Making Disciples: The Calling of the Church

Take notes. Statistics show we retain only 30% of the sermon by Sunday evening & 5% by Friday. Click to see a chart which compares the percentage of truth retained with the method by which the material is presented and received.

Robby Gallaty says ” As you study and grow, remember that you are not merely learning for your own benefit, but also for the benefit of others. Again, you must take notesHow else will you pass on the information you have learned? Guiding others in their walk with Christ is a joy many overlook. The first and foremost way to make disciples is to become a disciple, and the only way to teach others effectively is to continue as a lifelong learner. We are closest to Christ when we are doing what He has commanded us to do, and the best way to learn is to teach.” (Growing Up: How to Be a Disciple Who Makes Disciples)

To reiterate the most efficient way to maximize retention of truth is to teach truth. Therefore, take time each week to teach the truths you have gleaned in our sessions. And who should you teach? I would encourage you to teach them to your wife, your children and/or someone with whom you are meeting (cp the divine pattern in Dt 6:1-26-7). If you carry out this exercise, your retention percentage will be significantly increased! Although notes will always (usually) be provided the following week, be sure you take your own notes, for we will often discuss something in our group that is not in the notes.

Let’s begin…

Making disciples is not easy but it is the last command of Jesus. To not make disciples (in the power of Spirit) is to disobey Jesus. Renaut van der Riet (pastor Mosaic Community Church, Oakland, Florida) writes about the difficulty of making disciples – “In this fast-food, instant-access generation, we have often substituted true discipleship for a superficial community experience and a program-driven approach to faith. These require far less work and a much lower level of commitment. Our churches may grow numerically, but we are left dabbling in the shallows of God instead of diving into the depths of God. We have come a long way since the days when someone would drop everything for the honor of following their rabbi…As a young pastor charting a course through the jungle of planting a church and now shepherding that church, I’ve discovered that it is increasingly difficult to find mentors who will guide me through the ins and outs of practical, biblical discipleship.”

Max Anders writes that “evidence suggests that on the whole, the church is dramatically falling short on discipleship. As I speak with people about this subject, there seems to be a pervasive sense among church observers that we are categorically failing at this central responsibility.” (Brave New Discipleship-Cultivating Scripture-driven Christians in a Culture-driven World)

Dr Howard Hendricks, beloved professor at DTS who went home to the Lord in 2013, said that every believer should foster three relationships in their life for as Solomon said “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17):

• A PAUL —an older and wiser believer from whom you can learn (I would add one who has had time to make more mistakes).

• A Barnabas—a friend who encourages, and holds you accountable

• A Timothy—a young believer in whom you are investing

This short list begs several questions. If you are a Paul, an older man (woman) in the faith, do you have a Timothy (or Timothea)? Why not? If you are like Paul or like Timothy, do you have a Barnabas to encourage you and keep you accountable? If you are a young believer, have you prayerfully sought out an older, more mature saint to be your Paul? Why not? The “Jesus way” is to make disciples and by implication to be a disciple who will go on to make disciples (2 Ti 2:2+). Obedience to Jesus’ last command will bring lasting joy, not only in this life but in the life to come (read Jn 15:16Mt 6:19-21+2 Cor 5:10+Rev 22:12+)! You are not under law but under grace (Ro 6:14+, cf Gal 5:18+), so take this to the Lord in prayer as to how He would have you respond.

Where are the older Paul’s discipling the younger Timothy’s? 30 years ago I tried to find a Paul at the largest Bible church in Austin and could not, even after to appealing to several of the lead pastors. I was forced to find my “Paul” by reading works by other godly men, especially C H Spurgeon, John Piper, John MacArthur, Chuck Swindoll, Wayne Barber, et al. That’s why I am excited about what we are beginning. I am almost 70 and have walked seriously with Jesus for 30+ years and feel a strong urge to pass on person to person many of the things the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7Php 1:19) has taught me over the years.

Steven Cole had a similar experience writing “When I was younger in the faith, I prayed about this and explored a few opportunities, but everything I tried fell flat. I couldn’t find anyone to be in the role of a Paul to me. Finally, I started reading the lives of the great men of God, such as George Muller, Charles Spurgeon, John Calvin, John Bunyan, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and a host of others. They have served as my spiritual mentors. I look forward to meeting them and sitting down for long chats in heaven! But ask God first for a living model.” (Handing Off the Truth – 2 Timothy 2:2)

My goal is that after a period of time (12-24 months) you will pass the principles I teach you to a group of younger men. Spiritual Multiplication is my goal, obeying Christ’s command to make disciples who make disciples. My time on earth is short and God has impressed on me that the highest eternal “yield” (see Jesus’ charge “to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last” forever! Jn 15:168) is to invest in a group of younger, trustworthy, reliable men who are willing and able to pass the spiritual baton to other faithful men (2 Timothy 2:2– note ).

But it will not happen by my power or so-called “adequacy” for sure –

Jesus’ words keep resonating through my mind (these words are in a different context but applicable in principle. Context = When Jesus taught that He Himself was the Bread of life)…

(1) John 6:63 “It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (“are spirit-giving and life-producing”)

So what is our great need from Jn 6:63? – dependence on the Spirit, diving into His Word = these are “spirit-giving and life-producing.” So throughout our time together over the months to come the Holy Word illuminated/taught by the Holy Spirit will be our goal for only therein are we “adequate.”

(2) John 15:5 Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides (active voicepresent tense = habitually, as his routine practice, as his general lifestyle, “is at home”) in Me, and I in him, (= oneness, covenant, intimacy – cp marriage covenant = man becoming one flesh with his wife – Ge 2:24 ) he bears much fruit; for (term of explanationapart from Me you can (you have power [dunamai] to) do nothing (absolutely nothing).”

(3) 2Cor 3:5-6note Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a New Covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. –

What’s the key word? Adequate.

What’s “letter”? the Law.

Comment – Note the clear, striking contrast between law and Spirit, like oil and water! And again notice that any spiritual fruit that comes from us that possesses spiritual life and eternal value is produced by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, which emphasizes the disciple’s desperate need to continually abide in and depend on His filling and His enabling if he or she is to be a fruitful follower of Christ.

Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, publicly apologized to his congregation for failing to produce disciples in his church. Hybels instructed his staff to evaluate Willow Creek’s effectiveness, and the results caused Hybels to experience the “wake-up call” of his ministerial life. After investing 30 years of ministry and tens of millions of dollars in facilities, programs, and promotions, Willow Creek was admittedly unsuccessful in producing disciples. Resources were prioritized on attracting visitors, but a step-by-step plan for personal growth was ignored. (Here is a direct quote – “When you’re three decades into leading a church as I am you think you ‘get it’ and the data proved there’s some things I don’t ‘get it’ yet!”)

David Platt author of books “Radical” and “Follow Me” writes that “In Jesus’ initial call to four men standing by the Sea of Galilee, we see that the inevitable overflow of being a disciple of Jesus is making disciples of Jesus. “Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). This was a promise: Jesus would take His disciples and turn them into disciple-makers. And this was a command: he would call each of his disciples at the end of Matthew to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey him (Matthew 28:19-20). From the start, God’s simple design has been for every single disciple of Jesus to make disciples who make disciples who make disciples until the gospel spreads to all peoples on the planet. Yet we have subtly and tragically taken this costly command of Christ to go, baptize, and teach all nations and mutated it into a comfortable call for Christians to come, be baptized, and listen in one location. If you were to ask individual Christians today what it means either to be a disciple or to make disciples, you would likely get jumbled thoughts, ambiguous answers, and probably even some blank stares. In all our activity as Christians and with all our resources in the church, we are practically ignoring the commission of Christ. Evangelism is relegated to a dreaded topic, discipleship is reduced to a canned program, and the majority of the church is currently sitting sidelined in a spectator mentality that delegates disciple-making to pastors and professionals, ministers and missionaries.”

J.D. Greear author of the provocative book “Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart” writes “Scientists and theologians agree: everything that is alive grows and reproduces. How is it, then, that so many Christians are not growing and not reproducing spiritually?”

With that as a background, our primary resource for making disciples will be God’s Word.

WHO IS A DISCIPLE OF JESUS?

A key passage for us will be John 8:31b – Jesus said “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.”

What kind of sentence is this? If…then. A conditional sentence.

What is the condition? What is the promise? Whose disciples will we be?

So what does it mean to abide? Remain, live, be at home.

What is the “home” in Jesus’ declaration? THE WORD.

LET’S SUM IT UP – what is Jesus saying? What do you do at home? Do you just visit your home? I hope not! You don’t just visit the Word as an occasional guest. You move in and live with the WORD. You wake up WITH THE WORD and you GO TO SLEEP WITH THE WORD percolating through your heart and mind ( Ps 63:6Ps 119:55Ps 119:148; Cp importance of memorization and meditation). The Word shapes your worldview (cp Ro 12:2note ). It governs and guides your thinking, your attitudes, your speech, and your behavior. There isn’t any area of your life that is not subject to God’s Word or influenced by it (cf Col 3:16note). Continuing or abiding obviously implies time spent in the Word over the long haul.” You become Scripture Saturated. (not satiated but saturated!) But is the goal just for information? Of course not – it is for transformation. We must seek to master the Bible well, so that the Bible masters us….

our purpose together is not to make us smarter sinners,
but for us to become more like our Savior
.

2 Corinthians 3:18note – Let’s read 2Cor 3:18 – “But we all, with unveiled face beholding (present tense = continually, not just occasionally or once or twice a week!) as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed (present tense = continually signifying it is a life-long process [i.e., it is the process of progressive sanctification], passive voicemetamorphoo = “the caterpillar to butterfly word”) into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”

Here is the Amplified version – “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another; [for this comes] from the Lord [Who is] the Spirit.”

So how do we behold the glory of the Lord? In the creation you might say, and that’s true (cf Ps 19:1-2 ). But for the Holy Spirit to bring about true inner changes that shows forth on the outside we need to behold Jesus in the Word of God.

Dr. H. A. Ironside told the story about an old Scot who lay suffering and, actually, dying. The physician told him he didn’t have very long to live. A friend came to spend a little time with him and said to him, “They tell me you’ll not be with us long.” That’s a nice thing to say to a man who is dying. Then he continued, “I hope you get a wee glimpse of the Savior’s blessed face as you are going through the valley of the shadow.” The dying man looked up when he gathered a little strength and answered, “Away with the glimpse, mon; it’s a full view of His blessed face I’ve had these forty years, and I’ll not be satisfied with any of your wee glimpses now.” How wonderful to behold Him today.

The goal of our time together will be for us to abide in His Word and BEHOLD THE GLORY OF JESUS and be transformed by His Spirit into CHRIST’S image, disciples becoming more like their Master, being crafted into disciples who will be prepared and passionate to pass the baton, seeking to make more disciples.

LAST WORDS ARE ALWAYS WORTH LISTENING TO
Especially if they are from Jesus

Let’s look at Jesus’ last command to His disciples and by default to all of us today who would call ourselves true followers of Jesus…

Matthew 28:18-20note (Context = Mt 28:17 = When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful.)

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples (verb = matheteuo from the noun mathetes = learners = those who direct their mind to another’s teaching and follow them as their leader) of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

WHAT IS THE ONLY COMMAND IN jesus’ GREAT COMMISSIONMake Disciples. It is a command in the aorist imperative meaning to “Do this Now!” “Don’t delay!” In Greek the aorist imperative conveys a sense of urgency!

As an aside, there are over 1600 commands in the NT and none of them can be carried out in our natural strength (e.g., In Eph 5:25note “Husbands love your wives [HOW?] as Christ loved the church” is a command in the present imperative which is a charge to do this this continually! Just try to accomplish that by relying on your fallen flesh! Cp Col 3:19note ). We must continually choose to renounce self-effort and rely on the Spirit’s enablement. Yes, the Spirit is called the “Helper” (Jn 14:16 ) but a better name would be “Enabler” because to say we need just a little help implies we can do some of the supernatural work in our own power, which we can’t! Remember that every divine commandment comes “pre-packaged” with divine enablement (the indwelling Spirit)! To try to accomplish divine commands (like “make disciples“) with self effort will end up placing us under the frustrating, futile yoke of legalism, because natural strength can never carry out supernatural tasks! In summary, we commanded to make disciples, but the truth is we can only make disciples as God’s Spirit enables us to make disciples. Making disciples is a supernatural work calling for continued dependence on a supernatural Source, the Spirit of Jesus, the Master Disciple Maker! His power, our privilege!

From this passage what kind of disciples does Jesus desire? Learners of the Word who are doers, men and women who observe and obey His Word (cp James 1:22note ). In Mt 28:19 Jesus says “teaching them to observe” or obey His Word. Recall Jesus’ description in John 8:31 “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” To abide in His Word in context implies that one obeys His Word. Does he or she obey perfectly? Of course not. But it is about the general direction of one’s conduct and behavior. One of my favorite sayings is that it is about direction, not perfection! Hallelujah!

WHAT ACTIVITY IS CENTRAL TO THE MAKING OF DISCIPLES? Teaching them to obey all that Jesus commanded.

How can Jesus be with us always? This is possible because every believer has the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ (Ro 8:9note ).

How does this truth relate to ACTS 1:8note? Jesus declared to His disciples “but you shall receive power (dunamis) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”?

If we seek to make disciples, what are the chances we will succeed according to what jesus declared? Mt 28:18 says He has all authority and Mt 28:20 promises He will be with us forever! In sum we are assured of success in making disciples if we continually rely on His power (Acts 1:8note ) and His presence. We must never forget that we are not “adequate in ourselves” to make disciples, but that the Spirit of Christ is always adequate (2Cor 3:5-6-note ).

Mt 28:18-20 is commonly called the GREAT COMMISSION but some have called it the Great Confusion. Why? Because as Bill Hull asks “Why does the church insist on trying to evangelize the world without making disciples?…Christ did not come to make Christians; He came to make disciples.” Discipleship is not one of the church’s various ministries. It is not something that the paid staff do. Discipleship is who we – as the church – are at our very core.”

does preaching THE WORD make disciples? Most everyone would agree that while preaching is commanded and is necessary for a vital, dynamic local body, preaching by itself is not the primary means for making disciples.

Avery Willis, creator of Masterlife, when asked if preaching makes disciples replied “I really don’t believe much discipling is done through preaching….Yes, you can impart information and emotion in preaching, but discipleship is more relationalmore one on one… preaching to make disciples is like going to the nursery and spraying the crying babies with milk and saying that you just fed the kids…..I am not against preaching; I do it all the time. But Jesus chose twelve and lived with them, explained to them, gave them assignments, debriefed them…to shape and mold them to be like Him. His sermons no doubt helped convey the truth, but He had to follow up most of it with what I call discipling.”

How important is discipleship to most pastors? In his recent book on making disciples Robby Gallaty writes “In study after study, pastors have repeatedly ranked discipleship at the bottom of their priority list. The average church today focuses on programs and the public worship experience. Few have any real emphasis on personal discipleship, much less any structure or instruction for performing it.” (Ibid )

TEACH SOMEONE WHAT YOU LEARNED THIS WEEK!
PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER THIS WEEK!

The fact that the Greek word for disciple is not found after the book of Acts (Acts 21:16 = last occurrence) might suggest that after Acts there is no need for the Church to fulfill Jesus’ last command to make disciples (Mt 28:19note). Nothing could be further from the truth. While the word disciple (mathetes) or make disciples (matheteuo) is not present after Acts, the concept of discipleship is taught repeatedly, especially in the Pauline epistles. We will begin with the foremost example found in Paul’s last written communication in his second letter to the young disciple name Timothy (Paul wrote “the time of my departure has come” 2Ti 4:6note). So even as Mt 28:18-20 was Jesus’ Great Commission to His disciples, Paul’s issues his last commission to Timothy in 2Timothy 2:1-2

1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 And the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able (hikanos = having attained a certain standard, fit, qualified ) to teach others also. ( 2Ti 2:1-2note )

IMPORTANCE OF OBSERVING
“CONNECTING WORDS”

(Thereforeforso that, etc)

What is the “therefore” there forTerms of conclusion like therefore should always prompt a pause to prayerfully ponder what the author is saying and will usually force you to re-read the preceding context. Practice this simple discipline and it will radically transform your “Read Through the Bible in a Year” program! This will also keep you from “speed reading” the text and give your Teacher, the Spirit, an opportunity to teach you (to illuminate the text) and speak to you (e.g., to urge you to apply the truth). Another benefit of pausing to ponder is that you in effect practice the discipline of Biblical Meditation or “chewing the cud,” a vanishing discipline in our fast paced, hi tech, low touch society, but a discipline God promises to bless (Ps 1:2notePs 1:3noteJoshua 1:8note) Remember that reading the Bible without meditating on it is like eating without chewing.

So why is the therefore there? In the present context Paul has just described the fact that all in Asia have departed (2Ti 1:15 –note), so it would be tempting for Timothy to shrink back from passing on the Gospel (2Ti 1:7note suggests he may have been a timid personality)….therefore Paul tells Timothy to be strong, be strengthened on the inside for the spiritual warfare on the outside. The last thing the Adversary wants to see is disciples who are being strengthened in the Lord and supernaturally equipped to make more disciples. If he can sidetrack the church from obeying Jesus’ last, great command to make disciples (Mt 28:19note), he has achieved a major objective to blunting the power of the Church of Jesus Christ!

IMPORTANCE OF UNDERSTANDING
BASICS OF VERB TENSE, VOICE AND MOOD

Be strong is present tense, imperative mood and passive voice. Paul is not giving a suggestion but a command and present tense calls for Timothy to continually be strengthened by grace, the clear implication being that he is going to continually need it! The passive voice indicates that the action (inner strengthening) is the result of an outside Source, the grace that is in Christ Jesus and as discussed below is “dispensed” by His Spirit. (See simple synopsis of Greek Verb Tense, Voice, Mood).

The Greek verb is endunamoo and is derived from dunamisDunamis (source of English words like DynamoDynamicDynamite) describes the inherent (supernatural) power residing within someone to enable them to accomplish a task. For example, in Romans 1:16note Paul says the Gospel has supernatural dunamis (inherent power) to save, which should take some of the pressure off of us to think we have to make a perfect presentation. In Acts 1:8note Jesus says the Spirit will give the disciples (including us) dunamis to be His witnesses (fulfilling His promise of clothing them with supernatural power in Lk 24:49). In is interesting that the same verb endunamoo is also used by Paul in Ephesians 6:10note (also in the form of a command = present passive imperative) and is clearly used in the context of spiritual warfare, which would support the premise that there will be major spiritual resistance when Timothy (and we) seek to obey Jesus and Paul and go and make disciples. Our enemy will do all that God allows him to do to prevent us from completing this vital task! Paul also uses endunamoo in this same letter in 2Ti 4:17note to speak of the Lord strengthening him in the face of spiritual attack (2Ti 4:14-16note). Paul’s example of reliance on the Lord Jesus’ power to stand firm would encourage his disciple to do the same when the opposition came as it surely would (see one of “God’s promises” we’d rather not have! = 2Ti 3:12note)!

Remember that there are over 1600 commands (imperatives) in the New Testament and we cannot keep even ONE of them in our natural strength. So even for Timothy to experience inner strengthening which Paul commands, he had to first surrender or yield his rights and to rely on the Holy Spirit in him to give him the dunamis he needed to accomplish the task Paul would call him to in verse 2, the task of making disciples. The ESV Study Bible says this section describes Paul’s “resumes the call to Spirit-empowered boldness” which began in 2Ti 1:6ffnoteAnd the same spiritual dynamic (our need, the Spirit’s sufficient supply) applies to us as we seek to obey Paul’s command to be strong. We cannot just “grit our teeth” and be strong (the world’s way), but we must continually renounce reliance on our natural ability and rely wholly on the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29b). He is the Lord’s “C.E.O.” if you will, the Lord’s administrator or executive, Who makes the grace that is in Christ Jesus available to His disciples.

The great Puritan writer John Owen explains how grace is in Jesus and yet the effecting Agent of that grace is the Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7Phil 1:19noteRo 8:9note). Owen writes

“Everything God does He does as the triune God. Each Person of the Trinity is involved in every action of God. Yet at the same time each Person has a special role to fulfill in that work….There is no good that we receive from God but it is brought to us and wrought in us by the Holy Spirit. Nor is there in us any good towards God, any faith, love, obedience to His will, but what we are enabled (Ed: Note not “helped” which implies we have some ability and just need a little “push“!) to do so by the Holy Spirit. (Pneumatologia, Or, A Discourse Concerning the Holy Spirit)

J Vernon McGee comments on Paul’s command to be strong –

“I love this—be strong in grace. My friend, if you think that you can grit your teeth and go out and live the Christian life on your own, you’re in for a great disappointment. If you feel that you can follow a few little rules or some clever gimmicks to make you a mature Christian, then you have fallen into a subtle trap of legalism. Paul gives no rules, and the Word of God has no rules to tell the child of God how to live the Christian life. We are saved by grace, and now we are to live by the grace of God and be strong in that grace….When I hear Christians say, “I don’t do this, and I don’t do that, and I am following a set of rules,” I immediately recognize that they know very little about the grace of God. They are trying to live the Christian life in their own strength. Paul says, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” This begs the question dear disciples of Christ, in whose strength are you living the supernatural life, yours or His?

What is the source of the power the Spirit dispenses? In context, it is the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The most common answer to the question what is the meaning of grace is “God’s unmerited favor.” Or some mention the great acrostic G.R.A.C.EGod’s Riches AChrist’s Expense. While these answers are not wrong, they fall short of the important truth that grace means so much more that unmerited favor. In the present context we see that grace connotes power, especially supernatural enablement to accomplish what God commands. You can mark it down — God’s commandment ALWAYS includes His enablement! We see this same pattern in Second Corinthians where Paul gives us insight into an event which I personally think is the “secret” of his incredible ministry for the Lord. So let’s take a quick look at that passage.

THE “SECRET” OF
PAUL’S POWERFUL MINISTRY

In 2 Corinthians 12 Paul describes an event that occurred 14 years earlier, an event in which he was “raptured” (same verb [harpazo – Latin Vulgate translates it “rapturo“] used in 1Thes 4:17note) into the Third Heaven (2Cor 12:2), to Paradise (2Cor 12:4), and because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, he was given “a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet” him (no one knows exactly how this was manifest) to keep Paul from exalting himself. (2Cor 12:7). And after praying three times for the Lord to take away the thorn (2Cor 12:8), Jesus responded by teaching us a truly life changing truth…

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for (My) power (dunamis) is perfected (made to reach its intended goal) in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Cor 12:9-10note)

And so we see that the Lord Jesus clearly equates the grace that is in Him (Jn 1:14noteJn 1:16-17note) with the power to live a supernatural life (cp Jn 10:10). And what is the key that unlocks the door to that abundant life? Our weaknesses (plural)! This is one of the great truths of Scripture and as with most of the profound teachings of the Bible, it is totally antithetical to the way the world thinks. The world says “up” is the way to power, but Jesus says “No, down is the way to My power!” Grace flows down, as we humbly bow at the foot of the Cross (cp James 4:6). And so why did I make the presumptive statement that this passage unlocks the secret for Paul’s dynamic ministry (and for us who are called to imitate Paul – 1Cor 11:1)? The answer requires some comparison with the chronology of the major events in Paul’s life. Recall that Second Corinthians was written about 56AD, but Paul’s being caught up to the third heaven and Paradise occurred 14 years earlier (2Cor 12:2-3), roughly 42AD, which would have been after his conversion (Acts 9:1-9) but before his 3 great missionary journeys. I will submit that Paul never shed that thorn in his side and that in a continual state of weakness he was continually in a state of supernatural strength (power) wrought by the grace with is in Christ Jesus (2Ti 2:1). Paul knew about grace and power and he knew Timothy and all disciples that would follow would need to depend on the same power source! The highly respected commentator Warren Wiersbe makes a similar statement declaring that 1Cor 15:10 was “the secret of Paul’s great ministry,” and while I totally agree (read that verse and note the repeated word!), the event which led to Paul’s utter dependence on God’s grace for ministry occurred in Second Corinthians 12. As always I encourage you to be a Berean (Acts 17:11note). I could be wrong, but I can’t wait to ask Paul in the future if this was the pivotal event (after his conversion of course) that fueled his dynamic distribution of the Gospel of Jesus throughout most of the Roman Empire. Below is an overview of the approximate chronology (Bible does not give specific dates) of Paul’s life…

32AD – Stephen’s stoning Acts 7:588:1

33AD – Persecution of church (Acts 8:1-3Phil 3:6)

34AD – Paul born again on the Road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9) Goes to Damascus (Acts 9:10-19Acts 9:22 says “Saul kept increasing (endunamoo in the imperfect tense) in strength.”

35AD – Travels to Arabia where he spends 3 years (Gal 1:17 – most authorities say this event occurred between Acts 9:22 and Acts 9:23 – note phrase “when many days had elapsed”)

46AD – Barrnabas travels to Tarsus in order to seek Saul (Acts 11:25)

56AD – Second Corinthians Written

Respected teacher Jerry Bridges has some excellent summary comments on the relationship of power and grace in 2Timothy 2:1 writing that…

The grace in 2 Timothy 2:1 is the blessing of power. It’s the same category of grace we see in 2 Corinthians 12:9 as the Lord tells Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” and Paul responds, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Here God equates his grace with his power; power that can be experienced only through human weakness. So when Paul wanted Timothy to be strengthened by the same divine power he had experienced, he urged Timothy to be strengthened by grace. How is Timothy to respond to this command? By faith he’s to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit instead of his own resolutions, self-effort, or willpower. He’s to acknowledge that without Christ he can do nothing (John 15:5). Just as he must look outside himself to Christ’s righteousness for his standing before God, he must also look outside himself to the power of the Holy Spirit for his strength to live the Christian life. And the same is true for us. (Amen!) (The Bookends of the Christian Life- Jerry Bridges, Bob Bevington)

GRACE IN
THREE TENSES

Since grace is so amazing, let’s dwell just a few more minutes on God’s great grace. It is fascinating to observe that God’s grace is used in at least 3 ways in the New Testament – I like to think of grace in “three tenses“…

PAST TENSE GRACE = God’s unmerited favor in our salvation – Eph 2:8-9note. This tense corresponds to the grace that brought about our justification.

PRESENT TENSE GRACE = God’s power to produce inner transformation and which is available to us now enabling us to grow in our supernatural life in Christ. Read 1Cor 15:10note, noting the key word and also noting Paul’s responsibility and God’s provision! (Cp 2Cor 1:12). This tense corresponds to the grace necessary for our progressive sanctification.

It follows that grace does not merely accept us (justification), but it transforms us (sanctification – cp Titus 2:11note and Titus 2:12note), and we need to be careful that we do “not receive the grace of God in vain.” (2Cor 6:1) To dismiss grace in the sanctification process will lead to frustration in our spiritual lives and even to spiritual disaster!

 

Ray Ortlund adds that “if all we want out of God is acceptance without transformation, we are receiving His grace in vain and our Christianity is worthless. The power of grace is not automatic. Each of us lives out of an inner world with its own moral and conceptual and emotional topography. The obstacles to God there are formidable. Our intuitive ways of thinking, the tilt of our very desires—these powerful internal structures can hinder the advance of God.” (Preaching the Word – Isaiah)

FUTURE TENSE GRACE = God’s grace that will change us “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1Cor 15:52) into eternal bearers of Christ-like glory at our Lord’s return (1Jn 3:2note). Read 1Pe 1:13note. This tense corresponds to the grace that will bring about our future glorification.

ETERNAL GRACE = There is one other “chronological” aspect of grace, which we might term “eternal grace,” for Paul writes that “in the ages to come He might show (present tense = continually, forever and ever and ever) the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph 2:7note). God’s amazing grace transcends time!

In summary we begin our Christian race by grace (are justified), run daily by grace (are sanctified) and finish by grace (are glorified), all provided by the Spirit of grace (Heb 10:29)

See Related Discussion = Three Tenses of Salvation

What is Paul’s command in 2Ti 2:2? Timothy was commanded to entrust what he had learned from Paul in the presence of many witnesses (cp synonymous terms in 2Ti 1:13note = “sound words” ; 2Ti 1:14 = “the treasure” of the Gospel). Entrust is the verb paratithemi, which literally means to set before and described setting food before someone (Mk 6:41). I love this picture, for when we entrust the Word of the Gospel to others, we in effect set the “Bread of life” before them! In secular Greek paratithemi was a common banking term meaning to deposit something valuable (what is more valuable than the Gospel?) as a trust, for protection and safe keeping.

Who are the men Timothy was and we was to seek in order to entrust the treasure of the Gospel? Not just any men but men who are faithful, who are trustworthy, who will keep their promise to pass the treasure to the next runner. The point is clear — we are to seek men to disciple who are serious about the Gospel and unwilling to commit to passing it on to other men when they have finished their time of disciple training.

As someone has said we should seek “F.A.T. men” = Faithful, Available (will make time to be discipled a priority – men willing to set the alarm at 5AM and gather at 6AM!), Teachable (Men “who tremble at” God’s Word, Isa 66:2, who put out the “welcome mat” [verb = dechomai] welcoming the Word – 1Th 2:13note; cp James 1:21note )

Disciple-Makers International – In these days of heightened sensitivity, never refer to someone as “fat”. The “politically correct” term is “horizontally gifted”. But when it comes to deciding who to invest your time in as a disciple maker, forget protocol and look for FAT people; that is, Faithful, Available and Teachable. (Discipling “FAT” People)

As an aside how many “runners” do you observe in 2Timothy 2:2? Four, just like the 400 meter relay race! What happens in a relay race when the baton is dropped or runner disqualified? Did you see what happened to the US team in he men’s 400 meter relay at the 2015 world championships? (Go to 8 minutes to watch 2015 Men’s 4x100m Relay Final – IAAF World Championships in Beijing)

How important is the passing of the spiritual baton of the Gospel to faithful runners? It goes without saying that it is critical to pass the baton. Where would we be if Timothy had failed to obey the command to make disciples? How valuable is the process of spiritual multiplication? See the following illustrations…

Illustration of the Value of Spiritual Multiplication – Suppose that two boys had a very rich father. He made them an offer: they could choose to receive either $100,000 per day for 31 days, or one penny the first day, doubled each day for 31 days. If one boy chose the $100,000 per day, at the end of 31 days he would have $3,100,000. But the boy who chose the penny doubled each day would come out with $2,147,483,648!

See the power of discipleship groups for multiplying disciples – Compares the spiritual fruit of the Evangelist versus a Disciple maker versus a group of four. (If one man discipled 3 other men for one year and they in turn discipled 3 men for a year, etc, etc, by year 16 the number of disciples would be over 43 million (US population = 320 million)!

THE FIVE MOST IMPORTANT
VERSES IN THE BIBLE

Recall that one of the marks of a true disciple of Jesus is that he abides in His Word and then he adds that the truth of His Word will set the disciple free (Jn 8:31-32). The verb Jesus used for “shall make you free” (eleutheroo) was used literally to describe the emancipation of slaves from bondage. Jesus came to set us free from the power of sin, the fallen world and Satan. But the prerequisite is that we allow His Word to continually penetrate and permeate our heart and mind. With that in mind over the next sessions we will focus on some passages that are vital for every true disciple of Jesus to fully comprehend so that they might live out the abundant life in the freedom that His grace and His Spirit provides. Of course all Scripture is important because it is a word from God Himself (2Ti 3:16), but for our purposes we will focus on five passages which I feel are especially important in regard to growing disciples in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pe 3:18).

BE FILLED

1) Ephesians 5:18BE FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT

Testimonials Regarding the Importance of Ephesians 5:18

Chuck Swindoll – I don’t know of a more important verse in the New Testament for the Christian than Ephesians 5:18—honest, no exaggeration. This verse tells the believer how to live an authentic, empowered life…. I cannot be filled with the Spirit while I have unconfessed sin within me. I cannot be filled with the Spirit while at the same time conducting my life in the energy of the flesh. I cannot be filled with the Spirit while I am resisting God’s will and relying only on myself. I need to be sure that I have taken care of the sins that have emerged in my life, that I have not ignored the wrong that I have done before God and to others. I need to walk in conscious dependence on the Lord on a daily basis. Many a morning I begin my day by sitting on the side of the bed, saying:

This is your day, Lord. I want to be at Your disposal. I have no idea what these next twenty-four hours will contain. But before I sip my first cup of coffee, and even before I get dressed, I want You to know that from this moment on throughout this day, I’m Yours, Lord. Help me to lean on You, to draw strength from You, and to have You fill my mind and my thoughts. Take control of my senses so that I am literally filled with Your presence and empowered with Your energy. I want to be Your tool, Your vessel today. I can’t make it happen. And so I’m saying, Lord, fill me with Your Spirit today. (Embraced by the Spirit)

Ray Pritchard wrote that “the filling of the Spirit is the most important doctrine of the spiritual life….three common misconceptions. (1) It is an emotional experience…(2) It is reserved for special Christians….(3) It is controversial and therefore better off ignored…. (Pritchard ends his sermon declaring that) “the filling of the Spirit is the most important doctrine of the spiritual life. It is foundational to everything else. There is nothing we need more. Here is my definition of the filling of the Spirit: It is that state in which the Holy Spirit is free to do all that He came into my life to do. In a sense being filled with the Spirit is an impossibility-at least as far as it depends on us. Only God’s Spirit can fill us. We need two things-emptiness and openness. You can’t fill a jar that’s already full, and you can’t fill a jar that is not open. There must be a sense of need-“Lord, I’m empty and I need to be filled by Your Spirit.” There must be a willingness-“Lord, I’m open to You…” The filling of the Spirit is really as simple as that. As long as we are conscious of our need and as long as we are willing to yield to the Lord, we can be filled with the Lord all day long. This power is available to us all day long. (What Does it Mean to be Filled With the Spirit?)

Dr. J. Vernon McGee preached a commencement address at Dallas Theological Seminary and was then in his early 80s, near the end of a long and fruitful ministry. Ray Pritchard writes “I’ve forgotten almost everything else he said that night, but one comment has stayed with me. He said that if he were starting his ministry over again, he would give much more attention to the Person and work of the Holy Spirit. He would preach on the Spirit more frequently and attempt to lead people to depend on his power every day. The greatest preacher of the 19th century, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, said, “The grand thing the church wants in this time is God’s Holy Spirit.” More than anything else, we need to rediscover the Holy Spirit and learn anew to depend on him. ” (Ibid)

John MacArthur – If we do not obey this command (be filled with the Spirit), we cannot obey any other—simply because we cannot do any of God’s will apart from God’s Spirit. Outside of the command for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, there is no more practical and necessary command in Scripture than the one for believers to be filled with the Spirit. (MacArthur, J: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press)

Ray Stedman writes being filled with the Spirit is “the great secret of real Christianity.” (Watch How You Walk – Ephesians 5:15-20)

Ephesians 5:18 – And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.

The original (not the revised version of the NLT of Eph 5:18 read “Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you.”

Remember that every believer receives all of the Holy Spirit he will ever receive at the moment of regeneration. If one does not have the Spirit, Paul says they are not a believer. Ro 8:9 = “However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.”

OBSERVATIONS AND QUESTIONS
ON EPHESIANS 5:18:

What is the contrast? Wine versus the Spirit. Drunk with wine or “drunk” with the Spirit.

What does the contrast emphasize? It points out that what fills a person will influence or control the person, especially what comes out of their mouth

What happens to the behavior of one under the influence of wine? Clearly their behavior or conduct is altered, causing one to say or do things they would not normally do.

What about filling with the Spirit? The first word in Eph 5:19 is “speaking” indicating that filling will have a direct impact on what comes out of our mouth as with Peter in Acts 4:8.

How does Peter’s action in Acts 4:8 contrast with his behavior in Mt 26:70-75?

Look also at the believers in Acts 4:31 = “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness (parrhesia).”

Now let’s look at the verb “be filled”…

The present tense, imperative mood is not a suggestion but is a command (it is absolute necessity) to be continuously filled a day–by–day, moment–by–moment submitting or yielding our “rights” to the Spirit. Filling is not optional.

The passive voice indicates that the filling is not something we do but that we allow to be done to us. Our responsibility is to allow God’s Spirit to fill us, to yield, to surrender to Him (See Pastor Swindoll’s prayer above). To recognize and acknowledge our emptiness.

The verb is plural signifying every believer, not a elite group. No one is excepted!

The filling is entirely the work of the Spirit Himself, but He works only through our willing submission. The present aspect of the command indicates that we cannot rely on a past filling nor live in expectation of future filling. We can rejoice in past fillings and hope for future fillings, but we can live only in present filling.

Pleroo (word study ) connotes more than filling something up, as when someone pours water in a glass up the rim.

(1) Pleroo was used of the wind filling a sail and carrying the ship along. (Compare 2Peter 1:21 = “men moved (being borne along) by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”) We need to “put up our sails” so to speak and allow Him to move us along throughout the day!

(2) Pleroo carries the idea of permeation, and was used of salt permeating meat to flavor and preserve. God wants His Holy Spirit to so permeate the lives of His children that everything they think, say, and do will reflect His divine presence.

(3) Pleroo conveys idea of total control. The person who is filled with anger is controlled by that emotion = Luke 6:11 (context = Lk 6:6-11 = Jesus restored a man’s withered hand on the Sabbath. Religious leaders “themselves were filled with rage, and discussed together what they might do to Jesus.” What (Who) fills you will control you!

NOTE: Being filled with the Holy Spirit doesn’t mean we have more of the Spirit, but that the Spirit has more of us.

As discussed above, the first word in the next Greek sentence (Eph 5:19) is SPEAKING. One of the ways I know when I am not submitted to the Spirit’s control and power is by noting what comes out of my mouth! (cp Jesus’ in Mt 12:34 = “For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.”)

Notice that in the following context (from Ephesians 5:19-33 and Ephesians 6:1-20) how Ephesians 5:18 depicts the Holy Spirit as the Source or the Headwaters of a mighty spiritual river coming out of our innermost being (cp Jn 7:37-39– notePr 4:23note ) flowing (with supernatural enabling power) into every area of our life….

Eph 5:19note = Worship = “with your heart to the Lord” (God is not interested in our voice or the emotion with which we sing, but the condition of our hearts – cp Ps 24:4-5)

Eph 5:20 –note = Thanksgiving = Always giving thanks for all things – no exceptions! This is another good marker in my life of whether I am filled with the Spirit or filled with self!

Eph 5:21-33 –note = Marriage = “be subject (imperative sense) to one another” = (Eph 5:21), wives to your own husbands = (Eph 5:2224 –note ), “Husbands, love (present imperative) your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her” = (Eph 5:25 –note ), “husbands ought (verb describes a sense of indebtedness = to owe something to someone – present tense) also to love their own wives as their own bodies” = (Eph 5:28 –note ), “love (present imperative) his own wife even as himself” = (Eph 5:33 –note )

Eph 6:1-3 –note = Children = obey (present imperative) your parents…honor (present imperative) your father and mother

Eph 6:4 –note = Fathers = Fathers, do not provoke (present imperative) your children to anger, but bring them up (present imperative) in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Eph 6:5-8 –note = Employees = “Slaves, be obedient (present imperative)…doing (present tense) the will of God from the heart, With good will render service (present tense);

Eph 6:9 –note = Employers = do (present imperative) the same things to them, and give up (present tense) threatening,

Eph 6:10-17 –note = Spiritual warfare = be strong (present imperative) in the Lord = (Eph 6:10 –note ); Put on (present imperative) the full armor of God, so that you will be able (dunamai in present tense = continually have the inner power) to stand firm against the schemes (methodeia) of the devil = Eph 6:11 –note , take up (present imperative) the full armor of God (Eph 6:13 –note ); stand firm (aorist imperative);

Eph 6:18 –note = Prayer = “With all prayer and petition pray (present tense) at all times in the Spirit”

Eph 6:19-20 –note = Evangelism/boldness = “to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”

How do you recognize a true disciple of Jesus?

Jn 8:31 = He abides or is at home with His Word. He remains. He does not leave the Word. “Jesus is saying that the mark of the true disciple is lasting, enduring, persevering, keeping on in the force field of the word. Temporary tastes of the truth and beauty and value and power and grace and bread and water and brightness of the word do not make you a Christian. The mark of Christians is that we taste and we stay.” (Piper) In John 15:6 Jesus speaks of abiding in Him. So abiding in His Word is tantamount to abiding in the Word! Obviously, there is a caveat — many people read the Word. Some even memorize it, including the entire OT in some cases. But they do not believe the Word and you can tell they do not believe the Word because they do not obey the Word. And of course the only way a genuine disciple can obey the Word is by the enabling desire and power of the indwelling Spirit of Jesus (Acts 16:7). John Piper says “For me, 1 Samuel 3:21 has been tremendously helpful. It says, “The Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.” Himself by the word. And the same is true for Jesus—He reveals Himself to us today “by the word of the Lord.”” (If You Abide in My Word, You Are Truly My Disciples)

I have often heard the teaching that in John 8:31 Jesus is not speaking of believers in general but of a subset that are known as disciplesJohn Piper however clarifies this erroneous idea asking

“What then is a true disciple? Or what does Jesus mean by saying in John 8:31, “you are truly my disciples”? Let’s be really clear here: For Jesus “true disciple” is the same as “true Christian” or “true believer.” Jesus is not saying that “true disciple” is a second stage in the Christian life. an important distinction… He did not say to these professing believers, “If you abide in my word, you will become truly my disciples.” In other words, he did not teach that being a true disciple was a later stage after simple belief. No. He said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” Now that you have believed, here is how you can know what you now are. You can know if your belief is real: You are now my true disciples if you go on abiding in my word. So there is no thought here about “true discipleship” being a second stage of Christian maturity.” (Ibid)

I agree wholeheartedly with Dr Piper that every true believer is a true disciple and every true disciple is a true believer.

D A Carson explains that what Jesus is saying in essence that “perseverance is the mark of true faith, of real disciples. A genuine believer remains in Jesus’ ‘word’ (logos)… such a person obeys it, seeks to understand it better, and finds it more precious, more controlling, precisely when other forces flatly oppose it. (Pillar Commentary on John)

What two promises does Jesus make to His disciples in John 8:32?

(1) We will know (ginosko = by experience) the truth. This truth is significant because our spiritual warfare is not so much a power struggle but a truth struggle and the “battle field” in our mind. Since this knowing is experiential it speaks of fellowship and communion with Jesus, Who Himself is the Truth! So it follows that abiding in the Word is abiding in Jesus, experiencing time with Him which is never a waste of time!

(2) The Truth will set us free (eleutheroo) – The Greek verb was used to describe the emancipation of slaves. We were once slaves to Self and Sin (cp “slave of sin” – Jn 8:34) but now are free in Christ (cf “having been freed from sin” Who is our new Master? = Ro 6:18noteRo 6:22note). Remember that freedom in Christ is not the right to do as we please but the power to do as we should and thus to please God! Not freedom to sin, but freedom from sin! As Piper says “You are fully free—completely free, free indeed—when you have the desire, the ability, and the opportunity to do what will make you happy in a thousand years.”

How sure can we be of our freedom from sin and Satan from John 8:36?

When the Son makes us free we are free indeed

Ryrie writes – “Freedom given by Christ is the only true freedom. Delivered from the shackles and the bondage of sin, a Christian can do what he ought, and is no longer bound to his evil desires (cf. Ro 6:11-14note). The unsaved man indulges in sin and has no power over it. Sin is in control. Sin binds him. Christ’s offer is freedom from such bondage, and a life that wills to please God and (is enabled by the Spirit of Christ to do so).”

John Piper – Sin enslaves by making anything look more desirable than Jesus. That’s what sin is: desiring something above Jesus and then acting on it.

Why is His Word so critical in the life of a disciple?

John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” If the Spirit gives life and the Words of Christ are life, it follows that the Spirit uses the Word to give us life, not just the first time (justification) but daily (progressive sanctification).

2Cor 3:18note “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” In this passage we see that beholding the Word of Christ, especially the Gospel, will be used by the Spirit to bring about spiritual transformation (growth in likeness to Jesus) from one degree of glory to another.

What is the most important verse in all of Scripture for a disciple and why?

The Eph 5:18note effects and enables every aspect of a disciple’s life (marriage, children, parenting, employees, employers, spiritual warfare and prayer – read Eph 5:18note through Eph 6:18 – notice that the Spirit is like “bookends” of the entire section!).

To quote Dr MacArthur – “If we do not obey this command (be filled with the Spirit), we cannot obey any other—simply because we cannot do any of God’s will apart from God’s Spirit. Outside of the command for unbelievers to trust in Christ for salvation, there is no more practical and necessary command in Scripture than the one for believers to be filled with the Spirit.”

ILLUSTRATION OUR DESPERATE NEED FOR FILLING BY COMPARING TO A WORK GLOVE – The glove has purpose (just as do we – Eph 2:10note) but cannot fulfill its intended purpose unless it has an “indwelling” hand to enable it, to give it the direction (desire) and the power (cp the Spirit in Phil 2:13note). Plainly put, the glove by itself can do nothing (cp Jesus’ words in John 15:5 where “nothing” in Greek is the strongest way to say “absolutely nothing”… O yes, we can even do “religious works” that look very good to others and garner their adulation, but such fleshly empowered works yield no fruit for eternity – cp Jn 15:16). The picture of a glove’s need to continually depend on the indwelling hand directly applies to our Christian life, which is not to be a natural (explicable) life, but a supernatural (marvelously inexplicable) life! We like the glove need to be continually filled with the Spirit, controlled by and empowered by the indwelling Spirit, if we are to accomplish anything supernatural. As we have repeatedly said, we CANNOT KEEP ONE COMMAND of the NT by relying on our natural, fleshly strength. We must continually, even moment by moment, deny our old self and seek the newness of the Spirit’s work. We must continually renounce self effort, self reliance, self sufficiency (do you see the “key word”?) and instead make the conscious, volitional choice (the choice of our will, even that choice mysteriously being energized by the indwelling Spirit!!) to rely wholly on the Holy Spirit. This practice is of renouncing and relying will go on all day long, all the days of our life! It’s what theologically is known as progressive sanctification. While Jesus was the basis of justification, the Spirit was His “Chief Operating Officer” applying the finished work of the Cross of Christ to our heart when we believed in Jesus. Similarly, in progressive sanctification, the Spirit is the “CEO” and gives us the desire and the power (Php 2:13NLTnote) to continually walk by the Spirit (Gal 5:16 – to be more fully discussed in our next lesson). In sum, apart from the Spirit of Christ filling us (bearing us along, permeating us so that Christ flavors all we say, do and think [cp 2Cor 2:14-16] and controlling us – like rage or anger controls us – read Luke 4:28-29Lk 6:11) we can do nothing of eternal value! Absolutely nothing! The pride of our fallen flesh chafes at that truth and will until the day we die!

How does one assure that they are continually filled with the Spirit?

Ray Pritchard sums up how we are filled – There must be a sense of need—“Lord, I’m empty and I need to be filled by your Spirit.” There must be a willingness—“Lord, I’m open to you. Let your Spirit fill me now.”

By keeping short accounts with God (1Jn 1:9note) – Remember that “confess” in this passage is present tense which speaks of ongoing confession and implies that we have need for this to be our habitual practice! As David said “Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults.” (Ps 19:12) So the truth is even if we have not committed any “big” sins the day before, we need to start our day with at least a prayer like David’s.

What is the OT version of 1John 1:9?

Pr 28:13note He who conceals (Hebrew = covers over) his transgressions will not prosper, but (a great, strategic term of contrast) he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.

Ps 32:1 is a good parallel commentary on Pr 28:13note where David acknowledges “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered!”

How else can we assure that we are continually filled with the Spirit?

By letting the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Col 3:16note. See the chart below where we compare Colossians 3:16-4:1 and Ephesians 5:18-6:9. Notice that the results of being filled with the Spirit and letting the Word richly dwell within are virtually identical.

So what‘s the take home message? Spend time in the Word so that the Word finds a home in you.

FILLED WITH THE SPIRIT
RICHLY INDWELT BY THE WORD

Colossians and Ephesians are parallel epistles in a number of respects and Ephesians 5:18-6:9 presents a very interesting parallel with Colossians 3:16-4:1 as summarized below. First, take a few minutes to pray (Ps 119:18noteEph 1:171819note) and read through both sections of Scripture, especially observing the similarities (Ps 119:130note). Then go through the following chart to see if you agree with the parallel comparisons.

Ask yourself, what parallel truths is God teaching us in these two great sections of Scripture? Which of my interpersonal relationships do these passages address most directly? How can we apply these truths to our personal life, our marriage, our family, our workplace, etc? What might transpire in each of those points of application? Then read the explanatory notes that follow.

Ephesians 5:18-6:9 Colossians 3:16-4:1
Be
filled

(present imperative)
Let… dwell within
you richly

(present imperative)
THE
SPIRIT
THE
WORD OF CHRIST
Speaking to
ONE ANOTHER

Eph 5:19note
Teaching & Admonishing
ONE ANOTHER
Col 3:16
note
In PSALMS
and HYMNS
and SPIRITUAL SONGS
Eph 5:19
note
With PSALMS
and HYMNS
and SPIRITUAL SONGS
Col 3:16
note
SINGING and making melody
with YOUR HEART
to the Lord
Eph 5:19
note
SINGING with thankfulness
in YOUR HEARTS
to God
Col 3:16
note
Always GIVING THANKS for ALL things
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ
to God, even the Father
Eph 5:20
note
Do ALL in the name of the Lord Jesus,
GIVING THANKS through Him
to God the Father
Col 3:17
note
WIVES
BE SUBJECT
to your own husbands
Eph 5:22-24
note
WIVES
BE SUBJECT

to your husbands
Col 3:18note
HUSBANDS
LOVE your wives
Eph 5:25-33
note
HUSBANDS
LOVE your wives
Col 3:19
note
CHILDREN
OBEY your parents
in the Lord
Eph 6:1-3
note
CHILDREN
BE OBEDIENT
to your parents
Col 3:20
note
FATHERS
DO NOT PROVOKE
your children to anger
BRING THEM UP
in discipline & instruction of the Lord
Eph 6:4
note
FATHERS
DO NOT EXASPERATE
your children
Col 3:21
note
SLAVES
BE OBEDIENT to those
who are your masters
according to the flesh
Eph 6:5-8
note
SLAVES
in all things OBEY those
who are your masters
on earth
Col 3:22-25
note
MASTERS
DO the same thing to them (slaves)
Give up threatening
knowing that both their Master & yours
is in heaven
& there is no partiality with Him
Eph 6:9
note
MASTERS
GRANT to your slaves
justice and fairness
knowing that you too
have a Master
in heaven!
Col 4:1
note
SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Note it is also “linked”
with being filled with the Spirit!”
Eph 6:10-17note
SPIRITUAL WARFARE
Not found
in this section
PRAYER
With all prayer and petition pray
 (present tense participle used in an imperative sense) at all times in the Spirit (initiated and energized by the Holy Spirit), and with this in view, be on the alert (present tense participle used in an imperative sense) with all perseverance and petition for all the saints
Eph 6:18
note
PRAYER
DEVOTE yourselves to prayer,
keeping alert
 (present tense participle used in an imperative sense) in it
with an attitude of thanksgiving;
Col 4:2
note
WITNESSING
Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the Gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly
 (Spirit gives boldness), as I ought (obligation, owe a debt) to speak.
Eph 6:19-20
note
WITNESSING
Praying at the same time for us as well, that God may open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ
 (Gospel), for which I have also been imprisoned; in order that I may make it clear in the way I ought (obligation, owe a debt) to speak.
Col 4:3-4
note

Note that every verb in bold red font signifies imperative mood (commands, not good suggestions) and all are in the present tense (continuous action, habitual practice, as one’s “lifestyle”, speaks of our general “direction,” not perfection!). In addition, the verbs giving thanks (Eph 5:20Col 3:17) are in the present tense – how is it possible to give thanks in everything? (cp 1Thes 5:18note)

Now stop for a moment and ask yourself – can I keep even ONE of these commands in my own strength? If you think you can, just try it the next time your spouse “verbally insults/assaults” your intelligence! None of us can keep these commands in our strength and to try to do so is to fall into the trap of self reliance and legalism. Here is the key that unlocks the door to supernatural living, supernatural warfare, supernatural praying and supernatural witnessing…

THE HUMAN SPIRIT FAILS UNLESS
THE HOLY SPIRIT FILLS

Too often we read Paul’s long list of commands and forget to examine the context, which is critical for accurate interpretation and in this case crucial for real-life practical application! The context in this case clearly gives us the answer regarding how we can carry out the commands. These “holy” actions can only be energized or enabled by the Holy Spirit Who dwells in each saint. If we are filled with or controlled by Him, yielded to Him, depending on Him, casting off any semblance of self-reliance, then, and only then, can we successfully keep these commands. And as we do so, we are in effect also fulfilling Paul’s (present imperative) command to walk by the Spirit which effectively prevents us from carrying out the desires of the flesh (cp Gal 5:16note).

Notice that Spirit of Christ filling (Word of Christ indwelling) SHOULD RADICALLY AFFECT ALL of our relationships – wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves (“employee”), masters (“employer”)! Every vital social interaction is to be impacted by the Holy Spirit! So let me ask you a rhetorical (for effect primarily) question —

“How important is obedience to Paul’s commands that we be continually filled with/controlled by the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18) and continually let the Word of Christ dwell within us (Col 3:16)? Can you even obey these command ( be filled, let dwell ) without the enablement of the Helper? Clearly the answer is “No!” Every moment of every day we are in desperate need for the Spirit to enable us. To say we need His help implies we just need a little “push” which is not the case to live this supernatural life. Meditate on that truth today! And then, as Ray Pritchard puts it, do what you do when you go to full service gas station (yes you younger folks, there once was such a service!) — Cry out ” Fill me up! ” expressing your deep desire for and desperate dependence on the Spirit’s enabling power to carry out God’s commands which are not burdensome (1Jn 5:3)!

As an aside, it is interesting that we see so many Christian marriages and families in various states of disturbance, dissonance (lack of agreement) and/or even imminent dissolution. Paul was written us a “prescription”, so to speak, for the “balm” (a soothing restorative agent) that can bring healing to families and marriages in dire (dismal, dreadful) straits! But like any medicine, the doctor can prescribe the best remedy, but the pill still has to be swallowed in order to effect a cure. What would happen to couples who made an intentional effort (initiated by and energized by the Spirit of Grace-Heb 10:29b) to study and meditate on Paul’s prescription in these passages and related cross references? In Psalm 107 the Spirit says that when the disobedient and distressed children of Israel “cried out to the LORD in their trouble, He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psalm 107:1920). Beloved, His Name is Jehovah Rapha (Jehovah Rophe) The LORD our Healer and He is the same yesterday, today and forever and His Word is able to bring hope and healing to hopeless and broken hearted marriages!

   Courtesy of preceptaustin.org

About goodnessofgod2010

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1 Response to Making Disciples: The Calling of the Church

  1. Sumner R Andrews Jr says:

    A simple instrument has been known to turn the tide during difficult times.

    Christian persecution has become a thing in the United States and specifically internationally. Christians world wide are wondering who can come to their defense. The answer is all of Christendom.

    How would this be possible given the deep divisions that exist among the various denominations under Jesus’s watchful eye? Literally, by speaking the Word and presenting the truth to those who seek to undermine GOD.

    The instrument is one that I have seen turn shy Christians and non Christians alike into strong and confident communicators and leaders. This is not a solicitation. I am writing to you as an individual Christian who has viewed a path to blunt the effects of the darkness seeking to envelop all that it touches.

    Over seven years ago, a non joiner by nature, I passed a sign signaling a Toastmasters meeting. On a whim or by guidance, I took the risk of looking into it. Those intervening years demonstrated that within six to eight months each new Toastmaster attendee gained sufficient confidence in themselves and their communication abilities to share their opinions with a crowd.

    The math speaks the truth of the path. As of 2012, there are over 380,000 congregations in the United States. The average size of a Toastmasters Club is approximately 20 members. If only 10 percent of the US Congregations convened a club*, there would be over 760,000 Christian communicators to take their priests, pastors and leaders words out into the nation with confidence. These individuals could write, blog, zoom and most importantly speak the Word and The Truth as given to us by Our Lord. They could evidence what we take for granted.

    We are a Judaeo-Christian nation. This foundation is cracking and needs to be repaired. Please shore it up by promoting Toastmaster clubs wherever you can.

    GOD bless.

    Sumner R. Andrews Jr.
    sumner_andrews@yahoo.com

    * Toastmasters is considered the most cost effective way to learn how to communicate and lead with confidence.

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