Implications of the Word, Pt. 10
A Personal Look at Discipleship
Study Guide, September 24, 2017
Pastor Clay Olsen
According to the Jewish Calendar we are in the midst of the Days of Awe. These are actually ten days between Rosh-Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which began on Thursday and concludes on the 30th. Rosh-Hashana is the Feast of Trumpets and also the start of the Jewish New Year, which by their calendar is now the year 5778. It’s also a time when we as Christians rise up in hopes for that great trumpet call of God and the appearing of the Blessed Hope, the return of our Savior for His church in the great Rapture of the Church.
In Jewish tradition the ten days are days of preparation for Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, a special day of forgiveness of sins for the year behind them. Fortunately, we realize that for those who are born again into union with Christ, all our sins have been forgiven, as to them separating us from a relationship with God. Our salvation includes our eternal union with God in a forever relationship with our Lord in His coming Kingdom. And we praise God for that assurance and security.
But speaking of these great events, there is another coming event that is the most significant event to come in each of our lives because it will determine the kinds of experiences and privileges and service assignments we will have for the rest of eternity in the Kingdom of Heaven. And of course that event is the family evaluation of the Judgment Seat of Christ to review and evaluate the personal discipleship of each of God’s children. 2 Cor 5:10- “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” NASU
We speak often about the Judgment Seat of Christ and have done an entire series on this subject at the Chapel. And we could start another one, which no doubt we will do sometime…maybe soon and very soon, because we are going to see the King! I am inclined to believe that a series on the Judgment Seat of Christ probably should be done frequently. In fact, more and more highly respected and influential Bible teachers are calling for teaching on the Judgment Seat of Christ to be the central teaching in churches along with the Great Commission.
Why are they saying that? Because the impact of this Judgment, this evaluation of our works from the time that we were saved, will impact our lives throughout eternity. As a president of Western Conservative Seminary, Earl Radmacher, said: “The person I am becoming today is preparing me for the person I shall be for all eternity.” Much will change about us in eternity, but much shall also remain the same. We will be the same people (as to our personal identity) we were here on earth, though with a new nature and a new body. And because our position in eternity will be momentous, the life that I live today is momentous – eternally momentous! Only in this life can we impact our eternity!1
That quote is from a book that I encourage every believer to read: Your Eternal Reward, by Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Bible Church. And another book that I consider ‘essential reading’ is Facing Your Final Job Review, by Woodrow Kroll, president of Back to the Bible ministries. In it Dr. Kroll said: “The reason Christ-followers stand before this judgment seat is to have our lives evaluated. It is to have the service we’ve done for the Lord Jesus appraised and, for what’s deemed acceptable, compensated. This is where the determination is made of what we will enjoy for all eternity.” 2
What is essentially being reviewed by our Lord is what we did about His call to follow Him from the time He saved us. And this call to ‘follow Him’ is what we call ‘our discipleship’. And so that is what we need to get specific about so that we will know just what God is looking for in His call for us to follow Him as His disciples.
I often think about the passage where Jesus is speaking about the coming days in the lives of His disciples, and Peter motions over to John and says, “And what about him?” And Jesus responds with, “And what is that to you…you follow Me.” You know, that is actually one of the wonders of the Christian life. Christ is building His world-wide Church. He is doing amazing things through His body, the Church. And our lives are interconnected with other body parts in the Church, through which we receive great benefits and blessings as we serve our Lord together. And yet, in our discipleship with the Lord Jesus, it all comes down to like Jesus’ call to Peter… “You follow Me.” It all comes down to you and me following Jesus in a one to one dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. And the thing is, no one else can follow Jesus for you. You have to do that yourself. No one else can do your discipleship. You have to do your own discipleship yourself. No one else is going to stand before Jesus at the Judgment Seat of Christ to give an account of your life for you…you are going to give that account of your life yourself, to Jesus.
And part of the reason I’m focusing on this is that a main part of my role as a Pastor is to try to help other Brothers and Sisters in Christ succeed as much as possible in doing their own discipleship in serving our great God and in preparing for the Judgment Seat of Christ. Part of the reason God drafted me into the Pastorate was to come alongside other disciples of Jesus and to encourage, instruct, invoke, and even provoke them in doing their discipleship.
You and I have an agenda from God to be focusing on and then living it out. And one day soon, maybe very soon, we are going to stand before Jesus and He will say to us something to the effect of: “What did you do with the life that I gave you after I saved you? What did you do about My instructions to follow Me as My disciple? What did you do in your own personal discipleship?” Now, the wording here is not certain, but the evaluation of these things is certain!
Now, here is a working definition of ‘Christian Discipleship’: “Christian Discipleship is the response of the believer to become what God created him to be; a faithful Disciple. It is the commitment to yield to Christ’s Lordship, to learn Christ’s teachings, and to follow Christ’s lifestyle. It involves the study of the doctrines of the Christian faith in order to further develop a Christian mind. And it results in equipping the Christian to live as a Disciple; a Follower of Christ in the service of His church.”
Now certainly, there are many things involved in our own personal discipleship, but here are five areas that are particularly involved, in which Jesus will review in particular, since each area is one in which He particularly revealed is involved in being a follower of His. So let’s take a deeper look.
Some of you might be familiar with this image: [show wheel]. It’s in the shape of a ship’s wheel and it’s called ‘The Obedient Christian In Action’. The reason it’s in the shape of a ship’s wheel is because it was developed by the Navigator’s ministry, a ministry originally organized as an outreach to sailors in the U.S. Navy. The founder of the Navigators was Dawson Trotman. Actually, Dawson Trotman asked Sharon’s father to come and join their ministry in the early years, but that’s when Sharon’s parents were preparing to go to Irian Jaya to serve among the Asmat people group. And by the way, many of you know that the Chapel is now supporting a work that is continuing that ministry to the Asmat people that Sharon’s parents began many decades ago.
The wheel points to five particular disciplines in the life of an Obedient Disciple: Prayer, The Word, Witnessing, Fellowship, all centered around Abiding in Christ. And while these might sound like areas you already know about, just remember: There’s always more to know about what you think you already know…you know? One interesting platitude from Plato is: “Remember that the greater part of instruction is being reminded of the things you already know.” Did you know that? How typical of us humans in that we tend to forget what we should know and to remember what we shouldn’t.
Even the Apostle Peter used this principle of ‘Remembrance’ for instruction: 2 Peter 1:12-15- “Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. For our Lord Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life, so I will work hard to make sure you always remember these things after I am gone.” NLT That reminds me of the three principles of Scripture memory. #1. Review #2. Review and #3. Review
So what we see is the Apostle Peter connecting the need for exhortation along with our ongoing education. For education without exhortation leads to nullification. Exhortation is basically ‘urging us into action’. It’s like after a quarterback gives the play in the huddle, and then he says, ‘Break!’ The players know what to do, but it’s the ‘Break’ that moves them to go do it! We often know that these five disciplines are what we are supposed to being doing, but it’s like we are waiting for someone to yell: “Break!” Our ultimate Quarterback is Christ’s Spirit within us, God the Holy Spirit, and everyday we are to carry out these plays of our discipleship. And we are to realize that each day the Holy Spirit is basically saying to us: “Break! Run the play! Do what I’ve called you to do today!”
Remember this: Jesus Christ is counting on you to do what He has called you to do. And what He has called you to do today is exactly what He is going to review tomorrow. Jesus is going to review what you did about what He called you to do.
So, part of my responsibility is to do what the Apostle Peter said: “I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live.” So we’ll start working through these five disciplines today, but will have to continue them next time. And again, these are disciplines that you already know about, but remember; there’s always more to know about what you think you already know.
Now, the central one is Abiding in Christ, but we are just going to walk through these by the way they are laid out on the wheel. So let’s begin with Prayer. Remember, God has called you to the discipline of Prayer and is counting on you to carry out this discipline of prayer.
S.D. Gordon wrote: “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing, but it is the chief thing. The great people of the earth today are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer, nor those who say they believe in prayer, nor yet those who can explain about prayer, but I mean those people who take time to pray.”
Let’s think further about this discipline of prayer. Ps 145:18- “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth.” NASU For one thing, prayer is recognizing the presence of God. Prayer is a powerful way that God intended for us to get well acquainted with our God. Prayer is not only intended as a way for us to get things done, but as a way for us to get closer to our Heaven Father.
How about this? Ps 25:14- “The Lord is a friend to those who fear him. He teaches them His covenant.” NLT You see, Prayer is a way that God intended us to deepen our friendship with Him. And when we do God even promises to confide in us the deeper things of His covenant, or His Word.
Prayer is the laying hold of God’s promises. 1 Chron 17:23- “Now, O Lord , let the word that You have spoken concerning Your servant and concerning his house be established forever, and do as You have spoken.” NASU Prayer is not overcoming God’s reluctance; it is laying hold of God’s willingness.
And notice this: Ps 5:3- “In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.” NASU Prayer is ordering our life in line with God’s order for life. Prayer is the path to strength and peace. A person’s prayers are a measure of his maturity and his understanding of spiritual matters and experience with God. It’s a measure of his or her understanding of their dependence upon God, and God’s plan. Prayer is like completing the circuit in God’s work in our lives; for through prayer we are to be expressing our allegiance as did Jesus: “Father, not my will, but Thy will be done.”
Prayer is also the way God has chosen to move in and through our lives. And when you think about it, Prayer is the very breath of spiritual life. Prayer is to the spirit what breath is to the body. Many Christians treat prayer as though it was a spice that you could add to your life. But the Bible prescribes it as the vital staple of our spiritual diet. It’s been put like this: Many are content with a dash of praise, a pinch of petition, and a drop of confession in order to bring a slight spiritual flavor to their secular lifestyle. But God intends for prayer to permeate our lives for the purpose of changing our lives. Yes, prayer changes things, but it’s first suppose to change us! And God has even ordered His plans in such a way as to include our prayers. So He is counting on us to daily work with Him in carrying out the discipline of prayer in our discipleship.
We will continue unpacking these key disciplines next time so that we can better understand exactly what it is that God is counting on us to do as His disciples, and will one day evaluate what we actually did about what He called for us to do. And thankfully, by the grace of God, these disciplines are all do-able!
- Erwin Lutzer, Your Eternal Reward, p.19
- Woodrow Kroll, Facing Your Final Job Review, p. 13