Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog

Jesus

Displaying 1 - 5 of 62

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 11 12 13


Do Today’s Youth Accept Absolute Values? - Part 2

Friday, July 19, 2024

Do Today’s Youth Accept Absolute Values? - Part 2

By Tom Rose

In part 1, the author presented evidence that many of today’s youth do not accept absolute truth.  Because of this, many youths are making wrong choices.  Part 2 presents a classroom illustration of this issue and provides some action steps parents and religious educators can take to address this problem and why it is extremely important.

Consider an activity in which a group of high school Christians were challenged to grasp the reality of Jesus’ resurrection as objective truth. A jar of marbles was placed in front of the class and students were asked, “How many marbles are in the jar?” They all respond and record their different guesses. The jar was then emptied, and the marbles counted. They quickly determined who had the closest guess and that the number of marbles was a matter of fact, not a personal preference. Next from a bag of Starburst candies, one was given to each student, and the question posed, “Which flavor is right?” The students saw this as an unfair question because each person had a preference that was right for him or her. The class all agreed that in this situation it was a matter of subjective opinion, not objective fact. The teacher then asked, “Is the resurrection of Jesus like the number of marbles in the jar, or is it a matter of personal opinion, like candy preferences?’ Most students concluded that the question of the resurrection belonged in the category of candy preference.

The instructor then concluded the activity by talking about the nature of Jesus’ physical death and resurrection. He proposed, “If we had been present at the cross, we could have felt the warm blood of Jesus trickling down the wooden timber or even watched Him take His last breath (Jn. 19:29-35). And if we had been at the tomb on Sunday morning, we would have seen the stone rolled away and the loincloth of Jesus laying inside (Jn. 20:1-7).” The teacher then reminded the class that while many people may reject the historical resurrection of Jesus, it is not the type of claim that can be “true for you, but not true for me.” The tomb was either empty on the third day, or it was occupied – there can be no middle ground.

What should be done to help our youth become healthy and mature relationally, morally, and spiritually? Josh McDowell in his research identified four components listed in order of importance. Parents (and religious educators) should see that:

1. Teenagers experience a transformed life in Christ.

2. They know why they believe what they believe.

3. They develop healthy relationships with faithful Christians of all ages.

4. They learn to resist ungodly influences and learn how to make right choices.

In closing, we must ask, “Why is this important? What difference does it really make?” Consider that most religions of the world are based on philosophical propositions or theological ideologies. Their observance usually centers around a creed book, catechism, or mantra. Remove its founding prophet or guru and that religion remains essentially intact. That is because these religions are largely based on the teachings, not upon the founding teacher. That is not true of Christianity; it is unique. Christianity isn’t a mere religion. It is not simply based upon various teachings. Christianity is based on the life, character, and identity of a person – Jesus Christ. Christ did not come to earth to teach Christianity, Christ is Christianity. (“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6). And to us and our loved ones as believers, that makes all the difference both in this life and the next…for “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:31-32).

What It Means To Be Born Again

Friday, June 14, 2024

What It Means To Be Born Again

By Paul Earnhart

Nicodemus, the great Jewish rabbi, must have been shocked when Jesus said to him, “You must be born again.” (Jn. 3:7)  There was nothing Nicodemus was prouder of than his first birth.  He was born as a descendant of Abraham.  He might well have described himself as another Jewish rabbi did: “circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews.” (Phil. 3:5)  What better birth could a man have?

Jesus, of course, was not speaking of another physical birth.  He was speaking of a figurative new birth.  It was another way of saying that Nicodemus would have to make a completely new beginning.  The first birth of Nicodemus determined his family relations, his nationality, his cultural heritage, his language, and even to a great degree his goals and values.  All of these would have to become new for him.  Many people talk of being born again without realizing the significance of the expression.  The fact is no matter what a person may have experienced, if these changes have not taken place in their life, they have not been born again.

“How can a man be born when he is old,” Nicodemus asked? (Jn. 3:4)  Perhaps you wonder that, too.  Jesus answered the question, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (Jn. 3:5)  The Holy Spirit changes the spirit of mankind.  Jesus said, “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (Jn. 3:6)  This is accomplished through the word of God which the Spirit has given.  Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:23 that Christians have been born again through “the word of God which lives and abides forever.” 

But there is another part of the new birth.  Jesus said that one must be born of water and the Spirit.  The only act the New Testament describes involving water is water baptism.  When the Spirit has changed the inner man, the outer man must be washed in the water of baptism.  Have you been born of the water and the Spirit?

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.”

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?

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

Friday, April 12, 2024

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

By Paul Earnhart

When Jesus went to Jerusalem for the first time after the beginning of His personal ministry, we are told that He visited the temple and found merchants who were selling oxen, sheep and doves.  There were also money changers exchanging the money which the people ordinarily used into the kind of money that was accepted for offerings in the temple.

Jesus was greatly disturbed by what He saw.  John tells us that “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise.’  His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Thy house will consume Me.’” (John 2:15-17)

God does not have a material house today, such as the temple was in those days.  But the church is His house as Peter wrote to Christians in 1 Peter 2:5 saying, “You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house.”

But most churches today have virtually lost their spiritual emphasis.  In some cases, they have again become houses of merchandise; they seem to exist to make money.  In some other cases they have become country clubs with all kinds of recreation equipment and dining facilities.  Church funds are used more for social purposes than for spiritual activities, and more emphasis is placed on entertainment than on worship and Bible teaching.

I wonder what Jesus would do if He should visit a modern church.  I wonder if He would not again engage in a general house-cleaning.  If we are like Jesus “consumed with zeal for our Father’s house” (John 2:17), we will look again at God’s plan for His house and make certain that the church of which we are a part is what God intends for it to be, not what men want it to be.

Displaying 1 - 5 of 62

Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 11 12 13