A Personal Look at Discipleship, Pt. 2
A Devotional Communion Service
Study Guide – October 8, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
With our attention turned to the Lord’s Supper today, it seemed providential that we should focus on the centerpiece or the center-part of the five areas of our personal discipleship, and that is; Abiding in Christ. Jesus called His disciples not first to serve Him, but to ‘be with’ Him. Even before the Incarnation, when Divinity took on our humanity and Christ forever became Jesus Christ, God made it clear that His greatest intention and desire was for His people to personally know Him and love Him and do life together with Him. And that kind of surprises people because they think of God’s relationship with His people in the Old Testament as being rather austere and primarily centering on the ceremonial laws and their sacrificial rituals and such. But then we hear from God concerning what He has always wanted in His relationship with His people, and again, it’s kind of surprising to many. Listen to what God says in Hos 6:6- “I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices. I would rather have My people know Me than burn offerings to Me.” TEV
Does that level of intimacy that God wants surprise you any? Do you realize that what we just read is what God just said…to you? Of course, our service to God and our sacrifices to God are very important to God, but God wants them to be expressions of our deep and abiding relationship with God as we do life together, day by day. The reason we have called this study on Discipleship – ‘A Personal Look at Discipleship’, is because of this very reality; that the centerpiece of our religion is this longing of God to have a deep and daily personal relationship with us. Again, does He want our sacrifices? Sure He does. Does He want our service? Sure He does. But over and above and beyond all of this, God foremost wants our constant love and deepening knowledge and daily relationship with Him.
This revelation about what God wants from us and with us is simply stunning, and beyond our understanding for sure. God is perfect in every sense and requires nothing outside of His own attributes and being complete in all things and in all ways. God has no needs…but He does have ‘one want’…and that ‘one want’ is for one person to love Him with all their heart and soul and mind. And that one person is ‘you’. Again, God has never had any needs, but He has always had one want – you.
Have you ever thought about the fact that if God would have stopped with Adam and Eve as being His only children that Jesus would have still have had to come to Earth and take on their humanity and then die in their place to remove that penalty of sin that was upon them? Those animal skins that God placed on them were only temporary coverings for their sin. To remove an eternal spiritual death sentence required an Eternal Being who would be willing to become a human being and then die as a substitute and pay the eternal penalty for them. Jesus was and is that Eternal Being who died as Adam’s substitute, and as Eve’s substitute, and as your substitute, so that Adam and Eve and you and me could be pardoned of that sin penalty and have our spirits become reborn, re-united with Jesus’s own spirit, Jesus’ own eternal life. And why? Why did Jesus do that for Adam and Eve – and for you? It’s because although Jesus didn’t have any needs He did have one ‘want’…and that ‘want’ was ‘you’. Jesus’ one want was you.
Yes, Jesus died for the whole world, but what is the whole world? It’s you and me and every other individual who has ever lived. Jesus died not for a world, but for individuals of this world. Christianity has always been about a personal relationship between the Person of Christ and one other person. And that other person is you, and me, and each born again individual throughout history. But in essence: it’s always been One to one; Person to person. Even that statement of the Psalmist about – “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?” Ps 8:3-4 NASU – what David was really saying was “What am I that You take thought of me and that You care for me?”
Really, what do you and I have to offer our perfect and all sufficient God who has no needs? And then God reveals that our relationship with Him is not about His needs – it’s about His wants. And ‘His wants’ are a reflection of ‘His love’. And so, God’s love gave birth to a want…and that ‘want’ was you, and me, and each of His children throughout history and on into the future, all the born again individuals who will, one by one, make up God’s family; the family God always wanted.
Which brings us to this memorial, this ‘Communion’. In salvation Jesus first brings us into ‘union’ with Him, in which Jesus shares with us His very eternal life. It’s like with our memory verse this morning of John 6:40 where Jesus gives us that wonderful promise that to everyone who believes in Him/receives Him into them, He gives to them His eternal life. And this eternal life is the indescribable gift that the Apostle Paul talked about in 2 Cor. 9:15. Just think: Jesus takes our eternal debt of sin and then gives to us His eternal life. It’s why we often call the Gospel ‘the Great Exchange’. That’s how Paul put it in: 2 Cor 5:21- “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” NASU When we surrender to God in repentance of our sin and place our faith and trust in Jesus to save us – Jesus takes our debt of sins from us and then places His righteousness upon us. It’s the ‘Great Exchange’. That’s how much Jesus was willing to do; to live a perfect life of righteousness for you. And that’s how far Jesus was willing to go; all the way to the Cross to die a physical and spiritual death for you, in order to have you.
Jesus didn’t save us to complete any need in Him. He saved us because you completed a ‘want’ in Him.
As we mentioned, in our salvation Jesus brings us, or births us, into union with Him and His very own eternal life. And then He calls us into ‘communion’ with Him. The Lord’s Supper is commonly referred to as ‘Communion’, since the central idea of ‘communion’ is ‘sharing’. The Bread and the Cup symbolize Jesus’ death on our behalf. And even here, as we learn from the Apostle Paul, we even shared in His death. Look at this: Rom 6:6-11- “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with Him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and He will never die again. Death no longer has any power over Him. When He died, He died once to break the power of sin. But now that He lives, He lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus.” NLT
That always astounds me, that in some way I was crucified with Christ…and so were you. You were crucified with Christ. Paul said it again in Gal 2:20- “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” NLT When Paul looked at the Cross he saw Jesus on the cross and he saw something of himself on the Cross with Jesus; his old self…his sinful self. And in this he understood that he shared in Jesus’ death. No, not in the work of the cross; not in the offering of Jesus own sinless life in dying in our place, but in the sharing of the results of the cross. Paul explained that further in Col 2:14- “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross.” NLT Paul saw his record of sins nailed to the Cross with Jesus. And in that sense he was crucified with Christ, as to his old self and as to that record of sins, which could only be removed from him by Christ’s cross. What a striking picture, a striking truth…a striking reality.
Did you know that everyone has a record of their sins? Most people have no idea that there is a record of their sins. They are going through life living and doing as they please regardless of sinning against God and man without giving any thought to the fact that their every sin is being recorded day by day. And why is that? Because for those who neglect or reject the great salvation offered them by the Lord Jesus Christ, one day they will give an account to God. And the sentencing of their eternity will be based upon their record. That’s what we see the Apostle John revealing to us in Rev 20:11-12- “And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.” NLT
In these books is the record of their sins. One of those sins is the sin that determined their destiny, their perishing in the land of Gehenna Hell, and that sin was their unrepentant unbelief in Jesus, the only Lord and Savior. Their sin of unbelief determined their destiny – their sins as unbelievers determines their severity. The rest of their sins in that record of their sins will determine the severity of their sentencing as they live out their eternity in the land of Gehenna Hell. Even Hell will have differences of severity, as Jesus made very clear, and which is only fitting for a Just and Fair God.
But then there was another book there; the Book of Life. And in the book of life is the record of believers names; your name. Remember, this is what Jesus was telling the Disciples about: Luke 10:20- “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” NASU The record of your sins is not in the book of life. Only your name is in the Book of Life, because that record of your sins is somewhere else. Remember: It was nailed to the cross alongside of Christ – and His sinless blood washed over your record of your sins and made it clean and white as snow. God even foretold of this to the Prophet Isaiah: Isa 1:18- “Come now, let’s settle this,”says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool.” NLT
Now back to the Communion and our personal discipleship. As we shared in or communed with Jesus in His death, we are now to share in or to commune with Jesus throughout our life. That’s part of our personal discipleship. And as we said before, no one else can do your discipleship for you. No one else can commune with Jesus for you. You are personally called by Jesus to personally commune with Him day by day. It’s part of how you set Christ apart in your life each day as Lord of your life. It’s part of how you rightly respond to a God who has never had any needs, but has always had one want: You! It’s how you say to God and show to God that even though you do have a lot of needs that your highest want is to worship and please the One who wanted you and loves you so.
And, as far as records go…that record of your sins has been nailed to the cross. But remember, there is now another record, a record of your works, a record of your obedience, as a saved child of God that is being recorded day by day. 2 Cor 5:10- “For we must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive [his pay] according to what he has done in the body, whether good or evil [considering what his purpose and motive have been, and what he has achieved, been busy with, and given himself and his attention to accomplishing].” AMP
One thing you will want to see that was recorded in this: “This is Your Life” record, is a record of your proclaiming to God and demonstrating to others over and over how much you loved your God in return for His great love for you. The one thing you will want to have recorded in the record of your works, as a saved child of God, is how much you obeyed the greatest commandment that God gave you: Matt 22:37- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” NKJV
That’s the central part of your discipleship that only you can do. So choose to do it well for the sake of the Lord who loves you so much that He gave Himself up in death for you in order to have you share in His resurrected life together…forever.