Archive for April 22nd, 2008

     To pick up on my blog from last week, I must continue examining who I would become more like if I follow this new movement in Christianity. Or, do I stay with what I find to be the truth of Jesus Christ.  Last week I discovered after my time with the Lord, that if I follow these guys right now, I will find myself converted to the orginal pagan thinking of the philosophers at Mars Hill. Of course that is only one examination, so I figured I would look a little more into the Scriptures so I can test myself and see what “way” I want to follow. Even though the one examination seems to be enough to me, I find it best to make sure their is consistant truth, instead of just one example. It seems if the Lord tells me in scripture (1 John 4) “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” then I should do it.  With that being said, I do have one thing I need to note in my writing. I have read where others have attacked me or pointed out in their own opinion that I have no clue what I am talking about or that in the case of some scripture interpretation, I do not know what it means. For all who read my writings, please note that I have never claimed to be educated or wise in the field of religion. Instead I am one of the foolish, claiming to know nothing, except Christ crucified, an ordinary, unschooled disciple of Jesus Christ. My thoughts and understandings do not come from some professer or class that I took. Not from some debate with a bunch of “thinkers” or “dreamers” where I could gain some wordly wisdom. Only from an earnest desire by prayer and reading, a guiding by the Holy Spirit into His truth, not mine.

This week I decided to study whether I wanted to stay a “true disciple” of Jesus Christ or become a “follower” of Jesus Christ. This has become such an important term in our day, and it seems like everyone is a follower. So does being a follower equate to true and genuine salvation. Does it lead to productive missions for the sake of the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. You may ask the question in your mind as I did, what is the difference? Well, I guess we can only look to the scriptures and ask the Lord to teach us. First of all Jesus says in John 8:31, “If you abide in my Word, you are My disciples indeed.” Of course Jesus was speaking to the Jews who had believed in Him, but that includes you and I who are grafted in. We are all His disciples if we abide in His Word.  The greek word here for disciple is mathetes, which means a learner or pupil. So then, we learn from our Lord and Savior and His Words. Acts 6:7 tells us that the number of disciples mutiplied in Jerusalem and Acts 11:26 says that all the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. John 15:8 tells us what the evidence is to being a disciple of Jesus Christ. So, being a disciple requires not only that we learn from our Lord and great Teacher, but that we obey His Word. When we listen to His teaching, He helps us to apply it to our lives, to desire that change that He came to bring us. A new life and a new way of living. Not in our old ways or not after our flesh. And most certainly not for the things of this world. We must press into the Lord through His Holy Spirit to find the absolute truth! There is one meaning to the things the Lord taught us, contrary to what others teach. Not many interpretations, with many different ways. The disciples knew what it meant to be taught by Jesus. To come in contact with Him and be so changed that they no longer wanted to be relevant to their culture anymore. They no longer wanted to live the way they used to live. Could you just see Paul approaching all the believers that he once persecuted saying, “Look guys, I met Jesus on the way to Damascus. This same Jesus that died for you, died for me. I am still taking you all back for persecution, some of you may even be killed, but who are you to judge me and what I do. You don’t have a monopoly on grace. I am a follower of Jesus too!”  Do you think the early Christians would have accepted his “word” or taken a look at his actions?  Of course Paul never said that. He was completely changed, as were the other disciples who abided in Christ’s teaching. Peter went from being fearful, to being fearless. All but John were martyers for Christ. If they were so compassionate and accepting, why such cruel deaths? Just saying Jesus is the “ONLY” way today is narrow minded and legalistic! And how dare anyone be like John the Baptist was and point out someone’s sins and their need to repent. They scream “off with their heads!”  Oh, wait a minute, that happened to John too. So his death did not come from just saying Jesus is the only way, but in calling someone to the first step, repentance. Yet, I would stand and declare that John the Baptist was a great disciple for Jesus Christ.

     Now, once the disciples met Jesus and He became Lord of their lives they were all changed, that is except one. He of course was a “follower” of Jesus. What did it mean to just be a follower? What did this follower look like to those around him? And what were the causes that a “follower” took up for Jesus? Let’s look at scriptures and see. First, this follower was often seen with Jesus, considered one of the 12. He looked the part, no doubt called himself one of them. The problem herein lies, that he never surrendered to the Truth. On the night of the last supper when Jesus was about to be betrayed, our Lord pointed out that one with Him was about to hand Him over. Now why don’t we see every disciple in that room point a finger at Judas? Clearly, we would think he must have been an obvious choice. No, no one but Christ knew. Judas, I am sure played the part very well, but the facts are that Jesus knows our true hearts. He knows what spirit leads us and guides us. So, the only thing I can now glean, will be a lesson learned from Judas’ life and what the spirit that led him looked like.  No doubt Judas had some great causes that many “followers” could be proud of. In John 12: 3-5 Judas rebukes Mary for anointing Jesus. His argument was for the poor. His cause could be carried under the banner of “eradicating poverty”.  One cannot argue against caring for the poor. Even Jesus Himself cared for the poor in spirit and often helped those who had a need. Though I cannot find anywhere in His ministry where His goal was to eradicate poverty. Quite the opposite in fact. Jesus stated that “you will always have the poor among you”. But this was the idea of Judas. One amazing fact is that though Judas sent out the cry to “give to the poor”, he often took for himself. I am amazed at the men who want to send out the cries for saving the world from poverty, but they themsleves live like kings or at least like commoners. Like Judas, is does not matter if we sound the alarm to help the poor if our desire in sounding the call is to make money and gain power or prestige. The Lord knows our true heart.  So, erdicating poverty, a noble cause indeed, but not what Jesus’ ministry was all about. Next lesson we can glean from the spirit of Judas, he never called Jesus “Lord”.  He had no problem calling Him Teacher or Rabbi.  These titles seem to resemble the many names I hear in this new movement. Should I follow in the dust of the Rabbi?  Should I decleare with the “Message” book that Jesus is Master but not Lord? Judas no doubt would have been labeled a “follower of Jesus”, but my question is, what was it about Jesus that he followed. I am sure he saw Jesus’ miracles. Judas longed for the “Kingdom now”. Saving Israel from Rome. World peace now. Can’t we all just get along? Still not Jesus’ reason for coming and not our reason for becoming disciples, but surely Judas’ reason for following. Amazing that “true disciples” are willing to change their plans and views to learn what the Lord wants for their life. Yet this “follower” longed to make Jesus a part of his own plan. He longed to turn Jesus and His reason for coming into his worldly cause.  Another interesting thing I gleen from scripture is that it seems Judas was willing to betray Jesus after Jesus rebuked him for what he said to Mary. Oh how the human spirit seems to be so easily offended and long to turn into the enemy when someone tells it the truth.  So, as we look at the difference between what it means to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ or just a follower I would again test the spirits that call to us and ask us to “follow” after them. Do they line up with Jesus’ teachings about forsaking ourselves, obeying His teaching, becoming godly, increasingly holy, filled with love (real, sacrificial love, not tolarent love)? Or do they call us to establishing our “kingdom now”, erdicating poverty and disease? For in the end we see 2 that were called the “Sons of Perdition”, Judas and the Anti-Christ. Both of them come carrying the same cause and both led us to the same place. Amazing the same “spirit” that indwelt Judas is the same “spirit” that indwells the anti-christ. He will rise up in these last days with the social of social gospels. He will make Judas look like a heathen when it comes to the concerns he portrays. But, with the same spirit in Judas leading this new movement, many will be prepared to answer his call. In the end, like Judas, we to will find out if we were true disciples or just a follower.

     Hey, there is good news. As we learn from Judas life, we can examine ourselves and see what spirit is leading us. If we find we have become only a “follower” and are led by the wrong spirit, just like Judas we have the gracious opportunity of repentance and forgiveness. Of course Judas choose not to accept that forgivness and turn from his ways. But today the Lord calls out to us, setting before us life and death. Which one will you choose?

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