J.N.Wheels talks with guest Jeremiah Jasso about the importance of keeping with sound doctrine in the the church for this generation and future generations. Should we be scared of Doctrine? Should we as christians embrace and teach doctrine? What is doctrine anyways? Find out on this episode of the 3M Podcast w/ J.N.Wheels.
To listen to the full episode click HERE and find the 3M Show on your favorite Podcast platform.
The Spirit and the salvation of God were not a trade craft of the apostles, purposed to entertain, as they journeyed from town to town.
“9 But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great. 10 They all paid attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called Great.” 11 And they paid attention to him because for a long time he had amazed them with his magic. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Even Simon himself believed, and after being baptized he continued with Philip. And seeing signs and great miracles[a] performed, he was amazed.
14 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! 21 You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are in the gall[b] of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.” 24 And Simon answered, “Pray for me to the Lord, that nothing of what you have said may come upon me.”
25 Now when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.”
“But there was a certain man called Simon.”
Who was Simon the Magician?
The purpose of this study is to explore the life of Simon the magician. The book of Acts only gives account of his life in 15 verses.
Was there more to be accounted for after this biblical story concludes?
These questions will be the topic for research and conclusion on the life of Simon the Magician.
Was Simon the Magician just the local magician or did he have a higher status in the Samarian society?
“This “Simon” was a man who had once mystified the people of this Samaritan city. By his magic arts Simon had managed to “pull the wool over the eyes” of the Samaritans for years. He made claims of being someone great, but it seems that he allowed the people to come to their own conclusions, and their conclusion, skillfully suggested and orchestrated by Simon, was that he was “the Great Power of God.”2
The book of Acts gives credit to Simon as being considered a great man by the Samarian people. “And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time.” 3 Simon fooled the people with magic to gain high stature within the Samarian society. This leadership gave him favorable control over the people and made him a man of great importance. “Such scholars have viewed magic ‘functionally’, as in some cases serving to relieve certain social stresses, but in other cases as being disruptive actions of deviant sorcerers.”4
He was able to mystify the masses with his powers, but they were man made and they had their limits. Simon would realize this later after a strong rebuke from Peter.
Philip was the first to come into contact with Simon the Magician.
As persecution in Jerusalem was rising, the followers of the “Way,” or Christians would begin to scatter throughout the world, taking the gospel with them. “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.”5
This would set Philip and Simon on a “world collision” as the multitudes hearing the truth in the sermons of Philip would also see real miracles performed (not simply magic). The local magician was being upstaged in his own territory – by an “out of towner”.
Simon, probably out of curiosity, would go to see this “out of towner” perform or speak. “But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized.”6 Simon was one of these people who believed and was baptized after hearing the truth Philip spoke in Samaria.
Was there a hidden agenda behind the “salvation and baptism” of Simon?
Simon as well as the multitudes where all amazed by the miracles that happened whenever and wherever Philip went. “Simon seems to have been more taken by the ministry and the power of Philip than with his message. Wherever Philip went, Simon tagged along, constantly amazed at the evidences of the hand of God in this man’s life and ministry. The power of Philip seems more fascinating to Simon than the person of Christ and the practical out workings of the gospel…” Though Simon claimed a new birth as evidenced by his being baptized, it would seem that… “the magician lived on, focusing on a bigger and better power, rather than on a whole new way of life.”7 This will become very obvious to all when Peter arrives from Jerusalem.
“Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them, who when they had come down, prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit.”8
The Holy Spirit was the one performing the miracles through Philip that the Samaritan people had seen. Was his power the reason Simon was always around Philip or was he truly committed to “the way (Jesus)?”
“Luke gave us more reason to question his commitment. There is no desired object given for his believing—no “kingdom of God,” no “name of Jesus Christ.” In fact, the only response connected with his baptism was his following Philip everywhere, totally entranced by his miraculous signs.
Could this have been Luke’s way of indicating that Simon’s commitment was lacking? That it may have been more based on Philip’s miracles than his preaching? More oriented toward the tricks of his own trade?”9
Peter being full of the Holy Spirit would see through Simon’s intentions especially as Simon asks to pay for the “power” that only comes by the Spirit of God. “Give me this power also,” said Simon, “that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.”10 The power that is the Holy Spirit is what was promised to those who believe in Jesus. The Spirit and the salvation of God were not a trade craft of the apostles, purposed to entertain, as they journeyed from town to town. Peter sternly rebuked Simon saying, “your money perish with you because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!”11 Of this admonishing toward Simon, Peter would almost command him to repent, speaking to the heart condition that Simon was suffering from. “Simon Magus wanted a supernatural gift for his own personal glory not just for the glory of God.”12
This is where the biblical account of Simon the magician would end.
Is there a historical record of Simon the magician after the biblical account?
In fact, Historically, there may be.
Simon unfortunately is considered to be the founder of the Gnostic movement – That movement which elevates self by worshiping self-sanctification, our own performance, special knowledge, and removes God from his exalted throne, making him simply a faulty God, who himself is needing of improvement.
“The church fathers of the second and third centuries are practically unanimous in attributing the origin of Gnosticism to Simon Magus. No subsequent discovery of Gnostic materials offered any evidence to deny this allegation. From Simon Magus the line is traced to a Samaritan named Menander, then to two teachers at Antioch named Saturninus and Cerinthus.”13 The gnostic movement mixed pagan rituals with some of Christianity and is considered by many to be heretical in the sense that it is not the doctrine that Jesus taught while on the earth and passed along to the apostles. “The Gnostic may add that secret revelation gives them this” hidden “insight, but there must still be a standard. How does the Gnostic know his private revelation is correct if there is no absolute truth to which to compare it? Gnostic doctrine isolates humans from God and creates spiritual elites who alone have the answer to human needs. Gnosticism is an unusual aberration in Christian history, but the doctrines of this religion were rejected by the church fathers and should be rejected today as well.”14
After the rebuke from Peter, history sheds light on this Simon the Magician, going back to what made him a leader in Samaria. He adopted some of the views the apostles brought with them to the region, but then mixed it with his belief in magic – once again pulling the wool over the people’s eyes, placing himself back in the spot light. Peter told Simon to “repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.”15 But as the historical record shows, that unfortunately does not seem to occur in Simon’s life.
In Conclusion, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary sums up the life of Simon the magician, saying, he was, “A man who practiced sorcery in Samaria, often referred to as Simon Magus. The deacon/evangelist Philip encountered him in a town, probably Sebaste, the capital of the province. The magician himself became a convert, was baptized with many others, and was amazed at the miracles of Philip, which apparently surpassed his own. The externality of Simon’s faith seems indicated by his bold attempt to bribe the apostles into imparting their “power.” The name of Simon Magus occurs frequently in the early history of “Christian” Gnosticism.”16
Simon the magician was given the truth and even a second chance to be forgiven by the apostles. Rather, it would seem that he chose the path of fame and fortune – even using a form of spirituality to deceive a multitude of people. Jesus would warn the disciples of false prophets and what would happen to those who try and enter His kingdom based upon a false doctrine or a twisting of the doctrine; “And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.”17
The story of Simon the Magician is a story that comes with a warning to all who would seek to have their own glory and power, yet miss the opportunity to have a relationship with the person who gave His life for them.
8 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:14-15
9 Polhill, J. B. (1992). The New American Commentary: Acts Volume 26. B&H Publishing Group. 10 Bible, New King James Version Acts 8:19
11 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:20
12 Constable, Thomas L. “Notes on Acts.” Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes. (2014). http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/acts.pdf.
13 Caner, E. H. (2008). Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers.
14 Caner, E. H. (2008). Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers. 15 Bible, New King James Version, Acts 8:22
Caner, E. H. (2008). Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics. Eugene: Harvest House Publishers.
16 Tenney, D. a. (1987, 2011). Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. 17 Bible, New King James Version, Matthew 7:20
Constable, Thomas L. “Notes on Acts.” Dr. Constable’s Expository Notes. (2014).
As a church we have been going through a beautiful and invaluable faith building study through the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation. As I mention this study to friends in conversation around town, I get the same response everywhere I go: “What are the five solas?” or “I’ve never heard of that before.” Yet everyone seems excited about the topic as soon as they learn more. Therefore, I thought I would put a very brief article out informing those who’s interest seems to be peaking about the 5 Solas. Hope this helps a bit.
5 Solas were 5 Latin phrases, popularized during the Protestant Reformation, making clear the distinctions that set the reformers and Protestant believers apart from the long standing Roman Catholic Church (or the Universal Church).
The 5 Solas are known as follows:
1. Sola Scriptura: Scripture Alone
2. Sola Fide: Faith Alone
3. Sola Gratia: Grace Alone
4. Solo Christo: Christ Alone
5. Soli Deo Gloria: To The Glory Of God Alone
The Solas are much more than a correction to the extra biblical practices of the Roman Catholic beliefs and teachings.
More importantly, they are essential biblical declarations of the Christian Faith, each one building upon another, a Gospel foundation, finding its apex in the Glory of God alone.
According to John Piper, These truths have clearly defined the Gospel for the church for five hundred years.
The Word made flesh has given us His Word made text, and He simply asks us to read, hear and apply His heart and promises for us found in Scripture. So, in this chapter I want to briefly encourage your confidence and dependance upon the written Word of God. You will need this strength for ministry, and it cannot be found anywhere else but in the presence of God as you sit at His feet, receiving from His Word.
I feel it necessary to spend a good amount of time talking about the Bible itself. It is necessary as believers and as ministers in Jesus Christ’s ministry, that we understand the God whom we worship and that we come to know His heart toward us as best as possible. His heart, His direction, and His guidance for our lives and for the entire earth and universe are found in the Scriptures. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to our spiritual and physical lives that we think rightly about the God of the Word.
Do You Still Believe In The Bible?
If the reliability of the Scriptures are up for debate in your mind and heart, then so are all of its doctrines, precepts, directives, commandments, prophecies and promises. As ministers in the Lord we need to be confidant in who we are serving. If you cannot place faith in His written Word as a reliable source for knowing Jesus Christ who is Lord of the universe, then you are without knowledge of How you and others must be saved. If you don’t trust His Word, then you cannot trust your salvation – it is now up for debate along with every other doctrine that effects you now and in eternity, including doctrines like salvation, redemption, justification, the trinity, the love, justice, mercy, grace and judgment of God, worship, and how God wants to be worshiped. All of which and many more are very important doctrines to the health and well-being of the believer.
1 John 2:2 says, speaking of Christ, that “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” If His Word is up for debate in your mind, then so is this – That Christ’s death pleased God in dying for your sins to save you from hell. If you don’t trust His word, than you cannot trust that this is true, therefore you either don’t care about your salvation and knowing God or you’re uncertain about your salvation. Pretty important right? The Word of God.
Duh! Were “Church” People!
I recognize that by this point some of you might be thinking, “why are you including this in a book on ministry? Of course we believe in the infallible Word of God, thats why we are in ministry!” I hope this is your response, but I feel that this chapter is necessary because many ministries and ministers are departing from the truth and are now teaching doctrines of demons, having abandoned all absolutes along with the promises of God. Many churches do not teach the Bible anymore. Therefore those assisting in these ministries no longer read, trust in or find their strength in His Word! We must not be these sort of ministers or ministries. We are men and women of God and we are men and women of the truth. His truth is found in the Bible – the Word of God.
“So Why Do We Need The Word Of God? ”
Lets look at a few reasons.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 says,
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures,which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
First of all, the Scriptures, that is your Bible, are Holy because they are inspired by God. God is responsible for what is recorded and written in the Scriptures. They are His words, He has wrought them and He keeps and protects them. They are “hieros”, that is, sacred or holy. They are inspired by God.
Speaking of the scriptures and prophecy, Peter tells us that “…men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)
God’s words are necessary and essential. In fact, of His own words, the Lord reveals to us through the psalmist:
“…You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2)
It has been said that no man is greater than his word. If you cannot trust what someone says, then you cannot trust that person. Simply put, if I make promises to you about myself that do not come true or are untrue then you really don’t know me and would actually be better off not knowing me because I would have revealed to you by my lies and broken promises, that I am not who I say I am and that I cannot be trusted. I have revealed to you that I am a liar by my inability to fulfill my word. I may be a liar but God is no liar. In fact, He cannot lie. The reliability of the scriptures testify to the reliability of our God. Our God has given and kept many great promises. To prove Himself, His faithfulness and just to simply bless us, He has written His promises down, as if to say, “you can take these to the bank! I am good and will be good to my word and all of my promises. You have seen it and will continue to see my promises fulfilled.”
The Word of God is a necessity, because it is Holy and divinely inspired by the God of the universe.
Now, I will take some time in presenting you with a bit of evidence, though I am not so interested in defending the Bible or Gods existence as God Himself does not seem very interested in this either. God exists whether anyone believes in Him or not. But, it can be helpful and encouraging to us all, so here we go…
Holy and Inspired
The word Bible comes from the Greek word ‘biblos’ meaning ‘book.’ It is The Book. In the Bible, we have the embodiment of a divine revelation. It is a written work of history centered around one man, Jesus Christ. Now, let me briefly present you with…
5 proofs that present the Bible as the very Word of God:
1. The Character of the Bible.
Written by 40 some authors over a period of about 1600 years and yet the Bible is one book. It has one doctrinal system, one moral standard, one plan of salvation, and one program of the ages. The Bible is in harmony with itself. It does not contradict itself but compliments itself.
2. The Indestructibility Of The Bible. Henry Clarence Thiessen says this about the indestructibility of the Bible: “When we recall that only a very small percentage of books survive more than a quarter of a century, that a much smaller percentage last for a century, and that only a very small number live a thousand years, we at once realize that the Bible is a unique book.”
When looking at the history of the Bibles indestructibility, we must also look at the circumstances through which the Bible has survived. The Bible has been the most adored and praised book as well as the object of more persecution and opposition than any other book in History. For example, before Constantine, Rome, at one point, thought that they had exterminated the Christian religion. Diocletian, by a royal edict in 303 A.D. demanded that every copy of the Bible be destroyed by fire. He killed so many Christians and destroyed so many Bibles, sending Christians into hiding, that he actually thought that he had put an end to the Bible. He inscribed a medal that said, “the Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the gods restored.” A few years later Constantine came to the throne, making Christianity the state religion. Man cannot thwart the purpose and plan of God, not even through evil or persecution. This is one example among many throughout history. Many stories of persecution and triumph are still being written among our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world today – in Asia, the middle east, and elsewhere.
Know this, that God is still preserving His Word. We have hundreds of manuscript copies of the Bible that predate the birth of Christ. These including detailed prophesies about Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Among such manuscripts lies one of the greatest discoveries in modern times: We know them as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s what happened and how God preserved His Word:
In 1947, a young boy wandered into a cave in Qumran (north and west of the dead Sea in Israel). He was looking for some lost sheep, belonging to his father, but instead of finding sheep, the boy stumbled upon ancient coins and a series of pots filled with ancient scrolls; the old testament scriptures. These findings of Isaiah’s writings alone dated back to 100 B.C. The scrolls had been hidden in these caves 2000 years ago and amazingly, they represented every book of the old testament minus the book of Esther.
History has made it obvious to us that God is able to watch over and preserve His word from corruption. This is a true to life miracle. But not surprising, as our God is a God of miracles!
3. The Influence Of The Bible.
Throughout history, the Bible has influenced the arts, literature, architecture, and music. The Bible has influenced the laws of the nations as well as influencing great social reforms and is constantly debated over, defended, or scrutinized in our courthouses to this day.
Thiessen says: “Where is there a book in all the world that even remotely compares with it in its beneficent influence upon mankind?” He called the Bible: “…The revelation of God to needy humanity.”
4. Fulfilled Prophesy. We read earlier in 2 Peter, that men who were “… moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There is no other viable explanation for the supernatural knowledge witnessed in Bible prophesy, given through man, recorded in the Bible. In it, we see many impressive and detailed prophesies concerning the nation of Israel. Prophesies concerning gentile nations were also fulfilled. God is declaring to us, through scripture, that He is all-knowing. He does not simply give us a record book of past events, but confidently declares to us things to come – future events; Bible prophesy – divine revelation.
5. The Claims Of The Bible Itself.
The Bible claims to be the only infallible revelation on earth in written form given to man. In it contains the only plan for the eternal salvation of man.
The Old Testament itself claims to be the Word of God, with its some 3,800 statement like: “thus says the Lord, now the
Lord spoke, He was commanded to write in a book what the Lord had told him, The Lord said, The Word which came to…, The Word of the Lord came expressly to…etc”
The New Testament writers declared the message of God. Paul makes statements in 1 Corinthians (14:37), 1 Thessalonians (2:13), and Galatians (1:8) declaring that the things he wrote were the commandments of God, that what he preached we were to receive as the very word of God, and that the salvation of men depended upon faith in the very doctrines which Paul taught. John taught in 1 John (5:10) that his testimony was Gods testimony. Peter taught that the commands of God were spoken through the holy prophets and through the apostles (2 Peter 3:2). And Christ revealed that if you have heard or seen Him than you have heard and seen God (1 John 1:2, John 14:9).
All of this, and we have not even scratched the surface of archeological discoveries supported by the Bible and in favor of the Bibles accuracy. No other religious text compares. We don’t have time to talk about the Bibles scientific accuracy – including it’s references to the sun, the shape of the earth, and the suspension of the earth and stars. We could talk about the countless martyrs for Christ, including the willingness of Jesus’ disciples to suffer, but for the sake of time, these 5 points will have to do.
So, our first point of why we need the Word of God according to our text in 2 Timothy was, because they are holy and inspired by God. We can see throughout our worlds history, that His hand is upon them, guiding, protecting, and inspiring them. ” Let me share some other Biblical reasons about why I love the Word of God and why it is needed in pastoral ministry, ministry in general and in our personal lives.
Because the words of God are profitable.
I love the Bible because the words of God are profitable.
We gain from His Word! Ill say it again. We get to gain insight, wisdom, direction, encouragement and many more wonderful things for our life, and they are all delivered to us straight from the God who created the universe and the God who gave you life. That’s why the word of God is profitable for our whole lives! Because God knows best. He knows all of humanity and creation from the inside out – that is, things inside and outside, physical, emotional and psychological. He is in control of all things near or far – into the galaxies and universe. There is no area in your life that He is not in the position to touch, heal, change, or help. He is God, and His word is living, life giving and full of endless power!
Hebrews 4:12 says of the Word of God, that it “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We are lost without Gods revelation of Himself to man!
But how do we profit from these words from God?
And what are they profitable for?
Doctrine, Reproof, Correction, Instruction In Righteousness
Well, our text says:
for doctrine [that is teaching],
for reproof [that is, conviction or testing],
for correction [that is, literally to restore to an upright state, to correct your life and character. To make you right.], ” for instruction in righteousness:” The Greek here for our word instruction is: paideia (pi-da-uh) meaning that the Word of God is everything for your growing up in life for the Lord. ”
You cannot and will not grow or mature in Christ if you are lacking the proper nutrition that comes to your soul only by the word of God – interpreted and given proper application by the Spirit of God. It corrects your mistakes and curbs your passions. It increases virtue. This is Paideia – instruction. And this is all for righteousness. That is, for right living before our God. For living a life that is pleasing to Him, for Him, and for His glory. ” Do you understand that the Word of God is essential to your right living for God in Christ? Willing obedience to Gods direction for your life and submission to His instruction will create in you a pure heart – making you a minister filled with personal character. Not just a Christ associated christian but a Christ experienced christian, leader, follower and servant.
Warning To The Phonies
But shame on the pastors, leaders and so-called servants of Jesus who are not rightly dividing the Word of God. Especially to those who are forsaking the Bible all-together! They are leading their congregations down the wrong path and have no clue how to live for God. They are simply and Biblically, bad pastors – ignorant of the power of God.
The Pastor who forsakes the Word of God has forsaken his calling and is no pastor at all but is a wayward – a prodigal, desperately needing to come home. ”
For these pastors and heretics we desperately pray:
“Lord, grab their hearts and set them aright with Your Word that their congregations would be able to worship You in Spirit and in truth!”
“God, help us as servants of You and as servants to Your bride, not to forsake Your promises, but to cling to Your words for our life, ministry, worldview, help, counsel and personal nourishment.”
As assistants in ministry, the Word is our guide. We give the bride of Christ the Words of Christ and nothing else. Your opinion doesn’t really matter in the end. Stick to the Word of God.
The Word of God is power to the believer. It is Spiritual. The Word of God is not a burdensome law. It is not legalism or rules. The Word of God is not a religion! It is safety. It is a glimpse into the very heart of God who rules the universe! It is for your heart, your life, your spirit, and for eternity.
The Word of God is life giving, life changing, miracle working, alive, and true – there is nothing false in it! It is perfect, empowering, encouraging, up-lifting, healing, it speaks to us, guides us, directs us, gives wisdom, judges the thoughts and intents of our heart. It is purity in an imperfect world. It is to be treasured. It is historically accurate, and it is just and right when everything else is wrong!
And do not forget, the Word of God is for you!
Treasure your Savior and treasure His promises. Don’t allow satan to keep you from your Bible. Open it up, be familiar with it, read it, write in it, memorize it – not because you have to, but because He loves you. Guard your time with Jesus. In doing this, you will be and become a spiritual leader to your fellow ministers and to the fathers precious bride of Christ – The Church.
Briefly, if you don’t read the Bible with your wife, then start today. You are to wash her in the Word. If you don’t read with your family, start today. It is your responsibility as a man of God to love and raise your kids in the Lord. Show your family what it is to be a man of God. I didn’t say to preach and pastor them, but to love, disciple and point them to Jesus always.
Take some time right now to pray for your life, family, and ministry.
Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!
Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!
Enjoy this two part sermon detailing the life and heart of a good Shepherd. These Mp3’s bring to life the text of John Chapter 10 in an exciting, encouraging and convicting way. Listen, be blessed and pass them along! Thanks.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – Jesus
The following is a chapter in progress from a book in progress being written by J.N.Wheels
The Necessity of Discipleship
Every minister of Christ is a servant, and a pastor or elder (same thing) is a willing and submitted pastor under the authority of a pastor with vision that is further reaching than his own. That pastor is Jesus. I cannot stress this enough – Jesus has the vision for His Bride (the Church) and it is found in Scripture. Every vision, plan and purpose should be brought into comparison, filtered, thought and re-thought through the lens of the Book of God, The Bible. We are fulfilling His vision for the world around us. As long as we realize this than we can serve together for God’s glory. Man does not have a worthwhile vision apart from the work and direction from God through His Word alone. There is no vision except for the mission of God given to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. Each one of us has been placed in the “body” to help fulfill the vision of Christ.
And what is that vision?
Luke 2:49, 4:43, 24:46-49
We are all fulfilling the great commission of God to reach the lost world that we all live in, and in doing so, we are being conformed into the image of Christ. God placed His Son on the cross with the purpose to save. His justice, anger, and wrath were finally settled upon the body and soul of the one and only perfect man – Jesus Christ. God’s mission is to be known and glorified by saving men and women through the message and power of the good news of Gods Son, that is through the preaching and proclaiming of the Gospel. God’s mission is our mission. And let it be said, there is no mission without compassion. His work is not a job but a personal compassionate mission.
How is God accomplishing this mission?
Through the proclaiming of the “Good News” about Jesus Christ, people are believing, repenting, and being saved. God is saving people as His Spirit draws people to Himself. How He desires to save is through other saved people sharing their true to Gods Word experience about their own salvation and Gods goodness. We preach, people hear, God saves. Is that a recipe? No, it is simply Gods direction for us as believers. The important thing to remember is that Salvation is the work of God, not man or mans techniques, oratory skills…etc God is Savior and salvation belongs to Him. Praise our Lord, that He saves! Now what?
Ok, now we are saved. What for?
In short, For Gods good pleasure. Im still not quite sure why He saw fit to save undeserving sinners and I feel more and more undeserving as the days pass, but for some unknown purpose, He has seen fit in His incredible Love and grace to Rescue us by His own blood, though He did not have to. And in rescuing us, He is also committing to invest in us, making us His disciples – His followers and students. He is making us like His Son. Likeness to Christ is the goal of true discipleship.
Discipleship was the focus and mission of Jesus. He spent His public ministry years surrounding himself specifically with twelve men. These men were His investment here on earth that would affect every generation to come, until Christ returns in the flesh once again. Jesus taught them with His Words and with His life. Not one without the other. We could consider them His apprentices. They shared in His every day life and as a result, they knew Him, His ways, and in knowing Jesus, they were knowing God! As the redeemed of the Lord, we have also become a part of this tight-knit group of disciples. He has invited us into His life, to share in His love and to learn His ways – Gods heart.
This is discipleship. They hung around Jesus, and as a result, they knew God better. They were experiencing their God by experiencing the life and ways of Jesus. Discipleship and disciple-making is the call to the saved.
Are we willing to become disciples?
Disciples are hard core. They left their families and lively-hoods to become more like their savior. They walked away from everything that they once called their “lives” in order to make Jesus their life. Comfort and ease were forsaken in order to gain heaven and relationship to Jesus. Worldly treasures had to be forsaken in order to become a disciple of Jesus. Nothing could be nearer to the heart of a disciple than Jesus. Jesus Himself became the treasure of those who followed Him. If you were not willing to give up everything to follow Jesus, then you were not a follower of Jesus. It was heaven-bound with Jesus or hell-bound with yourself and your earthly treasures. Even family needed to be considered rubbish compared to knowing Christ. Disciples were not “fooling-around.” They wanted and needed Jesus. If it was death for Jesus, then to the grave they went. For disciples, Church was living with and for Jesus, not in and out of a building on Sunday morning. Being a Christian was not owning a bible, but living the Bible, becoming a living letter for the whole world to read. Christ following was not a fish or a bumper-sticker on your fender but His name engraved upon your heart.
Christians, we have a problem.
If you read the Bible and take Gods words serious, than it is not hard to recognize that God is calling us all to a serious and deeply personal commitment. A commitment to Him and His ways and a commitment to one another. But if we are honest with ourselves first and then honest about what we see as we take a quick glance at the “church” around us, we must conclude that we have some problems.
Too many of us “Western” Christians live as though God owes us our salvation. So, now that we have received our salvation (or are deceived in thinking we have it), we, much like retirement, now deserve to chill-out, relax, and take up space in the “church” and the universe, do much of nothing, eat, sleep and then repeat, and all to the glory of ourselves. This is self-idolatry.
Lazy “Christians” become idolaters, idolizing themselves, their routines, their lifestyles, their comfort, their commitment (or lack there of) and so on. They can conveniently come and go at the risk of nothing. Self-preservation and zero risks become the norm of the majority “christian” in America.
Most men, especially, do nothing, while very few do most everything. This has been my experience and I would challenge anyone who thinks otherwise. The laborers are few, says Jesus. We have to pray for men and women who are willing to sweat for the sake of Gospel-furthering discipleship. Those few who are willing to disciple must pray hard and work effectively, living biblically towards the goal of being catalysts in their churches in an effort to make disciples who will go on to be disciple-makers.
I think there are “problem-children” in our churches…
I think we need to be more bold and less apologetic in our discipleship when it comes to completing and passing on this vision. We need to clearly explain to the men and women that are receiving from Christ, the local church, and from their teachers and leaders that they are being invested in for the purpose of making further disciples and progress in spreading what they are now taking in – the Gospel!
We cannot continue to tell people that they may come as they are and stay as they were. If you come to Jesus, He brings a sword, causing division between the life we are living and the sacrificial life He requires us to accept. He makes a line in the sand – For Me or against Me. My way or the hell-way. These are not harsh terms, these are Gods terms. You cannot continue to serve yourself and follow God. As leaders we must preach and teach Christ’s Gospel, lovingly requiring people to align themselves with the Words of Christ. Christianity is not for the consumer. What im saying is this, if people under our oversight do not understand that selfish unbiblical living is sin and not christianity, than we have failed the Gospel message and we are not leading them heaven-word. The old must go.
Unfortunately, our “its-ok-to-be-obese” culture is also creating “its-ok-to-be-obese-Christians” who are always learning, but never making use of the knowledge they have obtained. You could simply call these Christians, “fat-Christians.” They eat at the table, but never share their food. No-one is getting invited to dine with them. Bible study after bible study yet no results as far as impacting the world around them. Fat-Christians will not spread the Gospel because they are lazy and selfish and might not be Christians at all. As leaders, we need to make a steady and bold effort in prayer and action to reach and envision these unfortunate and delusional church goers. Christ died for them, yet they have not understood fully what this personally means for their lives and the lives of others. Unless they are moved by the Spirit to wake-up, they may never enter heaven to be with Christ at all. We need a movement of Christians and especially Christ-loving leaders who will intercede in prayer for their local churches and for themselves that they and their entire congregation would realize and answer the call of Christ upon our lives to be and make disciples. Jesus wants us to move when He gives direction: “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15,16) “Go and make disciples… teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.” (Matthew 28:19,20) “If you want to be My disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison – your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters – yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be My disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. But don’t begin until you count the cost… You cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own.” (Luke 14:26-33) I hope you and I don’t just skip over The Words of God found here. I am sure of this one thing: Our God says what He means, and He means what He says. “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.” (verse 35) You and I need to frequently examine and re-examine our lives in light of scripture.
Questions Worth Asking Ourselves:
Do our lives look more and more like the life that Christ requires of us?
Are we living lives that look scripturally heaven-bound? Or hell-bound?
Are we disciples? And are we disciple-makers?
This may be sobering, but I would rather be sober, living in reality, than delusional and on my way toward a Christ-less eternity.
Can’t you see the need for living and fulfilling and spreading the mission of God as active disciples of Jesus?
So what might this life-style look like?
First let me simply say this: Your life will look sacrificial. Christ sacrificed His life in order to save your life. Now we are required to repent of selfish living and to live sacrificially – giving our entire will over to His will. Christ died to save. Repentance is our response in realizing His saving grace toward us. We forsake who we have been (selfish sinners) and we live now for Him by Grace. Jesus requires that we leave the old selfish nature and follow Him in making Him our new nature. If we do not submit to this plan than we are not disciples of Jesus. Disciples and Disciple-makers are self-less and giving like Jesus.
Your life will be relational and missional like the life of Jesus. Jesus was surrounded by people, and some of those people were closer to Him and more frequently with Him in close relationship than others. In order for us to fulfill our mission with Christ we must be on mission in our homes, churches, and workplaces with an emphasis on building relationships towards a prayerful eternal investment. Simply put, we want people to be saved! We are to live out the Gospel with and in front of the world and church, drawing men and women to our Master, Savior and Friend, Jesus. Im not saying that you need to be “preachy” every time you spend time with non-believers but I am saying that we must hang out with non-believers with the intention of genuinely getting to know them, showing interest and true care for them and their personal lives, all with the purpose to introduce them to Jesus. I might be given the opportunity to share the Gospel with them or I might invite them to hang out with myself and some Christian friends where one of my friends share the Gospel with them. Or I might invite them to church with me where someone else lovingly shares Jesus with them. That is why we need to be involved in non-believing relationships and genuine Christian fellowship. Both relationships are important. This way, the body is most effective in living for Jesus and using the individual gifts that God has given each one of us to do great-commission work and glorify God.
In simplicity, your call to serve Him in your local community will help fulfill three things.
1.Win people to Christ by living-out, preaching and or reaching the lost with the clear biblical message of the Gospel. We are to reach the world around us. That world is your immediate context (Home, work, family, friends, neighbors…etc). We do this through relationship building. Jesus was relational. He showed up where people were and lived for God, lighting up the world around Him. He lived in community with those around Him, loving and living for the glory of God. As people watch, experience and join in on your life, they won’t be able to help experiencing the life of Jesus in you. Go win the world!
2.Disciple the saved in Jesus so that they grow up to be healthy and mature Christians who are contagiously enjoying their Gods salvation and fellowship with one another. The ultimate goal in Discipleship is not that Christians share their faith but that they know their savior and who it is they are sharing, becoming Christ-like and Christ-minded, glorifying their God. If we are successful in this than we wont have to twist arms to get the church to speak publicly the name of Jesus. Evangelism will simply be the fruit of becoming like Jesus. If you are being an example of this, those around you who you share your life with (discipleship), won’t be able to resist catching this vision. It should be as natural as breathing and unstoppable because it is who we are. Our identity is truly found in Jesus. We are saved and cannot be anything else. Our Goal as servants in the church is to train others to know that “to live is Christ.”
3.Send others out into the world to do the same. We are all on mission with Jesus wherever he has placed us. We want to be used to help others catch this vision and send them on Gods mission wherever Jesus calls or places them in this world.
Questions worth pondering:
What might Gods mission look like in your fellowship?
Are you a disciple?
What Does a Disciple look like? Act like?
Are you willing to make disciples?
How can you make disciples graciously and lovingly?