Our churches today are full of classes to teach us how to pray, to find our spiritual gifts, to learn about all the ministries we can get involved in, how to become a member of the church, etc. Even in all these things, without the one thing that we have greatly neglected, man will still be operating in the flesh rather than the spirit.
How did we turn so far from the truth? Do we look at the disciples and see that they “did” something by leaving their jobs and following Jesus? That’s not what the Lord is telling us at all! The call on the disciples lives, and on ours, has not changed. The call is to BE IN CHRIST. That’s what the disciples were learning for 3 ½ years. Read the scriptures again. They didn’t understand what Jesus was teaching or doing, they witnessed Jesus pouring out His love over and over again. Why? Because they, like us, needed to not only see and hear something, but have it become a part of them. It was at this point when Jesus asked them who they thought He was, that Peter answered “the Messiah, the Son of God”. That wasn’t the flesh talking, that was the spirit bringing truth and enlightenment. After Jesus ascended, they were empowered to impact the world. But it wasn’t them, it was Christ in them! They became like their teacher. Jesus told them He didn’t do anything apart from His Father, the disciples now understood.
Until a believer REALLY understands the depth of his own sin and that he is in need of not only a savior but a LORD, he will not understand God’s immense love or His call. The Apostle Paul stated in Roman 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” There’s a learning curve to begin to understand this in our spirit, not just in our heads. When one actually “falls in love with Jesus” they will begin to realize how and why we are seated in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:6), then they can begin to walk out Ephesians 5:1-2, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling savour.”
I’m reminded of the Apostle Peter, he loved the Lord in his own strength and understanding, but it wasn’t until he failed miserably and Jesus ministered directly to him, did he understand it. Jesus met Peter right at the level of spiritual understanding he had, knowing that the healing in Peter was the most important need in Peter’s life at the moment. Peter was no longer watching, he had experienced the love of Christ that changed him for eternity that day!
Stephen, in the Book of Acts, was chosen to serve the people because he was a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:5). He was filled with wisdom and the word, he was a disciple who had been changed by the free gift of Jesus Christ. He was not chosen for his position because he was charismatic, even though the scriptures refer to his charismatic gifts, but he was chosen because he “fell in love with Jesus” and was zealous for others to know Him and His love, which changes lives.
The Apostle Paul was Saul of Tarsus prior to his conversion on the Road to Damascus. He had a miraculous encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ and wanted to share with everyone what had happened to him. But the Lord needed to take him apart to “disciple” him before he could be fully used of the Lord.
Am I advocating that we don’t do anything until we are well grounded? Absolutely not; knowledge without application is still theory! By our failure to disciple new believers, they are navigating trials by themselves, without knowledge of truth, and are going around the mountain time and time again, experiencing defeat!
What exactly is discipling? Discipling begins by teaching the basic truths that form a firm foundation on God’s Word. It leads us into desiring to become immersed in His Word so that we begin to think and act as the Teacher. It is taking every situation and going back to Jesus for resolution! We then come into agreement with the Word that says “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (II Corinthians 5:17)
Our lives are a ministry, not to be separated from our work, our families or our activities. The church has become “another activity” instead of the gathering place of believers who have Christ at the center of their lives and are the light in the community. A disciple can be fully used by the Lord Jesus Christ for His purposes to bring glory to Him. A new believer who does not receive discipling will have small victories in their lives and may be able to witness a little, but God’s plan will not be fully manifested in them. Jesus Christ died to set us free, not to just survive!
God wants His people to be holy, clean and pure. That can only be true by our “partnering” with God and following His vision, His call for the body. Any works apart from God’s calling, may be nice, but it won’t accomplish what God can accomplish when it is His. James 1:12 states, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him..”
How are we approved? It is not by works! The answer is in the last part of that verse, “which the Lord has promised to those who love Him..” We will not “love Him” unless we spend time in His presence, being transformed by His Word, renewing our minds daily. That is not work, that is love, to spend time with the One we love, our best friend, our counselor, our protector, our strong tower, our healer, our comforter, our LORD!
Dear Lord, thank You for the men and women who have gone before us to show us the road that leads to life! Through them, Your Spirit has spoken and recorded Your words, Your desires, Your will, Your love, Your covenant love, which You will never break. We desire to sit at Your feet to become more like You. Help us Lord to accept who we are in You, at whatever stage of our walk we are in, and have a hunger to deepen that relationship. May we drink of the fountain today and be filled with Your power to walk in victory, and glorying You in all our ways! We love You and pray these things in the blessed name of Your Son, Jesus Christ! Amen.