Posts Tagged ‘Discipleship’

 

From Horatious Bonar’s Commentary on Revelation

1. Learn self-denying Christianity.

Not the form or name, but the living thing. ‘Christ did not please Himself.’ Let us in this respect be His true followers; bearing burdens for Him; doing work for Him; submitting to the sorest toil for Him; not grudging effort, or cost, or sacrifice, or pain; spending and being spent for Him; relinquishing the lazy, luxurious, self-pleasing, fashionable religion of the present day. A self-indulgent religion has nothing in common with the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ; or with that cross of ours which He has commanded us to take up and carry after Him, renouncing ease and denying self. Our time, our gifts, our money, our strength, are all to be laid upon the altar. We are to be ‘living sacrifices’ (Romans 12:1)

2. Learn faithfulness to His truth.

We hear it often said that what the age needs, and what the Church needs, is religion—not theology. But the whole Bible takes for granted that there can be no true religion without a true theology. The Bible is God’s testimony to Himself and to His Son—the Christ of God. There can be no acceptable religion or worship or service except that which is founded upon that testimony. The belief of that testimony is life everlasting—the belief of any other testimony is death eternal. Let us be true witnesses for the truth—let us shun and hate error—trying those that propagate it, and finding them ‘liars’, as the Ephesian church did. Let the Master’s word in reference to the errors of the early churches sound in our ears—’Which thing I hate.’

 

A church may, no doubt, have a true testimony, and yet be a very unfaithful church; she may have the FORM of sound words and the form of godliness—and yet be cold like Sardis, or lukewarm like Laodicea. Yet, on the other hand, it is not possible that, with a false testimony, or a testimony to what is untrue, she can represent her Master and Head. A false testimony must make a false church. The belief of a lie will not save a man; nor will the belief of a lie win for a church the favor of the Lord. A true creed is of unspeakable importance, even though at times it has been associated with inconsistency and death.

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Surprisingly enough, Trinity Church has never had an organized small group support structure. We will be launching small groups in January, as all we’re all thinking about what that means for us, it is important to intentionally reflect on the issues involved. Below is a helpful introduction to the necessary intimacy that makes small groups function well

My natural tendency is to say to those around me, “I’m doing quite well, thanks.” The problem is, sin is active and wars against us each and every day. It’s unwise—and, frankly, dishonest—to suggest that I don’t need help in my battle against sin. Often, I can put an accurate label on my sin patterns, and even identify verses that speak to them. But just as often, there are sins and sin patterns I cannot see.

The care group to which my wife and I belong at our church in Gaithersburg, Maryland comes alongside and helps me fight the battle. They help me to see my sin, and then apply the gospel of Jesus Christ to it.

“And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all” (1 Thes. 5:14).

By reminding me of his all-sufficient sacrifice, my care groups admonishes me when I am idle, encourages me when I am fainthearted, and helps me where I am weak. This is bringing grace in an appropriate form—according to our needs at the moment.

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“But the Father would not be separated from his Son, nor will he now turn his face from those whose likeness the Son took upon him, and for whose sake he bore their shame. The Incarnation is the ultimate reason why the service of God cannot be divorced from the service of man. He who says he loves God and hates his brother is a liar.”

Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, pg 129

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First, let us begin by emphatically declaring it is parents (fathers in particular) and not the church who are given the primary responsibility for calling the next generation to hope in God. The church serves a supplementary role, reinforcing the biblical nurture that is occurring in the home. It is not the job of “professionals” at the church to rear the children of believers in the faith. Far too often, Sunday Schools, children’s ministries, and youth ministries have become substitutes for the home training of children. Christian parents have largely abdicated their God-given responsibility to insure that their children are instructed in the things of God.

Consider the biblical testimony:

“And that you may tell in the hearing of your son and your son’s son the mighty things I have done . . . that you may know I am the Lord” (Exodus 10:2).
Exodus 12:26-28, speaks of explaining to your children when they ask about the symbols of the faith (the Passover in context).
“And teach them [the statutes of the law] to your children and your grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9).
“Gather the people to Me, and I will let them hear My words, That they may learn to fear Me all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:10).
“You shall teach them [God’s words] to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).
“He commanded our fathers, That they should make them known to their children; That the generation to come might know them, The children who would be born, That they may arise and declare them to their children” (Psalm 78:5-6).
“The father shall make known Your truth to the children” (Isaiah 38:19).
“Fathers . . . bring them up [children] in the training and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).
2 Timothy 1:5 speaks of the faith that was passed down to Timothy from his mother “Eunice” and his grandmother “Lois.” (See also 2 Timothy 3:15). (more…)

It was this grace or free love which first began with you, and with which you began. It was this which you at first ‘apprehended,’ or rather, which ‘apprehended’ you; and your special character is that of men who ‘know the grace of God’ (Col 1:6); who have ‘tasted that the Lord is gracious’ (1 Pet 2:3); men on whom God has had compassion (Rom 9:15); men to whom He has shown His forgiving love. Such is your name.

This grace of God is your strength, as it is your joy; and it is only by abiding in it that you can really live the life of the redeemed. Be strong, then, in this grace; draw your joy out of it; and beware how you turn to anything else for refreshment, or comfort, or holiness. Though a believing man, you are still a sinner; a sinner to the last; and, as such, nothing can suit you but the free love of God. Be strong in it. Remember that you are saved by believing, not by doubting. Be not then a doubter, but a believer. Draw continually on Christ and His fulness for this grace. If at any time you are beguiled away from it, return to it without delay; and betake yourself to it again just as you did at the first. To recover lost peace, go back to where you got it at first; begin your spiritual life all over again: get at once to the resting-place. Where sin has abounded, let grace much more abound. Do not go back to your feelings, or experiences, or evidences, in order to extract from them a renewal of your lost peace. Go straight back to the free love of God. You found peace in it at first; you will find peace in it to the last. This was the beginning of your confidence; let it be both last and first.

This abounding grace, rightly understood, will not make you sin; it will not relax morality or make inconsistency a trifle. It will magnify sin and enhance its evil in your eyes. Your footing or ‘standing’ in grace (Rom 5:2) will be the strongest, as well as most blessed, that you can ever occupy. If your feet be ‘shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace’ (Eph 6:15), you will be able to ‘stand’ and to ‘withstand’; not otherwise. Remember how Paul and Barnabas urged this upon the Jews of Antioch, ‘persuading them to continue in the grace of God’ (Acts 13:43; Gal 5:4; Titus 2:11; 1 Peter 5:12).

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let me remind you that if you will look at interesting things you will not sleep; and how can you be kept awake in the enchanted ground better than by holding up your Saviour before your eyes? There are some things, it is said, which will not let men shut their eyes if they are held before them. Jesus Christ crucified on Calvary is one of them. I never knew a Christian go to sleep at the foot of the cross; but he always said—

“Sweet the moments, rich in blessing,
Which before the cross I spend.”

And he said, too—

“Here I’d sit, for ever viewing
Mercies’ streams in streams of blood.”

But he never said, “Here I would lay down and sleep;” for he could not sleep with that shriek, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,” in his ears. He could not sleep with “It is finished!” going into his very soul. Keep thou near to the cross, Christian, and thou wilt not sleep.
Then I would advise thee to let the wind blow on thee; let the breath of the Holy Spirit continually fan thy temples, and thou wilt not sleep. Seek to live daily under the influence of the Holy Ghost; derive all thy strength from him, and thou wilt not slumber.
Lastly, labor to impress thyself with a deep sense of the value of the place to which thou art going. If thou rememberest that thou art going to heaven, thou wilt not sleep on the road. If thou thinkest that hell is behind thee, and the devil pursuing thee, I am sure thou wilt not be inclined to sleep. Would the man-slayer sleep if the avenger of blood were behind him, and the city of refuge before him? Christian, wilt thou sleep whilst the pearly gates are open; the songs of angels waiting for thee to join them; a crown decorated with delight to be worn upon thy brow? Ah, no!

“Forget the steps already trod,
And onward urge thy way.”
“Weak as thou art, thou shalt not faint,
Or, fainting, shalt not die;
He feeds the strength of every saint,
He’ll help thee from on high.”

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A VISION FOR THE FUTURE
SESSION 5: THE CALL TO LOOK INWARD

Recap: We have now both discussed both the function of leadership in the church as well as the qualities and commitments of a leader in the church. We will now address the spiritual growth of the individual soul as well as tending to the spiritual growth of the parish at large

Throughout Scripture we are called by the Holy Spirit to look inward and tend to our own spiritual growth. So we read “guard the deposit entrusted to you” (1 Tim 6.20), “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed” (2 Tim 2.15), and “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every evil” (1 Thes 5.19-22). And of course Paul will write to the Church in Philippi: “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Phil 2.12).

Discussion Question: What are some of the requirements God places on his people in these verses? How does that make you feel? What comfort can be derived from the quote from Philippians? What is the sequence of events in the quote from Philippians?

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