Posts Tagged ‘Disciple’


2 Timothy 1:14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

In 2 Timothy One we see the Power of God in view.

(1) Verse 1: The promise of God

(2) Verse 6: The gift of God

(3) Verse 7: God has given us the spirit of power

(4)  Verse 8: Be a partaker of the Gospel according to the power of God.

(5)  Verse 9: We have a holy calling according to His purpose and grace

(6)  Verse 10: He has abolished death

(7)   Verse 11: He appoints us

(8)  Verse 12: He is able to keep

Our salvation, our ministry, our service and our discipleship is all from a position of God’s Power at work in us!

In 2 Timothy Two we have our responsibilities as disciples in view.

Here Paul is placing demands upon Timothy as if it was left up to him to minister the Gospel. The two chapters seem to be against each other, for if God is the Doer, how could Timothy, or you or I for that matter, be the Doer?

When we are assembled in Heaven, not one of us will sing a song containing the words, “Glory be to the Father, to the Son, to the Holy Spirit and to me!”

I think our eyes will be opened up to see all that the Grace of our Lord has accomplished. But, we must accept the words of Paul as to our commitment and accountability.

When you are given a priceless deposit as a trust, you have a tremendous and serious responsibility to take care of that deposit.

We have each been entrusted with the Word of truth, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we must accept that one day we will be held accountable for how we have handled that trust.

The truth is that while Christ has provided the gospel –(vs 8) “Remember Jesus Christ …” (2:8) — He has also committed to us a responsibility for the gospel, a ministry that involves more than a casual commitment. (v. 10) “Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus …”

The eternal plans of God are brought to pass through the sacrificial labors of His servants. It is the work of God to bring the elect to eternal salvation and glory (1:9) but Paul claimed that he was working and travailing in order that the elect might obtain salvation.

Six Pictures of a Disciple

(1)  A Soldier (vv.3-4)

(2)  An Athlete (v.5)

(3)  A Farmer (v.6)

(4)  A Workman (v.15)

(5)  A Vessel (v.21)

(6)  A Servant (v.24).

We already looked at the first three, but I want to point out something which will relate to what we talk about today.

1.   The Good Soldier (vv.3-4)

a. The soldier is looks upward.

b. His whole desire is “to please him who has enrolled him“.

We need the upward look. We need always to be seeking to please Him who has called us to be His soldiers.

Pleasing our Savior in all we do is the picture of the soldier.

2.   The Athlete Contending in the Games (v.5)

a. The athlete looks inward

      • To have himself in the peak of fitness,
      • In full control of his powers,
      • In complete readiness for the race

b. Self-discipline governed by obedience

Paul goes on to say that he must contend lawfully if he is to be crowned so, while the athlete looks inward, he must also be governed by obedience to the rules.

Self-discipline expressed in obedience is the picture of the athlete.

3.   The Farmer (v.6)

a. His look is outward (upon the fields)

      • The field is the world, which needs the seed of the Word of God.
      • Requires work, mud on your boots, back ache, rough hands, dirt under your nails.
      • First to enjoy the crop

That which costs nothing earns nothing: where there are no pains there will be no gains. So this picture of the farmer represents the outward look.

b. Effort leading to Reward is the picture of the farmer.

4.   The Unashamed Workman (vv.14-17)

a. The upward look

      •  “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved” (v.15)
      •  Looking at his boss to gauge his performance

b. Self-care (not to be ashamed)

c. Fulfilling his responsibility (charge them in the sight of the Lord 14)

d. What does God think of this?

e. Your service is always before the sight of God.

2 Timothy 2:15 15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Your regard for the Word of God is the standard of your “worth” before God.

Now we can’t all be scholars, but we should all know how to rightly handle the Word of Truth. We can all be grounded in the basics of the Bible, grounded to the point of being a “DISCIPLE” Discipleship is simply that, a commitment to a basic grounding in the Word of God, whereby you are built up into Jesus Christ. In Christ we are approved, but if you do not know the basics of Jesus, who He is to you, what He does for you, what He promises you, how can you even consider calling yourself a workman.

With God, you are either “approved” or “not approved”.

The standard for either is not whether you clean up on Sunday and go to church, not whether you listen to rock n roll or KLUV, not whether you hoard your money or give it generously. God looks at the way you regard His Word, and whether His Word has impacted your life in an “everyday” kind of way.

God will test your mettle

met·tle  (mtl)n.

1. Courage and fortitude; spirit: troops who showed their mettle in combat.

2. Inherent quality of character and temperament.

He uses the Word of God to build your mettle-Joshua 1:8-every word. Why is the Word the test of the “mettle”?

We see this in:

Romans 1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

The word for depraved or reprobate is “Adokimos”. It is the antonym of “Dokimos”. One who does not acknowledge God in their life is ADOKIMOS, or rejected after examination. The basic meaning of adokimos is that not standing the test or failing to meet the test and hence worthless, base or unqualified.

  • „ a counterfeit coin that fell below the standard weight,
  • „ a cowardly soldier who failed the test in the hour of battle,
  • „ a candidate for office who the citizens regarded as useless
  • „ a sword or knife, that once the blacksmith had completed, would place it on his anvil and hit it with his hammer to test whether it was tempered correctly.
  • „ a stone rejected by builders because of a flaw which made it unfit for construction,
  • „ the rejected stone being clearly marked by a capital “A”.

The end result is: ”they refused to have God in their knowledge (ASV) so God gave them up to a reprobate, or depraved mind. They did not acknowledge the Word of God for their lives, so God rejected them and gave them up to an unfit mind, or a mind devoid of God’s presence or influence.

„ Paul is saying that the mind that finds God worthless becomes worthless itself.

„ The rejecting mind becomes a rejected mind and thereby becomes spiritually depraved, worthless and useless!

f.    An unapproved Workman ministers catastrophe to the hearers

If we do not maintain a mind engaged upon the Word of God, then we will deal in words that are a catastrophe to the hearers: (v 14)remind them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers and (v 17) will spread like gangrene.

katastrophé; gen. katastropés, fem. noun from katastréphō <G2690>, to overthrow, overturn, ruin. A catastrophe, overthrow, destruction, as of cities (2 Pet. 2:6). [1]

What a tremendous responsibility we have! When we stray from this precious deposit of the  Word of God, these three forces will go into operation:

      • Words to no profit
      • Words that are a catastrophe to those who hear
      • Words that eat like a cancer.

The only safeguard from this is rightly handling “the word of truth “

      • „ Must have diligence.
      • „ Will be unashamed, regardless of what happens

The Dokimos Workman “handles aright” the word of truth.

The word means ‘holding a straight course’ or ‘making a straight road’ and suggests a sort of Roman road that went like an arrow to its goal. That is the picture given of how God’s workman handles His Word, he takes that Word in its plain straightforward meaning, driving, as it were, a straight highway from one end of it to the other, so that the simple Word of God is plainly and directly driven into the hearer’s heart.

From ὀρθός straight and τέμνειν to cut. Hence, to cut straight, as paths; to hold a straight course; generally, to make straight; to handle rightly. Vulg. recte tractare. The thought is that the minister of the gospel is to present the truth rightly, not abridging it, not handling it as a charlatan (see on 2 Corinthians 2:17), not making it a matter of wordy strife (verse 14), but treating it honestly and fully, in a straightforward manner. Various homiletic fancies have been founded on the word, as, to divide the word of truth, giving to each hearer what he needs: or, to separate it into its proper parts: or, to separate it from error: or, to cut straight through it, so that its inmost contents may be laid bare. Others, again, have found in it the figure of dividing the bread, which is the office of the household steward; or of dividing the sacrificial victims; or of cutting a straight furrow with the plow.[2]

Do not sugar coat it, do not bend it to be easy in the ears, do not selectively handle just the good verses…

5.   The Vessel unto Honour (vv.20-21)

As the athlete was disciplined and purged of unhealthy things, so is the vessel of honor. Once again we are:

a.    The Vessel looks inward

    • What must be purged
    • Then the vessel can be used by the Master for His honor
    • Know your Name-Name of the Lord

19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

b.     Know where you are-the Great House of God

20 Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable.

  • Remember the Example of Abraham and his men

When Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he led forth his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued as far as Dan.” Genesis 14:14

“His trained men, born in his house.” The reference is really to a household, and it is in this connection that the word is used in the New Testament with regard to God’s house. We have been born into a household (Hebrews 3:6), and this household is meant, above all other things, to be a place of spiritual training and education.

Whatever else Abram’s men were trained in, they were certainly trained for war. We also have to learn that the House of God is the place of training for spiritual conflict. The household of God is the relationship and fellowship of believers: it is not a place, but the relationship in the Holy Spirit into which we are born again. It is the sphere of our training, so that we do not live our lives in the realm of mere theories, but are subject to the disciplining work of the Holy Spirit.

According to Paul, one of the great purposes of the Scriptures is that we may know “how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God” (1 Timothy 3:15)

c. Do House Cleaning

21 Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

We are “in a great house” (2 Timothy 2:20-21). Let us so respond to the Spirit’s training and sanctifying work that we may be vessels unto honour, sanctified, meet for the master’s use, prepared unto every good work.

We must place our stake in the holiness that God wants for our life

The Holy Spirit can’t do for us what we are unwilling to do ourselves

      • If  you constantly surround yourselves with pigs, or eat pig slop, or play in pig filth, don’t count on the Holy Spirit to magically transform you into Cinderella or Cinderfella Christian
      • The prodigal at least had to step out of the pig sty and make his way for home
      • There is no box of instant holiness
      • There is only the daily call to mortify the deeds of the flesh
      • Then we can grow in holiness by daily depending upon the righteousness of Christ.

d.  Holiness fits us for service.

      • „ We must be willing to be set apart for His use.
      • 2 Timothy 2:21 set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.

Here is Paul’s exercise plan for Godliness

Paul now gives us four items in a program of practical holiness:

1. There is something to set behind us.
“flee youthful passions”

The word for passion or lust (KJV) simply means “desires”. It can be wrong desires, or good desires. With youthful attached we think of teenagers and their fleshly desires. But the verse actually means “childish desires.” We must constantly put those things behind us that belong to immaturity. As a mature believer, you leave behind childish indulgences or immature ways. Godliness requires us to grow up and seek maturity.

2. There is something to set before us.
“pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace”

Paul lists these virtues as a “holy string of pearls”, strung together without conjunctions between them. They present a beautiful cluster.

1) Righteousness means all that is right in the sight of God.

2) We must pursue that righteousness in a spirit of absolute belief (faith) in the promises of God.

If God has given us a command, then it is right to obey it; if He has given us a promise it is right to believe it. These first two speak directly to us about ourselves.

3) The next two, love and peace, indicate our behavior towards others;

We must pursue the aim of loving one another. It must not be a case of sometimes loving and sometimes hating; not half-loving nor barely tolerating or being satisfied provided we do not actually fall out or speak harshly.

In addition to love, we must live in peace with others, even those who would be our enemy.

  • Love and peace should be ever before us.
3. There is something to set alongside us.
“along with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (v.22).

Godliness is never achieved in isolation. Nor is it achieved without others praying for you. We are called to pursue Godliness with a praying fellowship.

4. There is something to avoid entirely
V 23 Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

6.  The Servant of the Lord (vv.24-26)

a. The servant looks outward and moves toward people around him.

      • He must not strive but be gentle to all.
      • He must be “apt to teach, forbearing, in meekness instructing those who oppose themselves”.
      • He is after a crop.

Because, “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth.” He is going out to those who have not yet repented in order that they may be rescued from the snare of Satan and be brought home to God.

This title “The Servant of the Lord” is precious because it was the one which Isaiah chose as he looked forward to the Lord Jesus.

Isaiah 42:1 1 Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.

Here, then, we are called to model ourselves upon the Lord Jesus Christ.

There are six things said here about the Lord’s servant:

1.    How he Acts & Reacts to others

                    1) (24) He does not strive, or He is not quarrelsome (RSV). The Greek is very dramatic — “He does not go to war”.

The Lord’s servant must not be a person spoiling for a fight, anxious to pick a quarrel; he is not a controversial person, he does not go to war.

4) He is “patient or forbearing”.

If the first tells us how he acts this word describes how he reacts: he is tolerant and takes everything that is thrown at him. The word seems to have a basic meaning of acceptance of hostility. He accepts it. He obviously does not run from it; he does not give ground; but neither does he hit back.

2.     His Attitude to others and himself

2) He is gentle, and this matches up with

5) which speaks of his meekness.

Both of these concern our attitude. The first is towards others, to whom he maintains an attitude of gentleness and kindness, ever seeking the other’s welfare.

The second speaks of his attitude about himself. It is an attitude of meekness. He will always put the other person first and himself second. I can only express this idea of meekness by inventing a word, which is ‘unselfassertive’. That is what meekness really means. So the servant of the Lord will assert the rights of others in kindness and gentleness but maintain a non-assertive attitude towards himself.

3.    His Methods with others

3) He is apt to teach ( a concerned teacher) and he

6) correcting his opponents

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth,

He also corrects hose whom he serves. He is devoted to the task of communicating the truth. His sole and over-riding preoccupation is to share the truth with others. He is apt to teach. The word “correcting” relates to the bringing up of a child and suggests the sharing of the truth appropriately to the condition of the person to whom the testimony is being made.

7.   Conclusion

So is it the work of the Lord or is discipleship up to the servants of the Lord?

Here in Chapter 2 we find the answer, for the chapter which has begun with grace, now ends also with grace.

a. There is grace received (v.1)

2 Timothy 2:1 1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

b. There is grace bestowed (v.26).

While there is considerable doubt as to what in fact is the correct detailed translation of verse 26, there can be no doubt about the main meaning, which is that as the servant of the Lord reaches out with the truth to the unconverted, these receive the grace of repentance and so are recovered out of the snare of the devil.

If  we empower ourselves with the grace that is in Christ Jesus and so become fashioned in His likeness, we then become the people through whom that grace may be bestowed on the needy and unconverted.


[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – New Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 845.

[2] Marvin R. Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament, (New York: Scribners, 1887), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2 Timothy 2:15”.

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2 Timothy 1:14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.

The Aptitude of a Disciple Maker

„ What is an “aptitude”? n. 1. An inherent ability, as for learning; a talent: an aptitude for mathematics.

  • Being a Disciple Maker is not based upon your ability, but the ability of the Word of God!
  • Based on One Premise – The Word of God cannot be bound. The Word of God is powerful!

Last week we focused on our attitude toward Disciple-Making. Your attitude determines how you value this Word of God. Do you believe it is life-giving? Do you believe it is a sacred deposit? Do you believe it is of greater value than anything in this world? Sadly, many ‘Christians’ have the attitude of the Jews that Malachi was writing to, 400 years before Christ’s coming.

Malachi 3:14 You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the LORD of hosts?

For the Word of God to be profitable to us, or beneficial, it must be mixed with faith.

Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

This is why the Jews were overcome in the wilderness. Even though they saw evidence of God, even though they had a messenger who talked directly to God, the word of God did not profit them, and they did not have faith to belief in the power of God, nor in His promises. Because they failed to believe they were overcome and perished in the wilderness, never receiving the promise of God’s blessing as symbolized by the Promised Land.

I am here to proclaim to you that this Word of God is indeed Powerful and worth giving your whole life for! It is profitable, it has the power to save, the power to heal, the power to make whole! It is the power to save us from this sin sick world. It is the power to make us sons of God. It is the power for Life, Abundant Life and it is the power for Eternal Life!

Whether you believe it and value it is up to you. If you allow your heart to get hard, no amount of preaching or begging or pleading will get you to believe!

If you do not value this Word, you will not see the value of intentional discipleship. You will not see the value of Gospel Track Discipleship. I am praying that our hearts will be softened and our eyes open to the power of God’s Word, and that He would renew within your heart a longing for Jesus Christ, a longing that will develop a desire for discipleship in your life, and a willingness to learn how to disciple others.

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will never pass away.

Isaiah 55:11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.

The Word of God created the universe. The Word of God holds this world together. By the Word of God we exist. Without the Word of God this universe would fall apart.

Colossians 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

Paul says in our text that the Word of God is NEVER bound. It is always powerful!

This World was designed according to God’s Word. God wants His Word to bring His design into your life. It is a precious deposit, one which is profitable for your life. Justice in your life is through God’s Word! For God’s Word to bring justice into your life, for God’s Word to have profit in your life, there are three-

APTITUDES which we must have or develop.

1.   Soldier

2.   Athlete

3.   Farmer

If you can lay hold of the qualities involved in being a soldier, an athlete and a farmer, this Word will enrich your life, and you will want to share its value with other believers so their life can be enriched.

It will not because you are a super talented Christian.  It will because the Word produces the desire within you! This is what Paul meant in 2 Thessalonians 3:1:

2 Thessalonians 3:1 Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you

Is the Word of God having “free course” in your life?

Jesus encountered a strange thing when He returned to Nazareth and preached. Here was the town he had grown up in, worked in. Everyone knew who he was, who his family was. They were amazed at what Jesus preached, but it was marked with unbelief. They could not believe that Jesus was capable of being something more than just the guy who fixed broken chairs, or made furniture. So most of the town did not belief in what he was saying. Here is how Mark describes what happened.

Mark 6:5-6 And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief. And he went about among the villages teaching.

Because they did not believe the Word of the Lord, it severely hindered the “free course” of the power of the Word. Jesus could do a few small miracles, but their unbelief prevented Him from doing so much more.

If we want the Word of God to have ‘free course” in our lives, to profit our lives, to allow God to accomplish all that He wants for our lives, we need to work on this “belief” factor. We need to ramp up our treatment of God’s Word.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:1-13 and discover why the aptitude of a Soldier, an Athlete and a Farmer are so important to seeing the power of the Word in our lives.

1. Paul tells young Timothy to build up through grace:

1 You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus,

    • Grace strengthens us as we follow Christ.

2. Be a banker with the Word of God

2 and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.

3. Be like a Good Soldier

3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him.

    •  Willingness to share in suffering

„ A Soldier realizes he has a job to do, a job that requires sacrifice of personal freedom and luxuries. „ The task at hand is the priority, and requires 110% of our attention.

„ You can lose your life by not training or not being attentive.

A. Keep from being entangled

    • „ Entangled by wants
    • „ Entangled by failures
    • „ Entangled by inadequacies
    • „ Entangled by worries

B. Keep your heart trained upon the one who enlisted you.

    • „ Long battle, we need His strength
    • „ He enlisted us, He will train us
    • „ We must listen and believe.

C. It is Jesus you seek to please.

    • „ We please Him when we believe what He says
    • „ We please Him when we pay attention to what He says

4. Be like an Athlete

5 An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules.

    • Seek the crown
    • Follow dedicated regimen

„ Victory is only a tenth of a second difference. Phelps qualified for 8th place in the 400 Individual medley at 4:13:33. „ Laszlo Cseh was 9th at 4:13:40=„ 7/100 of a second.

„ Only 3½ seconds separated 1st from 8th place.

  1. Have the heart of a competitor
  2. Follow the rules
    • „ A great long jumper must make his mark.
    • „ A great sprinter cannot leave too early.
    • „ Rules are important for the integrity of the games.
    • „ God has a design that must be followed for our lives.
    • „ There is mercy, but you can never presume upon it.

„ God’s Word and Justice will always prevail, and belief in His Word is rule number one. You cannot be lackadaisical and expect God to always bless you.

„ Last time an athlete presumed he would win if he simply showed up; he was beaten by a tortoise.

5. Be like a Farmer

6 It is the hard-working farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops.

  1. Committed
  2. No time off when the work is to be done
  3. Timing is critical
  4. Soil must be prepared and taken care of
  5. Patience as the crop grows.
  6. Faith that God will make it grow, that rain will be provided.
  7. Trust that God will reward your belief and hard work.
  8. You get to share in the fruit!

„ Heb 11:6- must belief that He is and that God is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

6. Understand What the Lord Wants for You.

7 Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.

  • Here is the commonality He wants us to see:
  1. They all must be diligent
  2.  They all must be faithful
  3.  There is an element of faith
  4.  There must be a dependency on the Lord to make each successful.

7.   Always remember it is about Jesus

8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel,

8.   Believe in the Power of the Word

9 for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!

„ God’s Word is never bound.  We simply refuse to let it be that valuable deposit in our lives. „ So we have nothing to give to those around us.

  • Don’t allow your limitations to hinder the Work of the Gospel

9.   Release the Power of Jesus Christ

10 Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.

10.     Realize the Power you Have in Christ

11 The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

  • Do you believe your Regeneration?
  • Do you believe the Life of Jesus Christ is your life?
  • Do you believe you reign with Him
  • Do you believe He is faithful even when we are faithless?
  • He is always faithful, even when we are faithless.

„ Never be at Ease in your Unbelief

Mark 16:14 The disciples were reclining. They were at ease in their unbelief. They were more concerned about their bellies than they were their hard hearts. Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. They had refused to believe the report that Jesus was risen and alive!

The disciples were allowing a fleshly thing to cloud a spiritual realityTheir focus on what was in the past hardened their heart to what was true in the now! This is true of Christians today.

We feed our hearts on what God has not done or failed to do. Whenever we dwell on what has not happened, we foster the atmosphere for the spirit of offense and bitterness to arise and then thrive. When we dwell on what has not happened, we legitimize unbelief. We even excuse unbelief as normal. So we promote a sense of justification for not believing God.

Jesus rebuked that attitude in His disciples. He rebukes that attitude now! That attitude and thinking has to die! Christians are at ease in their unbelief. They are reclining at the table of fleshly attitudes and thinking. While we feed our bellies, the world is crying out for spiritual truth that will change their lives. While we are content in our unbelief our neighbors are crying out for something worth believing in.

Discipleship is all about taking people into their Destiny with the Power of the Risen Christ

Too often the Church focuses on keeping people from “sin “instead of taking people into their destiny with the power of the risen Christ. Churches that provide excuses for falling short of and not believing the power of Christ are merely promoters of “religion,” for God’s Word says religion is “form without power!” (2 Tim 3:5)

The area of our greatest unbelief is in our prayers.

So much of the content of our praying is for things we already possess in Christ, but fail to believe. So we labor to ask God for things we already have. We expose our unbelief through our boring prayers. We fail to ask God for things we do not possess because we fail to believe what God has given us. No wonder prayer is laborious and cursory to most Christians. No wonder there is a prevailing attitude that their prayers never reach the ceiling! Our prayers are often exercises in unbelief!

Churches are to be houses of prayer. The God purpose of prayer is to produce JOY in the experience of the believer.

John 16:24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

Prayer is not to twist God’s arm, or to make us seem more spiritual. Prayer is to encourage our belief in the reality of Jesus. Jesus wants prayer to take us into fullness of JOY! JOY is the currency of Heaven! God reserves JOY as the reward for the suffering. Christ endured the cross for the JOY that was set before Him. The reality of Christ will deposit the currency of heaven in our lives. JOY is the currency of Heaven! JOY is the result of prayer! Jesus says to all faithful servants who live with His power in their lives, “Well done…enter into the joy of your master.” (Matthew 25:23)

God wants us to feast on belief in the power of the Name of Jesus. Prayer is designed to be a breakthrough into His heavenly JOY! Prayer is the expenditure of belief in return for the heavenly currency. If we pray only for that which we already possess, we will never experience the breakthrough of JOY. We will never discover the riches of God’s heavenly currency!

Never allow our prayers to contradict what God has already promised. Our unbelief closes heaven’s resources to us. Closed heavens are between our ears. Failure to know JOY is between our ears! We limit our God because our unbelief does not want to take hold of His power and JOY, even when He is standing in front of us with outstretched arms!

This is why Paul prayed so fervently for us:

Ephesians 1:18-19 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might…

Paul saw Jesus, saw His power, and saw that power in His life. Paul experienced JOY even in prison, even in the stockades, even holding flotsam in the middle of the ocean. Paul’s eyes were opened and his heart was on fire for the realities of Jesus Christ! He could see the greatness of the power within Him, the same power that raised Jesus from the grave.  Paul never reclined in unbelief after that vision.

Our Vision should FIRE our Heart!

Christians have no excuse for not seeing the same vision. The vision is there for all to see. If we fail to believe, the hardness of our heart is exposed.

When Jesus was baptized, Matthew writes, “immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him” (Matthew 3:16). The picture is of the heavens being divided, rolled back, suddenly exposing the power of the heavenlies, and allowing the Holy Spirit to descend upon Jesus. Stephen saw the heavens rolled back and gazed upon the Glory of God and His Son. The truth is that the heavens have been opened to all Christians! The Holy Spirit has been given to all Christians. The Glory of God is for all Christians. We have the Holy Spirit living within us, a gift from our Savior!

Our Father is jealous for us to know the power of the Holy Spirit within us. He earnestly desires us to believe and experience His JOY!

James 4:5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

We Live under an Open Heaven

We live under an open heaven. The heavens are rolled back revealing the Power of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit lives in every believer, but his POWER is not upon every believer. Luke 4:1 says that Jesus left the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit. But he did not have the POWER of the Holy Spirit until He believed the Word of God in His confrontation with Satan in the wilderness.

Are You Aware of the Power within You?

The Holy Spirit is in us eternally, but His POWER is not opened to us unless we believe. When we allow the wilderness of this world to influence our believing, we fail to see the power of the Spirit. We fail to influence the wilderness around us. We fail to alter the environment around us. Men who believed in the POWER of Christ influenced the environment into which they were placed. Stephen had a profound effect upon those angry men. Paul had an astounding effect upon prisoners, towns people, and even hardened Roman Soldiers.

Christians must learn how to “host” the presence of God such that He is always before us, influencing the environment of every place we step into. What we are conscious of, we are positioned to manifest. What we are aware of, we are able to release. If we are not conscious and aware of the POWER of God within us, we will never be able to influence those around us. The Gospel is not a ministry of words. The Gospel is the ministry of Power because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The Gospel is the ministry of releasing the presence of the Holy Spirit in the whole earth.

We will never release that which we are unaware of.

A woman who had struggled for years with an issue of blood made a “demand” upon Christ. In desperation she reached out among the throng to touch the “hem of His garment.” She made a demand for her life. In spite of all the people pressing around Him, Christ was so aware of the Spirit’s presence that He instantly knew when a demand was made to which the Spirit responded. If we are not intensely aware of the Holy Spirit within our lives, we will have nothing to offer those around us who are desperately seeking power for their lives. They are overwhelmed, they are needy, and we have no life-giving power to offer them.

A demand was made upon Peter. Peter confessed he had no silver or gold, but Peter was intensely aware of what he did possess. Peter had life in Christ, and He was willing to share that POWER with the beggar at the gate. Peter said “what I do have I will give you.”

Write a HUGE Check with Heavenly Currency!

Peter knew a heavenly currency that the world knows nothing about. Peter wrote a HUGE check because he knew what he possessed (Acts 3:6). Most Christians can only write tiny checks because our unbelief has obscured what we possess.

We live with such ignorance of what we possess. We possess the very “Kingdom of God.” The one who freed us from our sins, at the same time made us a Kingdom, Priests to His God and Father (Rev 1:6). Jesus said “the words that I speak to you are spirit and life.” (John 6:63)

Jesus Spoke Life through His Words

John 6:63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

Jesus, being the very logos (word), spoke the Spirit and Life where ever He journeyed. When Christ spoke, His words became the Spirit and brought LIFE to those who believed. When we believe in the Words of Christ, and speak them into the world, we impart the Spirit to our environment, and we impart LIFE to those who believe.

We are Kingdom builders through the POWER that is in us. This Kingdom is not in food or drink, but is righteousness, peace and JOY in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).

When we are aware of the power that lies within us, and we exercise that power in faith, we are building the Kingdom by bringing people to the LIFE in Christ. We are dispensing the heavenly currency of JOY to those around us.

When you are handing out money, people stop and demand some. When you are handing out JOY, joy that this world is so hungry for, people will stop and demand it. The communities around the disciples took note of what they were handing out. They took note of where they went. They even brought the sick and lame into the streets to catch the shadow of Peter and be healed (Acts 5:15). Note: Your Shadow will always release what overshadows you! Peter was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit!

An unbelieving, defeated group of Christians will never see life brought to the dead in sin. They will never see miracles of God. Unbelief and defeat produces inward focused Christians, prone to depression and discouragement. When we turn inward we become a dead sea. An inward focused Christian is a dead Christian. An inward Christian is self-absorbed and self-centered. We need to be pre-occupied with who Christ is! With what Christ can do! We need to constantly release Him into every circumstance we encounter. We release His POWER by faith!

Don’t allow disappointments to obscure Revelation

So much of “Christianity” is based upon disappointment rather than revelation. We fail to see the Glory of God or the Power of His Son. Stephen saw the revelation in the midst of a downpour of stones. Paul saw the revelation in the midst of a hateful heart. John saw the revelation in the midst of loneliness and exile. The Revelation of Christ changes our environment. It changes our heart! Rather than being disappointed in what God fails to do for us, we need to focus on all that God has done for us!

Jesus said that if you see Him, you have seen the Father. So Jesus is the revelation of the nature and power of God. Jesus said that “all power” had been given to him in heaven and on earth (Matthew 28:18). His power is the basis of us going into the world. If we do not know His power by revelation, then we will be powerless if we go into the world. We will be overcome by the world!

Christ is in us as a River Let Him Flow!

Powerlessness is inexcusable and unacceptable. The Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is in you and he wants out. He is not in us as a lake, or a ‘dead sea’, but rather as a river. Rivers flow from. The nature and power of God becomes ours as a believer. We have to believe in our own conversion! We have to believe in the POWER that was given to Jesus and was given to us!

As Paul prayed, the Lord is releasing a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that we can actually rise to who He says we are! We cannot afford to rest in unbelief, nor can we afford to think thought that God never thinks about us. We must learn to meditate on the things the Holy Spirit can say “AMEN!” to.

Paul wrote that in order to serve God acceptably, our minds (that thing between our ears) must be renewed so that our lives are transformed. Our minds must come under the influence of the Holy Spirit. We must learn divine perspective in order to live the divine life.

This renewing of our mind can only come from a divine encounter with the POWER of God. We must see the revelation of Christ as the POWER in our life. Any creed or teaching that does not take us to the person of Jesus in a divine encounter will only make us more “religious.” It will only equip us to argue, not bring life into our environment.

When our beliefs line up with the POWER of Christ in us, we can take the Gospel into our communities without limits, without baggage that weighs it down and renders it powerless. We must have the experience of the Gospel that changes our lives, changes our thinking and makes us intensely aware of the divine POWER within us. Only then can we dispense the currency of heaven to those joyless souls around us.


Who can be a Disciple-Maker? Why should we be a Disciple Making Church?

I want to ask you two questions, because these questions will be before us the next few weeks.

1.  “What is the difference between being a Christian and being a disciple?”

Is there a difference between a convert and a follower?

Is there a difference between a fan and a player?

  • One has seen, and another continually sees.
  • One has encountered, the other continually encounters.
  • The result is transformation. A follower becomes like the one he follows. A player becomes like his teammates (transformed by the coaches)

“We are not so much Christ followers as we are Christ admirers who happily listen to amazing stories about His life and His teachings, then go about our business without the principles imparted making an impact on who we are.”

2.  Why is Disciple-Making so Important?

  • Jesus told us to make disciples.
  • World Philosophy is overpowering.
  • People can be overcome in the wilderness.

Last week Ray looked at 1 Thess. 1. Pastor Ray told us about worldly philosophy that is so prevalent, and how the only way to rescue men from the world is not just to get them saved, but to intentionally make disciples.

Paul, Silas and Timothy were committed to making disciples. A simple belief was not enough to overcome the worldly philosophies that were bombarding the Thessalonians. Paul and his fellow workers realized they must invest time in the new converts to see them grow in Jesus Christ and be overcomers.

1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also with full conviction. And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you received the word in much affliction, with the joy of the Holy Spirit,

The Thessalonians became friends with Paul, Silas and Timothy. Not just “sure is hot” “weather friends” but I am struggling with my faith because I’ve been out of work for a year kind of friends. Friends who are with each other in the trenches. Friends who pray together, who seek the Lord together. Friends who talk about problems with family together. Together, together, together. Discipleship is togethership.

George Barna states in his book, Growing True Disciples, “Almost every church in our country has some type of discipleship program or set of activities. Stunningly few churches have a church of disciples”, (Barna 2001, 21).

  • 88% of children raised in evangelical homes leave church at the age of 18, never to return.
  • Approximately  2/3 of the members of Southern Baptist churches attend church only sporadically.
  • The average “evangelical” church in America wins 1.67 persons (less than 2) to Christ and their church each year for every 100 persons who attend that church.
  • 1/3  of church members state their greatest individual needs are not being met by their church.
  • Less than 50% of church members pray for 5 minutes at least twice a week.
  • Only 11% of church members have shared the gospel even once in the last year and 33% have never shared the gospel with anyone.
  • Most church leaders, when asked, cannot even define “Disciple”, and hardly any have been trained to “Make disciples”.[1]

“In a comprehensive study we conducted, we compared the beliefs, attitudes, values and behaviors of believers and non-believers…. We concluded that it is difficult for non-Christians to understand Christianity since few born again individuals model a biblical faith (Barna, 63).

The Church in America is failing to live up to its promise; we’re not even coming close to fulfilling it…. Believers are largely indistinguishable from non-believers in how they think and live … If we hope to make a significant difference in the lives of individuals and in the nation’s culture, then we must increase our intentionality, our intensity and improve our strategies” (Barna, 13).

“Discipleship does not happen simply because a church exists. It occurs when there is an intentional and strategic thrust to facilitate spiritual maturity” (Barna, 29).

“My most recent research, described in Maximum Faith, shows how the vast majority of American Christians have denied God His rightful place on the throne of their lives. Our default response, driven by cultural expectations and personal preferences, is to withhold control of our lives so that we, not God, can reign supreme – all under the cover of being “good and responsible Christians.” More often than not, we treat God as our religion consultant and turn to the Bible as an emergency reference book.

Most Americans point to their typical faith practices – e.g., church attendance, Christianeducation involvement, personal Bible study, daily prayer, freely donating money to ministries, participation in a small group, etc. – as evidence of personal piety.

In essence, the born-again community has invited God to reside in our hearts, accepting the special gift of love and forgiveness that He offered, along with His promise of eternal salvation. Sadly, once we felt certain that we had His gift securely in hand, we abandoned Him and have continued to operate by the standards and values of the world, searching for earthly treasures and pleasures. That is why the research has consistently shown over the past two decades that the lives of born-again Christians are essentially indistinguishable from those of people who do not claim Jesus Christ as their savior. We may be “religious” but we are not truly transformed by our faith in and relationship with God. Only a tiny proportion of born again adults get beyond their profession of faith to experience the more robust and significant life that is available through Christ to His followers.

A major reason why few Americans experience the richness of the Christian life is that we do not know what to do beyond reading and memorizing more Bible verses, attending church services more consistently, donating money to worthy causes, volunteering a few hours at church, and discussing our faith in Jesus with family and friends.

And unfortunately, my research reveals that a majority of believers who figure out where the journey goes, and what it takes to maximize the opportunity God grants us by completing the journey to wholeness, instead choose to settle for a less complete and fulfilling life.

Jesus’ Altar Call

Jesus’ altar calls were different. His view of what it meant to be saved was different from the modern church’s feeble definition. Jesus qualified the true heart of repentance by the test of discipleship.

The rich, young ruler ran and stopped Jesus in the street. He inquired, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

The Lord responded by sharing one of His favorite sermons written by Moses.

The young man replied, “All these I have kept since I was a boy.”

Jesus then raised the bar of discipleship: “Sell everything you have and give to the poor” (Mark 10:17–22). Scripture is clear, this young man walked away sad.

The rich, young ruler was willing to be a convert, but he was not willing to pay the cost of discipleship. He wanted a religion that was convenient for his lifestyle apart from the lordship of Christ. His desire for convenient religion left him where it leaves every insincere person — sad and despondent.

Christianity without discipleship is Christianity without Christ. This kind of discipleship becomes nothing more than an abstract idea, a myth that has a place for the Fatherhood of God, but omits Christ as a living Lord and Master. Without real discipleship there is trust in God, but there is not a genuine following of Christ. Cheap grace is a deadly enemy of the church.

As we go forward with forming “GraceLife Community Church” I hope you will see the need to form a church whose culture and core is intentionally built upon relationships which are growing together in Jesus Christ. After all, that is discipleship.

1 Timothy 1:12-20 I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

A. Christ Values Faithfulness

  • 1 Tim 1:12-I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful

Christ doesn’t look for your leadership skills, or knowledge or athletic ability. God looks for one quality in disciple-makers-faithfulness.

  • What does faithfulness entail?
  1. Stick-to-itiveness
  2. Single eye
  3. Deep appreciation
  4. Common goal
  5. Not double-minded

B. Christ Appoints Sinners To Service

  • vs 12b-13 – appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief
1.  God’s mercy and grace transforms us with faith and love in Christ.

Why does God use sinners? He values broken vessels, so that the power is of Him. 

2.  God wants His grace to overflow from us to others.
  • vs 14 – and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus
3.  Grace always flows when we are emptied of self at the Cross

1 Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 1:27-30 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption,

C. Christ Desires to Save Sinners

  • vs 15, 16 – The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.

Jesus looked upon the city of Jerusalem and wept as he saw thousands enslaved by sin, overcome by the world. He desired to gather her children up into his arms as a Mother Hen gathers her brood, but they would not come. So Christ saw that He could take fellow sinners, broken vessels, and use them to reach out to fellow sinners.

1.  Sinners are to be examples
2.  Patience and Endurance are on display in Discipleship

Not our patience or our endurance, but Christ’s. Christ endured to the bitter end for our sakes, and He runs alongside us in a marathon, not a sprint. His perfect patience is displayed when we come alongside other believers. His patience with us leads others to believe.

3.  Discipleship is based on transparent relationships rich in mercy.

D. Christ Desires Soldiers who Overcome

  • Vs 17,18 – To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience.

When one is overwhelmed by their sins, they realize they need a Savior.
When two admit they struggle with sin, they realize they need an Overcoming, Conquering King!

1.  Discipleship takes believers and leads them along three prioritized paths:
    1. The first priority is a growing commitment to the Person of Jesus Christ.
    2. The second priority is a growing commitment to the Body of Christ, your face-to-face group of disciples.
    3. The third priority is a growing commitment to the work of Christ in your world. 

These do grow on each other, but they also must be engaged at the same time. You need growth in all three to stay healthy in your Christian walk. You need growth in all three to overcome the world.

The disciple-making church operates with a specific definition of discipleship to Jesus.

Jesus defined disciples as those who forsook all to gain all of Him! We can dumb down discipleship, but we will get what we ask for. If we ask for small commitment, we will get small disciples. If we ask for sometimes commitment, we will get sometimes disciples. A true disciple maintains his or her relationship with Jesus Christ 24/7, 365 days a year. A true disciple follows the King of Kings!

2.  Discipleship Grows Overcomers
  • vs 18b that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience

Luke 11:21-22 When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

Romans 12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1 John 5:4-5 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world— our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Is your life a contradiction to discipleship?

  • A disciple who does not grow, who does not have the purpose of growing, in their discipleship to Jesus is a contradiction in terms.
  • A stagnant or comfortable disciple is a contradiction.
  • A disciple who does not change and grow is a contradiction.
3.  Discipleship Does Not takes the Path of Least Resistance.

2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.

1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

4.  Disciples will have authority when Christ reigns

Revelation 2:26 The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,

Revelation 3:21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.

E. Christ Desires to be our Helmsman

  • vs 19, 20 – By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

Our life can be seen as a majestic ship sailing the oceans with its tall mast and sails filled with wind, gliding across the waves with the grace of its maker. Disciples sail the seas of life guided by the direction of our helmsman Jesus Christ. It is the trust and faith we have in him that allows our lives to be directed by His will.

Hymenaeus and Alexander followed Christ for awhile. For some reason, their faith faltered and they found themselves overcome by the waves of the world, and finally their lives were shipwrecked upon the rocks of the shore.

They rejected Jesus Christ as their guide and began to take control of their own lives. They cast the Lord “overboard” and took control of their own lives, steering as they willed. Sadly, their ship wrecked upon the shoals of this world.

Shipwrecks are caused by carelessness and indifference.  (Like the captain of the Cruise Ship that recently sunk) The seas of life are very treacherous, filled with hidden obstacles that can tear a hole in our hull. Only Christ can guide us safely through. Jesus knows every obstacle that will be in our path. The Lord knows what we need and He knows where we need to go. We worry about what is over the next horizon and how to survive the coming storms. Our hearts are filled with fear as the storms of life pound upon us and we cry out to the helmsman for relief. One who is a disciple has been trained in how to stay close to the Savior and interpret the signals He provides.

Hymenaeus and Alexander lost their faith. Their hearts were corrupted and they rejected God’s will and turned to their own desires. Paul declares in II Timothy 2:18 that Hymenaeus (and Philetus) “have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some” (II Tim 2:18 ). Their actions not only caused them to lose their souls but also impacted others whose faith was “upset.”

Should we be disciples? Most definitely. Can you be a Christian and refuse to be a disciple? I don’t see how.

Who can be a Disciple and a Disciple maker (they are one and the same)?

Any sinner who decides to be faithful to Christ and allow Him to lead his life, because you want to be an overcomer.

So Why Should a Church be committed to being a Disciple-Making Church?

  • Because we owe it to Christ.
  • Because it allows Sinners to reach other sinners
  • Because it allows Grace to overflow in our lives
  • Because it produces Overcomers
  • Because it keeps us ship-shape.
  • Because we will be drawn into the power of Christ for our every-day lives.

[1] (Barna 2001)


The Biblical Process of Discipleship

Peter was no stranger to failure and success in his discipleship journey.  As a result of the lessons he learned, he is able to describe for us the discipleship journey we will encounter.  Disciples become partakers of the divine nature of Christ through the Word (precious promises). Through the power of the Word we escape the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire (the desire for things apart from God). To enjoy this “divine nature” (Paul calls it the ‘fullness of Christ’) we must diligently pursue the seven stages of discipleship that Peter lists. We must diligently seek to “ADD” these things to our life.  He concludes in verse 8, “For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The end result of being a disciple is abounding in Jesus Christ and abounding in the fruit that knowing and abiding in Him brings!

Seven Stages of Discipleship – II Peter 1: 4-8

Step One: Repentance & Faith
John 1; Luke 3
New Life in Christ becomes reality through conversion wrought by Holy Spirit through faith – FAITH
Step Two: Enlightenment & Guidance
John 2-5
Once that change becomes reality, the disciple begins learning how to “put on Jesus Christ” – VIRTUE
Step Three: Growth in Christ
Luke 4-6
 
The disciple grows more and more into the fullness that God has for him in Jesus Christ.  – KNOWLEDGE
Step Four: Ministry Development
Luke 6-9
 
The inward transformation of Christ’s Word begins to become an outward reality of righteousness that results in ministry to others. – SELF-CONTROL
Step Five: Testing
John 6-8 (Understand how God uses ‘death of a vision)
Ministry will always involve “fiery trials” (I Peter 4:12) These build endurance and work to reveal the power and glory of Christ in your life. (Rom 5:2-3) – STEADFASTNESS
Step Six: Ministry in the Power of Christ
Luke 10-19, John 9-12
The disciple ministers with a greater awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit, whether as a leader or a worker. The ministry is of and through Christ, not the disciple’s natural abilities. – GODLINESS
Step Seven: Fruit through the Fullness of Christ
Luke 20-22, Acts 2,10, John 15
 
The Word continues to manifest the fullness of Christ, resulting in greater love for those around him, and a heart for the needs of the world. Other disciple’s are birthed and the Word continues to profit as God pleases. – LOVE

Seven Stages Explained 

A.  Stage One – Repentance and Faith in Christ

Brings new (changed) life through the regeneration of the Holy Spirit

1)   Grief over our sins against God brings repentance unto salvation. 2 Corinthians 7:10

2)   Repentance produces a change which results in turning toward God Acts 26:20

3)    Repentance has two facets.

  • „ From God. The work of ‘regeneration’ which results in our inner man becoming alive to God and our ‘old man’ or nature being put to death. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Titus 3:5, Eph 2:4-5
  • „ From Man. Our response to the conviction of the Holy Spirit which produces inner change and keeps us growing in Christ.

4)    Those unwilling to change or submit to the Holy Spirit cannot be discipled.

5)    Baptism is a revealer of one’s willingness to repent before the Lord. Acts 2:37-38

B.    Stage Two – Enlightenment & Guidance

Learning of the One who gave me new life. Matthew 11:28-30

1)    The Christian Life is meant to be an “exchanged life.”[1]

What Do We Exchange?

What we give up

What we get in return

Our sin

2 Cor. 5:21

Christ’s Righteousness

Wrath of God

Rom. 5:1

Peace with God

Condemnation (Hell)

Eph. 2:6,19

Father’s House (Heaven)

Death

Gal. 2:20

Life

The Old Man

2 Cor. 5:17

The New Man

Law

Rom. 7:4-6

Grace

Our weakness

1 Cor. 12:9-10

His Strength

Our Impurity

Heb. 10:21-22

His purity

External morality

Eph. 1:4

Holiness of God

Self strength

Is. 40:31

God’s Power

Tribulation

Eph. 2:14

Peace

Defeat

1 Cor. 15:57

Victory

Sorrow

John 15:11

Joy[2]

2)    We are to put on Jesus Christ. Romans 13:14, Galatians 3:27

3)    We are seated with Christ, which is to say we rest upon Christ. Ephesians 2:6

4)    Disciples learn to live every aspect of their lives in the faith of Jesus Christ. Galatians 2:20

5)    Disciples can derail growth in Christ by acting or trying in the flesh. Romans 8:4-8

C.    Step Three: Growth in Christ

Participating with Christ to build His Body

1)    The whole body is built up as we grow in Christ.

Ephesians 4:14-16 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

2)    As you grow in Christ, so will your desire to participate in the ministry to His body-the church.

3)    Jesus was always giving His disciples an opportunity to get involved in ministry to others. (The feeding of the 5,000 & 4,000, the sending forth into the towns to preach the Kingdom of God, his very call in Matthew 4:19)

4)    The Life of Christ in us is not to be a Lake (because it becomes the Dead Sea). It is to be a River, flowing from Christ through us to the thirsty.

John 7:37-38 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”

5)    Growth in Christ involves Character building, being conformed to Jesus Christ.

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

D.   Step Four: Ministry Development

The Righteousness of Christ manifests itself outwardly in ministry to those around you.

Philippians 1:9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

The need for the “Exchanged Life” will be apparent as you minister, for regardless of the capacity in which you serve, the work must be of God!

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

1)    Who makes a good partner in the ministry of the Gospel?

  • One who follows Christ – Matthew 4:19
  • One who learns of Christ – Matthew 11:28
  • One who knows the power of the Cross in their life – 1 Cor 1:17-18
  • One who in weakness depends totally upon Christ – 1 Cor 1:26-29
  • One who knows intimately Jesus Christ and Him crucified – 1 Cor 2:1-2
  • One who glories in his weakness so that he can know the grace and power of Christ – 2 Cor 12:9
2 Cor 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

2)    Who makes a bad partner in the ministry of the Gospel?

  • One who puts his confidence in his flesh (talents, abilities) – Phil 3:3
  • One who sets his mind on fleshly things – Romans 8:7,8
  • One who cannot control his tongue – James 3:5-6
  • One who does not submit to authority – 1 Peter 2:13
  • One who holds a high opinion of himself (pride) – Romans 12:3
  • One who has bitterness – Hebrews 12:15
  • One who has temporal values – 1 John 2:15, 1 Cor 10:7
  • One who has moral impurity – Hebrews 12:16, 1 Cor 10:8
  • One who has broken relationships due to lack of love for others – 1 John 4:19-21

E.    Step Five: Testing

Learning to depend upon Christ

Jesus said “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt 22:14). The chosen picture those followers who have the favor of God because they have responded to His discipline. Between the calling and chosen status (being favored as a son), there is always discipline. That discipline takes the form of testing and trials. You must expect it, you must endure it if you are to be “chosen.” Even Paul remarked on many who had turned back from the Lord, because their love for this world weakened their resolve to endure.

Hebrews 12:5-7 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons.

1)    Expect your resolve to follow Christ to be tested and tried.

1 Peter 4:12-14 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

2)    Understand trials and tests prove the genuineness of your faith and result in Christ being glorified.

1 Peter 1:6-7 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

3)    Learn to welcome trials as close friends. (Count it all joy)

James 1:2 When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance. But let the process go on until that endurance is fully developed, and you will find you have become men of mature character with the right sort of independence. (Phillips translation)

4)    Understand that when God is working supernaturally, He works “death of a vision” in our life.

Death of a Vision

This means he will give us a “vision” of what He wants us to do, but due to events, that vision seems to die. This is how God works:

  • „  Abraham – Promised to be a great nation, then spent 25 years waiting for a son, then asked to sacrifice his son.
  • „  Joseph – Dreamed of being great, then 13 years in Egypt as a slave, much of it in jail.
  • „  Moses – Wanted to free his people, then 40 years in hiding
  • „  David – Anointed the future king of Israel, then 10 years on the run from Saul
  • „  Paul – Called to be a messenger to the Gentiles, then spent years in obscurity in Arabia
  • „  The Apostles – believed Jesus was establishing a Kingdom, but that dies with Him on the Cross.

F.    Step Six: Ministry in the Power of Christ

Learning that all ministry is of Him, through Him and for Him

1)    Jesus did not minister in power until He endured testing

Luke 4:1-2 And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil… Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit to Galilee

2)    Ministry must be done in the Power of Christ, and not in the power of the flesh.

1 Thessalonians 1:5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.

3)    Faith is never to be in man, but in the Power of God

1 Corinthians 2:3-5 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

4)    Anyone who ministers is only a conduit for the power of God

2 Corinthians 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the Excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

G.   Step Seven: Fruit through the Fullness of Christ

Learning that bearing Fruit is His responsibility, not mine

1)    Bearing Fruit is a natural process of abiding on the Vine

John 15:4-5 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

2)    Discipleship is all about Fruit from the Fullness of Christ

Philippians 1:9-11 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

3)    The Purpose of the Gospel within us is FRUIT and GROWTH

Colossians 1:5-6 Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,


[1] the exchanged life is Christ living His life through us, rather than us trying to make life work through our own efforts and resources. It is made possible by the believer’s union with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection (Romans 6-8)


Are you ready to Give up and Grab Hold? The plow is sitting out in the field. It needs someone to grab hold and help steer. God provides the power, but He needs faithful disciples to grab hold. The decision to become a Disciple of Jesus Christ is not a decision you make lightly. Nor is it a decision you can forget about and go on your merry way. David had made a decision to follow God, follow so closely that God’s Heart would become David’s heart. God never let David forget that decision. God used test after test to reveal those things in David’s heart and life that were getting in the way of his Discipleship decision. If you make such a decision, God will do the same to you.

God seeks to accomplish three things in the life of a Disciple. Those three things are revealed in Jer 9:24. They are “hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah”. He delights in these three things. These three things are His “good pleasure.”  As Paul wrote: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.(Phil 2:12b-13). If a disciple is to understand anything about God, it is that He will constantly be working in your life to accomplish these three things, for they are His “good pleasure.” If we are to boast in anything, it is only that we know and understand God, that He delights in these three things.

God used every test that David faced to grow and develop these three things in his life. These three things are the very foundation of God’s Kingdom here on Earth, of Jesus’ Kingdom during the millennium, of the Kingdom that the Church has been charged to usher into this world.

You may doubt the significance of these three things. I hope not. Ever since the Holy Spirit revealed this to me, the Word of God has shouted at me with LIFE! 40 years I have been in the Word, and I just last year saw this. I don’t find anyone teaching this on the internet or in writings. I believe it is truth God wants for our age.

David revealed their importance in Psalm 106.

Psalm 106:1-5 “Praise the LORD! Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving-kindness is everlasting. Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, Or can show forth all His praise? How blessed are those who keep justice, Who practice righteousness at all times! Remember me, O LORD, in Your favor toward Your people; Visit me with Your salvation, That I may see the prosperity of Your chosen ones, That I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, That I may glory with Your inheritance.”

A. They are the Grounds for Praise and Thanksgiving!

1.  Give thanks for His ‘hesed’ (loving-kindness, unfailing love)– it is everlasting
    • His hesed is the basis of His mighty deeds and bountiful praise. We do nothing to earn it or deserve it.
    • Justice is something we must covet, guard, desire, submit to. It is not of us but of God.
    • Requires commitment of heart, soul and strength. 24/7 diligence.
2.  Keep mishpat (Justice) and you will enjoy blessing
3.  Practice (accomplish) tsedaqah (Righteousness) at all times

B. They are the Grounds for Favor and Salvation!

God’s Steadfast Love (hesed), Justice (mishpat) and Righteousness (tsedaqah), when embraced and exercised, will empower disciples to:

1.  See the prosperity (well-being) of the chosen (Result of hesed changing our Heart’s Desire)
2.  Joy in the gladness of Your Nation (Result of mishpat bringing God’s design into our House and Dependants)
3.  Glory with Your Inheritance (Result of the Victory of Righteousness that produces the Hope of a Godly inheritance)

The rest of Psalms 106 is a revelation of what happens when we resist hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah.

Psalm 106:6-48 We have sinned like our fathers, We have committed iniquity, we have behaved wickedly. Our fathers in Egypt did not understand Your wonders; They did not remember Your abundant kindnesses, But rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea. Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, That He might make His power known.

Psalm 106:8 Nevertheless he saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make his mighty power to be known.

God saved them for the sake of His Name.Yet look at how they resisted Him:

  • They quickly forgot His works; They did not wait for His counsel, But craved intensely in the wilderness, And tempted God in the desert.
  • Thus they exchanged their glory For the image of an ox that eats grass.
  • They forgot God their Savior, Who had done great things in Egypt, Wonders in the land of Ham And awesome things by the Red Sea.
  • Then they despised the pleasant land; They did not believe in His word, But grumbled in their tents; They did not listen to the voice of the LORD.
  • Therefore He swore to them That He would cast them down in the wilderness, And that He would cast their seed among the nations And scatter them in the lands.
  • They joined themselves also to Baal-peor, And ate sacrifices offered to the dead. Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, And the plague broke out among them.
  • They also provoked Him to wrath at the waters of Meribah, So that it went hard with Moses on their account; Because they were rebellious against His Spirit, He spoke rashly with his lips.
  • They did not destroy the peoples, As the LORD commanded them, But they mingled with the nations And learned their practices, And served their idols, Which became a snare to them.
  • They even sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons, And shed innocent blood, The blood of their sons and their daughters, Whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; And the land was polluted with the blood.
  • Thus they became unclean in their practices, And played the harlot in their deeds.
  • Many times He would deliver them; They, however, were rebellious in their counsel, And so sank down in their iniquity.

Nevertheless He looked upon their distress When He heard their cry; And He remembered His covenant for their sake, And relented according to the greatness of His loving-kindness.

Even in Judgment He Loved them because of His Name! Discipleship is simply the following of God’s Name with all our heart, soul and strength!

He also made them objects of compassion In the presence of all their captors. Save us, O LORD our God, And gather us from among the nations, To give thanks to Your holy name And glory in Your praise. Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, From everlasting even to everlasting. And let all the people say, “Amen.” Praise the LORD!

The Journey through the Wilderness provides us everything we need to learn about what will prevent us from becoming Disciple’s of Jesus Christ. The Hebrew’s being led by Moses constantly resisted God, and so refused to advance in hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah. 

But before we look at their example, we must see what God did when David humbled himself and cried out to God amidst the ashes of Ziklag…

David Hasaq’d himself in Jehovah Elohim

Last week we left David “hasaq(ing)” himself in Yahweh Elohim. Instead of becoming angry at God because of what had happened, David humbled himself, confessed his sins, and reached up to God, counting on His hesed, committing himself to following His justice and claiming His righteousness!

1 Samuel 30:7

David then called for the Priest, Abiathar, to enquire of the Lord with the Ephod. God gae instruction to pursue the raiders, and God assured David he would overtake them and rescue all of their families. God then led them to find an Egyptian slave who had been left behind due to a divinely appointed sickness. He gave David the intel they needed. They pursued and found the Amelikites scattered and revelling in their good fortune. They were easily defeated by David and his men. And as God had promised, nothing was lost, not even one toe nail of their families and possessions. In fact there was great spoil taken over and above what they had lost.

David and his men, their wives and children returned to Ziklag, and even divided things evenly, even with the men who had been too discouraged to pursue. (This represents a principle of Victory-it benefits everyone, especially those disciples who are weak with discouragement, or are simply feeding or working in the nursery, teaching the kids) Following the Lord in victory brings strength and bounty to all.

I want us to realize (as we’ll see), that with God, Victory results in Righteousness. Righteousness results in Victory. When even a few stand in Righteousness, the whole is benefited. When no one stands in Righteousness, the whole suffers terribly. However, only one kind of Righteousness is truly Victory. That is the Righteousness that comes from God alone. Righteousness which is by Faith alone. There is no room for self-righteousness or self-effort.

David also shared the Victory with all those who had strengthened him along the way.

1 Samuel 30:26-31 Now when David came to Ziklag, he sent some of the spoil to the elders of Judah, to his friends, …and to all the places where David himself and his men were accustomed to go… saying, “Behold, a gift for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD “

David was back and battling against the enemies of the Lord! He wanted Judah to know it, that they could count on him when it came to battles against the enemies of the Lord. David was also showing his thankfulness to God and the people who had been a source of encouragement all those years.

When we are zealous for the Lord, we will be zealous in our gratitude for those who encourage us.

Unto the elders of Judah—These were the persons among whom he sojourned during his exile, and who had given him shelter and protection. Gratitude required these presents.[1]

1 Samuel 31

Meanwhile, a real battle was raging on Mt Gilboa, between the forces of Saul and the Philistines. The Philistines prevailed. Saul’s sons, including Jonathon, were killed. Saul was mortally wounded, and fearing what the Philistines would do to his body, fell on his own sword after his armor bearer refused. When the Israelites saw their King dead, they knew the battle was lost, and fled. The Philistines took over the area, and

The Philistines, finding Saul and his three sons among the slain, strip them of their armor, which they put in the house of Ashtoreth, cut off their heads, send the news to all the houses of their idols, and fasten the bodies of Saul and his three sons to the walls of Beth-shan, vv. 8-10. Valiant men of Jabesh-gilead go by night, and take away the bodies; burn them at Jabesh; bury their bones under a tamarisk tree; and fast seven days, vv. 11-13.[2]

2 Samuel 1

An Amalekite comes to David, and informs him that the Philistines had routed the Israelites; and that Saul and his sons were slain, vv. 1-4. And pretends that he himself had despatched Saul, finding him ready to fall alive into the hands of the Philistines, and had brought his crown and bracelets to David, vv. 5-10. David and his men mourn for Saul and his sons, vv. 11, 12. He orders the Amalekite, who professed that he had killed Saul, to be slain, vv. 13-16. David’s funeral song for Saul and Jonathan, vv. 17-27.[3] Look how David honored Saul and Jonathan:

2 Samuel 1:23-27 “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and pleasant in their life, And in their death they were not parted; They were swifter than eagles, They were stronger than lions. “O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, Who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet, Who put ornaments of gold on your apparel. “How have the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan is slain on your high places. “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; You have been very pleasant to me. Your love to me was more wonderful Than the love of women. “How have the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!”

Here is David, expressing a heart that holds no bitterness for the way he had been treated. Here is a grateful heart, a heart that is submissive to God, and so he can praise King Saul with an upright heart. God’s hesed was certainly at work in David’s heart!

2 Samuel 2

David, by the direction of God, goes up to Hebron, and is there anointed king over the house of Judah, vv. 1-4. He congratulates the inhabitants of Jabesh-gilead on their kindness in rescuing the bodies of Saul and his sons from the Philistines, vv. 5-7. Abner anoints Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, king over Gilead, the Ashurites, Jezreel, Ephraim, Benjamin, and all Israel; over whom he reigned two years, vv. 8-10. David reigns over Judah, in Hebron, seven years and six months, v. 11. Account of a battle between Abner, captain of the Israelites, and Joab, captain of the men of Judah; in which the former are routed with the loss of three hundred and sixty men: but Asahel, the brother of Joab, is killed by Abner, vv. 12-32.[4]

After 10 years of being on the run, going through every test a disciple could imagine, David is ready to reign as King. The Kingdom is still divided. Abner has put one of Saul’s sons as King over the Northern tribes. But for the next 7 years, Saul’s house will decline, while David’s will increase.

Why did David Succeed where Saul Failed?

It began as a young shepherd who fell in love with God and His Law. As he meditated on the Law, God brought all these wonderful insights into his life. He observed and learned the Ways of God.  The Law became the Psalms. The statutes became testimonies of God’s Word in David’s life! David saw the importance of hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.

David’s very life became a testimony to God Law and the mishpat that it contains. “The mishpat of the Lord is true and righteous, more to be desired than honey, or even fine Gold. In keeping His mishpat there is great reward,” and Victory!

Have you made the decision to follow Jesus Christ as His Disciple?

I am not talking about your decision to ask Him into your heart. I am talking about your decision to abandon everything this world offers, and cling totally to Jesus Christ.

  • NASB Luke 14:33 So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions.
  • NLT Luke 14:33 So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.
  • ESV Luke 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

You say “I need to hang on to my possessions to use them for the Lord. After all, who is going to provide clothes for the naked, food for the hungry and water for the thirsty?”

  • Luke 9:62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

If that is the reason you place such great store on your possessions, you are sadly mistaken. God knows the motives of your heart. He sees the greed, the lack of trust that is revealed by what you cling to. Whatever you do for the Lord, the test will be “did you do it because you are a disciple, or did you do it because you feel guilty?, or you feel it helps you, or it makes you feel good?” If you do anything for the Lord while clinging to your possessions, you have already lost your reward. The only way to keep the reward of Jesus Christ is to be a Disciple, and serve because He is Lord!

  • Matthew 10:42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

That was the reason He told that group of ‘do-gooders’ to “depart, I never knew you!” They were doing good, they were saying “Jesus things”, but they had never given themselves completely to Him.

Are You Ready To Give Up and Grab Hold?

Understand the Lessons of the Tabernacle and the Wilderness Journey:

A. God’s Hesed is in the Centrality of the Ark

1.  Ark of the Covenant.-Law was added as a witness against them.

Deuteronomy 31:26 Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

2.  Covered with the golden lid- kappōret – the mercy-seat.

Exodus 25:21-22 And you shall put the mercy-seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.

The Ark was the testimony of God’s Covenant with His people, symbolic of His protection, provision, and blessing. Through the mercy-seat God could have a personal relationship with sinful man. It symbolized His unfailing love to a very fallible and failed man.

God made a covenant with His people. He was building a Nation, centered around the theme of REDEMPTION, bringing them into a Promised land, a land of milk and honey, a land where He would be their God, their King, their protector, and provider. It represented a victorious land, a land where the enemies of the Lord would be vanquished. Those enemies represented the flesh, sin and Satan.

B. God’s Mishpat is in the Centrality of the Tabernacle

1.  Wherever the Hebrews would go, God’s Justice was to reign as the Law of the land.
    • His justice would guide everything
    • Tent of Meeting became the Tabernacle located in the very heart of the Hebrews.
2.  Justice was centered around the Word and Worship of God.
    • Justice is not Political but Moral.
    • Morality comes through a change within, not from without. True Morality is not legislated.
3. The Tabernacle represented the mishpat of God. It was in the center of the 12 tribes.

As the Lord lays out in detail his design for the Tabernacle, he says, “Set up this Tabernacle according to the pattern you were shown on the mountain” (26:30). The word translated here as “pattern” is, in Hebrew, mishpat, which ordinarily means “justice” or “ordinance.” The unusual use of mishpat in this verse underscores the authority of God’s design. Moses and the Israelites were to be guided by the divine pattern when they set up the Tabernacle[5].

4.  The Temple was designed and built according to the “mishpat” of God.

1 Kings 6:38 And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.

 The high priest wore a pouch called the breast piece of justice, containing the Urim and Thummim by which decisions were obtained from the Lord (Ex. 28:30). Doing what was right and just in the Lord’s eyes was far more important than presenting sacrifices to Him (Gen. 18:19; Prov. 21:3, 15).[6]

  • He executes justice [mishpat] for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, he lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves those who live justly. The LORD watches over the immigrant and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked. Psalm 146:7–9
  • The LORD your God . . . defends the cause [mishpat]of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the immigrant, giving him food and clothing. Deuteronomy 10:17–18
  • Speak up for those who cannot speak up for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8

C.  God’s Righteousness is Seen in His Victories!

Deuteronomy 6:24-25 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as we are this day. And it will be righteousness for us, if we are careful to do all this commandment before the LORD our God, as he has commanded us.’

God promised His people Victory in everything they did, if they followed His mishpat. He termed this victory “Blessing” He assured them that Blessings would pursue them, the image being of a linebacker pursuing the quarterback, only in a good way.

1.  Righteousness is Victory from the Lord, from His Strength

The oldest meaning of tsedaqah, as judged by its use in the Song of Deborah (Judges 5:1-31), appears to be ‘victory’.

Judges 5:11 To the sound of musicians at the watering places, there they repeat the righteous triumphs of the LORD, the righteous triumphs of his villagers in Israel. “Then down to the gates marched the people of the LORD.

1 Samuel 12:7 Now therefore stand still, that I may reason with you before the LORD of all the righteous acts of the LORD, which he did to you and to your fathers.

When God and Israel mutually fulfill their covenant obligations to each other, a state of righteousness can be said to exist – that is, things are saddiq, ‘as they should be’.

2. Israel’s triumphant victories over her enemies were seen as proofs of the sidqot ’adonay (Victories of God)

In other words, God has bound himself by covenant to ‘make things right’ for his people, and to do so by acting unilaterally on their behalf. It’s true, the “range of meaning” of the word tsedaqah incorporates other meanings, but this meaning is particularly stressed in the Old Testament. .[7]

3.  Righteousness was Promised in Jesus Christ.

Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute mishpat and tsedaqah in the earth.

The strongly soteriological overtones of the term tsedaqah can be illustrated from a number of passages in which ‘righteousness’ and ‘salvation’ are practically equated, particularly in many passages within Isaiah:

I will bring my tsedaqah near, it is not far away, And my salvation will not be delayed. (Isaiah 46:13)

How Then Should We Pray?

Isaiah 5:7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment (mishpāṭ), but behold oppression (miśpāḥ), for righteousness (ṣedāqâ), but behold a cry (seʾāqâ)[8]

We should be as the widow woman who came everyday to the unjust judge. She cried out for JUSTICE! In Isaiah 5, God looks for justice (mishpat) but sees only mispah or oppression. God looked for righteousness (tsedaqah) but found people crying (tseaqa). It is a play on words, for God sees the opposite of what He desires on earth. The word for “cry” is the same word in Genesis 19:13, which depicts the outcry against the sin of Sodom against the Lord. God is searching our country, hoping to find justice and righteousness, but instead He hears the cry of the oppressed and the sinful.

Genesis 19:13 For we are about to destroy this place, because the outcry against its people has become great before the LORD, and the LORD has sent us to destroy it.”

What Should be our Response to Jesus’ plea for Disciples?

We should literally transfer ownership of everything we own, every dream we have, every hope in our heart, and lay it all at the foot of Jesus Christ. He is Lord, and we should hold nothing back. We should then cry out to Him to see Justice and Righteousness here on earth as it is in heaven! We must confess our fleshly attitudes, our bitterness, our temporal values and our moral impurity. We must get rid of every ‘besetting’ sin or habit or item that will hinder us from pursuing hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!

Lift up the Name of God in your Life, You House and your World!

Micah 6:8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

When we resist the Grace of God, we hinder God’s hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah from working in our lives. When we resist the Grace of God, we are being like the Jews in the wilderness, who were overcome in the wilderness, because they failed to believe God’s Word, failed to trust completely in God, and failed to obey God. They failed the Discipleship Test. The following chart illustrates how the Father of Lies works through our stubbornness and sinful resistance of God. Satan even has counterfeit hesed, mishpat & tsedaqah, based upon man’s wisdom and man’s self-effort. Satan does not want us to Honor the Name of God!

Our only decision should be to join the battle of the Name of the Lord! He needs our full and undivided support! He needs us to join Him in fighting the Father of Lies. He needs warrior who are Mighty in Spirit, exercising hesed, mishpat and tsedaqah!


[1] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 30”.

[2] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1 Samuel 31”.

[3] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “The Second Book of Samuel”.

[4] Adam Clarke, A Commentary and Critical Notes, (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, 1826), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2 Samuel 2”.

[6] Warren Baker and Eugene Carpenter, The Complete Word Study Dictionary – Old Testament, (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 687.

[8] James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “6818”.