Call to Discipleship

Over the past months I have been looking at the body of Christ (myself included) wondering about our current state.  I wonder why some of us struggle so hard with certain things in our lives.  I have heard and seen Christians struggle with the doctrine of grace, with sin, heaven and hell and just a general attitude toward God.  When I bring up election, predestination, sanctification, justification and regeneration; I get strange looks.

The only way to truly get you to understand what it is that I’m getting at, is to tell you from the point of view of my working out of my salvation.  I was baptized at the age of 8.  Now looking back on that I’m not 100% sure of what I was doing.  Raised in a baptist home with a father who was a deacon and now minister; he was raising his children in the fear of the Lord.  I knew who Jesus was and why He died.  I understand why I shouldn’t do bad things and how to ask for forgiveness when I messed up.  I went to Sunday school and it all was re-enforced.  Our church had traditions just like any other church.  There were subsets of groups in the church just like in other church.  You had one group who was for the pastor and they supported him.  Then you had the other group who was against the pastor and did all that they could to discredit him.  Why say all of this, to make sure that those who read this to not think that their situation is different.  So being 8, the easiest way to teach kids how to be Christians is to give them rules.  So, I was taught how to keep rules just like Moses taught the Hebrews to obey the 10 commandments.  Of course the Jews couldn’t keep them so Moses this time (not God) wrote more rules; about 610 of them.  From those rules spawned traditions and we all know that people who stick to rules sometimes just do them to stay out of trouble.  So keeping rules for rules’ sake is not always good.  Rule keeping  leads to self righteousness, which leads nicely into a point that I’m about to make.  See, as a young boy who was baptized not fully understanding sin and God’s view of it and how Christ’s death was really required left openings.  And I filled those openings with rule keeping.  You began to do things out of habit and not out of love or starting from the heart. Now, add to that being a preacher’s kid and you will begin to see the growth of a self righteous and hypocritical young man.  I became a Pharisee.  But you don’t just have to be a child born of a preacher (levite); you can also be a person born into a well off family.  Growing up, well educated, good job, nice things, never had a struggle in life and never really done anything terribly bad according to the law (man’s law).  This type of person would consider themselves good.  If their family is Christian then they will likely  become Christian as well or one who constantly question God as they seek God to provide Himself.  Yes, that statement is very black and white. And yes you could take some situations and paint a very gray area view of how it could turn out.  But, the problem is this, This person would really find it hard to justify a  reason for God or needing a Savior as in their eyes they are good.  And just as in my very own life, I too thought that I was good.  I did what my family did or expected me to do.  So my choice was based on tradition not a calling from God.  I was born into that family because God had predestined my election into God’s family as His adopted son through Jesus Christ.  The bible tells that no man seeks God nor is no man good.

Ephesians 1

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5he[c] predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9And he[d] made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

11In him we were also chosen,[e] having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.

Romans 3:10-18

10As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”[c] 13“Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”[d] “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”[e] 14“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”[f] 15“Their feet are swift to shed blood; 16ruin and misery mark their ways, 17and the way of peace they do not know.”[g] 18“There is no fear of God before their eyes.”[h]

If we cannot come to agree with this its because we are lying to ourselves.  And yet in the same breath say that we are good.  See, I did not understand the meaning of being born a sinner.  I couldn’t understand how can a baby be a sinner? Until I actually watched how self centered a baby can be, it is in our nature to care only about our needs.  But what does God say; ” love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:36-40).  But we don’t want to do that so we change the definition of who is our neighbor and make it so that it doesn’t include the people we don’t like or the people that don’t give us what we want or those that don’t love us back.  Now tell me, isn’t like that of a child?  We are all taught to be selfish.  As I grew up, I was taught to put God first, yet I wasn’t taught what it looked like to put Him first.  So as young adults on our own whether in college or out of our parents house; we reduce that saying to merely thanking God for our “blessings” or the good things that happen to us.  Of course any bad thing is of the devil and if bad things are happening, then we must not be living right.  As we grow in age, there is a lack of growth in what we know of God. We see struggles as a series of battles over control, God versus Satan and the things we go through have no meaning or purpose.  So by the time we became adults, we begin searching for purpose or God’s will for our lives.   But those struggles are apart of our sanctification (Hebrews 12).

Matthew 6

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Romans 8

28And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,[j] who[k] have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

31What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[l] 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Philippians 2

Imitating Christ’s Humility

1If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. 3Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. 4Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Shining as Stars

12Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.

We spend all of our lives chasing after the American dream, thanking God along the way as we fool ourselves into believing that we have been putting God first.  We have been living in fear, not of God but of hell, as we diligently keep the rules and obey the traditions.  If any one can honestly read the above scripture and still have doubts of what God wants you to seek after and you are still seriously wondering about His will for your life.  It is obvious that what you seek is a earthly answer or your own glory.  Because if we are to do this things God will surely be glorified and if we are to seek after things other than God’s glory it is our own that we seek.  To know God we have to read His word.

Psalms 51

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.

12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.

14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God,
the God who saves me,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.

15 O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.

16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.

17 The sacrifices of God are [c] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

We never really knew God and we will not know Him until we come face to face with the real us; the sinner… (Romans 3:23) But you can’t know you the sinner without coming face to face with God(Isaiah 8).  You can’t do that unless you are drawn to Him by His grace.  We have all been wrapped up in ourselves and the sin in our life.  If you don’t know what I’m talking about then its a good chance that you enjoy sin a little to much.  I remember when I heard that call.  Many Christians can easily point to the day they were truly called out of the life of sin, can you?  Once we are out of that slavery to sin, we must make sure we find someone to disciple us.  It is so important that mature Christians disciple the new Christians.  Don’t let them be the seeds that fall on the road side or the thorns.  Don’t let the new Christians be the foolish builder who builds on the sand.  To many come to Christ and do exactly that.  When you finally see the cross and what it truly means, your life will be transformed forever.  There is no mistaking that point in your life as a Christian.  You don’t even have to search your memories for it.  If it hasn’t happen yet please examine yourself and search for whom is the god in your life…  I use to be my god and it was my education that I worshiped.  But when I was brought low and watched all of those that I had looked down on because I felt better than them; God showed Himself to me.  For that they I was changed forever.

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