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Reuben A Walter
Feb 3, 2018

Incentive # 2 For Biblical Discipleship

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Greetings in Jesus name!

AW Tozer writes that Christians ought to be the happiest people in the world. So why aren't they? Indeed, we understand that living in a hostile world and broken body has a dampening effect on our happiness and joy, but as we'll discuss in this issue, the joy, peace, and rest Christians ought to have is independent of life's trials and circumstances. If our peace, joy, and rest is dependent upon life's circumstances or on how we are treated, there is something missing in our relationship with our Father. What's really lacking in our lives is an intimate knowledge of who God is, and ALL that He is to us who have set our hope in Him. And that lack can be directly attributed to the lack of real, biblical, intentional discipleship.

Read and be blessed and challenged!

 

Incentive Number Two for Intentional Discipleship: a general lack of peace, joy, and rest in God's holy people.

In this article we will begin to address all the areas I have faced and experienced myself, or seen in brethren over the years. 

The causes for lack of peace rest, and joy are quite varied, but we will narrow them down to 6 general causes: 

1. No victory over habitual sins, 2. Wrong concept of what Christian life is. 3. Seeking for fulfillment in worldly things, stuff, entertainment,  4. Haven't effectively dealt with past, unhealed wounds, etc.,  5. Wanting to be in control of circumstances, others, outcomes. 6. Seeking the praise of men, rather than the praise of God.

 

Some of these may overlap in our discussions, and we wouldn’t be able adequately address all six in this issue. However, I humbly ask all readers to consider carefully this month’s incentive for discipleship, as it gets quite loaded, personal, and perhaps offensive. My heart is not to offend, but to illuminate! We Christians can get so used to a certain “status quo” we just accept the reality as is, completely missing God’s plan for us, thus effectively “limiting” the Holy One of Israel! Ps. 78. However, when it comes to God’s eternal word, we would do well not to “explain away” what it teaches, or relegate Jesus’ words to another age or people. If we ARE the people of God, we ARE SONS of God, thus making us possible recipients of ALL God says we can be through Christ, and full PARTAKERS of the DIVINE NATURE! If, for example, we design an engine to output 600 hp, and build it to specs, we expect it to put out 600 hp! However, we must feed it the required fuel mixture or it will not operate to it’s capacity. Moreover, we would not build an engine like that only to power a lawnmower!

Likewise, we are created in the IMAGE of God, with incredible faculties and potential, and to make excuses for living defeated lives in the age of grace is a disservice to the Captain of our salvation! For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind. 2Tim. 1:7 Imagine the people of eternal kingdom, having the power of the universe within their grasp, and the capacity of becoming like their Master, but waste their lives looking more like orphans than princes! I know there are godly people who have discovered Jesus, experienced salvation, are victorious in key areas of their lives, we praise God for each one! However, living in victory over sin is only the first 2 or 3 stages of Christianity! The Christian's goal is not to reach heaven one day, that is our inheritance! Rather, the goal is to become like Jesus Christ in ALL that He is and represents! Rom. 8:29; 2Cor. 3:18 And how far are we from that?

Sadly, much of Christianity is more concerned with fire insurance than “become like their Master” Luke 6:40

Overcoming the Devil, sin, and self was the first stage of Jesus’ ministry! Heb. 5:8. He then came out of the wilderness in the “power of the SPIRIT” and in 3 short years made an impact on the world that literally changed the course of history. Imagine what 50,000 of us could accomplish? But, being sinful creatures, we never get much further than the overcoming of sin, if that, and even less the overcoming of “self.” We have no shortage of “adopted” children of God, but a real dearth of soldiers who are trained and equipped to be “more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

So cause number one for no peace, joy and rest in our Heavenly Father: no victory over habitual sins,

Having hidden, known, and undealt with sin in our lives makes it impossible to enjoy God’s presence, or live joyful, spirit-filled lives, and unwilling to share the hope of Jesus with the lost! Sure, we can put on that “Sunday morning” image of happiness and peace, but deep down we’re miserable, defeated, angry, selfish, and insecure. Sin always make us restless, always grieves the Holy Spirit, always hinders our prayers, always robs us of peace and joy, always diminishes our testimony, and always breaks our communion with God. Sin in our lives exalts Satan’s power over God. These include any addiction; pornography, alcohol, drugs, gambling, sports, entertainment, etc. No Christian can walk freely if one or any of these still cripple them. Neither can they experience joy, peace and rest if there is deep anger, lust, covetousness, resentment, unforgiveness, pride or bitterness in their hearts. These can be more toxic than drugs. Countless believers are shackled with these sins for years, even decades! They keep trying, trying, trying to overcome, gain victory, but keep repeating the same cycle over and over and over. They are too ashamed to confess them, too humiliated to share, and too far up the ladder of reputation to humble themselves. Pride, social and other pressures keep them trapped in the endless cycle of failure, repentance, forgiveness, only to fail again. They live 2 lives, one in public and one in private. They want out, but don’t know how.

I know a friend who keeps insisting the cause of His failure and depression is because he doesn’t spend enough time in the word and in prayer. My response is simple: "Why don’t you?" You see, we can never fall in love with God’s word, dedicate time in prayer and studying if there are undealt with sins in our lives. This brother had serious issues with unforgiveness and deep anger in his life and he felt more time in the word, more time in prayer would change that. I told him its impossible! You cannot be filled with God’s love, peace and rest until those holes in your life are plugged. You are trying to pour fuel into a tank that has several gaping ruptures in it. You are trying to walk the Christian life, but both your legs are broken. No matter how much ointment, bandages, you will put on that break, it will not get better! You need to set the bone first! You need to forgive, you need to make restitution, you need to release every person and situation in your life that has a hold on you! Then you have effectively plugged the hole, set the bone, and fueling or healing can begin. Problem is, many Christians have no idea how to do this, that is where discipleship comes in! Through discipleship and fellowship, Christians come face to face with their own hearts, thus becoming equipped to break free from habitual sins, controlling heart conditions and attitudes that can fester for years.

Cause #2; wrong concept of Christianity.

Modern western Christianity has been obsessed with prosperity --- getting the most out of God! "God wants to bless you, give you nice things, solve all your problems, heal all sicknesses, etc."  there is very little teaching on holiness and authentic Christian living. Churches are more concerned with numbers and $$$ than they are with having their members live lives of victory over sin. Cheap grace is everything, and pursuing self-denial and godliness is considered legalism. That has resulted in superficial Christianity that has accepted the reality of sin, especially heart sins. While I agree that legalism is a trap many well-meaning believers have fallen into, those reacting to legalism are trapped as well --- only in the opposite ditch! The saints need to be taught to walk on the “Narrow Way, that leads to Life” where grace, truth, faith and obedience are counterparts that complement each other, rather than compete with each other. Again, discipleship and fellowship are both an indispensable vehicle to get the saints to that place.

Then we have the conservative world, the Anabaptists and numerous other groups whose focus is on non-conformity and strict adherence to rules and standards. It seems God’s people are in either one or the other of these two camps. While outward conformity has value, and it does maintain stability and order, it fails in transforming our hearts and minds to be conformed to the image of Christ. We certainly have many blessings and solid doctrines coming through the Anabaptist world, but we have not been very successful in developing spirit-filled, victorious, disciples of Jesus. The rules and standards, when imposed from above is a heavy yoke upon the neck of the disciples, and leads to judgmental attitudes and lovelessness among our people. Most of those I know can’t see past their standards, and judge everyone else by them. This sad fallout has divided the Anabaptist world into many factions that all claim to own the truth, and all others need to see things our way to be Christians. Again, through discipleship these micro-mindsets are demolished and God’s people can truly rise above religious pride to be as loving of others as God was of them.

Cause #3:  Seeking fulfillment in worldliness, stuff, things, entertainment.

This one may even sound “religious, or outdated” but scripture is not outdated. God’s word tells us, “love not the world, neither the things in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 1John 2:15-17 You don’t need to be a child of God very long to come to the realization that things of this world don’t satisfy. The entertainment industry is thriving---filling a hole in people that will just never be filled! When will God’s people understand? A.W. Tozer writes that Christians ought to be the happiest people in the whole world. Why aren’t they? “We depend on the worldthat little hazelnutto make us happy, rather than God. We try to find pleasure in things that are too small, which only leaves us unsatisfied. Then, after cluttering our lives with things, we want to add God to the mix. We try to have God with a plus sign—God plus this, or God plus that—which can never work: You’re made in the image of God, and nothing short of God will satisfy you.” Until God’s people are persuaded of this, they will waste their lives chasing after an ever shifting target. It may be a better job, more money, the next vehicle, clothing, gadgets, house, or RV, and once we’ve obtained them, the hole becomes even bigger. Long weekends, vacations, and entertainment  do NOTHING to fill our emptiness. None of these are wrong in themselves, God gives us richly all things to enjoy! Our problems arise from “seeking those things as source of satisfaction” first, rather than God.

Is God against us having a nice home, technology, or time out? NO! God created us to enjoy His creation, and with the ability to innovate and experience pleasure. Sin comes from seeking the pleasures over the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. God is concerned with our “desperately wicked,” hearts that  can deceive us so easily into prioritizing this world, things, stuff, and pleasure over Himself! This is where the battle needs to take place! Isolating ourselves, living like hermits, rejecting everything and anything that could lead to sin, (not sinful in itself) is not the answer.  That only leads to “false humility,” and a critical “looking down” on all those “other” poor folk trapped in “worldliness.” True Biblical discipleship helps the Christian face the world head on and overcome, rather than being sucked into its excess and vanity, or conversely, being terrified of technology and pleasure. Both, in their places well below the Kingdom of God and His righteousness in importance, are good for man, and especially good for the Christian who sees them as "gifts" from the ultimate Giver. 

I could expand on this topic alone for several more issues, but we don't wish to get carried away. We are making a case for intentional, intensive Biblical discipleship for the purpose of transforming our "vile" bodies to be fashioned like unto His glorious body. Phil. 3:21. Highlighting these 3 causes for lack of peace, joy, and rest in God's people is intended to motivate us to come to the realization that we are NOT poor sinners, but rather "More that Conquerers....! 

 

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  • Reuben A Walter
    Feb 3, 2018

    Our Character remains undeveloped for year and years after becoming Christians. We are now at the final incentive for discipleship, and as before, some of our thoughts and points from previous editions may overlap in the discussion. But we have chosen to give character special attention, even though it’s discussed passively in previous editions. Character is who we are in the dark, when no one sees us. Character is how we respond to power, popularity, prosperity, poverty, pressure, pain, or persecution. Most of us can hide our true character in normal day to day living, but when placed in situations where our motives, our emotions and desires, or our reactions are brought to the surface, we truly learn how Christlike we are. When it comes to character, we’ve heard over and over, just be in love with Jesus and your character will be transformed into His! The more you will love Jesus, the more His character will shine through your life. While I wholly agree with this statement, it needs to be noted then that we need to be taught HOW to love Jesus with all our hearts. I have been a Christian for 25 years, loved Jesus with all my heart for well over half of those years, and still I’m reminded again and again how unlike Jesus my character still is. It seems to be the common saying today…, be like Jesus! It is easy enough to say with our mouths, even believe it in our hearts, but here is a good test. Think of someone who really dislikes you, and vice versa; what do they see in you? What is their perception of you? Can they say you are truly a child of God? And how do you perceive them? Do you wish them well? Do you rejoice when they succeed? Are you sad when they fail? Would you be willing to help them in a pinch, or make a sacrifice on their behalf? A positive yes here is easy if the someone is someone we love and cherish. What about someone we don't? Now I know we’ll never see eye to eye with all men; for various reasons, but the character of Jesus was highlighted by His response to the above questions. His enemies found no flaws in His character, and admitted He was a teacher sent from God who had no respect of persons, taught the way of God perfectly, and loved all men. He called the traitor Judas a 'friend', healed the ear of a soldier who arrested Him, and washed His disciples' feet.  Although we will never fully be like Jesus, His character is the benchmark, the standard He beckons us to attain, otherwise He wouldn’t have said, be ye perfect, even as Your Father in Heaven is perfect. Mat. 5:48 In His Sermon on the Mount,  Mat 5-7 , most of His teachings revolve around our character (check it out). He is concerned that our character complements the label we take upon ourselves when we chose to follow Him. Therefore, He addresses at least nine character traits in this sermon to highlight His concern for our inner man. He addresses anger, forgiveness, lust, pride, honesty, anxiety, fear, hypocrisy, and honor-seeking. We can take those nine qualities and place them into three distinct categories; they are our reactions, our motives, and our desires. Its in these 3 areas where our true character shines through. Of course, we fully understand there is the element of growth and training and time that goes into the equation here as we develop Christlike character; but one thing I’m convinced of is the mountain of opportunity and circumstance God has lined up to facilitate and foster growth into His character. Our problem arises from the fact that we don’t see most of life and life’s issues and challenges as God’s training ground and school of discipleship. We tend to view them more as obstacles and hindrances to our walk. We need to be exposed to the idea, we need to be taught HOW they work into His marvelous plan, and the role faith plays in our Character development. We also need to be taught that God provides opportunities almost every day to get trained in Christian character. In our marriages, with our children, on our jobsites, our use of money, time, people we work with, our employers and employees. Difficult authority figures, other Christians with whom we may not agree, health problems, business failures, accidents, financial fallouts, family feuds, and other relationship challenges all work together in the equation to develop Christlike character in us, and if we’re not taught or trained to see everything in that light, we completely miss what God is doing in our lives. How we react to criticism, ridicule, pain, loss, betrayal, insults, or someone infringing on our rights is our window into our character. Why we do or don’t do a certain thing, why we say something or go somewhere is our window into the motives of our heart, and how we deal with our desires, (lust, emotions, anger, love of money, reputation, power, or popularity) all tell the story of who we are. I know most of us can grit our teeth and most of the time put on the necessary show so as not to humiliate ourselves publicly when challenged or hurt, or taken advantage of. But what goes on in our hearts? I have spent a considerable amount of time the past few years reflecting on the issues that irritate me most and to my surprise they were not mine own character, or lack thereof. They were mostly concerning the lack of other people’s character! How convenient! Isn’t it easy to give ourselves a pass while being critical of others? Don’t we justify, even marginalize our own actions, motives, and thoughts, but in the very next breath seek to be the judges of other peoples’ character? Until we are exposed to this reality by the Holy Spirit's conviction, most Christians waste their lives away having developed very little in these crucial areas.  It’s a classic enemy tactic to take our eyes off ourselves or Jesus and away from the real issues facing us…, our undeveloped and often unchristlike character! In our committed brotherhood, where members are interconnected and interdependent, the potential friction points are more numerous than on a Massey Ferguson Combine! God designed for us to be in these types of fellowships…, specifically for this reason! To smooth out our roughness, break through bondages and high thoughts, be humbled and brought face to face with our own hearts, our unmortified ego, our religious self-righteousness, our pride, our anger, our self-pity, our worries and fears, our besetting sins that so easily cling to us, our critical spirits, and our fabricated holiness! All of this must be brought to the surface and dealt with and every one of these unchristlike character traits must be replaced with Christlike ones, so that we don’t live our lives as actors on a movie screen, being holy on the outside, but harboring all those unholy traits within. That is precisely why intentional discipleship should be the focus of every church body, and every church committed to the call of Jesus should be end product oriented. What the church produces tells a whole lot about it, and it’s time we realize how vital discipleship really is. The final, and probably most offensive thing about discipleship that we need to understand, is how connected and dependent discipleship and fellowship are upon each other. To attempt discipleship without being committed to other Christians in church fellowship is like living in a common-law relationship…, each lives their own lives with no real commitment, other than one of convenience. On the other hand, to have church fellowship without discipleship is like a marriage only for the intimacy; not the responsibility, the commitment, the inconvenience and the burden of family, children, and sacrifice. Forgive me for this blunt allegory, but if we honestly analyse it, the conclusion is evident. So again my prayer is that these incentives produce a holy discontent in us with things as they are, and press forward towards the mark of the prize of the High Calling of God in Christ Jesus. Peter says, “ Through these many and precious promises, we are partakers of the divine nature!” 2Pet. 1:4 That’s amazing! And who of us wouldn’t want to be partakers of that…, to the praise of His Glory.  This edition wraps up our incentives for discipleship; stay with us for future issues where we begin to lay down the foundation, framework and sequence for Biblical discipleship that, if followed, will ensure the Christian of a life of victory, true freedom, peace, joy and rest in God that perpetually eludes so many. Blessings in Jesus, bro Reuben A Walter
  • Reuben A Walter
    Feb 3, 2018

    Incentive Number Four for Discipleship: Most Christians want a more victorious, fulfilling life, but don’t know how to get it. I have come to give life, and to give it more abundantly! John 10:10 ; These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15:11 The primary fruits (results) of the Spirit are love, joy, and peace; giving us a glimpse into the Christian life few ever fully experience. To introduce this month’s incentive, I would like share a short illustration. In 2Tim. 2:6; Paul exhorts Timothy that the husbandman must first be a partaker of the fruit…, what fruit do we suppose he was talking about? I’m a practical sort of person, so to me its like the farmer bringing in the fruits of his labor from the field/garden. First, he enjoys (partakes) of the fruits, keeps his portion, feeds his family, then sells or gives what is over and above. Spiritually, the same principle applies. We can only authentically impart to others what is true in our own lives. This abundant life, this love, joy, peace are fruits that need to be evident in our lives, and we partake of them..., regularly in order to make the gospel appealing and beautiful! Otherwise, we’re just warehouses and salesmen selling other people’s produce! Here in America, the abundant life is associated with temporal blessings and prosperity. But scripture makes it clear that is not what Christ meant when He talked of abundant life! Rather, it was the life He had with His Father; a life free from bitterness, anger, self-righteousness, unforgiveness, resentment, pride, lust, critical attitudes, hypocrisy, fear, anxiety, depression, and all those other heart sins Christianity is plagued with. It was overcoming our desire to get even, to feel sorry for ourselves, to look down on other Christians; not being critical and judgmental of them, or harbor anger, bitterness, and envy. It was breaking free from the competitive spirit, the love of money, idolatry, and from divided loyalties. That is the true abundant life Jesus was talking of, not some experience in church on a Sunday morning, or a fat bank account and luxury. We all know we could have the finest banquet, most expensive houses and cars, and they will not bring lasting inner rest, peace and joy! In fact, the exact opposite is usually true. More material wealth, stuff only brings more fear, worry, and cares. That’s because God never intended for us to find peace, joy, and rest in these things, but that's a whole different topic we'll discuss in later issues.   Is it really possible for God’s people to live, love, speak, think, and act like Jesus from the heart? Those hard concepts highlighted in the Sermon on the mount…, does He really expect us to return good for evil, rejoice when persecuted, give and ask nothing in return, turn the other cheek, and pray for those who abuse us? and actually find joy in it? After all, the Bible says,  I delight to do they Will O God! Doesn’t it feel much better to wish evil on those who harm us? or repay them eye for an eye? To get more money, stuff, entertainment? Don’t we intentionally want to nurse grudges and resentment towards authority figures who seem to be out to get us? or people who double crossed us? Who in his right mind feels like giving and borrowing without asking anything in return? Or talk positive about other Christians, especially those we don’t agree with? Don’t we get more satisfaction out of highlighting their faults and failures and talking negative about them? Why does the gospel appear like God wants to strip us of any satisfaction of putting others in their place or getting even? Especially when we see they’re out of line according to our thinking?... I could go on and on here, but point is made. Fact of the matter is, we don’t know what brings us peace, rest, joy and blessings. We are so spiritually uneducated and illiterate, we’re like children gorging themselves on candy, pop, and bars, enjoying them because they taste good, but they’re harmful to our health and draining on our energy. In the same way, due to lack of Biblical discipleship, too regularly we follow our feelings in the above areas because we get some satisfaction out of it for the moment. However, we must always reap what we sow, so this principle must apply here as well, and the measure we meet is usually measured back to us in it’s full amount. Mat. 7:2 Maybe not from the same sources, but our infinite Father has no shortage of methods and vessels to accomplish His sovereign will. So He engineers people, circumstances, and events that cause us to reflect, learn, and be transformed in our thinking. Sadly, we hardly ever catch on, and so we make one trip around the mountain after another, we wander in the wilderness of anxiety, depression, emptiness, vanity, self-righteousness, critical attitudes, resentment, and self-pity year after year, thinking God is not honoring His promises. Our pride prevents us from self-reflection, and the positions we've taken block the Holy Spirit from breaking through our erected walls and veneers. However, God really does love us, and His Son really knows what will bring us the abundant life. Therefore, He gave us the instructions and often allows difficult circumstances into our lives to train us to put them into practice! He’s not trying to restrict us hurt us, or beat us up, God is trying to liberate us in order to impart the abundant life, but most of us waste half of our lives not getting it! True discipleship focuses on the inner man, training God’s people to surrender to His will, submit to His authority, trust Him completely, and learn to love, forgive, and restore…, just like Jesus did. It focuses on the human heart condition, giving Jesus His rightful place, doing His will from the heart, and leaving the results in His hands. Many times, the way God’s people act are simply symptoms of undealt with heart issues. One can become a hermit, or join the world in the hope of finding fulfillment, and it will all be in vain. Because the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart. A fulfilling life is easier achieved than most of us believe, but to attain it, a very precise sequence must be followed, exactly like an engineer, contractor and car maker does to achieve a planned product and outcome. This sequence is what is missing in Christianity. There is almost no sequence, structure, or blueprint anywhere to help God’s people attain a life in Christ that is victorious, fulfilling, restful, and glorious! Indeed, I have read numerous great books on discipleship and learned a lot, but a book alone will never do it. Discipleship is very practical, hand-on, and can get rather unpleasant at times, and if we’re not committed to brethren who are committed to such a plan, rarely will it happen by itself. Somehow, we get the idea that it will all come together…, God owes us a good life, a life of rest, peace and joy. But God is more interested in our character than in giving us a bunch of blessings, and sadly, we often are disillusioned with God because we don’t feel He’s living up to His promises.  Every car maker, contractor knows precisely what steps need to be followed to produce an end product that is appealing, functional, and serves a purpose. So does a teacher, cook, and food producer. Everything is precisely ordered, planned, and executed through the process to bring forth a product! We find precious little sequence (aside from new birth, baptism, joining a church and submitting to some standards) in Christianity. This is  equivalent of a piece of steel entering a factory, have several cuts, bends and welds made, and holes drilled into it, then placed on shelf or in storage. Not even close to a finished product! Or to paint another scenario, much effort is spent on making an outward image, nice paint and body work, with attention to details on the surface, but almost no concern with the engine, power train and other innards that make the vehicle functional.  This is precisely why the Church of Jesus Christ is 3000 miles wide and 3” deep in the Western Hemisphere. We have one side that is all about cutting, bending, shaping, drilling, and just filling the factory with parts, while the other side are the consumer mindsets who are focused on what they can get out of God, rather than what God can make out of them. They believe the car should run as soon as one becomes a Christian and that God owes them a blessed life. Little effort is invested in the shaping, bending, drilling, and finishing, leaving us with a superficial product that appears complete on the outside with paint and other finishes, but is missing critical internal components that allows car to function. Just imagine Ford spending millions of dollars producing vehicles that looks beautiful, polished, and appealing to the eyes, but showed no interest in the inner workings of the vehicle, such as engine, power-train, or other key components…, what if they filled the car lots with such vehicles? What if they then sent out hundreds of salesmen convincing people this is the real deal? Unfortunately, that is what we find in the church…, much ado on beautiful services, buildings, literature, missions, programs, outward piety, appearance, but little substance once one goes beneath the surface. This brings very little glory to Jesus! Yes, we should adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ…, it should be beautiful and appealing in every way, including all the above…, but it must be functional! It must work! There must be results produced that should be evident to all men..., and the husbandmen need to be the first to partake of it! John 13:35; Mat. 5:16; Phil. 2:15 Tit. 2:10; Again, I understand how close to home this is, and I have been there myself. I have learned, slowly, how the Father is reaching and teaching me, and now that the wilderness journey is over, I want other Christians to embrace God’s plan. Making sense of it all took a long time, and I am convinced it doesn’t need to be this way if we understand God’s heart, and follow His sequence. The illustrations above are meant to drive home the urgency of this calling. If they don’t open our eyes, what will? But God will not wait around for us indefinitely, another generation is coming up, and God is able to raise up a people who will discover this truth and walk in it. My only hope is this generation can grasp the fundamentals and embrace them, laying the foundation and framework for those coming after us. Reuben A Walter
  • Reuben A Walter
    Feb 3, 2018

    Incentive Number Three for Discipleship: Nearly 90% of Christians can’t/don’t share their faith. This third incentive is probably the most humbling of all the others. Jesus said;  Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Clearly we’re missing something when close to 90% of those who have experienced new birth, regeneration, remission and forgiveness of their sins have a problem sharing that incredible truth! Many Christians I know are ashamed to talk about Jesus, and will hardly spearhead a conversation towards faith in God, the Kingdom of God, and becoming a child of God. I know faithful believers who can readily talk about the Lord when one opens the conversation or with other believers. Their lives demonstrate that they belong to Jesus, but there is fear; fear of rejection, of being labeled, of hostility, of repercussions, persecution, bullying, mockery, losing friends, status, or even of not knowing what to say, and this list could go on and on. My experience has been that Christians are not so much unwilling as unable! They feel insecure, unlearned, and not called to be a witness. They believe that’s the job of the evangelist, the prophet, the teachers, and so forth. We find believers wanting to make an impact with their lives, but we must also be " ready to give an answer to any man that asketh a reason of the Hope that is in us with meekness and fear! " 1Pet.3:15. We're certainly not advocating that every Christian become an apostle, evangelist, or a teacher. No, there are only a few of these offices in the body of Christ. What we're aiming for is to equip the saints of God to be authentic in every area of their lives, so that whether working on their jobs, serving their community, and just doing their daily routines in their interactions with fellow believers, their neighbors, business associates, employees, managers, customers, strangers and relatives, the character and love of Jesus will shine forth. This is being a witness that will stir people's hearts to ask questions and want what God's people have!  New Christians tend to be more willing to talk about Jesus and the gospel, whereas older Christians tend to find it harder. Why? The classic hymn goes like this... "The longer I serve Him, the sweeter He grows".., it seems it should become easier. However, as God's children go past the elementary phases of Christianity, they enter the wilderness stage where trials and difficulties pile up, and they don't understand what is happening or why, so they feel let down, unclean, insecure, and just not at all enthusiastic about their faith. Very little of God's love is evident in their lives, therefore they don't feel like sharing it. Our wilderness journey can drag out for years, even decades, and when we’re in the heat of the day, Christianity don't sound appealing at all. That’s’ another reason for discipleship! To help believers understand what is happening to them, to help them see the wilderness and it specific purpose in our lives. You see, when we’re new Christians, we don’t understand ourselves yet, we don’t know our own hearts and the depths of the wickedness lodged therein, but in the wilderness it gets brought to the surface like dross when gold goes through the furnace. And when we begin to see all our ugliness, our pride, our selfishness, our ambition, our unsurrendered self, we are not so enthusiastic about sharing what God has done. To top it off, we don’t see this dross, this ugliness, as something God is doing out of love, we attribute it to Satan working against us, which is true in a sense. But why would God allow Satan to afflict us?  Why would He let Satan trouble His children, the apple of His eye? The answer is; God allows trouble to come into our lives because He desires us to become like His Son in attitude, character, and motives. He wants our lives to reflect Christ's love, compassion, forgiveness, forbearance, mercy, humility, and all those other characteristics that highlighted the life of Jesus. It is evident there are very few of these character qualities in us naturally, even after being born again, therefore, God knows exactly how and what circumstances are necessary to develop these godly virtues in our lives. Because God can only use us in direct proportion to our faith, brokenness, faithfulness and humility, much of a believers life is spent getting shaped and molded in these critical areas. When we consider just these character qualities on a child of God, it pains my heart to realize how quickly a saint could make it through the wilderness - if only they understood what God is doing in that season. This makes the call of discipleship an urgent one indeed. Sharing our faith should be our nature! Just imagine one of us in an impossible situation, maybe financial foreclosure, maybe in a life and death situation, maybe trapped in a fire, or accident, or drowning, and someone risked their all to save us and did. How would we respond? Could we just be casual about it? Would we forget it or the person? Wouldn’t we treat that person with utmost respect? How is it that God’s people, who have be saved from everlasting destruction, from eternal banishment from the presence of God, and from paying for their own crimes, find it hard to witness of so great a salvation? In 2001 when the twin towers were hit, hundreds of people were trapped above the point of impact with no way out. Many plunged to their deaths knowing there were going to die either way…, that’s hopeless and helpless. In exactly the same way, we were all hopelessly and helplessly trapped in our sin and lost condition, and by the redemptive work of Jesus we were literally saved from an impossible situation through the supernatural work of Jesus. How come we can know hundreds, even thousands of people trapped just like we were and are not crying for their deliverance, or showing them the path to deliverance? The answer is amazingly simple! We don’t feel like we’re as delivered as we say we are. Deliverance is a huge thing. When Christians struggle with lust, fear, anxiety, unforgiveness, anger, rebellion, for years on end, they find it hard to glorify the work of Jesus because they feel let down. They feel God has not kept His promise to them. I used to believe this way too, but God was merciful and made me understand my own heart. It was a long painful process, but eventually God showed me that He really did love me, it was my actions, my attitudes, my hangups, that He didn’t like and was using life’s circumstances to show them to me. I remember being agitated for days on end about fellow Christians who would take advantage of liberties, again and again, and again! It seemed God was causing me to see these inconsistencies even though I wasn't looking for them. It didn't help one bit to become agitated and confront the situation; it only made it worse! But through such circumstance, God showed me how His Son dealt with a thief in His own midst, and slowly it dawned that God was after me, not my fellow Christians. (Of course, God wants all His children to mature!)  He was after my heart, my attitudes, and was only using these situations to bring them to my attention. When God exposes our heart for who we really are, how little love is really there, it's one of the most humiliating and humbling experiences there is. Only then do we realize we're the ones in need of deliverance! We're the ones with the ugliness in our hearts! We're the ones who mask pride, arrogance, unforgiveness, selfishness, honor-seeking, controlling, holier-than-thou spirits, lust for power, etc, by religiously plucking at the splinters in our brothers' eyes while ignoring the beam in our own! God's people need to be delivered from these strongholds in order to be effective, and only as they understand God's workings in their lives do they feel encouraged to share His hope, His Love, and His salvation with others. Imagine a believer stuck and struggling in a mire of despair, depression, unforgiveness, bitterness, fear, anxiety, and turmoil; and beckoning to the lost world..., "Come to Jesus, come to Jesus for deliverance!!!"  I fully understand how sensitive this topic is, but it must be brought to the light! We must admit how needy we are, how helpless to do anything that pleases God; and speaking of these areas helps us come to grips with the urgent need for discipleship - real Biblical discipleship. Being able to share our faith, witness of God's grace and love shouldn't need to be mechanical, or done out of a sense of guilt or duty, but purely out of gratitude and love for what God has done for us through His Son.  May the Father grant the necessary grace to all readers to receive this teaching as from the Lord, and not from men, amen. Reuben A Walter