Nine Fundamentals of Discipleship: Part 2

I am continuing the teaching on the Nine Fundamentals of Discipleship at my Bible Fellowship in my home Sunday. Here are my notes.

Nine Fundamentals of Discipleship (Part 2) 

5) Give  

Romans 12:1

1Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship.

Romans 14:6,7

7For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. 8If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.

It is so much bigger than the tithe-God wants OUR LIFE.

Present (paristemi from para = beside or near + histemi = set) literally means to place or set beside or near hence to place at someone’s disposal.

Paristemi includes the ideas of to yield or surrender up, or to place at the disposal of another. The implication is that every aspect of a believer’s life is to be yielded to God. In the Old Testament a worshiper would present an unblemished animal sacrifice to God as an expression of worship. Today, God doesn’t want us to present dead sacrifices but to present ourselves to Him as living sacrifices. The OT Law demanded sacrifice. The Gospel of Grace invites us to consider the “mercies of God” in (Romans 1:1-11:36) and respond accordingly. On the basis of what God has shown us He has done, we are not to look to the Law & respond because we MUST. Instead we look at all God has done in showing us mercies & we respond freely from a grateful heart…”With eyes wide open to the mercies of God”. (Phillips).

Tozer-Are you ready to present your body with all of its functions and all that it contains—your mind, your personality, your spirit, your love, your ambitions, your all? This is the first thing. Are you willing to do it?

Though Greek thought was prone to consider the body the receptacle containing the soul, this was not the Hebraic concept, which viewed man as a unit. Your body as used by Paul represents the complete man, the “part” representing the whole which is a figure of speech known as synecdoche (a part is put for the whole). So our body represents the totality of our being, not just our physical bodies but our heart, soul, mind and strengthALL of each of them!  God wants ALL of our body on the altar, not just a part. The body is the vehicle that implements the desires and choices of the redeemed spirit & is essential for making contact with the society in which the believer lives. Through the body we serve (Ro 12:3ff).

God wants ALL OF OUR HEART, and He expects us to obey ALL of His will in ALL of our ways. If Jesus Christ gave His ALL for us, how can we do less than give our ALL to Him?

Holy (hagios) means to be set apart from the world unto God for a special purpose!  Therefore, our bodies are presented holy to Him in the sense that they are set apart for His use. A holy sacrifice.speaks of being fully abandoned to God.

Stedman comments on what constitutes a holy…acceptable sacrifice:

The only life that is acceptable to Him is the life of Jesus Christ lived again in us. As we have seen, God has put all that I am to death — my plans, my programs, my desires — are all tainted with self, and are worthless. But, the minute I accept this and acknowledge that it is true and right, then it is possible for Christ, Who lives in me, to begin to work out His plans, His programs, His ideals, His desires. He does it through my conscious will, but then it is something holy and acceptable unto God. Anything else is burning false incense, false fire, before God.

Galatians 2:20 (NIV)

20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I Corinthians 6:19,20 (Amplified)

19Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own,

 20You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body.

Colossians 3:3,4 (ESV)-3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

It is not our life but His life now. We must give our utmost for Him.

6) Develop a lifestyle of radical obedience going to the utmost length of heart and soul to obey God and His Word and not the sin nature and the world.

As the famous Bob Dylan song goes “You’re going to serve somebody, yes indeed; you’re going to have to serve somebody; Well, it may be the devil or it may the Lord, but you’re gonna have to serve somebody”

Romans 6:1-18-As Christians are we slaves to sin or slaves to righteousness? Do we serve God or our sin nature?

1What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.

 5If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,[a] that we should no longer be slaves to sin7because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

 8Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.

 11In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. 12Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. 13Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. 14For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.

15What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted. 18You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

You become slaves to whom or what you obey; where is your allegiance devoted?

Slave-doulos-describes one who is in bondage or bound to another, in the state of being completely controlled by someone or something and a slave in the sense of being the property of the owner. In Paul’s day were those individuals who were bound to their master in servitude. Doulos in Paul’s writings thus conveys the picture of a slave’s close, binding tie with their master, of belonging solely to him and of being obligated to and desiring to do his will. In sum, the will of the doulos is completely consumed in the will of the master. 

Too many Christians after being born again are doulos to sin instead of doulos to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. You know that in effect there is no middle ground between being a slave to sin and a slave to obedience to God. Jesus clearly taught that “No one can serve two masters” (Mt 6:24; Luke 16:13).

Grace means freedom to serve the Lord, not to sin against Him. God has set believers free, to serve Himself. The only other master is sin, and bondage to sin results from serving sin.

Obey (hupakouo)  from hupó = = agency or means, under + akoúo  physical hearing and apprehension of something with the mind – akouo gives us our English acoustics – the science of design which helps one hear) literally means to listen under with attentiveness and to respond positively to what is heard. The sense is that one understands and responds accordingly. Note that hupakouo implies an inward attitude of respect and honor, as well as external acts of obedience. 

Obedience involves conscious listening. If you do not really listen, you cannot really obey.

Acts 5:29-We ought to obey God rather than men

As Christians who do we obey? Who do we listen to? Who is our master?

Deuteronomy 30:20a (KJV)-That thou mayest love the Lord they God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him, for he is your life…

7) Witness with Power    

Acts 1:8 (NIV)

8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

You cannot be a witness without the power. The witness and the power are inseparably linked together.

Luke 24:48,49 (NIV)

48You are witnesses of these things. 49I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

MacDonald adds that dunamis in Acts 1:8 describes power which…

is the grand indispensable of Christian witness. A man may be highly talented, intensively trained, and widely experienced, but without spiritual power he is ineffective. On the other hand, a man may be uneducated, unattractive, and unrefined, yet let him be endued with the power of the Holy Spirit and the world will turn out to see him burn for God.” (MacDonald, W & Farstad, A. Believer’s Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson)

Peter Wade says:

Just before He ascended to heaven He promised that they would be “clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). One translation uses the word “invested”, and that is what Jesus did for us; He invested His potential power in men and women, so that they could be expressors of Himself. We are to “bloom where we are planted” with the positive power of Jesus Christ — for-giving, encouraging, healing, loving. And according to Acts 1:8 that power is the Holy Spirit. He gives the same full measure to everyone. God is not a respecter of persons — if He gave this unlimited power to one, He gives it in its unlimited form to all. Wrapped up in His spiritual gift is everything necessary to handle every situation that the believer will ever run across. That’s power without measure! Jesus also taught that this was a power with infinite supply.

Luke 10:1-3,17-19 (Amplified)

1NOW AFTER this the Lord chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come (visit).

    2And He said to them, The harvest indeed is abundant [[a]there is much ripe grain], but the farmhands are few. Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.

    3Go your way; behold, I send you out like lambs into the midst of wolves.

17The seventy returned with joy, saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name!

    18And He said to them, I saw Satan falling like a lightning [flash] from heaven.

    19Behold! I have given you authority and power to trample upon serpents and scorpions, and [physical and mental strength and ability] over all the power that the enemy [possesses]; and nothing shall in any way harm you.

Would God do anything less for His born again sons and daughters?

We are the corps of the mighty, the powerful soldier with a unlimited power source, the heavenly birthed child with victory and power woven into the fiber of our being with the new birth.

Look at the commission! 

Acts 26:18 (Phillips)

I send you to open their eyes, to turn them

from darkness to light, from the power of

Satan to God, so that they might know

forgiveness of their sins and take their place

with all those who are made holy by their

faith in me.

The Gospel is the power of god!

Romans 1:16(NIV)

16I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Quote from “The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life”

We have forgotten that Christianity is about the awesome power of God like the   world has never seen, and this power is at the center of every good work we do in Christ….This power will crush evil, turn darkness into light, repel back the advance of Satan’s kingdom, and bring deliverance to every captive. God’s power absolutely shatters the enemy and his devices. This power overcomes resistance and always produces a magnificent change of heart, circumstance, life, and direction. As Christians, we are the power plants of God, ready to disperse His energy to the world.

 Christians do not receive a religious creed or a certificate or a pat on the back at the time of the new birth, but they receive the very power and ability of God Almighty. Jesus Christ knew how important it was for his disciples to realize the enormous power that they received in the new birth as Christians, as they are thrust to the front lines of a battle between the spiritual forces of good and evil…

This power of God can cause enormous change in our lives and the lives of those we touch, when that power is activated for the service of God. This gospel we preach to the world is pure spiritual power that comes from the heart of God to rescue and deliver all those who have ears to hear and hearts to respond to this powerful message.

You have the most importance and awesome ministry in the history of the world.

II Corinthians 5:17-20 (NLT)

17 This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

 18 And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”

As Christians we all are Christ’s ambassadors and have a powerful message of reconciliation. We must open our mouths and speak and the devil does everything he can to get us to focus inward and keep our mouths shut.

Romans 10:13-17 (NLT):

13 For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

 14 But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15 And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

 16 But not everyone welcomes the Good News, for Isaiah the prophet said, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

Acts 18:9-11(NIV)  

9One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. 10For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 11So Paul stayed for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.

If we remain silent and do not speak, people will never hear about Him and then will not call on the Lord to be saved. Life and death are at stake every day with the ministry of reconciliation. It is estimated 150,000 died today without eternal life. What did we do about it? As faithful disciples of Christ we must witness with great power and love about the good news of Jesus Christ.

8) Live Love

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

 1If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,[b] but have not love, I gain nothing.

 4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 8Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. 12Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

 13And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Love (agape) is unconditional, sacrificial love. Agape love is the love of choice, the love of serving with humility, the highest kind of love, the noblest kind of devotion, the love of the will (intentional, a conscious choice) which is not motivated by superficial appearance, emotional attraction, or sentimental relationship. Agape is not based on pleasant emotions or good feelings that might result from a physical attraction or a familial bond. Agape chooses as an act of self-sacrifice to serve the recipient. From all of the descriptions of agape love, it is clear that true agape love is a sure mark of salvation and in fact is impossible to carry out unless one is genuinely born again. Agape is a love that impels one to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of the object loved…(it) speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in the object loved, an apprehension of its preciousness.

I John 7:7-11; 19-21

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[b] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[c] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  

19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

Romans 5:5 (New International Version)

5And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

At the new birth we are given the gift of holy spirit and wrapped up in that gift is the ability to love like God loved. The ability to love like Jesus loved. 

The saint is to order his behavior or manner of life within the sphere of this divine, supernatural (agape) love produced in his heart by the holy spirit which was given us at the new birth. When this love becomes the deciding factor in his choices and the motivating power in his actions, he will be walking in love. He will be exemplifying in his life the self-sacrificial love shown at Calvary and the Christian graces mentioned in 1Co 13:4-8.” (It is) a love that is willing to sacrifice one’s self for the benefit of that brother or sister.(Agape) Love is an attitude of selflessness.

Our high calling, our distinguishing mark, our brand as Christians is the agape love that we live and breathe and manifest in the body of Christ and to the world.

9) Guard your heart

You can practice all the other eight fundamentals but if you don’t guard your heart eventually you will turn away from God and set up an idol of worship in your heart. In Rambo terms “you will be taken out” and will have no effect in the advancement of the kingdom. Your heart will become impure and hardened, you will manifest no fruit and you stray from the path and purposes that God has set for your life.

Proverbs 4::20-23 (NIV)

 20 My child, pay attention to what I say.
      Listen carefully to my words.

 21 Don’t lose sight of them.
      Let them penetrate deep into your heart,
 22 for they bring life to those who find them,
      and healing to their whole body. 

23 Guard your heart above all else,
      for it determines the course of your life.
 

Toy writes that…

The Hebrew in first line reads: more than all guarding ( = “with more vigilant guarding than in any other case”) watch thou over thy heart, = “watch thy heart (or, thyself) more than anything else”;

John Eldridge, in The Sacred Romance: Drawing Closer to the Heart of God, state:

Our heart is the key to the Christian life. The

apostle Paul informs us that hardness of heart

is behind all the addictions and evils of the

human race…This is why God tells us in Proverbs

4:23, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is

the wellspring of life.” He knows that to lose heart

is to lose everything. Sadly, most of us watch the

oil level in our car more carefully then we watch

over the life of our heart…It is possible to recover

the lost life of our heart and with it the intimacy,

beauty, and adventure of life with God…Most

Christians have lost the life of their heart and with

it, their romance with God.

  From “The Magnificent Goodness of God and How it Will Transform Your Life” 

         What is in our heart determines the type of works produced in our life. The good heart brings forth good works, and the evil heart brings forth evil works.  A good heart will produce good words and works that glorify God. God created within us a new nature at the time of our new birth, but He did not give us a completely transformed heart. It is our responsibility as Christians to carefully guard our hearts as a soldier or night watchman would guard a city with his life. If we neglect the heart, the enemy is at the gates and will take possession of the heart and bend it toward his wicked designs and purposes. The heart is so critical to Christian living because it affects everything we say, everything we do, and everything we are. The heart is a storage place of life and what has accumulated in the heart will eventually flow into the circumstances of our life. What is in the heart determines our character and the primary source of our behavior. The heart reveals the true nature and motivation of a person. The heart is the innermost part of our being and the core of our emotions, actions, thoughts, and words. The heart is the critical and vital center of life and impacts everything we do. It is the wellspring of life and determines the course and quality of our lives.

            The heart is the seat of life, and God commands us above all else to guard what we put into it. What thoughts, what words, and what images are we putting into our hearts?  Our job as Christians is to control the thoughts, words, and images that we are feeding into our mind, by the process called “the renewed mind” in Scripture, and then it is God’s job to transform our heart and lives into the image of Christ. Our mind is the gateway to our heart, and this is why God exhorts us repeatedly in the Bible to be diligent in focusing our thinking on Him and His Word instead of the negativity and fear of the world.

        As Christians, we want the heart of Jesus Christ in the words we speak, in the lives we touch, in the works we do, and in the lives we lead.  However, for God to work this marvelous transformation of our hearts into the heart of Jesus Christ, we can’t be careless with our thinking and the feeding of our mind. If our mind is full of junk, then we make it impossible for God to transform our hearts so that we can walk with the heart of Jesus Christ upon the earth. If we feed our minds hours and hours of television and only read a daily devotional for five minutes a day, don’t expect your heart to be in a place where you can be fruitful in service to the Lord Jesus Christ. If we read a lot of secular books in a month, but only spend a few minutes reading the Bible and in prayer, don’t expect much spiritual growth and good works to be produced in your life. The heart is of enormous value to God, as He knows that our spiritual vitality in accomplishing His good purposes depends on the condition of our heart. We must be watchful over our heart  so that it reflects the qualities of Christ and not the qualities of the world. 

Romans 12:2 (Phillips)

Stop being poured into the mold by the

external and fleeting fashions of this age,

but undergo a deep inner change by the

qualitative renewing of your mind.

New Living Translation:

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of

this world, but let God transform you  into

a new person by changing the way you

think. Then you will learn to know God’s

will for you, which is good and pleasing

and perfect.

       Above all Christians guard your heart with great care and diligence daily for the heart determines the quality of our fellowship with God, the fruitfulness of our walk with God, the quality of our works for Him and the depth of our walk as disciples for Christ.   

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