Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The New Testament Disciple


Acts 11:26b “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch”, and been called Christians ever since.

So, today, in the United States, about 80% of people refer to themselves as Christian. A little less that 10% claim to be Atheist or Agnostic, and a little less than 10% claim other faiths.

Of the 80% who claim to be Christian,

36% are notional (nominal) Christians – Christianity is their religion of preference. Ie; not Jewish, Muslim, etc. They have no real doctrinal commitment.

36% are born again Christians – claim to have accepted Jesus, have a home in heaven, but it’s not necessarily showing in their life.

9% - Evangelical Christians (born again plus). They claim that:

A. their faith is very important in their life today;

B. they have a personal responsibility to share their religious beliefs about Christ with non-Christians

C. they believe that Satan exists

D. eternal salvation is possible only through grace, not works

E. Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth

F. the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches

G. God is the all-knowing, all-powerful, perfect deity who created the universe and still rules it today.

BUT, labeling self doesn’t make it so!

QUESTION: What’s the New Testament word or label for one who accepts teaching and follows Christ?

1. Christian – used 3 times in N.T.

2. Follower – used 5 times

3. Believer – used 27 times

4. Disciple – used 294 times

This doesn’t mean that we MUST use that label (word) today, BUT we should examine the New Testament definition/description and measure ourselves accordingly.

A DISCIPLE IS: (According to the New Testament definition/description)

#1. A student = a learner. Mat. 5:1 & 2 –“And seeing the multitudes,……He opened His mouth and taught them, saying:”

for example: disciples of Moses, Pharoah, John all studied the teachings of the master.

Not necessarily a bookworm

But, it does mean get exposure/give attention/thought/consideration – do your best to study the teachings of the Master.

#2. An Adherent – more than listen and learn. Means to accept and embrace.

Example: John 6:53-56, 66-69 “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you……..He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him…………….From that time on many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more…….. Then Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life…….”

Who were the true disciples?

#3. A follower. Jesus’ call was “Come follow me”.

Ie: walk with me as:

A. a companion (get to know me)

B. An observer (watch me, and what I do)

C. An imitatorJohn 13:34 & 35 ‘ “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you……” – do what I do

D. A sticker/a stayer John 8:31“….If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.” = “Continue in”

Summarized with “having read/examined/considered His teachings,” What Would Jesus Do?

#4. A practitioner – head and heart = hands

John 13:17 - “If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” “do” – live it

James 2:14/18 “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?”

“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.” A Christian is known as a Christian by his Christian deeds.

#5. A team member

“The lone disciple” (separate from the others) is NOT a New Testament picture or option

There are FEW commands to gather together. However, the assumption is that the action of meeting together is obvious.

#6. A Kingdom promoter. (a world-changer and shaper)

Acts. 1:8 “….and you shall be witness to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” – promotes and expands the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

We are to be salt and light and Make a Difference

Example – the Parable of the Talents. The purpose of the talents was to expand the master’s holdings.

#7. A disciple maker. Matt. 28:19&20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…..” – the Great Commission

2 Tim. 2:2 “And the things that you have heard from me ….commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”


So…… if you are not doing #1 through #7, does that mean Not saved? Not a Christian?

There is no way of knowing that for certain.

But, we do know that: #1. the New Testament makes no distinction between a Christina and a disciple (neither should we)

#2. A disciple – as described in #1 through #7 is what we should strive for and measure ourselves by.

Observation: This looks like a tough standard and list.

However, this list is not nearly as tough as Jesus’ list – Luke 14:25-27/33 – leave all to follow Christ

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Good News

The “Bridge” illustration is a simple ­visual of “the gospel”.

The word, “gospel” comes from the old English “god spell” (god with a long ‘o’) It meant good tale, story, message, or news. It was transliterated into ‘gospel’ (good news)

The scripture uses the word gospel in many ways: 123 times in the New Testament. The gospel/good news of: a. God, concerning His Son.

b. Jesus Christ, the Son of God – good news that Jesus is the Christ

c. Our Lord Jesus Christ – good news about Jesus and the resurrection

d. The glory of God, the grace of God, the Kingdom of God

e. Salvation

f. Peace

g. The eternal good news

Paul referred to “my gospel” – 2Tim. 2:8 “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel.”

He also referred to it as “our gospel” – “2 Cor. 4:3 & 4 – “But even if our gospel is veiled……”

A condensed form of the “gospel/good news” = death, burial, resurrection of Christ. I Cor. 15:1-4 –“…..I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you……”

NOTE: This is especially good news when defined by the bad news!


1. Man is separated from God.

Bible words:

LOST – (no longer in possession of, no longer present) Ex. The lost sheep, lost coin, lost son. Luke 15 – three parables about LOST

DEAD - Eph. 2:1 – “And you he made alive who were dead in trespasses and sins.” Illustration: cut flowers in a vase – they look alive, they continue to open, they stay pretty for several days. BUT, they are dead – they have been separated from the source of life, the plant or root. Even though they look alive, they are dead. Man is not physically dead, but is separated from God, the soursce of life, and therefore is spiritually dead.

CONDEMNEDJohn 3:18 – “He who believes in Him is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already, …..” Notice “is”. This is the present condition of man, but it can be fixed.

2. Man is separated by choice. Even though we have a sin nature by birth, the primary problem is that we CHOOSE to sin. Isa. 53:6 – “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one to his own way; ……”

3. Man can do nothing about it. Religious efforts are not morally wrong, the are just totally ineffective. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me.”

4. You are a ‘man’. As are your family, friends, loved ones. We are all part of generic ‘man.’

NOTE: The BAD NEWS is bleak, offensive, unpopular, etc. BUT it is Biblical. We need to recognize our separateness.

BUT, there is Good news also! John 3:16-18a – “For God so loved the world,…..”

When people come to an understanding of this, it turns them to the Good News.


1. In and through Christ you can be reconciled with God.

Reunited – “2 Cor. 5:18 & 19a “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ,……”

Repossessed – Luke 19:10 – ”for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Re-rooted – Eph. 2:4 & 5 – “But God,………even when we were dead in trespasses, ade us alive together with Christ…..”

Re-routed – off the wrong path

2. You qualify. (if you haven’t already done it – accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior)

3. It’s offered freely. Eph. 2:8 “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God, not or works, lest anyone should boast.”

Rev, 22:17 – “………Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.”

This includes repent, commit – and is offered freely to all.

By grace you are saved by actually crossing the bridge.

How to Receive this free gift?? Simple as A, B, C


Believe Rom. 10:9 & 10 – “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in you heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. ….”


THE GOOD NEWS (New Testament Gospel/the Gospel of Jesus Christ)

We ought to:

1. Know it - this is NOT about going to church, reading the Bible, praying, doing good, being good, etc. Those are all important things, but this MUST be about confessing and accepting Christ and making the choice to “cross the bridge”.

2. Receive it (make it “my gospel”/ “our gospel” – it’s personal good news for me.

3. Share it Mark 16:15 “…..Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”

4. Not be embarrassed by it Rom.1:16 & 17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes,…..”

This Good News is NOT old fashioned, archaic, out-dated. We should not be ashamed because it is real and it works. It can change the hearts of mankind.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Revelation of God

If God is Spirit and Transcendent, then He is beyond finding out!!!

UNLESS: there is Revelation!

Two types of revelation: I. Natural revelation – within the universe (cosmos) and perceivable by the 5 senses.

2. Additional revelation. From outside the cosmos. It is supernatural. God is bigger than His creation, and He gives us more information than can be discovered in the natural world.

God does reveal Himself adequately to reach His people.


God has revealed Himself in:

#1. His creation. Psalm 19:1-4 – “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork….”

#2. The laws of His creation. Science. Scientific laws – things function in a very dependable relationship.

#3, Man’s conscience. Rom. 2:14 & 15 – “….who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness….”

Moral law has to have a moral lawgiver. It is written into us.

#4. Man’s reasoning & logic. The fact that we have reason and logic is a natural revelation of God.

NOTE: These 4 natural revelations of God come from within the cosmos. These are very limited and non-specific. Job 26:14 – “Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

SO, we have Additional Revelation from without the cosmos.

Christians believe that God has revealed Himself more fully in and through:

#1. The prophets – “This saith the Lord”. Easy to say, but what the prophets said was from the Lord, happened!!!

#2. His mighty deeds and acts, when He intervened in natural processes. Ie: the 10 plagues, Red Sea crossing, manna from heaven, conquest of the Promised Land,

Also the Exile – God told them this was going to happen if they continued in their sin, and especially “the Cross”.

#3. His names. God’s names are a description of Himself.

El Shaddai – God Almighty

El Elyon – Most High God

Adonai – Lord

Jehovah Jireh – provider

Jehovah Rapha – healer

YHWH – “I Am”

#4. His Son. John 1:18, Heb. 1:1-3A, John 14:5-11

Question: How would God act toward a leper? Prostitute? Hypocrite? Or in our time, a homosexual?

Answer: Look at how Jesus acted toward these.

#5. His Word. Numbers 1 – 4 are recorded in God’s Word.

God’s Word is more than just history. 2 Tim. 3:16 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God…..”, 2 Pet. 1:20 & 21, Heb. 4:12

His words speak to our hearts.

In addition:

#6. His Holy Spirit John 16:12-15, I Cor. 2:9-12

The Holy Spirit enlightens us AS He makes use of His Word, object lessons (ex. Jeremiah & the potter), situations, dreams and visions

#7. His people.

A. Corporately 1. Then – He manifested Himself through the nation of Israel.

2. Now – He manifests Himself through the church Eph. 3:10- “…..the manifold wisdom of God might be made know by the church …..”

B. Individually – as He did with Christ, now He wants to do with us. 2 Cor. 5:20 – “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; ….”

Wrap up verse: Deut. 4:29 – “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Why is God so hard to find?

QUESTION: If God is all good and all mighty, why is He so hard to find?

(Why the debate? Atheists and Agnostics and other religions?)

On one hand, no one has ALL the answers, BUT here are SOME answers.

I. God is hidden Naturally. (difficult knowing and find Him because:

A. He is Spirit. John 4: 24 – “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” He is difficult to perceive.. He is NOT flesh and blood. We’re used to knowing someone of something with our 5 senses.

B. He is transcendent. He is beyond our experience, comprehension, imagination.

How do you understand someone who is so big that He has always been? He’s beyond anything we can possibly imagine.

II. God is hidden intentionally. Isa. 45:15 – “Truly You are the God who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!”

Question: If God is all powerful/loving and creative, could He not reveal Himself?

Answer: Yes, He could. He chooses NOT to.


A. To honor free will. Rom.1:18-21 0 “ ………because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. …….because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts,….”

God wants us to come to Him willingly because we desire Him, and long to worship Him, etc.

B. To week out seekers. That’s why Jesus used parables. Matt. 13:13-15 – “Therefore, I speak in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand…….”

C. To reveal Himself to those who would see and know and,especially, follow Him. 2Tthess. 2:9-12 – “…….among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie…..”

God honors our choices. He doesn’t force belief system on people.

Summary Verse: John 3:19 – “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”

III. God is hidden consequentially. In response to sin and disobedience. God hides Himself from continuous love of sin and disobedience.

Deut. 31:17 & 18, Isa. 59:1 & 2, Hosea 5:6, Micah 3:4

Note: This does not negate His mercy, patience, etc., BUT it does show us some clear consequences of our sin.

IV. God is hidden providentially. According to His goodness, grace, wisdom, for our good!

For example: the YEARS between the promise to Abraham and the birth of Isaac. The promise was made when Abraham and Sarah were young. Isaac was born when they were both very old and Sarah was barren, thereby demonstrating that this was by the hand of God.

Another example: Job.

Heb. 11:6 “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.

Isa. 50:10 – Who among you fears the Lord? ……Let him trust in the name of the Lord, and rely upon his God.”

Contrary to our notion, revelation does not necessarily end in faith. People saw the 10 plagues, experienced the Exodus, saw many miracles in Elijah’s time, saw Jesus perform miraculous works during His ministry, but still DID NOT believe. John 12:37 – “But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him.”

Contrary to our notion, God may sometimes be more fully revealed in darkness than in light. For example: Hell is complete and total darkness, but all will “perceive” God there.

BUT, know this: although He is “Deus Absconditus” – God who hides Himself – Isa. 45:15 – “Truly You are God who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!”

He is also, “Dew Revelatus” – God who reveals Himself.

So, how can we know, find, discover this God???

#1. Seek Him. Deut. 4;29

#2. Look Beyond the 5 senses. Use your mind, soul, spirit, heart. Psalm 46:10 – “Be still and know that I am God”.

#3. Accept light you receive. Light received increases light. Light rejected increases darkness.

#4. Act on the light you receive. Practical living.

#5. Consider tradition. The accumulated knowledge and wisdom of many ages.

#6. Join with other seekers. – attend a Bible teaching, believing church

#7. Keep walking. Isa. 50:10

Tonight – Ways He Reveals Himself.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Add'l. Oberservations on Evil & Suffering

Some pain & suffering may be necessary. Pain can be a learning light- lets you see that something is wrong. Example: lepers can’t feel pain, so can do a lot of damage by picking up hot or sharp items.

This includes not only physical pain – can be psychological, mental, spiritual, emotional.

Pain is written into us to protect our body and our heart.

IF some pain is necessary, where do we draw the line.

Without evil and suffering in the world, we miss out on a lot of valuable things:

A. Compassion B. Sympathy C. Mercy D. sense of justice E. sense of righteousness, etc.

These things would not exist without evil and suffering – there would be no need.

This is NOT the best of possible worlds, but may be the BEST ROUTE to the best of possible worlds. The world to come is the best of possible worlds.

We see appreciation for the means to get to the best of possible worlds – ie: what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross.

This is all speculation, but based on God’s Word.

We need to recognize:

1. We should be part of the solution to pain and evil.

2. We contribute to the pain and suffering in the world.

All sin and come short of God’s glory. Therefore we act and react in sinful manner many times.

To have a world with no sin, God would have to take away our free will.

You can’t have free choice AND a world with not sin. There is no security in heaven – our security is in Jesus.

Those who make it a habit to help those who are suffering deal with suffering better themselves.

Helping others in times of disaster turns you from a victim into a rescuer. We are created to help and do for others as well as for self.

We all going to have pain and grief and suffering in our life sometimes. When we suffer well, we inspire others. We should try to handle suffering in a way that honors God, and inspires others.

Don’t grieve as as those who have no hope, but grieve well.

In addition to asking “Why?” we should ask, “Now what (can I do)?”

There comes a point in our grief and suffering when we should ask, “Now what?” “How should I respond?” “What should I do now?”