Greetings in Jesus name!
Have you ever watched a skilled athlete perform? Instinctively we know this just didn't happen by itself. Countless hours of work, practice, discipline, and training was involved in the process. The more difficult the performance, the more time, energy, devotion, and sweat was invested --- in direct proportion!
Have you even noticed how every professional profession requires months, even years of dedicated training and apprenticing? Whether a surgeon, electrician, craftsman, or pilot, absolutely none start their careers and are commissioned with full honors in six weeks or even six months. Why then are Christians expected to turn the world to Jesus, build the kingdom, and live victorious lives without real training or development?
The greatest Disciple-maker who ever walked on earth did not simply start the greatest work ever, then left it in the hands of inexperienced babes; no, He took 12 men under His wings and watch, and trained them for 3 years --- on the job, to prepare them for the great commission!
In this newletter, I wish to highlight five very important reasons for immersive, intentional, and intensive discipleship for the purpose of equipping God's people to be all they can be for Jesus. Not only for their personal benefit, but more so for the glory of God, that we, the people of God might make the gospel of Jesus Christ attractive! Tit. 2:10
Here are Five compelling Incentives for Intentional discipleship.
One: Many of God's promises to us go unfulfilled.
Two: Christians in general experience very little victory, joy, peace, and rest in their lives.
Three: The Ratio of those accepting Jesus to those who actually reproduce the life of Jesus in others is alarmingly small. Over 90% don't/can't share their faith.
Four: Most Christians want a more fulfilling, victorious life, but don't know how to get it.
Five: Our characters remains largely undeveloped for years and years after becoming Christians.
So let's begin with the first incentive; Many of God's promises to us go unfulfilled. You may disagree with me on this one, especially if your concept of His promises to us revolves around salvation, forgiveness of sins, redemption, and eternal life. While I wholeheartedly agree with these, we need to probe beyond the elementary truths because once we’re born again, we have a life to live, a NEW life! Sadly, many of us never live much of a new life, rather one of defeat and fake Christianity. If we read and study God’s word regularly, internalizing it, applying it to our daily lives, a number of promises meant for us in NT come into focus which we can’t ignore. Many of them will be covered later, but for this month I’d like to stick with just a few promises Jesus gave. Let's list several. “I give unto you power to thread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy....,” (Luke 10:19) “If you abide in Me and my words abide in you, you can ask whatever you will and it will be done unto you...,” (John 15:7) “You will do greater things than I did, because I go to the Father...,” (John 14:12) “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed…,” “He that believes on Me, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water…”
I know..., I have heard all the arguments for what these promises say and mean, and I’ve also had my bout with the “signs and lying wonders movements” that keep making the outrageous claims of miracles and healings, but its always far away and other people. People experiencing real inner healing and life changing power through these ministries is almost non-existent. I personally know someone with a serious condition, who has been to every conceivable healing ministry, healing crusade, and miracle manifestation, but lo and behold, nothing has changed! When I speak of “greater things” I mean the instantaneous opening of the eyes, curing of the cripple, healing of leprosy, and rising from the dead…, just like Jesus did! Please don’t misread me here, doing miracles is not my goal, they are just part of God's promises those who love and obey Him. Mark 11:23; 1Cor. 12:28;
These promises didn’t end with the first Pentecost, or die out with the apostles.
There are indeed several miracles I have witnessed myself, and even have a personal testimony of one. Namely, the healing of an irreversible disease which 3 of my children succumbed to before reaching 5 months of age. In 2009 and 11’, when we realized our babies had mitochondrial disease, an incurable, terminal illness, we fasted and prayed for healing, for a miracle – for days and weeks on end. We followed every biblical protocol, confessed our sins, involved pastors and prophets and prayer warriors – nothing happened! NOTHING! They succumbed to the disease in predictable fashion, and we were left with disillusion, anger, and shattered faith. Then in Oct 2016 God gave us another beautiful baby girl, Janeva, but she started showing all the signs and symptoms of the disease by 4 weeks of age, leaving us quietly devastated, knowing the most likely result. This time we didn’t feel like praying for healing – not one bit– that notion was demolished by the passing of our two children in 09’ and 11’. We just quietly accepted the fact that our baby will die like the others, and prepared to resign ourselves to fate.
Taking this fatalistic view of our impossible situation seemed like to only logical choice. We didn’t realize we had another choice, one far more profound! This time God spoke to us – clearly, “Lay your Isaac on the altar.” I didn’t need a rocket scientist to tell me what that meant, and so after a confirmation word and some serious wrestling, my wife and I willfully, deliberately, and lovingly gave our child into His hand, and laid her on the altar at 6 weeks of age. We told God she is His and we will rejoice that we have another angel in heaven; we thanked Him for lending her to us for a few short months…
On Friday, Dec 2, 2016, God healed our baby and gave her back to us!
A Miracle! In every sense of the word!
But it didn’t come because we had the power, or prayed for healing; healing came BECAUSE we surrendered our rights to our own child! And I could hear God saying, not audibly mind you, but He said it nonetheless, “Before I take you to the next level of spiritual power and authority, you must experientially understand what it means to BE UNDER my authority, exercise real submission, and surrender yourself in obedience to My will – completely.” He's not after our Isaac's, He's after us! (See video below)
Hallelujah! One lesson learned!
How many more to go?
Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not a miracle chaser, nor am I caught up in these movements, nor do I claim to own all the promises, I’m just being realistic. The promises of living victorious, joyful, free from sin lives, has and is still eluding over 90% of Christianity. The Christian church is nearly as full of cancer, sicknesses, diseases, broken trust, depression, bondage, division, physical, emotional and spiritual defeat as everyone else, so where do the promises apply? To Heaven someday?
We know the words well, “in this world you shall have trouble, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world”, and again, “knowing the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world”, and again, “we must through much tribulation enter the Kingdom of God”. These and many more reference attest to the reality of Christian suffering, persecution, and affliction in this hostile world and body we live in. But does God allow affliction, suffering, in our lives just to beat us up? Just to keep us low? Just to make us desire a better country? Just because He said so? Isn’t their rhyme or reason or purpose behind it all? I am fully persuaded that we need to suffer, endure affliction as His children, not because we are His children, but because suffering and affliction PRODUCE precious fruits --- perseverance, character, and hope! Rom 5:3-5. So all things do work together for good to those who love God, those who are the called according to His purpose. God does have an end goal in mind…, our maturity and His glory.
I know why God can’t yet give us this wonder working miracle power! We would abuse it! We would use it to our advantage, rid ourselves of every impediment, zap our enemies, call down fire from heaven, and show ourselves off! The very hardships, struggles, suffering, HE DESIGNED to develop and produce Christlike character in us would suddenly become irrelevant, and WHAT would THAT produce? Just give a child everything he wants and you will see what it produces – a menace to society! You know I'm speaking the truth! God is not going to tarnish His character/reputation for mere mortals, no, He is jealous of His name, of His glory. But we are like soldiers enlisting in the army or the air force and immediately want to command a FA18 Hornet jet fighter, shooting down every enemy in sight! We don’t yet understand there are years of training ahead of us, and strict rules of engagement once we do advance to the cockpit. What makes us think the Commander of the armies of the living God is different? No, He is much more precise! Much more selective in delegating authority and power to His subordinates. Just ponder for a moment the basic authority of church leadership and how it has been abused down through the centuries. People want to be in control, and control others. They want to be revered, honored, and submitted to. They want attention, call the shots, run the show, etc. Pray tell me what they would do with REAL power? Luke 9:51-56
I shudder to think about it. Thank God He knows what He is doing! When we as parents have enough sense not to give our children a blade knife, a powerful rifle, or put them behind the wheel of our family vehicle at age 5, it becomes self-evident the Father of Glory is infinitely wiser than any of us. Therefore, I am persuaded as to why many of God’s promises to us go unfulfilled and unrealized; it’s not because He is unwilling to impart them, it’s because we are incapable of handling them!
This writing only addresses one incentive for intentional, intensive, and immersive discipleship; we need to address 4 more in the coming issues. Stay tuned.
Reuben A Walter