Increasing in favor

Jesus of Nazareth, at twelve years of age, was found by His parents in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions (Luke 2:46). Jesus was a true human, sinless from conception. Although He had eternally existed, omniscient and omnipotent, He did not of His own choice employ divine prerogatives during His time here on earth. He was, however, filled without measure with the Holy Spirit; He did only that which was commanded by the Father.

All that Jesus knew, He had learned from observation of life and from the Old Testament. He was already, at twelve years of age, no doubt the most knowledgeable human in all history. That next period of His life, twelve to thirty, Dr. Luke characterizes: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man” (v. 52). All four character qualities were already present; all four continued to increase as He fully matured. Our lives ought similarly to increase persistently in wisdom, stature, and in favor with God and fellowmen.

Wisdom is more than just information; it is using information skillfully. Solomon recommended true wisdom (Prov 1:1-7). Wisdom accepts instruction. Wisdom understands words properly. Wisdom profits from comparisons and from wise sayings. Wisdom is acting aright, speaking and acting according to principles taught in Scripture, learned by experience, and applied by sound logic. We need divine wisdom such that every word we speak is both true and acceptable in God’s ears. We need to learn to live as Jesus would live, ‘practicing the presence’ of Jesus, doing only that which glorifies the Father.

Jesus grew physically from 12 to 30. More important is that which is the real stature of a man, his walk of integrity. Recent evaluations of past presidents judged them foremost on the basis of personal and political integrity. Some who had a low public approval rating at the time have later been honored for their stature of total dedication to the truth even at the cost of popularity or of personal loss, including such as Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, George W. H. Bush. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Our absolute loyalty to truth should be not only persistent but increasingly evident.

Every moment of every day, Jesus increased in favor with God, as should we. We don’t need to “check in” concerning each action; there are times when the Spirit of God will inform us that what we have done was not fully honoring to Him. Some characterize Jesus’ life as fully obedient to the law. It was much more than that. Jesus declared that He did the Father’s will. The law is but a partial expression of what God expects. We endeavor to keep faithfully all that the Scripture assigns to this dispensation, but even greater, we want to learn specifically just what pleases or displeases God in every detail of our lives.

Jesus enjoyed public approval. People of the day recognized that Jesus “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38; see Gal 6:10). We as believers are instructed to seek peace with all men (Heb 12:14). We should endeavor to be of benefit to all we contact. We do not seek to be approved by all men; Jesus was not. Yet none could charge Him with sin. His being in favor with God kept him in favor with decent men. He was not a troublemaker. He did not lead riots. He did not promote insurrection. Jesus is really the only “hero” after whom we try to pattern our lives. ‘More like the Master I would ever be.’

Our concern about approval in these four areas is not that we might qualify for heaven. We already have redemption. Beyond that, we anticipate heavenly rewards. Perhaps our ability to appreciate the glories of eternal life will be greater, that is, a greater capacity to enjoy all that surrounds us in heaven. Our place of appointed service will be a result of our present dedication. Jesus told of one being set over ten cities and one over five cities (Luke 19:17, 19). All we do now lays up treasure in heaven.

JP: From Warren Vanhetloo in Cogitations – an email ministry of Dr. Warren Vanhetloo, a retired theology professor who served 43 years, at Central Baptist Seminary and Calvary Baptist Seminary, presently living in Holland MI.


Special Speaker: Sunil Mohinani

Sunil Mohinani will be 4BYA’s special speaker on Wednesday night August 13th.

Please make it a priority to be out to hear him as he shares the Word of God with us.

Special speaker: Josh Boyd

Josh Boyd will be 4BYA’s special speaker on Wednesday night July 9th.

Josh and Heidi will be traveling to Peru June 22nd – July 1st and Josh will report on their trip and share the Word of God with us.

Ryan Martin: Special speaker on Wed June 18th

Ryan Martin will be our special speaker on Wednesday night June 18th.
A little about Ryan:

  1. He graduated from Northland Baptist Bible College (1999 (Sacred Music)) and Central Seminary (2004)
  2. He is currently studying at Central Seminary in pursuit of a PhD in historical theology.
  3. He is a staff accountant for Caribou Coffee Company.
  4. He is married to Jennifer (2000) and is the father of three boys: Jared (5), Judson (3), Sebastian (1).
  5. He is a member of Bible Baptist Church, Elk River. He serves as Sunday School teacher, deacon, accompanist, and song leader.
  6. In his own words: “Some things that move and motivate me are: the thought of God’s glory and majesty, justification through Christ, the church, studying the Scriptures, conservatism, Baptist theology, and the theology of Jonathan Edwards.”
  7. He blogs at

I look forward to having Ryan with us! Please make a special effort to be with us on Wednesday night June 18th.

Some pictures of his family:

Do not grieve the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 4:30, “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption”

Parents left on vacation for a week’s trip to Canada. Their recently gradudated teen-aged son had a Summer job and was unable (and probably not that interersted) in traveling with them and so he stayed home alone. He had an old beater that got him back and forth to work but was not reliable enough to go much further. He had some friends camping in an adjoining state and wanted to visit them over the weekend. He had asked his Father if he might use Dad’s 2nd car. Dad said “no”. Nevertheless, the young man used Dad’s car to drive from Cincinnati over to Indiana the one weekend his parents were away. Unfortunately for him, he had an accident!

Dad and Mom arrived home and son had to report. “I had an accident with your car Dad“. Dad was grieved. His son had disobeyed him. He had trusted him and the son had violated that trust.

That son was me. The year was (check out the license plate in the photo (linked below)!). The car was a 1960 Ford Falcon.

This Wednesday’s study will be from Ephesians 4:25-31. My outline is nonlinear but I trust functional:

  1. Members of one another
  2. Sealed by the Spirit
  3. Specific commands
  4. Grieving the Spirit

At the last supper (Matthew 26:17-ff), Jesus announced that one of His disciples would betray Him. The disciples reaction was sorrow: “And they were exceedingly sorrowful”. The word “grieve” in Ephesians 4:30 is translated “sorrowful” in Matthew 26:22. Sorrow is an emotion, a disappointment. We all have experienced this at one time or another.

The Holy Spirit is God Himself, the 3rd Person of the Trinity. He indwells us. He is among us. Our bad behavior grieves Him.

Charles Hodge commenting on this passage wrote:

“The Spirit, says the apostle, is grieved. Not only is his holiness offended, but his love is wounded. If any thing can add to the guilt of such conduct, it is its ingratitude, for it is by him, as the apostle adds, We are sealed unto the day of redemption. His indwelling certifies that we are the children of God, and secures our final salvation. To grieve Him, therefore, is to wound him on whom our salvation depends

I encourage you to read through this passage and be prepared for this Wednesday’s study. Pay particular attention to the specific commands. Eg: 4:25, “Therefore, putting away lying, “ Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor,” for we are members of one another”. The commands are in the form of a negative directive, a positive directive, and the motive for the directive. So for above:

Negative: don’t lie
Positive: speak truthfully
Motive: we are members of one another

With regard to this specific command, can you imagine the implications to your own personal body if your nervous system were to send erroneous messages to another part of your body! Again citing Charles Hodge:

As it would be unnatural and absurd for the hand to deceive the foot, or the eye the ear, so there is a violation of the very law of their union for one Christian to deceive another

While the car is not central to the story, if you would like to see a picture of it click here. That would be my younger brother standing by it!

The Harmon’s apartment


Praise the Lord! Exactly one month to the day we arrived in Uruguay, the Lord allowed us to receive the keys to our rental house. We have a contract for one year. This contract has been the result of weeks of labor and chasing after paperwork. This should be sufficient time for me to become adequate in Spanish. I look forward to the day where I will be able to speak in the heart language of the people of Uruguay.

Tomorrow morning, we will be getting up to go and start cleaning the place. It has stood empty for a while, so lots of dust has accumulated. In addition, it has had some cockroaches squatting on the premise that are in sore need of eviction!

JP: Answered prayer! Be sure to view pics by selecting the link above. For an external view: Paperwork.

John MacArthur on Ephesians 5:18

John MacArthur on “True Happiness”

You’ll notice that Ephesians 5:18 has a positive command: “Be filled with the Spirit.” What does that mean? First, let me tell you what that doesn’t mean. Being filled with the Spirit doesn’t mean to be indwelt with, to be baptized in, or to be sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Paul never says, “Be indwelt by the Spirit.” If you’re a Christian, the Spirit already lives in you (1 Cor. 6:19).

Paul never says, “Be baptized in the Spirit.” If you’re a Christian, you were baptized in Him at your conversion (1 Cor. 12:13).

Paul never says, “Be sealed with the Spirit.” If you’re a Christian, you’ve already been sealed with the Spirit (Eph. 1:13).

All three events occurred the moment you were saved.

Instead, Paul’s command has our sanctification in view. Though it sounds a little odd in English, the Greek verb means “be continually filled” or “be kept filled.” He is actually saying, “Be continually letting the Spirit of God — who is already in you — control you.” It isn’t a second work of grace, a one-time experience, or a step up to a higher level. It is the continual, ongoing experience of the Christian life.

JP: This is an excellent article. I encourage to read it in its entirety.