Friday, March 20, 2015

The Meaning of Discipleship

Before we can ever hope to be an effective Christian, Husband, Father, or Leader in the Lord's church we must understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. A disciple is defined as "A pupil or follower of any teacher or school; A follower of Jesus." (Webster). A Christian learns that we must forsake everything and every person and put Christ FIRST in our life. To Forsake is to "Give up; renounce; to leave; abandon; desert." (Webster). Those unwilling to do so, will not enter into heaven and will never become the leader and servant that Jesus wants us to be. When we grasp the true meaning of discipleship and the importance of FOLLOWING CHRIST then we will become an effective leader and servant in His kingdom.

Many are not able to grasp the true meaning of discipleship and as a result find themselves trying to serve God and at the same time trying to conform to society. Let us understand the truth of Jesus' words as He said: "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Matthew 6:24).

Jesus Calls Us
Jesus appeals to all mankind to come unto Him. His words are tender and sweet as he pleads "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30). As a result of this invitation, many follow Him, seeking to become His disciples. Jesus warns that we cannot be His disciples UNLESS we first count the cost. We must take a stand for Jesus above all else! Notice from the following verses the cost one must pay to be a true disciple of Jesus: "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 10:34-39). "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it" (Matthew 16:24-25). "And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest. And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head. And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God. And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house. And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God" (Luke 9:57-62). We can see from these scriptures that the Lord wanted all to follow Him - but they first had to count the cost of doing so. If one is not willing to be TOTALLY committed to Jesus he cannot be one of His disciples! By His own life Jesus demonstrated what it meant to be a follower and to deny self (John 7:16; 17:4).

A True Disciple Indeed Is One That Will Continue In His Word
Jesus expects us to serve Him all the time. If one serves only when it is convenient and pleasant he has not denied himself; neither is he the Lord's disciple. To be His disciple we must REMAIN in His word. Jesus said: "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). Paul reveals that it was for this that Jesus died, so that those of us who "live" as a result of His death might stop living for our own pleasure, but for the pleasure of Him who died on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:15). We are exhorted to continue in the faith and as a result will encounter tribulation but all is worth while as we strive for the everlasting kingdom (Acts 14:22; Revelation 2:10)!

A Disciple of Christ will therefore study his Bible daily and desire to come to a full knowledge to the truth and his teacher. Are we like our teacher? If so, then be determined right now to follow Jesus. If we do, we can have peace through His word which says: "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7).

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fellowship with One Another

The book of 1 John, chapter one has some valuable information that is important to us. Sometimes we use the term "fellowship with one another" too lightly. We can only have fellowship with one another if we are walking in the light as Jesus "Himself is in the light" (v. 7). We know from verse 5 that "God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all." Therefore, how can we say "we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness?" If we do "we lie and do not practice the truth" (v 6). Jesus said "I am the way, and the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6). Most everyone that is a Christian realizes that Jesus is the light and that He is without sin. The emphasis in this chapter is that God does not associate with evil and darkness is not in Him -- He is only light. Therefore, if we are following Christ we must do so on His terms and that is to not associate with darkness but to walk in the light as "He is the light".

If we walk in the light we are told that "the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin" (v. 7). Aren't we all striving to do the best we can so that we can someday be with our savior in heaven? We need to be free of pride so that we can "confess our sins" (v. 9) so that we can be "cleansed from all unrighteousness." Yes, we all sin (Romans 3:23), but what we have as Christians is the avenue of prayer to ask God for forgiveness, knowing that He will "forgive our sins" (v. 9) if we are walking in the light. In the right relationship with God, we have "fellowship with one another!"