Teaching Them to Obey…

10 07 2016





Can we have eternal life and not know God? Can we have eternal life and not be known by God? Can we have eternal life and not be a part of the family of God? You are wondering where this is heading, I am sure. But actually that is a very relevant and common question in Christianity. I am just posing it in a provocative manner. In my second post on making disciples, I am going to deal with a point we stumble on in Western Christianity that keeps us from BEING disciples and making disciples. If you read my first post in the series you know that I state you cannot make a disciple, if you are not a disciple. Most of us that call ourselves Christians in the West, have never heeded the call to discipleship. Not being a disciple, of course, means we could never make a disciple. If you read my post on Facebook or on my blogs, you know that I have a common theme when addressing this topic. If you are not a disciple, then you are something Jesus never called men to be and never sent men out to make. You are something else. If you have not read my blog post titled, You Cannot Make a Disciple if you are Not a Disciple, you might start there, before reading this one, to really be on track with me. But, if not, this stands alone pretty well in it’s message.

Discipleship: Commands of the King
In my previous post on making disciples I emphasized that you cannot make a disciple unless you “are” a disciple. Again, I recommend you read that post on this blog. You must heed the call yourself to become a disciple before you can actually make a disciple. That sounds simple but the call to discipleship cost everything. Jesus gets to be the one to define discipleship. And in Luke 14, Matthew 10 and Luke 9 the call is total surrender. Clearly, we must lose our lives for His sake, to save it. Jesus said so.

Most of us, when talking about making disciples are doing so because of Matthew 28.

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

We are all quick to notice in this day and time that He did not say, make converts, make believers, make reciters of sinners prayers and we are quick to point out that disciples is what Jesus wanted. And I, of course, agree. But we miss one important point. “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded YOU.” Hmmm, interesting. We are to teach men to obey everything that Jesus commanded the disciples to obey. Now Jesus commanded some pretty radical things. Turning the other cheek, laying up NO treasure on earth and caring for the least of these, come to mind immediately. They come to mind because we don’t do them. Let me say this. If you are a disciple then you obey King Jesus. If you are not obeying Him, then you are not His disciple. And again, you cannot make a disciple, if you are not a disciple. Now I will write about obeying and understanding the specific radical commands of Jesus later. But for now, I want you to understand something. Like me, you most likely have been taught that Jesus did not really mean what He said on any and all hard commands. If you have commentaries on your book shelf, then I urge you to stay away from them on this topic. Turns out that if you believe the theologians, you will follow absolutely none of Jesus’ hard teachings. They go so far as to say Jesus did not really mean any of the things He plainly taught. Modern Western Christianity has dismissed everything King Jesus commanded for the sake of fitting in with the world and for the specific intent of not paying the high cost Jesus called us to pay. Our easy believing gospel looks nothing like the teachings of Jesus. We run to proof text Paul, so that we can flee the yoke of the only Master worthy of our devotion. Jesus. Somehow, we proof text Paul to cancel Jesus. But as you will see, Paul would says such a person understands nothing.

Today, I want to look specifically at the importance of obeying Jesus commands. I do this, because, it is a core principle in the Great Commission. If the Great Commission is to be followed it must be followed as it is stated. Most “go” and tell people about Jesus. A few try to make “disciples”, but the Great Commission also instructs us to teach them to obey, the commands Jesus gave the Apostles. It is my contention that the teaching of the commands of Jesus is foundational to being and thus making disciples.

I am going to start in the most unlikely of places when talking of Jesus commands. What does Paul say about the teachings of Jesus?

1 Timothy 6:3-4
If anyone teaches other doctrine and does not agree with the sound teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the teaching that promotes godliness, he is conceited, understanding nothing, but having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words.

Paul is clearly endorsing Jesus teachings and now let’s look at what Jesus and the other writers say.

What does Jesus say about obeying His commands?

John 12:46-50
I have come as light into the world so that everyone who believes in me will not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my sayings and does not keep them I do not judge him; for did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings, has one who will judge him; the word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day. For I did not speak on my own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent me has given me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. ….. I speak just as the Father has told me.

According to Jesus we see some startling things in this verse. The first that jumps out is that if we hear His sayings and do not keep them we will be judged. Then, we see that if we do not receive Jesus sayings then we are rejecting Him. Did you get that? Reject His sayings, and you reject Him. Finally, we will be judged by His sayings on the last day and these sayings, came straight from the Father. Bet you have never heard that in a sermon before.

People love to quote John 3:16 and say all you have to do is believe. But in the text above the question becomes, believe what? According to Jesus, if we reject His teachings, we reject Him. So many say they “believe” in Jesus but don’t do what He says. 1 John 2:3 says that if we say we know Him, but don’t obey Him, then we are a liar. Between John and Jesus we get a pretty clear message. Oh, but there is more. Read on down from our beloved John 3:16 all the way to John 3:36 and we find this…… he that believes has eternal life, he that does not obey, will not see life. We don’t hear that one quoted much. But now let me ask you a question.

Will we have eternal life if we don’t know Him? What if He does not know us? What if we are not in His family? Turns out Jesus has some interesting things to say about this. Let’s look at how Jesus, defines, His family, friends and those that truly love Him.

Jesus defines His family:

Matthew 12
46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” 48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”
49 Stretching out His hand toward His disciples He said, “Behold, My mother, My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.”

Jesus defines His friends:

John 15:14
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Jesus defines those that love Him:

John 14:15
If you love me you will keep my commandments.
John defines those that know Him:

1 John 2:3-4
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep Hs commandments. The one who says, I have come to know Him and does not keep His commandments is a liar.

Jesus defines those that He knows:

Matt 7:21
21“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’24“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.26“But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

So I ask a question. In eternity, will those that are not His family be there? How about those that don’t love Him? Perhaps He will bless those that don’t know Him. It seems that Jesus intends to acknowledge those that love Him and obey Him. There is no distinction. If you love Him, you obey Him. If you believe Him, you obey Him. If you are known by Him, you act on His words.

Hebrews 5:9, And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him.

And He says that we are to make disciples teaching them to obey ALL that He commanded His disciples. So this is our second lesson in making disciples. It is another step in becoming a disciple yourself. You cannot make disciples unless you are a disciple. You are not related to God as He defines, family, friends, those that love Him or know Him unless you meet His standard. And His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Next lesson, we will actually look at the Kingdom and the actual commands. But for now this is my simple message in part two on making disciples.

You are not a disciple unless you obey Jesus commands and do the will of God. Belief and obedience are not divorced, as Western Christianity would like us to believe. Surely people preaching Jesus, casting out demons in Jesus’ name and performing miracles in Jesus name “believe” Him. But Jesus says He does not know them and then calls them lawless. Without law. What Law? The teachings and commands of Jesus are the laws of the Kingdom of God.

Let me close with this. I know you remember a verse in James. In James 2 we have the famous ” Faith without works is dead” quote. It is the bane of the reformers and hated by Luther. But read on. After making the point that there is a faith that is not saving faith, faith without works, James makes one of the most amazing claims in the bible and it concerns us and the devil.

He ask a question, “Do you believe in God? Good, even demons do”. Perhaps during James’ lifetime there were people that thought “only” believing was enough, just like in our lifetime. Seems like an out of place quote until you think about it. Let’s do that a minute. He, James, says, that faith without works is dead. He then ask if we believe and then notes, so do demons. Is he making a correlation? Hmmmm. Now demons follow Satan. I wondered, where do demons get their belief? Why, from the Devil, I assume. It occurred to me that the Devil knows that Jesus is the Son of God. Let’s be honest, the things we know, we also believe. He knows Jesus lived a sinless life, he believes and knows Jesus preformed miracles, the devil believes Jesus was born of a virgin, suffered and was crucified and rose again. In fact the Devil not only believes those things, he knows them to be true. He believes all the facts of the atonement, all the orthodox beliefs of the Church. He believes everything that we say, is necessary to believe to be saved. He knows them and is certain they are true. But the bible tells us that the lake of fire is prepared for the devil and his angels and all that follow him. How can that be? He is a believer! Ah, but the devil has chosen to disobey, rebel and go his own way. What other point could James be making? And Jesus said on “that day” many will claim to have preached in His name, cast out demons in His name and done wonders. In His name. But Jesus will say, I never knew you. He says only those that DO the will of His Father are pleasing. And He says His commands came from the Father. Do you believe? So do demons.

Next up, what are the commands of Jesus and how does that relate the Kingdom of God a topic Jesus spoke of over 87 times and what are their implications.




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