Reasoned Hope Ministries

Reasoned Hope is a new ministry I have started with the help of some friends. Let me tell you how this got started – but for that I have to go back a few years.

Part of the reason Diana and I moved to Redding fifteen years ago was to start a ministry that would reach out to young people with the gospel of Jesus Christ – with two things being at the forefront of our efforts. Those two things consisted of the wonderful and powerful Transforming message of the love the Lord has for them and also to help warn them that the devil and the world were truly a menace to their very lives. During those early years we held an event at a local church and focused on how the devil wants to use music to influence and ultimately tear them away from what is good and drag them into evil. The event went well and lives were touched and we continued on. But shortly after that we realized that there was a whole lot more than worldly music aimed at us and our kids. We realized that the enemy was using a variety of methods (called schemes in 2 Corinthians 2:11) and the very church we were going to was preaching things we could not find in the Bible. Ouch! God moved us out of that church and later out of a partnership that was also a problem. Oh the Lord is merciful isn’t He? He is also a very good teacher!

But through all of these changes our dream seemed to die in the process. The church we found in Redding was preaching the Bible pretty well but was lacking in a real fire it seemed. But, on we plodded wondering if God would still use us in the way we thought He would when we moved to the Northstate. We went into God’s waiting room. Ever been there before? We got our heads back into the Word of God and began to learn more and more about the deception that had creeped into the church at large. We realized that the danger was not only in the world, some of it had seeped into the church – the problem was worse than we ever imagined. At the same time we also began to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ more purely, more intensely than every before. We found that in His presence is fullness of joy. That word ‘fullness’ was all over the New Testament and was hinted at strangely in the Old one!

The pressure inside us began to build again. I remember turning fifty and thinking, “I have only so many years left, God use me to the full extent of them – if you will!” I began to dream about doing a youth outreach ministry with a dual emphasis of “warning and encouraging” within the context of the local church. I though, “just give us a week to come alongside a church and their young people and I believe we will see changed lives.” We spent a year preparing and then due to the recession the secular job I had faded away. For the first time in three decades I was unemployed. But our faith grew. We thought that this was God too – clearing the decks so I could move into full time ministry and see my dream happen. We began to prepare and work towards the goal. When nothing too substantial happened after a year of prayer and preparation some disappointment started to set in. Was this not God’s will? Had we missed it? Had we misheard the call?

The day after we met with our pastor for dinner and to ask if they knew why the delays and if maybe I should just start looking for a job something big happened. An opportunity happened overnight. A church an hour away needed a pastor all of a sudden. They wanted us to come and interview. My pastor said it was exciting and would pray for us in this possibility. My family was behind us. My friends were praying! Within a few short weeks it became a reality. The church had twelve people and we didn’t even think we would get a salary. But the Lord quickly grew us and the church took care of us and we had our very own youth group built in. Meanwhile God was doing something very deep in my heart.

I had met my wife in a small but powerful Bible college in 1977. There and in countless hours of personal study from my earliest days God had been preparing me for this opportunity to share His Word on a weekly basis and to be an undershepherd in His house. But I had so much to learn on the job. For five years there was success and there was struggle. Then one day it felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Two families made a decision to move their business out of state. This meant several other families that they employed would be leaving too. How would we survive? How would our needs be met? God rebuked me for this lack of faith. Not only that but He provided and brought new families to join us in our small church in our small mountain town of about one thousand people. God proved Himself faithful and showed us He is in charge. Incidentally, he brought two families that care about young people – what a shock right?

Our youth ministry is still in its infancy. We have as many kids from the neighborhood as we do from church families. But the youth group is alive and the youth leaders are alive and on fire for Jesus. For any pastor worth his salt that is incredibly exciting to see. We are expecting great things as the ministry takes off again and grows deeper and wider and impacts more young people – encouraging and warning them, so they will grow mature and begin to witness to their friends.

So where am I in all this? I’m glad you asked.

For some time I thought it would be an awesome idea to build a little podcast studio at the church where I could film short teaching videos and podcasts during the week that would deal with current issues of discernment and encouragement for our flock and for anyone else that would benefit from this. We could record testimonies and interview missionaries and get into the nitty gritty of walking out our faith in a pretty messy world that leads many of us to conclude that we are really living in the last days.

I woke up the other day at 2am and could not get to sleep. I started writing ideas down about these possibilities. I wrote out a budget for this broadcast studio. I researched the costs and best practices we would need to make it excellent and keep it manageable. I began to think how I could present it. I thought about one of the real “hearts” of our church – our Thursday morning ladies Bible study group. This group along with all the other ladies in our church are incredible prayer warriors and are always up “for a good scrap” as the army of God should be.

I prepared a powerpoint to distill down my ideas and thoughts and dreams. Then I realized something incredible. If done right, this ministry could open doors to take the “double shotgun” truths of encouraging, transforming love and the needed warnings out of our comfortable little mountain valley and into the big old world. God could resurrect my dream of reaching young people – to light a fire in them and see them safe within the guidelines of Scripture. Through a podcast and internet ministry maybe God could open doors to see a revolution launched. I could take this ministry with me and connect with other like minded folks at a conference I will speak at in August up in Oregon….but what would our own ladies think first?

The ladies were engaged and seemed genuinely excited. One of them came up afterward and paid for our website we would need to build with one stroke of her pen. (So I went home that afternoon and built it – oh yah – I have been doing websites for some time and have all the software to edit video and audio ready to go – on less thing right?!) The ball is beginning to roll. They all wanted to see the chart of the “stuff” we would need to get the broadcast center up and running. So I will print it out (for those who love paper and ink) and post it below into this blog. During my talk with the sisters I gave them a couple of verses from 1 Peter. First I talked about the “ability” we have in Christ through His powerful world if we will simply proclaim it – to impact the world for Christ. That verse is in 1 Peter 4:11 and it basically says that we are to speak the very Words of God – the “oracles” and minister with the strength – the infinite power – of God Himself and that if we do that He will be glorified. That is all God wants from us. For us to glorify Him in all things. That is the reason for “Reasoned Hope Ministries” as we are calling this effort – to give God His richly deserved glory.

The second verse I shared with the gals yesterday was from 1 Peter 3:15 and is the source of where we got our name. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a ‘reason for the hope’ that is in you, with meekness and fear.” That word “defense” is the word we get apologetics from – the defense of the faith and the warning of false teaching go hand in hand – so we see a great Biblical mandate to defend and warn and protect the faith once delivered to the saints. (See Jude for more info on this) But what has really gripped my heart is the phrase “reason for the hope.” Reason is the Greek word ‘logos.’ The same Word used of Jesus in John 1:1 and translated “Word” as in the eternal Word who was with God and was God. Here in 1 Peter it is translated simply ‘reason.” By extension isn’t it fair to say that Jesus is the only reason for ministry, for life, for hope – John 14:6 says as much. But Jesus is also the ‘reason’ in this way – He is pure sense and logic and right thinking and is also the full expression of God – He is God with us – Emmanuel – and He is the one with answers. Colossians warns that some Christians will be persuaded by persuasive arguments (Colossians 2:4) and yet the previous verse tells us that in Jesus are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Jesus gives us a ‘reasoned hope” then. He is that hope – that wisdom we so desperately need each day. As His followers – His disciples we will have the power and grace to make that reasoned hope a part of our very lives and character and outlook – but then we must share what we have with the world. That is what it means to be a real disciple.

We are simply asking God to open doors for that sharing to be made possible through the medium of audio and video podcasts as a way to encourage and warn Christians and also draw unbelievers to the light that is only found in Jesus Christ. If you would like to help in this ministry you can email me – Pastor Rod at rod.page@gmail.com. I look forward to seeing those people who are on the other side of the door that God seems to opending up at this time in our lives. We need about $1900 to finish the studio purchases. We need prayer partners. We need to have some of you share this vision with your Christian friends and family. Many hands make light work and we are all simply ‘workers together’ (2 Corinthians 6:1-2) for the cause of the gospel.

It is His work after all so He will see it through and guide us in these efforts. Of course, He does that through people – would you consider helping us? Please email me and let me know that you are praying for this ministry. Please pray for His provision of the money we need but pray more that God would give us opportunities and open doors for the gospel and that He would powerfully work in the life of our church and in the lives that this avenue can reach through the website, podcasts and videos. The site is under construction and can be found at http://reasonedhopeministries.org/.  Below is the chart with the needs to build out a simple but excellent little studio. If you are wondering about the item labeled ‘chair’ that is on there for a very good reason. My current chair makes a ton of noise during recording. It is old and I brought it with me to Lewiston – its falling apart, so we need a new one. Everything wears out except Jesus – right?

The Lord be magnified in all things!

Amen and Amen!

By His grace and love,

Pastor Rod

Prophecies & Fulfillments of Jesus

“Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me” (Psalm 40:7). 

“The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). 

“…all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Jesus Christ, Luke 24:44). 

“And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Jesus Christ, Luke 24:27). 

“For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.” (Jesus Christ, John 5:46). 

“To Him give all the prophets witness” (Acts 10:43)
   

Scripture Prophecy Fulfillment 

   

1. Gen. 3:15 Seed of a woman (virgin birth) Galatians 4:4-5, Matthew 1:18 

2. Gen. 3:15 He will bruise Satan’s head Hebrews 2:14, 1John 3:8 

3. Gen. 3:15 Christ’s heel would be bruised with nails on the cross Matthew 27:35, Luke 24:39-40 

4. Gen. 5:24 The bodily ascension to heaven illustrated Mark 16:19, Rev. 12:5 

5. Gen. 9:26, 27 The God of Shem will be the Son of Shem Luke 3:23-36 

6. Gen. 12:3 Seed of Abraham will bless all nations Galatians 3:8, Acts 3:25, 26 

7. Gen. 12:7 The Promise made to Abraham’s Seed Galatians 3:16 

8. Gen. 14:18 A priest after the order of Melchizedek Hebrews 6:20 

9. Gen. 14:18 King of Peace and Righteousness Hebrews 7:2 

10. Gen. 14:18 The Last Supper foreshadowed Matthew 26:26-29 

11. Gen. 17:19 Seed of Isaac (Gen. 21:12) Romans 9:7 

12. Gen. 22:8 The Lamb of God promised John 1:29 

13. Gen. 22:18 As Isaac’s seed, will bless all nations Galatians 3:16 

14. Gen. 26:2-5 The Seed of Isaac promised as the Redeemer Hebrews 11:18 

15. Gen. 28:12 The Bridge to heaven John 1:51 

16. Gen. 28:14 The Seed of Jacob Luke 3:34 

17. Gen. 49:10 The time of His coming Luke 2:1-7; Galatians 4:4 

18. Gen. 49:10 The Seed of Judah Luke 3:33 

19. Gen. 49:10 Called Shiloh or One Sent John 17:3 

20. Gen. 49:10 Messiah to come before Judah lost identity John 11:47-52 

21. Gen. 49:10 Unto Him shall the obedience of the people be John 10:16 

22. Ex. 3:13-15 The Great “I AM” John 4:26, 8:58 

23. Ex. 12:3-6 The Lamb presented to Israel 4 days before Passover Mark 11:7-11 

24. Ex. 12:5 A Lamb without blemish Hebrews 9:14; 1Peter 1:19 

25. Ex. 12:13 The blood of the Lamb saves from wrath Romans 5:8 

26. Ex. 12:21-27 Christ is our Passover 1Corinthians 5:7 

27. Ex. 12:46 Not a bone of the Lamb to be broken John 19:31-36 

28. Ex. 15:2 His exaltation predicted as Yeshua Acts 7:55, 56 

29. Ex. 15:11 His Character-Holiness Luke 1:35; Acts 4:27 

30. Ex. 17:6 The Spiritual Rock of Israel 1Corinthians 10:4 

31. Ex. 33:19 His Character-Merciful Luke 1:72 

32. Lev. 1:2-9 His sacrifice a sweet smelling savor unto God Ephesians 5:2 

33. Lev. 14:11 The leper cleansed-Sign to priesthood Luke 5:12-14; Acts 6:7 

34. Lev. 16:15-17 Prefigures Christ’s once-for-all death Hebrews 9:7-14 

35. Lev. 16:27 Suffering outside the Camp Matthew 27:33; Heb. 13:11, 12 

36. Lev. 17:11 The Blood-the life of the flesh Matthew 26:28; Mark 10:45 

37. Lev. 17:11 It is the blood that makes atonement Rom. 3:23-24; 1John 1:7 

38. Lev. 23:36-37 The Drink-offering: “If any man thirst” John 7:37 

39. Num. 9:12 Not a bone of Him broken John 19:31-36 

40. Num. 21:9 The serpent on a pole-Christ lifted up John 3:14-18, 12:32 

41. Num. 24:17 Time: “I shall see him, but not now.” John 1:14; Galatians 4:4 

42. Deut. 18:15 “This is of a truth that prophet.” John 6:14 

43. Deut. 18:15-16 “Had ye believed Moses, ye would believe me.” John 5:45-47 

44. Deut. 18:18 Sent by the Father to speak His word John 8:28, 29 

45. Deut. 18:19 Whoever will not hear must bear his sin Acts 3:22-23 

46. Deut. 21:23 Cursed is he that hangs on a tree Galatians 3:10-13 

47. Joshua 5:14-15 The Captain of our salvation Hebrews 2:10 

48. Ruth 4:4-10 Christ, our kinsman, has redeemed us Ephesians 1:3-7 

49. 1 Sam. 2:35 A Faithful Priest Heb. 2:17, 3:1-3, 6, 7:24-25 

50. 1 Sam. 2:10 Shall be an anointed King to the Lord Mt. 28:18, John 12:15 

51. 2 Sam. 7:12 David’s Seed Matthew 1:1 

52. 2 Sam. 7:13 His Kingdom is everlasting 2Peter 1:11 

53. 2 Sam. 7:14a The Son of God Luke 1:32, Romans 1:3-4 

54. 2 Sam. 7:16 David’s house established forever Luke 3:31; Rev. 22:16 

55. 2 Ki. 2:11 The bodily ascension to heaven illustrated Luke 24:51 

56. 1 Chr. 17:11 David’s Seed Matthew 1:1, 9:27 

57. 1 Chr. 17:12-13 To reign on David’s throne forever Luke 1:32, 33 

58. 1 Chr. 17:13 “I will be His Father, He…my Son.” Hebrews 1:5 

59. Job 9:32-33 Mediator between man and God 1 Timothy 2:5 

60. Job 19:23-27 The Resurrection predicted John 5:24-29 

61. Psa. 2:1-3 The enmity of kings foreordained Acts 4:25-28 

62. Psa. 2:2 To own the title, Anointed (Christ) John 1:41, Acts 2:36 

63. Psa. 2:6 His Character-Holiness John 8:46; Revelation 3:7 

64. Psa. 2:6 To own the title King Matthew 2:2 

65. Psa. 2:7 Declared the Beloved Son Matthew 3:17, Romans 1:4 

66. Psa. 2:7, 8 The Crucifixion and Resurrection intimated Acts 13:29-33 

67. Psa. 2:8, 9 Rule the nations with a rod of iron Rev. 2:27, 12:5, 19:15 

68. Psa. 2:12 Life comes through faith in Him John 20:31 

69. Psa. 8:2 The mouths of babes perfect His praise Matthew 21:16 

70. Psa. 8:5, 6 His humiliation and exaltation Hebrews 2:5-9 

71. Psa. 9:7-10 Judge the world in righteousness Acts 17:31 

72. Psa. 16:10 Was not to see corruption Acts 2:31, 13:35 

73. Psa. 16:9-11 Was to arise from the dead John 20:9 

74. Psa. 17:15 The resurrection predicted Luke 24:6 

75. Psa. 18:2-3 The horn of salvation Luke 1:69-71 

76. Psa. 22:1 Forsaken because of sins of others 2 Corinthians 5:21 

77. Psa. 22:1 “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46 

78. Psa. 22:2 Darkness upon Calvary for three hours Matthew 27:45 

79. Psa. 22:7 They shoot out the lip and shake the head Matthew 27:39-44 

80. Psa. 22:8 “He trusted in God, let Him deliver Him” Matthew 27:43 

81. Psa. 22:9-10 Born the Saviour Luke 2:7 

82. Psa. 22:12-13 They seek His death John 19:6 

83. Psa. 22:14 His blood poured out when they pierced His side John 19:34 

84. Psa. 22:14, 15 Suffered agony on Calvary Mark 15:34-37 

85. Psa. 22:15 He thirsted John 19:28 

86. Psa. 22:16 They pierced His hands and His feet John 19:34, 37; 20:27 

87. Psa. 22:17, 18 Stripped Him before the stares of men Luke 23:34, 35 

88. Psa. 22:18 They parted His garments John 19:23, 24 

89. Psa. 22:20, 21 He committed Himself to God Luke 23:46 

90. Psa. 22:20, 21 Satanic power bruising the Redeemer’s heel Hebrews 2:14 

91. Psa. 22:22 His Resurrection declared John 20:17 

92. Psa. 22:27-28 He shall be the governor of the nations Colossians 1:16 

93. Psa. 22:31 “It is finished” John 19:30, Heb. 10:10, 12, 14, 18 

94. Psa. 23:1 “I am the Good Shepherd” John 10:11, 1Peter 2:25 

95. Psa. 24:3 His exaltation predicted Acts 1:11; Philippians 2:9 

96. Psa. 30:3 His resurrection predicted Acts 2:32 

97. Psa. 31:5 “Into thy hands I commit my spirit” Luke 23:46 

98. Psa. 31:11 His acquaintances fled from Him Mark 14:50 

99. Psa. 31:13 They took counsel to put Him to death Mt. 27:1, John 11:53 

100. Psa. 31:14, 15 “He trusted in God, let Him deliver him” Matthew 27:43 

101. Psa. 34:20 Not a bone of Him broken John 19:31-36 

102. Psa. 35:11 False witnesses rose up against Him Matthew 26:59 

103. Psa. 35:19 He was hated without a cause John 15:25 

104. Psa. 38:11 His friends stood afar off Luke 23:49 

105. Psa. 38:12 Enemies try to entangle Him by craft Mark 14:1, Mt. 22:15 

106. Psa. 38:12-13 Silent before His accusers Matthew 27:12-14 

107. Psa. 38:20 He went about doing good Acts 10:38 

108. Psa. 40:2-5 The joy of His resurrection predicted John 20:20 

109. Psa. 40:6-8 His delight-the will of the Father John 4:34, Heb. 10:5-10 

110. Psa. 40:9 He was to preach the Righteousness in Israel Matthew 4:17 

111. Psa. 40:14 Confronted by adversaries in the Garden John 18:4-6 

112. Psa. 41:9 Betrayed by a familiar friend John 13:18 

113. Psa. 45:2 Words of Grace come from His lips John 1:17, Luke 4:22 

114. Psa. 45:6 To own the title, God or Elohim Hebrews 1:8 

115. Psa. 45:7 A special anointing by the Holy Spirit Mt. 3:16; Heb. 1:9 

116. Psa. 45:7, 8 Called the Christ (Messiah or Anointed) Luke 2:11 

117. Psa. 45:17 His name remembered forever Ephesians 1:20-21, Heb. 1:8 

118. Psa. 55:12-14 Betrayed by a friend, not an enemy John 13:18 

119. Psa. 55:15 Unrepentant death of the Betrayer Matthew 27:3-5; Acts 1:16-19 

120. Psa. 68:18 To give gifts to men Ephesians 4:7-16 

121. Psa. 68:18 Ascended into Heaven Luke 24:51 

122. Psa. 69:4 Hated without a cause John 15:25 

123. Psa. 69:8 A stranger to own brethren John 1:11, 7:5 

124. Psa. 69:9 Zealous for the Lord’s House John 2:17 

125. Psa. 69:14-20 Messiah’s anguish of soul before crucifixion Matthew 26:36-45 

126. Psa. 69:20 “My soul is exceeding sorrowful.” Matthew 26:38 

127. Psa. 69:21 Given vinegar in thirst Matthew 27:34 

128. Psa. 69:26 The Saviour given and smitten by God John 17:4; 18:11 

129. Psa. 72:10, 11 Great persons were to visit Him Matthew 2:1-11 

130. Psa. 72:16 The corn of wheat to fall into the Ground John 12:24-25 

131. Psa. 72:17 Belief on His name will produce offspring John 1:12, 13 

132. Psa. 72:17 All nations shall be blessed by Him Galatians 3:8 

133. Psa. 72:17 All nations shall call Him blessed John 12:13, Rev. 5:8-12 

134. Psa. 78:1-2 He would teach in parables Matthew 13:34-35 

135. Psa. 78:2b To speak the Wisdom of God with authority Matthew 7:29 

136. Psa. 80:17 The Man of God’s right hand Mark 14:61-62 

137. Psa. 88 The Suffering and Reproach of Calvary Matthew 27:26-50 

138. Psa. 88:8 They stood afar off and watched Luke 23:49 

139. Psa. 89:27 Firstborn Colossians 1:15, 18 

140. Psa. 89:27 Emmanuel to be higher than earthly kings Luke 1:32, 33 

141. Psa. 89:35-37 David’s Seed, throne, kingdom endure forever Luke 1:32, 33 

142. Psa. 89:36-37 His character-Faithfulness Revelation 1:5, 19:11 

143. Psa. 90:2 He is from everlasting (Micah 5:2) John 1:1 

144. Psa. 91:11, 12 Identified as Messianic; used to tempt Christ Luke 4:10, 11 

145. Psa. 97:9 His exaltation predicted Acts 1:11; Ephesians 1:20 

146. Psa. 100:5 His character-Goodness Matthew 19:16, 17 

147. Psa. 102:1-11 The Suffering and Reproach of Calvary John 19:16-30 

148. Psa. 102:25-27 Messiah is the Preexistent Son Hebrews 1:10-12 

149. Psa. 109:25 Ridiculed Matthew 27:39 

150. Psa. 110:1 Son of David Matthew 22:42-43 

151. Psa. 110:1 To ascend to the right-hand of the Father Mark 16:19 

152. Psa. 110:1 David’s son called Lord Matthew 22:44, 45 

153. Psa. 110:4 A priest after Melchizedek’s order Hebrews 6:20 

154. Psa. 112:4 His character-Compassionate, Gracious, et al Matthew 9:36 

155. Psa. 118:17, 18 Messiah’s Resurrection assured Luke 24:5-7; 1Cor. 15:20 

156. Psa. 118:22, 23 The rejected stone is Head of the corner Matthew 21:42, 43 

157. Psa. 118:26a The Blessed One presented to Israel Matthew 21:9 

158. Psa. 118:26b To come while Temple standing Matthew 21:12-15 

159. Psa. 132:11 The Seed of David (the fruit of His Body) Luke 1:32, Act 2:30 

160. Psa. 129:3 He was scourged Matthew 27:26 

161. Psa. 138:1-6 The supremacy of David’s Seed amazes kings Matthew 2:2-6 

162. Psa. 147:3, 6 The earthly ministry of Christ described Luke 4:18 

163. Prov. 1:23 He will send the Spirit of God John 16:7 

164. Prov. 8:23 Foreordained from everlasting Rev. 13:8, 1Peter 1:19-20 

165. Song. 5:16 The altogether lovely One John 1:17 

166. Isa. 2:3 He shall teach all nations John 4:25 

167. Isa. 2:4 He shall judge among the nations John 5:22 

168. Isa. 6:1 When Isaiah saw His glory John 12:40-41 

169. Isa. 6:8 The One Sent by God John 12:38-45 

170. Isa. 6:9-10 Parables fall on deaf ears Matthew 13:13-15 

171. Isa. 6:9-12 Blinded to Christ and deaf to His words Acts 28:23-29 

172. Isa. 7:14 To be born of a virgin Luke 1:35 

173. Isa. 7:14 To be Emmanuel-God with us Matthew 1:18-23, 1Tim. 3:16 

174. Isa. 8:8 Called Emmanuel Matthew 28:20 

175. Isa. 8:14 A stone of stumbling, a Rock of offense 1Peter 2:8 

176. Isa. 9:1, 2 His ministry to begin in Galilee Matthew 4:12-17 

177. Isa. 9:6 A child born-Humanity Luke 1:31 

178. Isa. 9:6 A Son given-Deity Luke 1:32, John 1:14, 1Tim. 3:16 

179. Isa. 9:6 Declared to be the Son of God with power Romans 1:3, 4 

180. Isa. 9:6 The Wonderful One, Peleh Luke 4:22 

181. Isa. 9:6 The Counsellor, Yaatz Matthew 13:54 

182. Isa. 9:6 The Mighty God, El Gibor 1Cor. 1:24, Titus 2:13 

183. Isa. 9:6 The Everlasting Father, Avi Adth John 8:58, 10:30 

184. Isa. 9:6 The Prince of Peace, Sar Shalom John 16:33 

185. Isa. 9:7 Inherits the throne of David Luke 1:32 

186. Isa. 9:7 His Character-Just John 5:30 

187. Isa. 9:7 No end to his Government, Throne, and kingdom Luke 1:33 

188. Isa. 11:1 Called a Nazarene-the Branch, Netzer Matthew 2:23 

189. Isa. 11:1 A rod out of Jesse-Son of Jesse Luke 3:23, 32 

190. Isa. 11:2 Anointed One by the Spirit Matthew 3:16, 17, Acts 10:38 

191. Isa. 11:2 His Character-Wisdom, Knowledge, et al Colossians 2:3 

192. Isa. 11:3 He would know their thoughts Luke 6:8, John 2:25 

193. Isa. 11:4 Judge in righteousness Acts 17:31 

194. Isa. 11:4 Judges with the sword of His mouth Rev. 2:16, 19:11, 15 

195. Isa. 11:5 Character: Righteous & Faithful Rev. 19:11 

196. Isa. 11:10 The Gentiles seek Him John 12:18-21 

197. Isa. 12:2 Called Jesus-Yeshua Matthew 1:21 

198. Isa. 22:22 The One given all authority to govern Revelation 3:7 

199. Isa. 25:8 The Resurrection predicted 1Corinthians 15:54 

200. Isa. 26:19 His power of Resurrection predicted Matthew 27:50-54 

201. Isa. 28:16 The Messiah is the precious corner stone Acts 4:11, 12 

202. Isa. 28:16 The Sure Foundation 1Corinthians 3:11, Mt. 16:18 

203. Isa. 29:13 He indicated hypocritical obedience to His Word Matthew 15:7-9 

204. Isa. 29:14 The wise are confounded by the Word 1Corinthians 1:18-31 

205. Isa. 32:2 A Refuge-A man shall be a hiding place Matthew 23:37 

206. Isa. 35:4 He will come and save you Matthew 1:21 

207. Isa. 35:5-6 To have a ministry of miracles Matthew 11:2-6 

208. Isa. 40:3, 4 Preceded by forerunner John 1:23 

209. Isa. 40:9 “Behold your God.” John 1:36; 19:14 

210. Isa. 40:10. He will come to reward Revelation 22:12 

211. Isa. 40:11 A shepherd-compassionate life-giver John 10:10-18 

212. Isa. 42:1-4 The Servant-as a faithful, patient redeemer Matthew 12:18-21 

213. Isa. 42:2 Meek and lowly Matthew 11:28-30 

214. Isa. 42:3 He brings hope for the hopeless John 4 

215. Isa. 42:4 The nations shall wait on His teachings John 12:20-26 

216. Isa. 42:6 The Light (salvation) of the Gentiles Luke 2:32 

217. Isa. 42:1, 6 His is a worldwide compassion Matthew 28:19, 20 

218. Isa. 42:7 Blind eyes opened. John 9:25-38 

219. Isa. 43:11 He is the only Saviour. Acts 4:12 

220. Isa. 44:3 He will send the Spirit of God John 16:7, 13 

221. Isa. 45:21-25 He is Lord and Saviour Philippians 3:20, Titus 2:13 

222. Isa. 45:23 He will be the Judge John 5:22; Romans 14:11 

223. Isa. 46:9, 10 Declares things not yet done John 13:19 

224. Isa. 48:12 The First and the Last John 1:30, Revelation 1:8, 17 

225. Isa. 48:16, 17 He came as a Teacher John 3:2 

226. Isa. 49:1 Called from the womb-His humanity Matthew 1:18 

227. Isa. 49:5 A Servant from the womb. Luke 1:31, Philippians 2:7 

228. Isa. 49:6 He will restore Israel Acts 3:19-21, 15:16-17 

229. Isa. 49:6 He is Salvation for Israel Luke 2:29-32 

230. Isa. 49:6 He is the Light of the Gentiles John 8:12, Acts 13:47 

231. Isa. 49:6 He is Salvation unto the ends of the earth Acts 15:7-18 

232. Isa. 49:7 He is despised of the Nation John 1:11, 8:48-49, 19:14-15 

233. Isa. 50:3 Heaven is clothed in black at His humiliation Luke 23:44, 45 

234. Isa. 50:4 He is a learned counselor for the weary Matthew 7:29, 11:28, 29 

235. Isa. 50:5 The Servant bound willingly to obedience Matthew 26:39 

236. Isa. 50:6a “I gave my back to the smiters.” Matthew 27:26 

237. Isa. 50:6b He was smitten on the cheeks Matthew 26:67 

238. Isa. 50:6c He was spat upon Matthew 27:30 

239. Isa. 52:7 Published good tidings upon mountains Matthew 5:12,15:29,28:16 

240. Isa. 52:13 The Servant exalted Acts 1:8-11; Eph. 1:19-22, Php. 2:5-9 

241. Isa. 52:14 The Servant shockingly abused Luke 18:31-34; Mt. 26:67, 68 

242. Isa. 52:15 Nations startled by message of the Servant Luke 18:31-34; Mt. 26:67, 68 

243. Isa. 52:15 His blood shed sprinkles nations Hebrews 9:13-14, Rev. 1:5 

244. Isa. 53:1 His people would not believe Him John 12:37-38 

245. Isa. 53:2 Appearance of an ordinary man Philippians 2:6-8 

246. Isa. 53:3a Despised Luke 4:28-29 

247. Isa. 53:3b Rejected Matthew 27:21-23 

248. Isa. 53:3c Great sorrow and grief Matthew 26:37-38, Luke 19:41, Heb. 4:15 

249. Isa. 53:3d Men hide from being associated with Him Mark 14:50-52 

250. Isa. 53:4a He would have a healing ministry Matthew 8:16-17 

251. Isa. 53:4b Thought to be cursed by God Matthew 26:66, 27:41-43 

252. Isa. 53:5a Bears penalty for mankind’s iniquities 2Cor. 5:21, Heb. 2:9 

253. Isa. 53:5b His sacrifice provides peace between man and God Colossians 1:20 

254. Isa. 53:5c His sacrifice would heal man of sin 1Peter 2:24 

255. Isa. 53:6a He would be the sin-bearer for all mankind 1John 2:2, 4:10 

256. Isa. 53:6b God’s will that He bear sin for all mankind Galatians 1:4 

257. Isa. 53:7a Oppressed and afflicted Matthew 27:27-31 

258. Isa. 53:7b Silent before his accusers Matthew 27:12-14 

259. Isa. 53:7c Sacrificial lamb John 1:29, 1Peter 1:18-19 

260. Isa. 53:8a Confined and persecuted Matthew 26:47-27:31 

261. Isa. 53:8b He would be judged John 18:13-22 

262. Isa. 53:8c Killed Matthew 27:35 

263. Isa. 53:8d Dies for the sins of the world 1John 2:2 

264. Isa. 53:9a Buried in a rich man’s grave Matthew 27:57 

265. Isa. 53:9b Innocent and had done no violence Luke 23:41, John 18:38 

266. Isa. 53:9c No deceit in his mouth 1Peter 2:22 

267. Isa. 53:10a God’s will that He die for mankind John 18:11 

268. Isa. 53:10b An offering for sin Matthew 20:28, Galatians 3:13 

269. Isa. 53:10c Resurrected and live forever Romans 6:9 

270. Isa. 53:10d He would prosper John 17:1-5 

271. Isa. 53:11a God fully satisfied with His suffering John 12:27 

272. Isa. 53:11b God’s servant would justify man Romans 5:8-9, 18-19 

273. Isa. 53:11c The sin-bearer for all mankind Hebrews 9:28 

274. Isa. 53:12a Exalted by God because of his sacrifice Matthew 28:18 

275. Isa. 53:12b He would give up his life to save mankind Luke 23:46 

276. Isa. 53:12c Numbered with the transgressors Mark 15:27-28 

277. Isa. 53:12d Sin-bearer for all mankind 1Peter 2:24 

278. Isa. 53:12e Intercede to God in behalf of mankind Luke 23:34, Rom. 8:34 

279. Isa. 55:3 Resurrected by God Acts 13:34 

280. Isa. 55:4a A witness John 18:37 

281. Isa. 55:4b He is a leader and commander Hebrews 2:10 

282. Isa. 55:5 God would glorify Him Acts 3:13 

283. Isa. 59:16a Intercessor between man and God Matthew 10:32 

284. Isa. 59:16b He would come to provide salvation John 6:40 

285. Isa. 59:20 He would come to Zion as their Redeemer Luke 2:38 

286. Isa. 60:1-3 He would shew light to the Gentiles Acts 26:23 

287. Isa. 61:1a The Spirit of God upon him Matthew 3:16-17 

288. Isa. 61:1b The Messiah would preach the good news Luke 4:16-21 

289. Isa. 61:1c Provide freedom from the bondage of sin John 8:31-36 

290. Isa. 61:1-2a Proclaim a period of grace Galatians 4:4-5 

291. Jer. 11:21 Conspiracy to kill Jesus John 7:1, Matthew 21:38 

292. Jer. 23:5-6 Descendant of David Luke 3:23-31 

293. Jer. 23:5-6 The Messiah would be both God and Man John 13:13, 1Ti 3:16 

294. Jer. 31:22 Born of a virgin Matthew 1:18-20 

295. Jer. 31:31 The Messiah would be the new covenant Matthew 26:28 

296. Jer. 33:14-15 Descendant of David Luke 3:23-31 

297. Eze.34:23-24 Descendant of David Matthew 1:1 

298. Eze.37:24-25 Descendant of David Luke 1:31-33 

299. Dan. 2:44-45 The Stone that shall break the kingdoms Matthew 21:44 

300. Dan. 7:13-14a He would ascend into heaven Acts 1:9-11 

301. Dan. 7:13-14b Highly exalted Ephesians 1:20-22 

302. Dan. 7:13-14c His dominion would be everlasting Luke 1:31-33 

303. Dan. 9:24a To make an end to sins Galatians 1:3-5 

304. Dan. 9:24a To make reconciliation for iniquity Romans 5:10, 2Cor. 5:18-21 

305. Dan. 9:24b He would be holy Luke 1:35 

306. Dan. 9:25 His announcement John 12:12-13 

307. Dan. 9:26a Cut off Matthew 16:21, 21:38-39 

308. Dan. 9:26b Die for the sins of the world Hebrews 2:9 

309. Dan. 9:26c Killed before the destruction of the temple Matthew 27:50-51 

310. Dan. 10:5-6 Messiah in a glorified state Revelation 1:13-16 

311. Hos. 11:1 He would be called out of Egypt Matthew 2:15 

312. Hos. 13:14 He would defeat death 1Corinthians 15:55-57 

313. Joel 2:32 Offer salvation to all mankind Romans 10:9-13 

314. Jonah 1:17 Death and resurrection of Christ Matthew 12:40, 16:4 

315. Mic. 5:2a Born in Bethlehem Matthew 2:1-6 

316. Mic. 5:2b Ruler in Israel Luke 1:33 

317. Mic. 5:2c From everlasting John 8:58 

318. Hag. 2:6-9 He would visit the second Temple Luke 2:27-32 

319. Hag. 2:23 Descendant of Zerubbabel Luke 2:27-32 

320. Zech. 3:8 God’s servant John 17:4 

321. Zech. 6:12-13 Priest and King Hebrews 8:1 

322. Zech. 9:9a Greeted with rejoicing in Jerusalem Matthew 21:8-10 

323. Zech. 9:9b Beheld as King John 12:12-13 

324. Zech. 9:9c The Messiah would be just John 5:30 

325. Zech. 9:9d The Messiah would bring salvation Luke 19:10 

326. Zech. 9:9e The Messiah would be humble Matthew 11:29 

327. Zech. 9:9f Presented to Jerusalem riding on a donkey Matthew 21:6-9 

328. Zech. 10:4 The cornerstone Ephesians 2:20 

329. Zech. 11:4-6a At His coming, Israel to have unfit leaders Matthew 23:1-4 

330. Zech. 11:4-6b Rejection causes God to remove His protection Luke 19:41-44 

331. Zech. 11:4-6c Rejected in favor of another king John 19:13-15 

332. Zech. 11:7 Ministry to “poor,” the believing remnant Matthew 9:35-36 

333. Zech. 11:8a Unbelief forces Messiah to reject them Matthew 23:33 

334. Zech. 11:8b Despised Matthew 27:20 

335. Zech. 11:9 Stops ministering to those who rejected Him Matthew 13:10-11 

336. Zech. 11:10-11a Rejection causes God to remove protection Luke 19:41-44 

337. Zech. 11:10-11b The Messiah would be God John 14:7 

338. Zech. 11:12-13a Betrayed for thirty pieces of silver Matthew 26:14-15 

339. Zech. 11:12-13b Rejected Matthew 26:14-15 

340. Zech. 11:12-13c Thirty pieces of silver cast in the house of the Lord Matthew 27:3-5 

341. Zech. 11:12-13d The Messiah would be God John 12:45 

342. Zech. 12:10a The Messiah’s body would be pierced John 19:34-37 

343. Zech. 12:10b The Messiah would be both God and man John 10:30 

344. Zech. 12:10c The Messiah would be rejected John 1:11 

345. Zech. 13:7a God’s will He die for mankind John 18:11 

346. Zech. 13:7b A violent death Mark 14:27 

347. Zech. 13:7c Both God and man John 14:9 

348. Zech. 13:7d Israel scattered as a result of rejecting Him Matthew 26:31-56 

349. Zech. 14:4 He would return to the Mt. of Olives Acts 1:11-12 

350. Mal. 3:1a Messenger to prepare the way for Messiah Mark 1:1-8 

351. Mal. 3:1b Sudden appearance at the temple Mark 11:15-16 

352. Mal. 3:1c Messenger of the new covenant Luke 4:43 

353. Mal. 3:6 The God who changes not Hebrews 13:8 

354. Mal. 4:5 Forerunner in spirit of Elijah Mt. 3:1-3, 11:10-14, 17:11-13 

355. Mal. 4:6 Forerunner would turn many to righteousness Luke 1:16-17 

356. Deut. 6:5 Love God with everything you are – John 14:31, Matthew 22:37 

   

Humble or Defiant?

I want to share the “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional with whoever will read it this morning. It touched my heart in a corrective way. I sometimes think that I am some kind of Jonah – that I am unworthy and that I am pretty much a failure at truly giving glory and honor to the Lord. The truth is we know in Jesus that all of us have died and our life is hidden in Him. It is not about past performance, though we are to certainly be aware of sin and to put to death the works of the flesh, and take up our cross and follow Him. But the truth is we must also rest in who we are in Him. We must trust that He is able to truly change us and make us more like Him.

I was reading this morning in Exodus 33-34 and God told Moses that He would, though they didn’t deserve it, go with the stubborn people of Israel. Here’s God’s “final answer” to His humble servant Moses – “And he said, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 While reading through the Old Testament I realized how this related to our rest in Christ which Hebrews 4 talks about. I realized I had been striving and not resting. Even my sham humility (for me it goes like, “I’m no good, I’m no good, baby I’m no good”) was really a kind defiance because I was making me my own measuring stick and not the reality of who I am in Jesus and what His power in a single life can do.

I hope, if you sometimes struggle with things like this, that the truth of God’s Word and the wise words of this old saint will be a blessing and help to you today.


By the grace of God I am what I am

– November 30th – “My Utmost for His Highest” – Oswald Chambers

His grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain. 1 Cor. 15:10.

The way we continually talk about our own inability is an insult to the Creator. The deploring of our own incompetence is a slander against God for having overlooked us. Get into the habit of examining in the sight of God the things that sound humble before men, and you will be amazed at how staggeringly impertinent they are. ‘Oh, I shouldn’t like to say I am sanctified; I’m not a saint.’ Say that before God; and it means—‘No, Lord, it is impossible for You to save and sanctify me; there are chances I have not had; so many imperfections in my brain and body; no, Lord, it isn’t possible.’ That may sound wonderfully humble before men, but before God it is an attitude of defiance.

Again, the things that sound humble before God may sound the opposite before men. To say—‘Thank God, I know I am saved and sanctified,’ is in the sight of God the acme of humility, it means you have so completely abandoned yourself to God that you know He is true. Never bother your head as to whether what you say sounds humble before men or not, but always be humble before God, and let Him be all in all.

There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord. Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfil His purpose through your life. One individual life may be of priceless value to God’s purpose, and yours may be that life.

Food for Faith…

Oswald hit it on the head for me this morning in his devotional – he calls fear wicked. Oh how true when my moods control me instead of the love of Christ that should constrain me. I hope you enjoy and are challenged by this as much as I was:

Faith and experience

The Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. Gal. 2:20.

We have to battle through our moods into absolute devotion to the Lord Jesus, to get out of the hole-and-corner business of our experience into abandoned devotion to Him. Think Who the New Testament says that Jesus Christ is, and then think of the despicable meanness of the miserable faith we have—‘I haven’t had this and that experience!’ Think what faith in Jesus Christ claims—that He can present us faultless before the throne of God, unutterably pure, absolutely rectified and profoundly justified. Stand in implicit, adoring faith in Him, He is made unto us “wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” How can we talk of making a sacrifice for the Son of God! Our salvation is from hell and perdition, and then we talk about making sacrifices!

We have to get out into faith in Jesus Christ continually; not a prayer meeting Jesus Christ, nor a book Jesus Christ, but the New Testament Jesus Christ, Who is God Incarnate, and Who ought to strike us to His feet as dead. Our faith must be in the One from Whom our experience springs. Jesus Christ wants our absolute abandon of devotion to Himself. We never can experience Jesus Christ, nor ever hold Him within the compass of our own hearts, but our faith must be built in strong emphatic confidence in Him.

It is along this line that we see the rugged impatience of the Holy Ghost against unbelief. All our fears are wicked, and we fear because we will not nourish ourselves in our faith. How can anyone who is identified with Jesus Christ suffer from doubt or fear! It ought to be an absolute psalm of perfectly irrepressible, triumphant belief.

Vengeance and Forgiveness and Getting Love Done

A Short Study on Why and How to Love

God’s judgment is mercy in that it protects finally those who have taken refuge in His love. So you could say that even in God’s judgment He is love. That is some kind of love. But what about us? How are we to deal with love and judgment and making things “right” in our lives? Our calling is to love God above all else and to love God means to trust Him and His timing for everything else – including that final day in court for this world and those who have offended us. It means that we trust Him to love us in the proper way and in the best way in the end. So logically we must leave some things up to God. That is where the ultimate job of judging must go – into the hands of an all knowing and all powerful God, knowing thing escapes His gaze and He is perfectly holy so He will judge. We must trust Him for that and only judge with righteous judgment so long as it is in accordance with our own sphere of responsibility. see John 7:24

We are told to judge ourselves and the church under the leadership of the local church. 1 Peter 4:17 says it well – “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”

The passage in John 7:24  “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment” asserts that there is a righteous judgment for us now. (and it is more than implied in Matthew 18) We are also promised the Holy Spirit which will lead us into all truth in John 16:13 so that by His provision we can judge in a righteous fashion in the sphere we are responsible for. Parents are to judge in a right way among their children. Our love is to abound all the more in knowledge and all discernment. That discernment is rooted in the Scriptures as we are led and shepherded by the Holy Spirit each day.

Paul puts the proper focus onto judging ourselves first and foremost: 2 Corinthians 13:5 says to “examine yourself…” The genuine Christian spends a lifetime allowing the Lord to illumine the innermost parts of his life by exposing himself daily to the Word of God so that thoughts and intentions and motives can be properly judged. This is in line with 2 Corinthians 10 that commands us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.

Having a judgmental attitude or lifestyle, however, is forbidden by James 4:12: “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” ( see also Romans 14:4) The previous verse in James 4 is even stronger, “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.”

Forgiving Love is Key 

Proverbs 17:9 says “He who covers a transgression seeks love,

But he who repeats a matter separates friends.”

Jesus taught that we are to forgive one another – if we don’t we won’t be forgiven. In Matthew 6:14 Jesus said that if we forgive we will be. We are also told to be completely forgiving- Matthew 18:22 (seventy times seven – seven is perfect or complete in scope) and Jesus modeled that all the way to the end of his life by pouring out complete forgiveness to the seeking thief on the cross. During His life He taught his disciples that “by this will all men know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

The greatest motivation for us is how much and to what extent we are forgiven. He has completely freed us from the bondage and threat of judgment because He has forgiven us completely. This kind of love – a complete forgiving love –  is the key to the amazing spiritual bounty we have in Christ – who has given us all things richly to enjoy. He has given us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Paul spends seven chapters explaining the gospel in his letter to the Romans and then leaps into exultation as chapter eight closes. In a hymn of praise that is also full of exhortation, He exclaims “if God is for us who can be against us?” He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” Indeed we do have all things that accord life and godliness in our Savior!  All of this would be impossible if He had not forgiven us on the basis of His death on the cross. He was able to forgive because He paid the price and He paid the price because He loved us. He made the choice to love knowing full well the tremendous price.

Isn’t it actually a very  small price for us to pay to love and forgive – a little pride or a little fury – when it cost Jesus His very life? Isn’t it worth it to give your brother or sister the benefit of the doubt and not judge them because Christ is not judging you?  He knows your deeds and innermost thoughts and still loves you! Take that love and give it away. You will see His love multiply that way and that is what it is all about.

Deuteronomy 23:35 says “Vengeance is mine.” That settles it, it belongs to the Lord – but the New Testament goes beyond as does Jesus in His teaching. We are to overcome evil with good not by taking revenge and therefore trying to take His place.

Romans 12:19-21
Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Therefore

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;

If he is thirsty, give him a drink;

For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”

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

Our lives are to be what Jesus’ life was. He taught truth and went around doing good. That good overcomes evil – if not in this life in the next one. It will be an influence for good now or a witness for God’s goodness and mercy in the next even in the midst of the flames of hell.

Paul said I have become all things so that I might win “some.” Oh for that precious few who will see Jesus in our hands and feet as unworthy as they are. We live “for things above.” Us taking vengeance now means we are not fully trusting God to take care of His responsibility for justice in His timing. Whatever is not of faith is sin.

John reveals that God is love and we know that He is perfect and right and just. We can trust His infinite love to always do right in the end – even if He allows men freedom for a short time to do evil. Maybe like the Roman who after he helped crucify the Lord some will see the love of God through us and exclaim with us, “sure this man was the Son of God!”

I close with two simple steps:

One is found in Jesus’ revolutionary teaching: from Matthew 5

Let’s call it “KNOW THE TRUTH

38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

Jesus’ teaching is so straightforward. He is crystal clear – overcome evil with good.

The second step let’s call  “DO THE TRUTH in Me

Jesus also taught  “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

There is no way in the world we can carry out such a task as this accept that we abide in Him and are receiving from His divine power to be this kind of witness. Without Jesus’ power, we can do nothing – and “not taking vengeance”  when we are wronged is something.

When we do this – we fulfill the law of Christ and that is truly something. We are moving towards Jesus will for us to love as we are loved. We are becoming His disciples and what a good thing to be known for! This is the kind of love that “never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13)
Oh to see that love more fully demonstrated in our churches, in our families, in our hearts!

To God be the Glory, great things He has done!

By His grace and love and by His forgiveness let’s get His love done for His great glory!

Amen

His will and my “to will and to do”

Yesterday I shared the second part of a message on the familiar verses in Philippians 2:12-18. It was a part two because I was reminded during the week that the incredible standard of obedience outlines in the previous message needed to include that it is “God who is working in us both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” That is incredibly good news and we spent considerable time looking at all that God has done to make it possible for us to obey in joy and carry out our responsibilities as His disciples being blameless and harmless as shining lights in a perverse generations. (Godless is close to what ‘perverse’ means)

Yet there is always more to the story than what we can get in a sermon on Sunday. I was reminded of this when I happened on Oswald Chamber’s devotional for today. Think about this dear Christian friend who hopes to make it to the end in victory and triumph but are feeling a little hopeless even though you know the truth of Romans 5:1-5 where we spent some time yesterday in the message. God and His ways are above us. In every single way they are above us in the scope of our life which He sees perfectly and the outcomes He wants to accomplish even as He weaves together all things for our good.

We said yesterday that His love is of a kind of quality that is always the “best” for us…the problem implied though is that we don’t always know what is best and what is best for us may involve considerable pain and a lot of time. I hope that the old missionary Chamber’s will help in this regard. Enjoy…knowing that in the end it is for His glory that He has saved us…we must accept that and in time and embrace it with joy.
September 12th – By spiritual confusion

– My Utmost for His Highest

Ye know not what ye ask. Matthew 20:22.


There are times in spiritual life when there is confusion, and it is no way out to say that there ought not to be confusion. It is not a question of right and wrong, but a question of God taking you by a way which in the meantime you do not understand, and it is only by going through the confusion that you will get at what God wants.

The Shrouding of His Friendship. Luke 11:5–8 . Jesus gave the illustration of the man who looked as if he did not care for his friend, and He said that that is how the Heavenly Father will appear to you at times. You will think He is an unkind friend, but remember He is not; the time will come when everything will be explained. There is a cloud on the friendship of the heart, and often even love itself has to wait in pain and tears for the blessing of fuller communion. When God looks completely shrouded, will you hang on in confidence in Him?

The Shadow on His Fatherhood. Luke 11:11–13 . Jesus says there are times when your Father will appear as if He were an unnatural father, as if He were callous and indifferent, but remember He is not; I have told you—“Everyone that asketh receiveth.” If there is a shadow on the face of the Father just now, hang onto it that He will ultimately give His clear revealing and justify Himself in all that He permitted.

The Strangeness of His Faithfulness. Luke 18:1–8 . “When the Son of Man cometh, shall He find faith on the earth?” Will He find the faith which banks on Him in spite of the confusion? Stand off in faith believing that what Jesus said is true, though in the meantime you do not understand what God is doing. He has bigger issues at stake than the particular things you ask.


Oh God, thank you for leading us along to what is best and most for your glory and praise! Give us grace in all these things.

Amen

Forgiveness, Love and the Connection That Makes it Possible

The Biblical Mandate to Forgive

Matthew 6:12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
Matthew 6:14 For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Matthew 18:21 Then Peter came to Him and said, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” 22 Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Matthew 18:35 So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”

Mark 11;25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

Luke 6:37-38 Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. 14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.

Ephesians 4:32 And be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.
A Forgiveness – Love Connection

Luke 7: 47 Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”

1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. 8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”

Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all sins.

John 13:34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The Biblical Mandate to Love

1 Corinthians 13:13 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

Ability??? It is God’s Love “Poured Out” that must fuel our love and our forgiveness.

Romans 5:3 And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

We love Him because He first loved us, 1 John 4:19 (it seems to imply in the context that we love others out of His supply as well – vs 18 says  “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love” and vs. 20-21 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? 21 And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also)

Paul was such an illustration of this principle – He was a murdering zealot before Christ stopped Him and revealed Himself to Him. I usually think of the bright light and him being blinded but He was the one who wrote the Romans 5 passage – and I believe when He was baptized in the Holy Spirit that love was poured out into his life. Out of that love He could write 1 Corinthians 13 and live it out to such a stubborn and unfaithful church. 

The woman who loved much because she was forgiven much was really forgiven a huge debt. In my own life I know I really become more like Christ when I truly grasp the greatness of my own sin problem and the lengths Jesus has gone to help me and what it cost so He could forgive me. 

WE all must contemplate the great love that has been poured out and continually drink from the river of His grace, being repeatedly filled with the Spirit of God which means that His love is continually filling us up and giving us the ability to love others. If they receive it that is great. If they ignore us that is hard. If they despise us and hurt us in return we are to turn the other cheek and overcome evil with good. This is the shocking reality of living in obedience to His command. WE become like our Lord who when He was mocked did not retaliate. When He was hit He simply took it. That is not to stay in a truly dangerous situation if we can escape danger. Paul many times escaped the wrath of the Jews but he also took a lot of abuse and found a way to love as His Savior taught him. 

1 Peter 3 is a shining light of this very thing with a woman winning her disobedient husband without a word – simply by shining the light of Jesus from her heart of love seen in a gentle and quiet spirit. The really interesting thing is that in verse seven that has a big break in it for readability says Husbands, likewise – giving honor. If it is likewise then it might mean loving honor given to someone who is disobedient and doesn’t deserve it. The Sword of God’s standard seems to cut both ways. The ground is all equal at the cross. When both spouses are loving and living obediently then the proper roles really take on their deeper significance of illustrating the church and Christ in proper servant-leader and submission aspects that is consistent with the other passages in the Old and New Testaments. 

The crowning revelation of the NT is found in the passage of 1 John 4:8 – NASB version says it this way, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” God is love doesn’t negate His holiness – but His love is pure love and therefore He hates sin because it is a marring and corruption of true, holy love. Truly we have only scratched the surface of God’s love in outlining these verses. They apply to all family relationships and friendships in the Body of Christ and have implications for the way we live among people of this world. We must preach God’s view and disdain for sin and the impending judgment upon it. At the same time the antidote for that sin has been made at the Cross. This is the pinnacle of God’s love being poured out. The early church in Corinth called a Love Feast, the Lord’s table. They messed it up for sure but it is truly the greatest picture of genuine love – “greater love has no man this that He lay down His life for His friend.” I capitalized the “h” in the last sentence because Jesus Christ is the only one who has ever laid down His life for me. That is what won my heart and that love is that which enables me to love the unlovely. 

The Cross is that connection that makes real love possible and forgiveness so powerful. It is this love that was poured out so graciously and because of that we can not withhold it from those who ask of us. 

Oh God – give us a glimpse of your love – give us a little of what you have poured out each day. With You, even a little of your pure love is a lot! 

From Hamburger Hill to Calvary

by Pastor Anton Bosch
Sun Valley Community Church, California

The Battle of Hamburger Hill was a battle of the Vietnam War that was fought by the United States and South Vietnam against North Vietnamese forces from May 10–20, 1969. Although the heavily fortified Hill 937 was of little strategic value, U.S. command ordered its capture by a frontal assault. The hill was finally taken at the cost of 72 Americans killed and 372 wounded. Losses on the North Vietnamese side are estimated at more than 630 dead.

What makes this battle so significant is that the hill was of little strategic value, which was proven by the fact that it was abandoned by the US forces two weeks later. But more significant is the fact that the fall-out from this battle back home forced the Nixon administration to order the end of major tactical ground operations in Vietnam. So in a sense the hill and the battle were won while at the same time losing the war!

In the same way, we as Christians individually and collectively in our local churches, sometimes engage in spiritual battles that are of little strategic (over-all) importance. In the process we expend enormous amounts of time and energy and incur severe losses of all kinds for hollow victories that make no difference in the light of eternity. We may even win a particular battle and yet, lose the war. One example of this could be winning an argument with someone who differs from us yet, losing the person for the Lord. We become so fixated at winning the argument, that we forget that our objective is not to win the argument, but to win the soul. We easily forget that Jesus did not die for arguments, but for souls.

The Pharisees were very good at the minutia of the Law and would win those battles every time, yet they lost sight of the more important things like “justice, mercy and faith” (Matthew 23:23).  Indeed they could win every doctrinal and theological battle, but lost their own souls and those of their followers. Allow me some liberty as I apply Matthew 16:26: “What is a man profited if he gain all doctrine and theology and lose his own soul?”

Doctrine and theology are important. There are times when we must stand for truth and defend it vigorously, even at the cost of our very lives. But to try and correct the fool who does not want to know truth is a waste of time (Proverbs 23:9). Paul warns about endless arguments over words (1Timothy 6:4). To tweak the theology or behavior of an unbeliever is pointless, unless he comes to Christ first. And to correct someone who is wise in his own eyes is futile (Proverbs 26:12).

It is vital that we choose our battles, or put in another way, choose which hill we are willing to die on. Dying for something that in the end is not important is a waste of a life. If one is going to give one’s life for something, surely one needs to make sure that it is for the right reasons and the right cause. And if you are going to expend resources, surely you should make sure that they are being spent in the best way possible. Jesus said: “do not… cast your pearls before swine…” (Matthew 7:6).

Daily the enemy of the church wins victories as we are drawn into divisions and strife over non-essentials, while not engaging the serious issues in our own lives and our churches. Jesus called it swallowing camels while straining out gnats (Matthew 23:23-24). We will argue and divide over doctrinal nuances with such venom and hatred. That shows that our focus on doctrinal niceties is simply a cover for the real issue – our carnality (1Corinthians 3:3). It is frankly no good winning every doctrinal argument, even if you are right, but in the process your spirit is more that of the devil than that of Christ. You are fighting the wrong battles – the real battle is within your own soul!

Yet we are amazingly inept at seeing the forest for the trees, and choosing the right battles. As we fight the wrong battles, we not only waste time and resources, and possibly our lives, but we are distracted from the real issues. This is one of the oldest tactics in war. Even in the sword fight the attacker will lunge at a part of the opponent’s body to draw his attention away from where the fatal blow will strike. Leading up to the Normandy landings on D-Day, the Allies staged a number of elaborate diversions to draw Hitler’s forces away from where the actual landing would take place.

Daily we are deceived by the enemy’s diversionary tactics to get us to focus on something other than the main and strategic goals. As in war, we need to ask the question all the time: Does this contribute to the over-all plan of God for my life and ministry, or is it a diversion and distraction? Many times the diversion looks important, but it is not – it is all part of the devil’s strategy. One diversion I frequently fall for is entering a debate with someone who is not really interested in the truth, but simply wants to argue. These debates consume a lot of time and energy and seem to be important as we feel we are “defending the faith”. But we must ask the question whether the other person is really interested in the truth or is simply being used by the enemy to distract us from the real task at hand. (And yes, the devil frequently uses other Christians in this way.) It is not easy to know the difference, but we must get better at not tilting at windmills[1] if we are going to win gloriously in the end. The fact is that every skirmish and every maneuver takes resources from the main front which plays into the hands of the enemy.

I vex my soul daily over Christian leaders who choose the hill of Calvinism, or of some view on the Rapture, or a specific Bible translation, or any of a thousand other issues, as the hill on which they make their stand. For many it becomes their last stand where they, like Custer and his brave men, eventually die in defeat.

It is absolutely vital therefore that we have a clear view of what the objectives are and having those in mind, we gear our lives and our churches towards those objectives and those alone. So what are our objectives? I thought much about this because it is crucial that we get this right otherwise we will be fighting the wrong battles and taking the wrong hills, only to abandon them again for the next unimportant one. Here is my understanding of the objectives of the church:

  1. To seek and save that which was lost (Luke 19:10).
  2. Keep those that have been entrusted to us (John 17:11,12).
  3. To bring believers to maturity into the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:12-16)[2].

It is essential therefore that each of us determine whether every endeavor, every project, every dollar spent, and every hour consumed works towards those objectives lest we find ourselves attacking or defending hills that make no contribution towards ultimate victory, but rather could cost us the war.

Throughout the life of the Lord Jesus, the devil sought to divert and distract Him from His goal – Calvary. The temptations in the wilderness, the adulation of the crowds, the good intentions of His disciples, the opposition of the religious community, and even the great needs around Him, all worked to divert Him from His objective.

In Nazareth (Luke 4:28-30), the mob thrust Him out onto the hill in order to throw Him off and kill Him. But Jesus understood that this was not the hill on which He would shed His blood and that dying here would play into the hands of the enemy whose strategy was to prevent Him from reaching the objective. Jesus recognized that the objective was for Him to die an atoning death on the hill called Calvary and not to die a martyr’s death at the wrong time on the wrong hill. He therefore quietly excused Himself and disappeared. It seems that our perverted sense of chauvinism forces us to never “run away” but always to stand and to fight. Yet Jesus knew when to fight and when to just walk away. Oh, that we might learn such discretion and wisdom!

It is with the ultimate, strategic goal in mind that He set His face as flint towards Jerusalem (Isaiah 50:7; Luke 9:51) knowing that for this cause He was born and for this cause He had come into the world (John 18:37). He was not distracted or diverted for one moment. His entire life, every decision, every action, and every reaction was focused on the one objective – the cross.

At the judgment the question will not be how many battle scars you have or how many hills you defended or won. There will be only one question: Did you do His will? His will is absolutely in line with His objectives of saving, keeping and conforming.

May it be said of us, as of Him:

Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, But a body You have prepared for Me.  In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure.  Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come– In the volume of the book it is written of Me– To do Your will, O God.” (Hebrews 10:5-7).

 

[1] Tilting at windmills comes from Cervantes’ Don Quixote in which Don Quixote wanted to attack a group of “giants” until his loyal servant Sancho Panza pointed out that they were not giants but windmills.

[2] These are summed up in the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19,20.

This is (Not) Discipleship – Part One

By Pastor Anton Bosch – Sun Valley Community Church – Los Angeles

This is not DiscipleshipSome of the most frequently quoted verses in Evangelicalism are Matthew 28:18-20:

“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, “teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.”

Decisions

The Great Commission calls for making disciples rather than preaching the Gospel. (The same command in Mark 16:15 says “…preach the gospel….”) It is probably for this reason most Christians assume incorrectly that preaching the Gospel fulfills Matthew 28:18-20, but it does not. Preaching the Gospel and making disciples are two entirely different (though related) things. Billy Graham, and others, have illustrated very well that there is a huge difference between these two ideas. Preaching the Gospel is relatively easy, and skilled evangelists can bring many to the altar through a single 30-minute sermon. But that is only the first step of many, and on its own does not fulfill the Great Commission at all. In fact, calling someone to the altar often does nothing more than give the candidate a false sense of security—they believe they are saved because they prayed a rote prayer and signed a decision card. Billy Graham worked that out and eventually started calling these “decisions” rather than “converts.”

So while preaching the Gospel is commanded and is vital, it is NOT discipleship and does not obey the Great Commission. For instance, many young men mistakenly think that inseminating a young girl makes them a father. It does not. A father provides for, trains, and raises that child until it is an adult. So evangelization without discipleship is like giving birth to a baby, and then dropping the newborn on Main Street and pointing the infant to a range of restaurants.

Assimilation

The more modern, and popular, system of assimilation is also not discipleship. This method involves inviting unbelievers into a non-threatening, non-confrontational social environment, vaguely associated with the church. These events could include enjoying coffee in the foyer of the church, attending church social events, playing on the softball team, joining (motorcycle) breakfast runs, etc. Some churches even invite influential members of the public to serve in some capacity, including serving on the board of the church. The idea is that the unbeliever will gradually be assimilated into the life of the church to the point that they become full-blown members.

It outwardly appears that this method works. Such people are quite successfully drawn into church membership, and learn to talk the right language and do the right things, eventually looking just like a real member. Many of these will even get baptized, take out church membership and rise to leadership positions. In the same way children that grow up in Christian homes become assimilated into the life of the church—they learn the right clichés, when to stand and when to sit, how to blend in, how to say “God bless you” and “I am praying for you”—but remain unregenerate. In the absence of having been born again, the first step of discipleship is missing. Therefore anything they say, do or learn is without any foundation and is simply learned behavior. There is no difference between such people and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day, of whom He said: “… you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” (Matthew 23:27).

Rather than teach disciples to become like Jesus, these “joiners” teach the church to become like the world.

Heavy Shepherding

Popular in more cultic groups, heavy shepherding (aka Shepherding) is seen by its proponents as the ultimate form of discipleship. In this system disciples are manipulated, controlled by fear, threatened, and coerced into becoming clones of the leaders. These leaders will make every decision for their minions, even control their thought processes, values and minutest discussions. Once again, the system seems to work as the “disciples” act and speak exactly as they have been taught. These groups are often marked by such conformity to the standard that they all dress the same, speak the same and think the same. This is sold as “unity” but it is not. This “unity” is achieved through the subjugation of the will and the mind of the individual to that of the leader(s). True unity comes about as the individuals are submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ rather than to men.

Louw and Nida confirm: “In rendering μαθητεύω in Mt 28:19 and similar contexts, it is important to avoid the implication of duress or force, that is to say, one should not translate ‘force them to be my disciples’ or ‘compel them to be my disciples.’”

Heavy shepherding is most certainly not discipleship since it fails in the primary purpose of discipleship—to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Followers of these groups are disciples of men who have usurped the role of Christ in the heart and mind of the believer.

Mentoring

The words mentoring and discipleship sound like they mean the same thing, but they do not. A mentor is actually the name of a man who had occult abilities who lived hundreds of years ago (see HERE). In the occult world, a mentor became known as someone who was training an “adept” to have spiritual gifts that they could use to perform occult rituals. Promise Keepers (among others) brought the word mentor into the evangelical world and soon mentoring replaced discipleship in many churches.

Interestingly, the term mentoring conveys the idea of shadowing or mimicking someone else’s behavior. It has to do with actions and activities that in psychology are known as “behavior modeling.” But it isn’t about cognitive learning, which is a key component of discipleship (studying the Bible and Christ together). So mentoring becomes a substitute for actually delving into the Word and learning obedience to Christ. Rather it is some sort of trying to act like a leader. Hence the proliferation of popular books such as Lead Like Jesus, etc.

Bible Lectures

On the other extreme are those who believe that by simply preaching the Bible on Sundays that people will miraculously be changed into disciples by hearing the Word. This method is partially based on the King James translation of Matthew 28:19 as “Go therefore and teach…”

Many of these teachers do not even draw an application from the text for fear of “doing the work of the Holy Spirit.” This is a very comfortable way of doing ministry. The preacher simply prepares and delivers the Bible study and then retreats into his office in preparation for the next lecture. Members of such churches are marked by a proliferation of head knowledge about the Bible while simultaneously lacking in humility and most other characteristics of Jesus Christ.

Obviously, we do believe in the role of the Scriptures, and that the Word is indeed transformative. We must diligently teach the Bible, but this in itself does not constitute discipleship. David was very willing to say “Amen” to Nathan’s sermon about injustice, but failed to understand the message until the prophet pointed to him and said: “You are the man” (2Samuel 12:7).

Small Groups

Many bigger, and not so big, churches have some form of small group meetings under different names: cell groups, accountability groups, men’s groups, beer drinkers groups, cigar smokers groups, house churches, etc. The idea of small groups is to supplement any formal preaching on Sundays with small groups which do the work of “discipling” the individuals in these small groups. Mostly these touchy-feely groups study anything but the Bible, and are more about getting in touch with one another’s feelings than discipling. Rather than teach people to follow the Lord Jesus, they encourage people to celebrate their differences, and to feel good and accepted no matter how sinful, rebellious, or unbiblical their behavior.

Very few members of these groups have ever been discipled themselves and thus they are not in a position to disciple others. Group consensus does not make the truth and is a recipe for rebellion against God’s Word. Small groups can have value if they are led by godly and gifted shepherds, but this is not often the case.

Counseling and Psychology

Others feel the need to get more personally involved with the individual, and do this on the basis of counseling and therapy. These sessions often contain a few misquoted Scriptures used to mask the true roots of the therapy. There are many variations on the same theme when it comes to counseling. There are many techniques and ideas culled from psychology, marketing, personal experience, group dynamics, behavior modeling, the human potential movement, holistic health, the New Age, etc. Spiritual self-help books containing new techniques proliferate, and include such mumbo-jumbo as inner healing, deliverance, positive confession, Reiki, Yoga, meditation and contemplation, guided imagery, confessing the sins of one’s ancestors, spiritual “gift” inventories and assessments, etc. All of this serves to assist the counselee to become self-absorbed and needy, which is hardly a path to spiritual maturity. Yet, these immature people are often put in positions of ministry and leadership, especially in works-based initiatives filled with heavy requirements on the time of the individual.

These sessions are usually presided over by one of the pastors of the church, or by a specialist either from within or without the church, or by a graduate from an earlier class. Irrespective of the method, the philosophy remains fairly constant—to encourage the individual to accept his/her own “idiosyncrasies” (politically correct lingo for sinful behavior). In other words, the counseling is palliative, aimed at relieving symptoms without evidence of the transformation of the inner man through repentance and regeneration. The focus of every one of these methodologies is the individual and is never Christ. The standard of becoming like Christ is often rejected as too legalistic and a threat to the individual’s identity and self-expression. This is of course the antithesis of the whole purpose of discipleship, which is to help people become conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28). The purpose of true discipleship is not to get to know self better but to know Him better.

Elements of Truth

Many of the techniques outlined above encompass elements of true discipleship, yet fail dismally in producing true disciples—mainly because they contain more human than spiritual wisdom and have not been based on a Biblical concept of discipleship. There is room for preaching on Sundays, small groups, individual counseling and so forth. But none of these individual components, on their own, constitute true discipling. But an even bigger problem is that each of these systems is based on a wrong premise, and seeks and produces an outcome that is in conflict with that of Scripture.

No Discipleship and True Discipleship

If we discount all the above methods that do not constitute biblical discipleship, and add to that the many churches that offer no alternative, it becomes evident that biblical discipleship is absent in the vast majority of churches today. This is true of big and small churches alike.

In addition, instead of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the majority of churches in the West are preaching a false Gospel of self. Thus without the preaching of the real Gospel and without discipleship, it is no wonder the church is adrift on a sea of humanism.

“… when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)

To be continued…

This is Discipleship – Part Two

By Anton Bosch – Pastor at Sunvalley Community Church – Los Angeles

This is Discipleship

Many techniques, programs and systems in the modern church are mistaken as discipleship. While those techniques may contain elements of discipleship, they are not the authentic thing. (See Part 1: “This is not Discipleship.”) This obviously begs the question: what is discipleship and what did Jesus mean when He gave us the Great Commission?

In spite of the King James’ use of the word “teach” for mathēteúō, all other translations, commentaries, and dictionaries are agreed that the word means more than simply teaching intellectual facts:

mathēteúō. Intransitively this word means “to be or become a pupil.” One reading of Mt. 27:57 has it with reference to Joseph of Arimathea; he is said to be a disciple of Jesus. In a distinctive transitive use (Mt. 13:52; 28:19; Acts 14:21) the NT also uses the term for “to make disciples.” Behind this sense possibly stands the NT belief that a call is the basis of discipleship of Jesus

μαθητεύωb: to cause someone to become a disciple or follower of—‘to make disciples, to cause people to become followers.’ πορευθέντες οὖν μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ‘go then, to all peoples and make them (my) disciples’ Mt 28:19.

Learners and Followers

Implicit in the word mathēteúō are the concepts of learners and followers.

The word “disciple” means above all “learner” or “pupil.” The emphasis in the commission thus falls not on the initial proclamation of the gospel but more on the arduous task of nurturing into the experience of discipleship, an emphasis that is strengthened and explained by the instruction “teaching them to keep all that I have commanded” in v 20a.

These three words—learners, pupils and teaching—sound synonymous, but they are not. Pupils do not necessarily learn, and teaching someone does not mean that that person has actually learned anything. Paul speaks of those who are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Timothy 3:7). Such are neither disciples, learners, nor followers.

Besides the Twelve, Jesus also had other disciples during His earthly ministry (Matt 27:57; John 6:66; 7:3; Acts 1:15). Before Jesus, John had disciples. Disciples were simply people who followed a teacher and learned from the teacher. One can speak of the disciples of other rabbis or even of Greek philosophers. In all of these cases the purpose was for the disciple to learn both theory (theology) and practice (character and behavior) from the teacher. Disciples would later gather other disciples around them and so perpetuate the teaching. It is really quite simple and yet, as we have shown, very few practice true discipleship today. So let’s look at what true discipleship really should be.

A Relationship

The first thing that strikes me about Jesus’ disciples is that they had a personal relationship with their Master. Based on this personal relationship, the Master knew each of His disciples personally. As a result, He deals with and teaches each of the disciples based on their unique needs, personality and characteristics. Jesus related to Peter, John and Thomas in very different ways reflecting their unique relationship to Him. Although the Bible does not use the term disciple(s) after the book of Acts, it is clear that Paul had the same kind of relationship with Timothy, Silas, Titus and a number of others. Once again, the relationship was very personal. Both Paul and Jesus lived with their followers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The idea of a disciple who does not have a relationship with the teacher, and who is a stranger to the teacher, is a contradiction in terms.

The same therefore holds true today. We cannot make disciples of those with whom we are not in a personal relationship. This automatically limits the number of people one teacher/leader can shepherd. It also excludes the idea of professional councilors or absentee pastors, or disciples that shy away from personal relationships, as well as those who attend church for an hour a week. How can a pastor of a church of a thousand know, and have a relationship with, each of the members? Several years ago I went to see the pastor of a neighboring church about folk who had left our church for his. He did not even know about their existence until he looked them up on his computer, only to discover they had been attending his church for three months!

The reason for this personal relationship is that part of discipling is teaching each one according to their individual needs, background and potential. A one-size-fits-all discipling package simply does not exist, and therefore discredits all off-the-rack discipleship manuals and programs as bogus.

Many multiplication systems have been based on discipleship. The theory is that each believer should have 12 disciples, and each disciple should have 12, etc. This is purely a multi-level marketing/pyramid scheme. Discipleship can never be forced and controlled by statistics because it is relational. And because discipleship is a relational and dynamic process, it can never be forced to comply with a statistical model. At times Paul had only one “disciple” travelling with him and at other times there were several. Neither Jesus nor Paul taught a numerical model, and it is evident that none of the Apostles attempted to recreate Jesus’ “model” of twelve disciples.

Submission to the Teacher

A vital aspect of the relationship between teacher and disciple is the willingness of the disciple to submit to the teacher. This is one of the main reasons very little discipling happens in the Free World these days. Modern Christians are just not willing to submit to leaders. Modern believers consider themselves above correction and on a par with everyone else. Generally, “submission” only occurs as long as things go well and the relationship is affirming. The moment admonition, rebuke or discipline is needed the believer tends to leave the relationship, and the church, and withdraws from the relationship.

But without this submission there is no basis for a learner/teacher, follower/leader relationship. The whole purpose of discipleship is for the teacher to train the disciple. This includes not just the transmission of ideas and knowledge but actually having a hand in the shaping of the character and behavior of the learner. Paul’s epistles are replete with instructions to rebuke, warn, correct, command, charge and admonish (2Tim 4:2; 1Thes 2:11; Col 1:28; Titus 1:13; Titus 2:15; etc.).

It goes without saying that the teacher may never overstep the bounds between legitimate and godly discipleship and heavy shepherding or abuse.

The first ingredient in the discipleship process then are disciples who want to learn and who want to follow.

Teachers With Dirty Hands

Just as you need those who are willing to learn, you need those who are willing to teach. But teaching is not just from the relative safety of the pulpit. True teachers are willing to get their hands soiled with the dirty diapers of babes in Christ. While there are many who want to preach, there are not many who want the hassle of discipling people.

Discipling is hard work. It means getting involved with people at a personal level, listening to their ideas, risking their anger when correcting them, repeating the same things over and over until the penny eventually drops. (Just think of how many times Jesus said the same things to His disciples and they still did not understand.) Discipling means feeling the pain of failure when those to whom you have become close end up falling, sometimes in the most terrible ways—think of Peter denying the Lord! Discipling means flying blind without the help of a carefully prepared script or manual. Preaching is relatively easy since the preacher is on his own turf, controls the situation and is not interrupted. Discipling provides none of those safeguards. The teacher has to think on his feet and respond to the questions, arguments and reactions of the disciple over whom he has no direct control. There is just no way of knowing ahead of time what the disciple is going to come up with, say or do, next. It is this lack of a controlled environment that scares many leaders and prevents them from descending from the pulpit and engaging on a personal level with learners. Discipling does not have regular hours because people live life 24 hours a day. The pastor who wants to work to a carefully prepared schedule does not qualify, nor will he survive in the rough and tumble unpredictable world of real discipling.

And it is this unwillingness to accept the discomfort and pain of being a spiritual parent to spiritual (often wayward) children that has resulted in so few true teachers being available to disciple true believers. Thus without learners who are willing to learn, and without teachers who are willing to teach, no discipleship can take place.

The Cross

In addition to willing and capable teachers, and disciples that are eager to learn, there is a third vital ingredient without which no discipleship can take place and that is the cross.

Jesus Himself made this an entry requirement for disciples: “Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. “And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:25-27). In all three the Synoptics Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).

This is not an optional extra for some disciples, it is essential for all disciples. Without the willingness of the follower to deny his own ideas, personality, desires, yea even his very self, he just cannot be a disciple. This is not because the Lord set an arbitrary standard, but because the essence of discipleship means the laying aside of self and being transformed into the likeness and image of Christ. This is not behavior modelling (see part 1), it is death (to self) and resurrection (in His image) on a daily basis.

No wonder Jesus had very few disciples. We expect it to be different for us, but it cannot be. In most cases where numbers of people are flocking to follow leaders the vital ingredient of the cross is missing. Hence the many things that are used as cheap substitutes for the cross.

Teaching How and What

Most teaching in modern churches is about the “what” of the faith, but discipleship is as much about the “how” as the “what.” This is just where the problem often lies. Seminaries teach the “what” and those who come out of those seminaries only understand the “what.” The “how” is learned at the feet of a true teacher and in the school of hard knocks. Obviously we do need to understand the “what” but without the “how” the “what” is of no value.

In the Great Commission, Jesus gives explicit instructions as to what needs to be taught in the process of making disciples: “…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28:20).

Note that the command is to teach “to observe….” This is in contrast with “teaching to know….” The word “observe” literally means to do. The true disciple does what he was taught, thus head knowledge has to be translated into lifestyle and theory has to become practice. Very few Christians seem to know how to behave as Christians because they were never taught, neither in word nor by example. But that is what discipleship is really about. It is about becoming like Jesus (Romans 8:29) and becoming like Him is not about knowledge but it is about essence—who we are as evidenced through our lifestyle, values and actions.

Paul says: “You are witnesses, and God also, how devoutly and justly and blamelessly we behaved ourselves among you who believe;” (1 Thessalonians 2:10) and to Timothy: “I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God…”(1Tim 3:15). Behavior and conduct are simply not taught any longer, yet that is the very essence of Christianity. The world is constantly telling believers how they ought to act, but the church does not. It is no wonder then, that believers act more like the world than like Christ.

The art of casting an artificial fly on the end of a fly rod is not rocket science, yet one can read a dozen books about it without ever being able to master the simple skill. It is only when an experienced teacher demonstrates how to do it, and then allows you to practice while correcting your mistakes, that you will ever learn how to present an artificial fly to a fish. Christianity is the same. It was never intended to be learned only from reading, preaching or talking. Jesus showed His disciples how to live and to die, and then expected them to put into practice what He had taught through His example and by His words.

As a result, Luke writes his Gospel concerning “…all that Jesus began both to do and teach.”(Acts 1:1)

Word Based

Unless the personal involvement, setting an example, or active teaching is based on the Scriptures, it is simply some humanistic effort, management technique or philosophy. Paul says: “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 complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The purpose of the doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction is to equip people for “every good work.” It is not merely for the sake of knowledge and, at the same time, is not good works based on some human philosophy. True discipleship is based on Scriptural principles that result in Godly living.

Discipleship at Home

Discipleship begins in the home. Parents are to disciple their children, teaching them by word and deed to be followers of Jesus Christ. But instead they choose to hire substitutes in the form of school teachers, Sunday school teachers, psychologists and an array of other hirelings. Meanwhile the parents are absent as they pursue their own selfish desires. These same absentee parents then turn around and blame everyone else when (not if) the child ends being more like the devil than Jesus.

Yet these same failed parents often want to be leaders in the church. Paul is emphatic that an elder must have proven his discipling skills at home (1Timothy 3:5). It is in the home that parents learn and develop discipling skills which are later used in the church. And it is in the home that children learn to be good followers and learners. It is not coincidental that the New Testament uses babes, children, and the process of growing to maturity as an analogy of the life of a Christian. There are therefore very real parallels between raising children and discipling believers. Both require the same skills, prayer, patience, observing, teaching, wisdom, correcting, encouraging, rebuking etc. Failure at home almost guarantees failure in the church.

Jesus and the Twelve

After three years with Jesus, His disciples had heard His teaching on every important subject. The fact that they did not understand much is irrelevant because, in time, the Holy Spirit would remind them of what they had learned (John 14:26). Not only had they heard His words but they had seen His life. They saw His relationship with His Father, how He reacted, how He handled different situations and people, how He dealt with weariness, frustration, temptation, anger and every other human experience.

When Jesus called them, they were a motley bunch of losers, but at the end of that time He was able to send them out as His Apostles (sent ones) to lay the foundation of the church. That was successful discipling. They knew what to do, how to act and how to react. Yes, they were still fallible men, but they had been discipled by Jesus and even their enemies could not deny that: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13).

Paul and Timothy

Paul had several disciples but the best of those was undoubtedly Timothy to whom Paul wrote, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions….” (2 Timothy 3:10-11). Notice again the juxtaposition of “doctrine” and “manner of life.” Paul taught Timothy not only doctrine, but how to live. He taught him to live a life with a godly purpose, how to have faith in trials, how to endure pain, suffering and persecution, and how to fulfill his ministry.

Near the very end of Paul’s life he wrote to Timothy “And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2). Thus the pattern is perpetuated from one generation to the next.

We are not Jesus

But there is a vital difference between Jesus and us—Jesus made disciples of Himself but we do not make disciples of ourselves. Cult and other false leaders make people followers of themselves but true discipleship makes people followers of Jesus. Thirty times the book of Acts refers to “the disciples.” But never does it speak of disciples of Peter, John or Paul. “Disciples” was always understood to mean disciples of Jesus. A true teacher will always point men to Jesus and call men to follow Him—never to follow the teacher, his church, or some other human organization.

We are not called to clone or make copies of ourselves. We are to help people become like Jesus and to follow Him, and to ultimately learn from Him. The more those we teach resemble Him, the more successful they will be at making disciples.

Conclusion 

Discipleship is not a technique or system. It is a lifestyle and is the essence of our faith. In its absence believers and churches become more worldly and less Christ-like. In spite of the proliferation of theological books and knowledge, we have abandoned our roots and failed to obey the command to make disciples. For this reason, more than any other, the church in the West has simply become an organization and has lost its life and light.

“… when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)