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A TRUE BELIEVER IS A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST – D. Cloud

December 14, 2017 (first published April 26, 2017)

The following is excerpted from The Discipling Church: The Church That Will Stand Until Jesus Comes.. Available in print and eBook editions from wayoflife.org See end of report for details.

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The church we see in the New Testament is a church of disciples. It is a disciplined, discipling environment. A New Testament church is not something to attend. It is a spiritual entity where disciples of Christ are trained, encouraged, and protected.

New Testament discipleship is not merely a course in Christian fundamentals; it is the essence of the true Christian life. The entire church should be geared to producing and training disciples of Jesus Christ.

A pastor friend said that at a youth camp some years ago, he asked the youth to list words that God uses to describe those who are saved. He said, “We came up with something like fifty in total, and then I pointed out to them that they had forgotten the most used word, which is ‘disciple.’”

Indeed, the most common name for a New Testament believer is “disciple” or “methetes” in Greek. The term “believer” appears two times (Acts 5:14; 1 Ti. 4:12); “Christian” appears three times (Acts 11:16; 26:28; 1 Pe. 4:16); “saint” appears 62 times; “brethren” appears about 135 times; but “disciple” (referring to a disciple of Christ) appears about 268 times.

Scripturally speaking, a New Testament believer and a disciple are one and the same.

Jesus Christ defined discipleship in very serious terms. Consider John 8 and John 15.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

In John 8:31, Christ said the “disciple indeed” is one who continues in His Word. The Lord was addressing Jews who believed on Him but not in a saving way. See John 2:23-24. They were believing in Jesus as a miracle worker, as a great prophet, as a political messiah, but they were not acknowledging their personal sinfulness and owning Him as their Lord and Saviour.

A believing in God’s Word, a love for God’s Word, a continuing in God’s Word, a passion for God’s Word is the clearest evidence of salvation and true discipleship.

“He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God” (John 8:47).

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

A disciple’s heart burns within him at God’s Word (Lu. 24:31).

Later, the crowds that had “believed” on Jesus turned away from Him (John 6:66). They turned away because they did not receive His Word (Joh. 6:64), in contrast to Christ’s true disciples.

“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him. Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:66-69).

In John 15, Christ again identified the true believer as a disciple. “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (Joh. 15:8). Christ likens the believer to a branch in the vine. Christ is the vine and the believer is a branch. Fruit bearing is the evidence of the true believer. It is not possible for a branch to be attached to the vine and not share in the life of the vine. If someone seems to be a branch of Christ but does not bear fruit, he is taken away (Joh. 15:2, 6). This refers to the professor who is not a possessor (Titus 1:16). The true believer bears fruit and is pruned to bring forth more fruit (Joh. 15:2). This describes God’s sanctifying and chastening work in the believer’s life. This describes the true believer and the true disciple as one and the same.

Salvation and discipleship are two different things, but they are closely associated and not so sharply divided as is commonly taught today. Saving faith produces discipleship. Discipleship is the evidence of saving faith. The New Testament associates saving faith with following and obeying Christ in an intimate way.

Charles Wesley got this right in the beautiful hymn “And Can It Be,” which was probably his personal testimony of salvation:

Long my imprison’d spirit lay,

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night:

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray;

I woke; the dungeon flamed with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I ROSE, WENT FORTH, AND FOLLOW’D THEE.

To follow Christ is intimately connected with salvation. Following is not salvation, but it is the sure product of salvation.

This is crystal clear in Christ’s words in John 10:27: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

This is clear in Ephesians, 2:8-10. It is common to quote verses 8-9 when sharing the gospel, but those verses cannot be divorced from verse 10. Verses 8-9 is salvation, and verse 10 is the evidence and product of salvation. The individual who has the reality of verses 8-9 will have the reality of verse 10, as well. This is true salvation as taught in the Bible.

There is no example in the New Testament of a true believer who is not also a disciple of Christ. In every case of the true believer, there is a dramatic change so that the individual becomes a follower and disciple of Christ.

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Elijah And The Four Hundred Prophets Of Baal – Which Is The True God?

This morning my devotional reading reached 1 Kings 18 and 19. Chapter 18 has always greatly encouraged me, as we have a classic demonstration of the difference between truth and error. That Truth works, and error is only superstition in the mind…

(Read all of 1 Kings 18)

1 Kings 18:17-41
17  And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?
18  And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
19  Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel’s table.
20  So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
21  And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
22  Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal’s prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
23  Let them therefore give us two bullocks; and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under: and I will dress the other bullock, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under:
24  And call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
25  And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many; and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
26  And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered. And they leaped upon the altar which was made.
27  And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked.
28  And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
29  And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
30  And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me. And all the people came near unto him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that was broken down.
31  And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name:
32  And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
33  And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt sacrifice, and on the wood.
34  And he said, Do it the second time. And they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time. And they did it the third time.
35  And the water ran round about the altar; and he filled the trench also with water.
36  And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
37  Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, and that thou hast turned their heart back again.
38  Then the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.
39  And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.
40  And Elijah said unto them, Take the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape. And they took them: and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.
41  And Elijah said unto Ahab, Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain.

The LORD again, in His mercy and grace, reached out to wicked Israel – who had again turned from Him to baal – and through His prophet Elijah gave them a living demonstration of the difference between Himself and baal. The difference between Truth and error, the difference between spiritual reality and superstition that is only in the mind, and not in reality.

Today, in the Church age, we do not have fire coming down from Heaven experiences to go by, but the blessed Holy Spirit reaching out to us. Reaching out to the lost to woo them to be repentant toward God, and have faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21 KJV). And then to those who respond to the work of the Holy Spirit and are born again, each have the Holy Spirit living inside of them (Romans 8:9 KJV). Living inside of them to give them personal enabling to live a godly life with their Father, Almighty God. And to change them, as they faithfully obey the indwelling Holy Spirit’s leading, to be more and more live their blessed Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every one of God’s children can, and should have, more than the one outward experience witnessed by Israel in 1 Kings 18. They can daily have their God’s personal empowering and guidance in their walk with Him. They just have to, in honesty and in integrity, respond to Him, to His Spirit within them with whole hearted obedience.

013 THE SPIRITUAL LIFE – THE LORD’S GOAL FOR MAN – 13

The Lord has given us His Word in order for us to know with certainty what life with Him is in reality. And with our world so far from God with endless mixed ideas of Who He is, and what His Truth is in all matters. We MUST do a responsible study of the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15-16), relying on the Spirit’s leading (Romans 8:14), in order to learn God’s perspective of life – His Truth!

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

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Why did the Lord create man? According to what the Lord has revealed to us through His Word, the Bible, man was created to have life with Him. That they would have a full, secure and purposeful life with their Creator. And that the Lord created them to NEED Him in order to have a full, secure and purposeful life. So that those who CHOOSE life WITH Him, would learn to know Him, and therefore love Him with all of their being. And motivated by love, glorify Him in all that they do.

I. WHAT IS THE LORD’S GOAL FOR MAN? (STATED)

A. That Man Would Have Life WITH Him

  1. Through Christ (See study 001)
  2. Through Christ Only (See study 001)
  3. That Sin Keeps Man From God’s Purpose For Him (See study 001)
  4. Through Christ The First Step Towards God’s Purpose In Man Is Achieved (See study 001)
  5. Through “The Law Of The Spirit Of Life In Christ Jesus” (See study 002)

B. That His Children Would Learn To Know Him

  1. The Lord Made Man Capable Of Knowing Him (See study 003)
  2. Old Testament Scriptures (See study 003)
  3. New Testament Scriptures (See studies 004 – 005)
  4. There Are Two Stages Of Learning to Know The Lord (See studies 006 – 007)

C. That His Children Would Therefore Love Him With All Of Their Being

  1. Old Testament Scriptures (See study 008)
  2. New Testament Scriptures (See study 009 – 010)

D. That Motivated By Supreme Love, His Children Would Glorify Him In All That They Do (See study 011 – Continued)

The Lord, through Peter, commands God’s children with regard to, “all things”, in their lives with Him…

1 Peter 4:11  If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Once again the focus of the Lord is to give His children teaching regarding acknowledging Him in their daily walk. “That God in all things may be glorified”, can only be done, “through Jesus Christ”. The ‘best’ efforts of those ‘outside of Christ’ can never bring glory to God, not even if they were given millions of years to do so. God can only be glorified by His children. That in itself a very important to note. Then, the Lord can only be glorified by His children when they are yielded to Him, when they live by the enabling of the indwelling Spirit, and so are made able to do all things to the glory of God. And the Lord be glorified in all things that they do.

God’s children, we have seen, are not to be distracted by the pursuits of the lost around them, they are to be led by the Holy Spirit into how thy may serve their Father. How they may bring glory to their Father with their lives. And we have been seeing that ‘bringing glory to the Lord is not just in the bigger aspects of our lives, like our ministries, and our life’s direction, but also by the everyday common duties / responsibilities of life. In order that the people around them know that the Lord is continually in their minds, influencing all they do. As they, with a growing passionate love for Him, do all to His glory.

Peter is led to give God’s children two areas of life to focus on in their walk:

1. Talking

“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;”. When the child of God speaks, when they open their mouths to say anything. They are to be conscientious about what they allow to proceed from their mouths. They are responsible for what they allow to come out of their mouths. They are to know God’s Word because the Lord, through His Word, sets the standard for His children’s speech. For what they allow themselves to say to anyone. “…as the oracles of God”, means ‘according to God’s Word’, or ‘answerable to the Lord’s revealed standards in His Word.’

Christ Himself is the perfect example to follow in all things…

1 Peter 2:21  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

As you examine His life in the Gospels be sure to be asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise you will be relying on your own ability to learn the spiritual lessons through the life of Christ. And you will merely get a personal opinion of what you see in the Gospel books of the Lord’s life. You and I need to learn the lessons there that He intends for us to learn. Not get a personal interpretation from what ‘we see there’.

Also,…

James 1:26  If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth [control] not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.

Our control of, of lack of control of our tongues, or what we say, reveals to others whether we have true faith, or truth religion from the Lord or not. Whether or not we are flesh, or Holy Spirit led / influenced…

Romans 8:14  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

The Lord has much to say about the tongue, and the power of the tongue. That the child of God, motivated by their love for Him, MUST seek to glorify in their making SURE that they – by the Holy Spirit – control it. And don’t let it, through their flesh, control them. Otherwise they WILL fail to obey their Father and do all to His glory as a love offering to Him. Praise the Lord that we can, and must, confess when we fail to bring glory to Him in a daily circumstance (1 John 1:9 KJV). And in love for Him, straight away get our focus back on Him, and the honour of being called to do all to His glory!

(See also James 1:19; 3:2-6; Psalms 34:13; 39:1; 141:3; Proverbs 10:19, 31-32; 13:2-3; 15:2; 19:1; Ephesians 4:29; 5:4; Colossians 4:6; 1 Peter 3:12 KJV).

 

To download an MS Word file of the above study…

 

Click here to go to Kingsway Baptist Devotional Blog

011 THE SPIRITUAL LIFE – THE LORD’S GOAL FOR MAN – 11

The Lord has given us His Word in order for us to know with certainty what life with Him is in reality. And with our world so far from God with endless mixed ideas of Who He is, and what His Truth is in all matters. We MUST do a responsible study of the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15-16), relying on the Spirit’s leading (Romans 8:14), in order to learn God’s perspective of life – His Truth!

2 Timothy 3:16-17
16  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
17  That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

___

Why did the Lord create man? According to what the Lord has revealed to us through His Word, the Bible, man was created to have life with Him. That they would have a full, secure and purposeful life with their Creator. And that the Lord created them to NEED Him in order to have a full, secure and purposeful life. So that those who CHOOSE life WITH Him, would learn to know Him, and therefore love Him with all of their being. And motivated by love, glorify Him in all that they do.

I. WHAT IS THE LORD’S GOAL FOR MAN? (STATED)

A. That Man Would Have Life WITH Him

1. Through Christ (See study 001)
2. Through Christ Only (See study 001)
3. That Sin Keeps Man From God’s Purpose For Him (See study 001)
4. Through Christ The First Step Towards God’s Purpose In Man Is Achieved (See study 001)
5. Through “The Law Of The Spirit Of Life In Christ Jesus” (See study 002)

B. That His Children Would Learn To Know Him

1. The Lord Made Man Capable Of Knowing Him (See study 003)
2. Old Testament Scriptures (See study 003)
3. New Testament Scriptures (See studies 004 – 005)
4. There Are Two Stages Of Learning to Know The Lord (See studies 006 – 007)

C. That His Children Would Therefore Love Him With All Of Their Being

1. Old Testament Scriptures (See study 008)
2. New Testament Scriptures (See study 009 – 010)

D. That Motivated By Supreme Love, His Children Would Glorify Him In All That They Do

We have seen what kind of love for the Lord is right, appropriate, and therefore commanded by the Lord – love with all of our being! Not just with all of our heart, or just with all of our mind, but with all of our heart, mind and soul – with all of our being!

We have also just introduced some natural results, of such love for the Lord, growing in whole person towards Him…

  • God’s children, who are maturing in their walk with the Lord, are strongly motivated by their love for Him, to no longer live for themselves, but to thereafter live for the Lord and His purposes in this world (2 Corinthians 5:14-15 KJV).
  • That the, “end”, the ‘end goal’ of God’s commandments, is ‘godly love’ out of a ‘pure heart’, and a ‘clear conscience’ before God and fellow man, and of ‘honest faith’ in God (1 Timothy 1:5 KJV).

When the total person has responded to the Lord, and has yielded to Him, they demonstrate that the Holy Spirit has indeed brought them to the vital place of being repentant towards the Lord, and having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21 KJV). A vital point must be added to bring clarification to what is being stated here: that our responding to the Lord, and our yielding to the Him, must be according to the Word of God, and not according to faith that is contrary to God’s Word.

The Lord has given us a principle in His Word to guide our understanding of the implications, the blessed result, of our loving Him with our whole being. And that is well expressed in the following Scriptures…

In the 1 Corinthians 10:31 we are given a godly principle that will guide the conscientious child of God in knowing the Lord’s will for them, and their actions, in a multitude of circumstances of life.

1 Corinthians 10:31  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

The more the child of God knows of his Lord, the easier it will be to know how to glorify Him in the varied circumstances that they find themselves in. This Scripture lists the very simple, mundane examples of ‘eating and drinking’. And so this principle applies to the most simple of tasks, and actions in life. Reminding us that the Lord looks on the whole man, where He looks to see the depth, and quality of our love for Him. And the Spirit led child of God will, in love for the Lord, be careful to consciously conduct their lives according to His revealed will in His Word. And what they learn of Him and His values taught in His Word.

For the child of God, being able, being allowed, to demonstrate their love for their God, and Father, is a joyous privilege, and is approached with a passion. A growing passion for the Lord that only someone who has been born again, who has been made a child of Almighty God will know. And being called by their Father to glorify Him in all they do will not be a burden, but a joy, a love offering each day to their glorious Father.

 

To download an MS Word file of the above study…

 

Click here to go to the Kingsway Baptist Devotional Blog