Growing In Godliness Blog

Growing In Godliness Blog

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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.

Andrew Finds Peter

Friday, February 23, 2024

Andrew Finds Peter

By Paul Earnhart

One of the first disciples of John to follow Jesus was a man by the name of Andrew.  Andrew was doubtless a good and faithful man.  He later become one of the apostles of Jesus.  But Andrew will always be known for the fact that he brought someone else to Jesus.

John 1:40-42 tells about it: “One of the two that heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He found first his own brother, Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ).  He brought him to Jesus.”

It is great to find Jesus and to obtain the benefits that come from knowing Him.  It is even greater to share that knowledge with others.  And, unlike the sharing of many other things, the more we share our knowledge with others, the better we know Jesus.

Most of us like to share good news.  If we discover a useful product, we tell others about it so they can also enjoy it.  If we find a good sale somewhere, we tell our friends about it so they can go and buy at a good price.  But somehow, we are reluctant to share our knowledge of Jesus.

These days, religion is considered a very private matter.  People talk about everything else, but the subject of religion must be avoided.  If another person has no religion, that’s his business and we must not meddle.  If another person has a religion which is very clearly false, we must not even dare to question what he believes or to show him something better.

People who reason this way simply do not realize the seriousness of false religion, nor the importance of knowing Jesus.  Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life; no man come to the Father but by me” (Jn. 14:6).

Once we have found Jesus, love for others demands that we do exactly what Andrew did…we must go and find them and share that knowledge with them.  It is the greatest favor we can possibly do for them.

The First Disciples

Friday, February 16, 2024

The First Disciples

By Paul Earnhart

John the Baptist had disciples who followed him as he preached and baptized.  The gospel of John, chapter 1, tells us that two of those disciples heard John say of Jesus, “Behold the Lamb of God.”   From that time onward, they followed Jesus (Jn. 1:35-37).

Those disciples did the right thing.  John was a great teacher.  Jesus said of him that no previous servant of God was greater than John (Mt. 11:11).  Yet, Jesus was greater than John, and those disciples would have been wrong to remain with John when they could follow Jesus.  In fact, they honored John by following Jesus.

Today, there are many fine men and women who may attract our favorable attention.  Some of us have been blessed with godly parents and spiritually minded teachers.  They have taught us many valuable lessons.  But if they have been truly wise teachers, they have pointed us to Jesus.  We may sometime come to know Jesus better than they have known Him.  We may learn that they were not entirely right in their thinking about what Jesus taught.  This may bring us to a difficult decision; shall we follow what our parents or teachers believed, or what we see to be the true teaching of Jesus?  By all means, we must follow Jesus, even if it should mean leaving the things taught by others.  Of course, in following Jesus, we actually honor those who have taught us to honor Him above all others.

John was not envious of Jesus.  He was not jealous of his own position as a leader.  Indeed, he was glad to see his disciples leave him to follow Jesus.  Later he said of Jesus, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30).  John is a good example for all of us who teach.  We must point others to Jesus.  We must impress upon those that Jesus is the only leader worth following.  We must be wise enough to reject the allegiance due only to Him.  Paul said, “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord…” (2 Cor. 4:5).

The Lamb of God

Friday, February 09, 2024

The Lamb of God

By Paul Earnhart

After His temptations in the wilderness, Jesus returned to the Jordan river where John was baptizing.  As Jesus approached, John exclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29). 

How was Jesus the Lamb of God?

There are several significant things about a lamb.  Lambs are harmless.  Perhaps for this reason they have become a symbol of innocence.  Among intelligent human beings, Jesus was the truly innocent person who ever lived.  Peter, who knew Him well, was guided by the Holy Spirit to say that He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in His mouth (1 Pet. 2:22).

Sheep, and lambs in particular, are noted for their complete submission to domination.  Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is silent, He would not even open His mouth ( Isa. 53:7).  Jesus fulfilled this prophecy toward the end of His life when He allowed Himself to be arrested and tried.  He spoke only when spoken to and never raised His voice in His own defense.  He submitted to wicked men because He was completely submissive to God and realized this was God’s will for Him.

But the primary reason for calling Jesus a lamb was He came to be a sacrifice.  Through the years, millions of innocent lambs had been sacrificed upon the altars of sinful men.  The lambs had died that men might not have to be separated from God…the lambs died in their stead.  Of course, the death of lambs could not substitute for the death of sinful men.  Those lambs were but a symbol of the eventual sacrifice that would be sufficient as a substitute for all sinners of all time (Heb. 10:11-14).  Jesus came to be that sacrifice, and so He is called “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” 

Is He your sacrifice?  He is only if you obey Him.

Success in Temptation

Friday, February 02, 2024

Success in Temptation

By Paul Earnhart

One of the most significant conflicts in the history of mankind was the temptation of Jesus, recorded in Matthew 4:1-11.  Satan did his best to cause Jesus to sin.  His approaches were cleverly devised so that there would be nothing immoral in his proposals and there would appear to be some beneficial result in everything he asked Jesus to do.  But Jesus was wise enough and good enough to see the error in each temptation and to avoid it.  Had He sinned, He could not have been our Savior, and mankind would have been forever lost.

What accounts for the success of Jesus in resisting the temptations?

  • First, there was a complete knowledge of scripture.  Every temptation was answered with a quotation from scripture.  This knowledge enabled Him to draw from everything the scriptures said revealing the mind of God.  It also enabled Him to know the full context of the scriptures Satan misused.
  • Second, His whole life’s goal was to do the will of God.  Every proposal of Satan, whether direct or indirect, was considered in the light of God’s word.
  • Third, He was determined to do ONLY the will of God.  This is clear from the first temptation.  Doubtless His hunger for food made Him want to turn those stones into bread.  That would have been His own will.  But since He had no instructions from God to use His powers in this way, He refused. 

If mankind’s most significant conflict was between Jesus and Satan, our own most significant conflict is between us and Satan.  Despite the victory of Jesus, we still can be lost if we allow Satan to have control of our life.  Satan still tempts through the same avenues he tempted Jesus…through the flesh, through pride, and through the desire for things (1 John 2:15-17).  If we are to be victorious as Jesus was, we must exercise the same defense…a thorough knowledge of God’s word, a strong determination to do God’s will and ONLY His will. 

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