Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Monday, February 9, 2009

Synergism: Opening The Door to God’s Indwelling Power

Chapter Six
Discipleship and the Actualization of One’s Christianity

“35 Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; 36 And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! 37And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. 38 Then Jesus turned, and saw them following, and saith unto them, What seek ye? They said unto him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master,) where dwellest thou? 39 He saith unto them, Come and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. 40 One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. 42 And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. 43 The day following Jesus would go forth into Galilee, and findeth Philip, and saith unto him, Follow me. 44 Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. 46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see. 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile! 48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. 49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel. 50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. 51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man” (John 1:35-51).

A person’s Christianity is a history of thousands upon thousands of personal decisions of the will. One’s Christianity begins with a decision to believe that Jesus died for our sins, propitiated God’s wrath for the “sins of the whole world” (John 2:2), that He was buried, was resurrected and ascended victorious over death opening a “door” (Himself; John 10:1-9) into the New Genesis to “whosoever” that was willing to believe the gospel, confess Him as Lord (God) and call on His Name to save him (Romans 10:9-13). However, there is also a vocational call to all believers. That call is to become a DISCIPLE; a learner & doer of the Word.

The next decision after salvation, that the believer is to be lead to make, is the decision to be baptized by immersion. This is the decision to become a disciple of Jesus Christ. This is the decision to be a committed student of Truth and a consecrated, sanctified follower of Jesus Christ. Baptism involved a decision to begin dying to the old, carnal way of life led by the “old man” and a commitment to “walk in the newness of life” (Romans 6:1-13) as led by the indwelling Spirit of God.

Decisional Christianity is clearly the pattern of orthopraxy that we find in the gospels, the book of Acts and in the New Covenant Epistles. In simple words, we find this pattern of incremental decisional Christianity portrayed by Christ in His preaching and teaching ministry over and over again in the gospels. Christ took people through numerous incremental levels of decisions leading them to higher degrees of faith and increased levels of commitment to serve Him at each level.

We find this same type of incremental decisional Christianity portrayed by the Apostles over and over again in the book of the Acts of the Apostles. We also find this incremental decisional Christianity portrayed over and over again throughout the Epistles and even the book of Revelation. In other words, incremental decisional Christianity is normal Christianity. Therefore, any Christian who is not regularly making incremental decisions that brings him/her to a closer walk with God, a higher degree of trust in God, an increased dependency on God in prayer, and a higher level of commitment to God in reaching the lost and making disciples to His glory is probably backslidden.

John 1:35 begins the first day of the three year ministry of Jesus Christ. From this point forward, it is a count-down to Golgotha. Jesus has three years to create a continuum of discipleship by training twelve men and leading them through a number of progressive decisions (progressive sanctification).

It is critically important to understand that the disciples Jesus chose to train, as the disciples to be the Apostles, were already saved disciples of John the Baptist (1:35). That means they were already saved according to the Old Covenant. They were believers in the promised Messiah and were looking for His coming (1:41). This is important in order to understand what is taking place in this portion of Scripture. These men are not getting saved and leading others to salvation. All those they brought to Jesus were already saved like they were saved. This text is about becoming disciples of Jesus and the commitment involved with becoming a follower of Jesus.

Many people get saved who never become Christians. Being a Christian is defined by practicing or following the teachings of Jesus (Scripture). Granted, a person professing to be saved and never becoming a follower of Jesus as taught in the Word of God should really question the reality of his/her salvation. This kind of so called Christianity is not Christianity at all. In fact, the person who professes to be a believer, but who never lives like a believer by actually following (living) the teachings of Jesus Christ is most probably a false profession of a person who is living under an illusion of salvation.

“3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:3-6).

The whole body of Scriptural teaching is referred to as “the faith.” Once a person is truly and really saved by trusting in the finished sacrifice of Christ Jesus in His full payment of the death sentence substitutionally for all mankind, that person is eternally secure in that salvation. Getting saved is the easy part. It costs the believer nothing. It is a gift. Getting saved is a simple matter.

“8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

On the other hand, being a disciple of Jesus (Christian) is a very costly process of numerous decisions. Becoming a disciple begins with a decision to follow Jesus and live according to His teachings. Salvation is a new creation and a new beginning. Salvation is becoming a “born again” child of God. Discipleship is parenting that newborn babe in Christ to full spiritual maturity.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
What does it mean to be a disciple? The following are a few questions every Christian should regularly ask himself:

1. How committed am I about winning souls, making disciples, and walking with the Lord in separation from worldliness and dedication to ministry?
2. Do I live for Jesus because of peer pressure, because I want to project an image of spirituality to my own glory, or because I really know what I believe and because I really want to live those beliefs to the glory of God?
3. Do I understand my spiritual gifts and am I utilizing those spiritual gifts in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit to my fullest potential?
4. How many people’s lives am I intimately involved with in praying specifically for the salvation of both their souls and their lives and what people’s lives am I actually engage with in personal witness and in a personal discipleship process with?

How you answer these four questions determines to what degree you are either faithful or backslidden. When Jesus called these men to become disciples, He was calling them to two things. He was calling them to training and He was calling them to the work of evangelism (becoming “fishers of men;” Mark 1:17). Making disciples of these men meant a long, slow process of training them to be soul winning disciple makers.

This is why Christ planned for the establishment of local churches. They were to be training centers for disciples to do the work of evangelism and to maintain the continuum of disciple makers. Formal membership in a local church is like enrollment in a college where you are going to be expected to attend all the classes, do the homework, take the tests, graduate, and ultimately begin to do the work you were trained to do. Water Baptism and formal church membership are directly connected to a commitment to the discipleship process to be perfected (equipped or matured spiritually in the Tripartite of Power) “for the work of the ministry.”

“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

When Jesus chose these 12 men to be His disciples, He committed three years of almost 24 hours a day of His short life to training them in knowing and living the Word of God. When He began with them, they were weak in their faith, undependable, unfaithful in their prayer life, ignorant, slow to learn, and pretty selfish in their thinking.

Over 3 years of time Christ took 11 of these 12 men from a group of self absorbed men in pursuit of prominent positions in the Kingdom (that they thought was going to come into existence at any day), to a level of understanding of the reality of God’s existence that brought them to a faith that was willing to risk everything they owned, and even their lives, for the cause of Christ. Christ took them from being men in selfish pursuit of power and position to become men willing to be servants to the degree they were willing to die in the attempt to bring the very people that sought to kill them to faith in Christ. The vat majority of today’s professing Christians never become disciples, let alone arrive at this final destination of absolute and total commitment to serve the one and only True and Living God.

The purpose for getting saved believers into the local church is not to institutionalize them (all ministry and worship done within the walls of the institution). The purpose for getting saved believers into the local church is to actualize them (to help them become actually what they only presently profess to be). That cannot, and will not, happen apart from a real, living relationship with the Real, Living God. Neither will it happen apart from a supernatural work from within by the indwelling Holy Spirit of God.

Sadly, the vast majority of professing Christian prefer to be institutionalized rather than actualized. Being institutionalized does not make any demands on your life. Being institutionalized allows you the false notion that church attendance carries with it no real accountability to learn or any culpability before God. For the institutionalized believer, church attendance is merely the fulfillment of some pseudo-notion of worship obligations. What a sham façade against real Christianity.

The goal of every local church that is true to the Word of God and that is true to the God of the Word is actualization. In actualization, a believer can never be said to be actualized until he is equipped for the work of the ministry through the actualization of the Tripartite of Power and begins to actually do the “work of the ministry.”

Streaming Audio and Down Loadable MP3 available at link below:
Anonymous comments will not be allowed.

No comments: