meaning of several words.  Micro-evolution (also termed specialization) is easy to envision as a part of the natural world.  Varieties of flowers or domestic animals account for diversity within their kind.  For example, a breeder’s new rose creates a new species, but it is still a rose!  Macro-evolution, on the other hand, is a theory that all of the varieties of creatures we observe today developed by a gradual set of changes, over a very long time, from common ancestors.  Usually this theory includes the concept of life itself having developed from lifeless chemicals.  Micro-evolution is often mistakenly used as evidence for macro-evolution, but these are two vastly different concepts. There is no evidence that large changes above the “family” level (a taxonomy term) could occur or have ever occurred (e.g. the cat family with lions and tigers are distinct from the horse family with family with asses and zebras).

When Curt Sewel, a respected scientist, read The Genesis Flood, by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, he stated, “It made the entire Genesis account reasonable, in terms that were compatible with my knowledge of science .”  He then added, “I saw that the problem wasn’t with any kind of scientific measurement; the basic problem was the set of assumptions behind the theories.”  To illustrate, a foundation stone of modem science proclaims that everything in nature has always followed the laws of nature, and that these laws have always behaved in the same ways they do now.  This is known as the “Law of Uniformity.”  Implicit in this assumption, though seldom stated, is the belief that a supernatural event never took place.  Arguing that any such supernatural action, such as creation or a Noah flood, would have been a “singular event” that obviously could not be repeated in a scientific experiment, it must be placed outside the domain of science. In this way, the Genesis account is put aside as a non-scientific story, and is automatically ruled out of any scientific explanation.

(To Be Continued)

Jesus Knew What Was in Man

Friday, April 26, 2024

Jesus Knew What Was in Man

By Paul Earnhart

From the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus made a great impression on the people who met Him.  Some were impressed negatively.  He did not fit their expectations of the Messiah, and they refused to consider the evidence of His divinity.  Others, who were not prejudiced, saw in Him those qualities which set Him apart from all other men.

This was the result when He first visited Jerusalem after His baptism and the beginning of His personal ministry.  John 2:23 says, “Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed on His name, beholding the signs which He did.”

But this early faith was not a deep faith.  Jesus knew full well that some of those early believers would turn against Him.  And so the next verses say, “But Jesus did not trust Himself unto them, for He knew all men, and because He needed not that any one should bear witness concerning man; for He knew what was in a man.”  (John 2:24-25)

Two things are evident from these verses.  First: Jesus was divine.  Ordinary men simply do not know what other men are thinking.  Only God can read a man’s mind; so if Jesus knew what men were thinking, He must have been divine.  His ability to know what men were thinking was demonstrated again and again during His lifetime.  It must have been a frustration to His enemies.

Second: If Jesus knew what the people of His day were thinking, He must know what is in our hearts as well.  We can fool our neighbors and the people at church.  We may even fool our families.  But the Lord knows what is in our heart; He knows our motives and what we really think, regardless of what we say.  And He is the one who will judge us.  Eccl. 12:14 says that "God will bring every work into judgment, and every secret thing, whether it be good or evil."  Are you ready for such judgment?

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