INTRODUCTION TO DISCIPLESHIP
need to be nurtured in order to grow as disciples. The 'great commission'
was given by the risen Messiah to his original disciples. In it he
commands them to "make disciples" of every nation. This
reveals two important foundational principles: First that the kingdom
would grow through the making of disciples; and second, that these
disciples would be from not only Judea (Jewry) but from every nation.
Prior to this the "Gospel of the Kingdom" was confined only
to the people of Israel who worshiped JHVH God. The age of the "Church"
of Jesus Christ was about to be birthed into existence. Previously
prophecy hinted at the time when the gentiles would be brought into
the covenant; but when and how this would happened was not considered
seriously nor understood. The Church was born at Pentecost which occurred
about a week after Jesus commissioned his assembled disciples and
then ascended into the heavens.
When I use the term "church" I always imagine it in quotations
because not everyone regards this word the same way. How we in the
twenty-first century regard it is a far cry from that experienced
and understood by the disciples who witnessed the arrival of the Kingdom
of God in power at that first Pentecost.
I imagine that it is the familiar church-house model where most Christians
routinely meet that most of us think of when we refer to the church.
We typically think of a location, an edifice and a kind of meeting
that might occur at this place called "worship." This reference
is not the original New Testament model. The term Ek-kles-sia
in the original Greek text is translated "Church" throughout
the Bible. The proper connotation of Ekklessia is the called out,
the gathered out ones. We tend to assume that church life in early
Christian times is equal to its present day form. However, the form
of the 'church' in the days of the apostles was quite unlike modern
understanding of familiar religious forms built around a church house.
In ancient times Ekklessia was a form of gathering in which members
came together to transact a specific kind of business on behalf of
a community. In the case of the Christian Ekklessia it was and is
the business of the heavenly shepherd, Christ Jesus. In this kind
of fellowship all members are called to participate actively.
In this church body we are called out of the world by the Spirit to
be a part of Christ's body, (He, Christ the Messiah, is the head over
the church.) All members bring with them unique abilities, gifts or
enablements. God's grace provides the activation or enablement
of those many gifts that are needed for Spiritual fellowship and growth
in understanding. (1 Peter 4:11)
Membership (discipleship) in the Body of Christ, occurs through faith
We have to have a belief that somehow addresses:
Who Jesus is, (christology - Son of
the highest, the Lamb of God, Savior of mankind, God in human flesh,
What He has done, and (He has the power to
forgive all of our sins, He has the power to make us into a New Creation)
What we expect Him to do for us. (To take
away our sins, uncleaness and unworthiness, to save us from destruction
and bring us into eternal life, he has paid the penalty of humanities
sins on the cross.)
we come to Jesus we believe that:
He is alive, He is enthroned in glory.
He is supernaturally empowered and able to meet with us, and change
- remake our lives
That He is willing and able to fulfill every promise that He promised
in His word (the Word of God.)
There is a general attitude that joining a church is
the source of entry into God's kingdom. This is assuredly not the
case! The entry point in reality, is that of having your name written
in the "Book of Life." No church can do this although they
would like to hold to that position. The membership of becoming a
disciple is established by a supernatural and sovereign act of God.
It has been called by various names: Coming from death into life;
being born of the spirit; becoming a new creation; being born again;
having your sins forgiven and wiped clean, being born from above.
The Holy Spirit is the divine personage who brings to each believer
the gifts or enablements of Grace. The role of the Holy Spirit is
to reveal Jesus and deliver His knowledge, His attribues of character,
and His power to us. We who are called out to partake
in the Kingdom of God are empowered to grow, mature, gain experience
and develop testimonies concerning the Kingdom of God.
These testimonies are our personal 'God Stories.' "We declare
the things we know and we testify about the things that we have seen."
(John 3:11) This is what it means when the resurrected Jesus declares,
"You shall be witnesses to me, In Jerusalem, In Judea, Samaria
and to the uttermost parts of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
These God stories and testimonies, when shared, build faith among
those with whom we share. Testimonies describe the reality and the
dynamics of how heaven touches us individually. Through the power
of Grace, we are not only regenerated and converted into the kingdom
of God, but also endowed with various Spiritual gifts. These gifts
are supplied to every believer as enablements that bear witness of
God's presence in our own day to day experience. There is through
the ongoing "Grace of God" enablements to learn the Word,
depart from the past life from which we were rescued, and eventually
mature and grow as a disciple who can function in a particular way
in the Body of Christ, which is the church. Church house religion,
has proven to be deficient in providing a platform to grow and flourish
as a disciple who is a partaker in the things of God. It is God's
intention to use all whom he calls. The true expression of the ekklessia
is to provide a platform for both growth and ministry. I dare say
that such a platform is mostly absent and not available in the majority
of traditional churches.
the assertions I want to present in discussions of discipleship is that
we as believers after being born of the Spirit, may not only know God,
but that we all (men, women, boys, or girls) can have a spiritually
empowered life. The "church" as Jesus Christ established
it, was given this provision. But in spite of this provision, both knowing
God and developing a spiritual life, is often unrealized in the
institutional church. Time, circumstance and unrelenting forces of spiritual
resistance (authored by our spiritual adversary) embattle believers,
to derail or to side track us from attaining the spiritual life. Human
traditions are instigated instead. Jesus warned his disciples in Mark
15 to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and also the leaven of Herod,
superficial religiosity, and worldliness. Jude, half brother and an
apostle of Jesus, writes that we must, " - - earnestly contend
for the faith given to us by the apostles.
INTRODUCTION TO DISCIPLESHIP
Disciples, Learning the "Way"
The foundation of the life of Christ begins when we become a disciple
of Jesus. As Jesus made disciples in the time of His earthly ministry,
so he continues today. (John 8:21 ; 17:20) Religion has made the life
of the Bible dry, remote and impersonal. Christian religion has made
Peter, James and John or John the Baptist into icons or religious folk
heroes. The sense of these being our brothers in the faith, sharing
the same life of trials, has been all but lost. In our minds Bible days
were another time, another kind of application. This is not so. Religious
tradition places the apostles on pedestals. This should not be so, because
it is contrary to every apostolic and Christ-uttered teaching. God does
not show favoritism nor does he show respect of persons. We do not worship
men. Even the greatest were partakers of a "gift" as we are.
short time after the apostolic age, lust for human rulership and impure
motives undermined the apostolic foundations. Liberty and spiritual
forms of worship began to erode. We are entitled to the same promises
and gospel practices that New Testament believers knew. The Christian
life, being Holy Spirit inspired, is not of human authorship nor human
tradition. It is the way that I have found to be God inspired, life-changing,
fulfilling, and in perfect accord with the Bible.
Discipleship described here is modeled by the saints and apostles in
the beginning of this church age. Many denominations and religious
teachers, attempt to mentor and advise others about the spiritual life.
Since there has been a history of promoting religious traditions instead
of knowing God, it is important that we look to grow in wisdom through
the guidance of the Spirit of Truth, the Holy Spirit.
has told us through the Word (James) that we may ask for wisdom
or truth to be revealed to us. He further instructs us to be confident
knowing that God is willing to give good gifts which bring fulfillment
and blessings and not sorrows. When seeking the revelations which are
of God and not false we must
be fully aware of the risk of error and counterfeit. Deception
and false teaching is everywhere. In order to discern the true from
the false It is very important to invoke the name of Jesus Christ.
His is the name above every name! And also know that His Spirit
will not lead us into bondage, fear, submission to abusive men, or lawlessness.
Meekness, gentleness, compassion and service to others is the right
The Bible teaches that Jesus' name commands all powers of heaven and
earth. It is above the authority of any other god or angel or worldly
authority. The word states that at the name of Yeshua, Jesus, every
knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess his lordship. It is in
His name that we can consecrate any prayer or any request. It is a safeguard
and assurance that anything which will be revealed or imparted spiritually
will be without deceptive influence. If you ask in Jesus, name the
deceiver is unlikely to make his intrusion.
Seeker Becomes Reconciled with God
The true Spirit of Christ Jesus is the spirit of love, forgiveness,
gentleness, meekness, selflessness, and patience. It is not tinged
with fear, with condemnation, with urgency or panic, It is not contaminated
by a lust for personal gain, ownership of another or any desire to control
or manipulate another person. Check yourself if you are seeking with
motives containing any of the negatives stated above for they are contrary
to the nature of the God who will insure your being lead into truth.
True Gifts and not Counterfeit
Jesus instructs us about receiving gifts from God, especially the gift
of the Holy Spirit. He teaches us that the God of heaven gives good
gifts and not devilish or perverted ones. Christ also characterizes
the fact that there are two sources who might affect spiritual results.
God's gifts are good and true. Let us look at the scripture found in
Matthew 7:8-11 and in Luke 11:11-13: These shed light on Spiritual gifts.
The greatest gift is to become a "New Creation." It is the
gift of God to recreate our nature into something fit for God's purposes.
See 2 Corinthians, 5:17.
every one that asks receives; and he that seeks finds; and to him that
knocks it shall be opened."Matt 6:8;"Or what man is there
of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?" :9;
"Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?":10; "If
ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children,
how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things
to them that ask him?" -- :11. The two gifts which are requested
are bread and a fish, God gives things which are life-giving (bread)
and safe (meat of fish). Luke chapter eleven restates the same teaching
about asking from God the Father with a slightly different emphasis,
and includes the gift of the Holy Spirit which is the living
gift of God's power and presence: "If a son shall ask bread
of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask
a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?"; "Or if he
shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?" "If ye then,
being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much
more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask
him?" -- Luke 11:11-13
references to the counterfeit gifts are not just coincidental or random
examples they represent the fact that there is a source of the bad
gift. The enemy is Satan. He does not give good gifts, nor give
valid revelations. His gifts are not life giving, they give neither
joy, nor health nor liberty. Yet it is possible that he will try to
come in unless you exclude him from having any part of the asking and
seeking transaction (namely the spiritual search for a spiritual life.)
Satan's gift is characterized as a stone instead of bread, as a serpent
instead of pure food, a poisonous scorpion instead of an egg.
Jesus has portrayed Satan as the deadly counterfeiter who will insinuate
himself into the seekers life subtly and at any opportunity. Forewarned
is forearmed; for this reason we will need to initiate safe guards and
precautions as I suggested above in order to keep the deceiver out of
your life. There was a time when our lives were entirely under
his (Satan's) control. We may not think that this was the case but the
apostle is very clear about it. A couple of apostolic letters bring
attention to the nature of the unredeemed life, common to each and every
life before that life is renewed In Christ.
states in his letter to Ephesus, Chapter 2, verses 2 and 3."-
- in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according
to the prince of the power of the air, (Satan) the spirit that now worketh
in the children of disobedience; Among whom also we all had our conversation
(lifestyle) in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the
desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children
of wrath, even as others." Paul's letter to Colossae, Chapter
1 verse 21."And you, that were sometime before now) alienated
and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled"
Paul's letter to Corinth, Chapter 1 verses 10 and 11, "Nor
thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners,
shall inherit the kingdom of God; And such were some of you: but ye
are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name
of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."
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