Monday, March 2, 2020

Get Up And Go

When the Charismatic movement hit the church, many things happened both good and questionable. Unfortunately, when good things come as a means of reformation and restoration to the church they oft times become carnal, which of course, is then questionable. Many times the Bible records, especially in the writings of the apostle Paul, that believers are to "walk by the Spirit" or "live by the Spirit." There is a very good reason for this; it is to help the believer from becoming carnal or in other words, to help them to not fulfill the lusts of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)

One of the good things that turned questionable during the Charismatic movement was the "Shepherding or Discipleship movement." In short, the movement gained a reputation for control and abuse in the name of "making disciples." One of the errors of the movement was that a great deal of emphasis was placed upon the importance of the disciples obedience, not to God per se, but to the shepherd that the disciple looked to for discipleship. Disobedience to one's shepherd was in many cases, viewed as being equal to disobeying God. This resulted in the shepherding movement being rejected and somewhat swept under the proverbial carpet. Basically, the former shepherding or discipleship movement was about an elitist attitude among church leaders that attempted to clone and control less mature believers  This is in opposition of shepherds feeding and tending to the Lord's sheep. Despite the shepherding/discipleship movement becoming twisted and then rejected, the shepherding/discipleship of believers is both important and biblical. 

"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." (Matthew 28:18-20) "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." (Galatians 6:1) There are only two scriptures shown here out of the many that direct the more mature believer to disciple other believers. Hopefully, we get the point.

From the Christian perspective a disciple is a follower of Jesus and His teachings. However, the word disciple also means, a pupil, student, adherent, learner and apprentice. With this in mind, let's look at the command that Jesus gave His disciples concerning making disciples.  Jesus tells them to "go and  make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus is saying, go make pupils, students, adherents, learners and or apprentices to follow Me (Jesus) and My teachings. Notice, that Jesus is talking to those He had discipled. He tells them to go and do what He had taught them and emulated before them. (Although not all inclusive, see Matthew chapter 4 - 10 as a guide of both Jesus' discipleship techniques as well as what He had taught and emulated before His disciples)

The apostle Paul said, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1) This is a key to understanding the importance of discipleship for today because it falls in line with what Jesus spoke to His disciples. (Matthew 28:18-20) Paul is telling the church,  to follow him as an example of one who is following Christ. He is saying that he has made Christ his example and model in all things, and if the church were to follow Christ as he follows Him, they will not fall into error. Notice that Paul is only using himself as an example of one sold out to Christ and that if believers were to follow his example, they will never go astray. This is discipleship and it is lacking in the church today.

We must also note that not all of Paul's letters were written to a church, but also to individuals that he personally discipled, like Timothy and Titus. Paul is not using his position as a means of control or abuse, but he is very personal in his approach to them, "To Timothy, a true son in the faith:" (1 Timothy 1:2), "To Titus, a true son in our common faith:" (Titus 1:4) Paul gives these men personal counsel which in a sense demands these two men to keep moving towards Christ. He also gives them (us) some of the best information on Kingdom building and order in the church. Again, the focus is on Christ not Paul.

In brief, church leaders must not continue to to drop the ball when it comes to true biblical discipleship as well as not neglecting, rejecting or making carnal the moving of the Holy Spirit. However, if we look at various times throughout church history where reformation and restoration was trying to find its way in to the church, we see a typical scenario played out among church leaders. Some have embraced the things of God and have kept it pure; some have embraced the things of God and have twisted them; and others have either totally rejected the things of God from the start or have criticized it when it became twisted and then refuse to implemented it properly in the church.

For the church to become the "Bride" without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, it must become a church of faith, "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6) Not some general faith where we say we believe God's Word and never act on it, but a faith that produces fruit and pleases God. One of the best ways to accomplish this is  to "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..." This is  true biblical discipleship. The time is now for church leaders to really be led by the Holy Spirit not what their wisdom might conceive. Leaders must teach and emulate the life and ministry of Christ to believers of all ages so all believers will "Go" and do the same . It is time for church leaders to show less mature believers that true bible faith always has corresponding works. 

"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit." (Romans 8:5) "I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." (Galatians 5:16) "But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18) This is how the church can embrace reformation and restoration, not twist it or reject it, but see the power and glory of the Lord manifest in the lives of His children, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21) Grace and peace to you all...

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