5 –Growing as a disciple!

Butterfly by Shirley/Blue Eyes5

Paul in Galatians Chapter 5 verse 22 to 25 writes: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

The process of becoming more like Jesus is, in one of the big words of theology, sanctification. If a disciple of Jesus Christ is showing the fruit I read about earlier: love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self-control, then the disciple is becoming Christ-like and is being sanctified! Another way to look at sanctification is that it is like the changing of a caterpillar into a butterfly – it’s a process. Sometimes it’s a difficult path, but nobody said becoming holy is easy. Certainly Jesus never said that it was!

Now you may well ask, that if I am being sanctified, why do I still continue to sin? Firstly, you sin because you chose to sin. Nobody else can take the rap. You can lead a horse to water but you can never make it drink. Similarly the devil and the world may tempt you to sin, but it is only you that does the sinning. So not succumb to the wiles and ways of the devil and the world!

Secondly, when you became a Christian, you gained a new nature, albeit in embryonic form. As this new nature grows, your old nature shrivels and shrinks yet refuses to die quickly. So our new nature now that you are a disciple of Jesus, fights against our old nature.

So what can a disciple do?

As Christian disciples, we are not left alone to fend for ourselves. Jesus promised help in order to become more like Him. We overcome sin & temptation through the power of the Holy Spirit. He works in us, and assists our new nature in overcoming the old nature. We may struggle in our own strength, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, our old nature shrivels. Remind yourself that temptation itself is not sin! Otherwise Jesus Himself would have sinned, and we know that even though He faced constant temptation, we know for certain, that He did not sin.

It is rather, as John Stott helpfully puts it in his classic commentary on Romans, that as Christians, having died and raised with Jesus Christ, we now live in the freedom of the indwelling Spirit. Remember also what the beloved Apostle John wrote in 1 John 4: “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

If however, a disciple does succumb to temptation and sins then when that disciple recognizes that they have sinned, they need to repent quickly! Unconfessed sin soon becomes a heavy burden. Confession & repentance is needed. Not a confession borne from constant grace-less guilt like that of the young Martin Luther. Rather a repentance borne from grace like that of the older and wiser Martin Luther! Psalm 51 is a confessional Psalm! That is why the confession of sin comes at the start of most worship services, because as John Stott again reminds us: we are to come in penitence before we praise!

Are you struggling with some form of habitual sin? Are you facing insurmountable pressure from within your family, friends or society to sin in some way? When faced with these pressures, ask the Holy Spirit to help you overcome the temptations you face. He who was promised to help you, will help you, sometimes in the most surprising of ways!! For more to read and think about please read Philippians 2v6-11. You can leave comments or messages at www.davegroberts.podbean.com. Thank you.

4 – Partake – What is the goal of a disciple?

The Apostle John wrote in 1 John 2:3-6 “We know that we have come to know Jesus if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.”

I wonder what you think the goal of being a disciple of Jesus Christ is? Praying a lot? Perhaps it is reading and memorizing the whole bible? Doing lots of evangelism or doing lots of work for the church? As admirable as those things are, they are not the goal for a disciple of Jesus Christ. The ultimate goal for any Christian disciple is to be as John wrote in the passage I read earlier: to walk and live as Jesus did. That doesn’t mean walking around in sandals, wearing white clothes and traversing the terrain where Jesus Himself walked. The Apostle John means for us to be radical and holy, living lives worthy of that of Jesus.. How can we be radical and holy? Jean Calvin said that denying oneself and relying on God for all things is the goal of the Christian life. This can only be attained by total submission to the Holy Spirit and a life of constantly “dealing with God” in all matters. That is how Christian disciples are to be radical and holy. That is how a Christian Disciple endeavours to reach the goal of being Jesus! Being radical and holy is achieved by a constant renewing of the mind (Ephesians 4v23) and a heart willing to be transformed. It is by loving others in such a way, that the end of a disciple’s generosity is only when the resources have expired.

A disciple must live and walk as Jesus did, in the Bible verse I read earlier (1 John 2v6). There is no better way for a disciple to fulfil this goal, than by imitating Jesus and obeying his command to “…take up their cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9v23). This is seen as a higher challenge for the mind! Dietrich Bonhoeffer extrapolates this further when he comments on discipleship as a leading to death for all who follow Christ; either as a physical death or in being ostracized from society in general. Is it not true that increasingly in Western society, Christians are being marginalized more and more?

For the first century Christians, just as in some parts of today’s world, persecution and martyrdom was a reality, as evident in the story of Stephen (Acts 7v59). Yet it also means enduring suffering, for this is how a Christian disciple maintains a “communion with Christ”. For it is through suffering, that we share with the crucified Jesus. The bitterness of our cross is made sweeter, the more we dwell on the sufferings of Jesus and our enabled fellowship with Him.

As Christian individuals, we are linked together in a Christian community through rebirth, and our relationship exists only through our relationship with Christ. There is no such thing as an individual member of the radical Christian community. Members are interdependent upon one another, bound by a corporate and inclusive personality. The church community is to be dynamic by nature, and individualism is oxymoronic and not coherent with New Testament teaching.

How are you fitting in with your local church community? Are you being a radical believer in a radical church community? Have you taken up your cross in order to follow the Master, Jesus? For more to read and think about please read Luke 9v22-27. Please also be free to make comments or contact me regarding anything to do with this Podcast or Christianity… Thank you.

3. Partake – What is a Disciple?

Before He ascended, Jesus commanded ”God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:18-20 The Message).

In these verses Jesus commanded his disciples to make other disciples. In order to fulfil this command, He assigned the three tasks of going, baptizing and teaching as an obligatory activity of daily life. Baptism was symbolic of becoming under the lordship of the Trinitarian Godhead. Baptism leads to teaching, which is a core part of disciple making. Teaching was not just to be an oral activity, but an active helping of everyone including the weakest. These instructions to Jesus’ disciples are just as applicatory to us today.

As ever, any feedback is appreciated. If you have any questions about anything at all, please do feel free to ask!.

August 7, 2007

Partake-Christian Living!

I am starting a new series, entitled "Partake!". These podcasts will deal with ways in which we can apply the Bible to our life as we seek spiritual maturity as Jesus' disciples in order to be changed into His likeness...

This first one is an introductory podcast, and my apologies for a minor technical defect in the recording. Over the next few days & weeks we shall look together at issues such as: Our human makeup; Handling emotions; Healing emotions; Developing a clean conscience; Forgiveness; Overcoming Anger & Worry and several other topics.

As ever, any feedback is appreciated. If you have any questions about anything at all, please do feel free to ask!

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