Andy Dimwitt

22 12 2017

All credit for this story goes to David Bercot and is used with his permission.  This story has come to my mind many times as I have questioned myself about my attitude with money.  I have determined that to use the money from this world to expand the Kingdom of God is tantemount to turning dung to diamonds or as David Bercot points out in his book,  Secrets of the Kingdom Life, turning play money into something with eternal value.  I hope this post challenges you and what you believe about our money and time.  I know it has me.

Andy is a 12 year old boy. It’s the first day of his summer vacation, and he’s hoping to be able to get to a summer job to earn some real money during summer. His dad works for Applegate Realty, a realty company that sells houses, empty lots, things like that. Now, a lot of the people selling their houses have already moved away, and so their house sits there, and during the summer, you need someone to mow the yard or it makes a very bad impression. My dad was a real estate salesman, and so one of my summer jobs growing up was mowing lawns of these vacant houses. When Andy’s father came home for lunch that day, he said, “Andy, I’ve got some really good news.” He said, “I asked Mr. Applegate whether we could perhaps hire you to mow the lawns of these vacant houses during the summer, and he said he would be willing to give you a try.”

Andy said, “Oh, thank you dad. Oh, I am so glad, and believe me, I will do a super job and you’ll be really pleased with it.” His father said, “I’m sure I will, but remember, this is a trial basis. We have a job to give you today. In fact, I’m going to be showing the house later today. It’ll probably be about 6 this evening but it could be as early as 4. As soon as lunch is over, I need you to go over there. It’s just about a block away. You can walk there and push the mower with you.” Andy said, “Well, that sounds good. How much will they pay me, dad?” His father said, “It’ll be $50. It shouldn’t take you more than two hours to mow it,” so that sounded like pretty good money for a 12 year old. It would be pretty good money probably for a lot of us.

He handed the address to Andy and Andy immediately ran upstairs and got in his work clothes. They finished lunch about 1:00 and Andy’s father returned to the office. His mother had gone on some errands so he was home alone. He was just walking out the door to go to the garage to get the lawnmower to go mow the yard. When he opened the door, he saw that coming up the sidewalk was a group of his friends. His best friend Tommy was one of them, and some of the other neighborhood boys, and Andy noticed that Tommy was holding a Monopoly game under his arm. They said, “Oh, hi, Andy. Guess what? We’ve come over to play Monopoly.”

Andy said, “Oh, I’m sorry, fellas, but I’ve got to mow a lawn this afternoon. I’m not going to be able to play.” They said, “Oh, we’re so disappointed. We had really looked forward to this. It’s the first day of summer vacation. How long is it going to take you to mow this yard?” Andy said, “Well, my dad said probably two hours.” They said, “When does it have to be done?” He said, “Well, he’s not sure when the people are going to look at it. It’ll probably be 6, maybe 4.” They said, “Well, we have time for a real quick game then.” He said, “Well, okay. It’s going to have to be real short.”

They came in. They sprawled out on the floors and set up the Monopoly board. One of the boys volunteered to be the banker, and so they got going. Next thing they knew, Andy looked up and he saw that it was 2:00. He said, “Oh, fellas. I’m sorry. I’ve got to leave right now. I hate to walk out in the middle of the game, but I’ve got to leave.” His friends says, “You can’t do that. The game is just getting interesting! If you leave now, it’s just going to be a mess for everybody. What are we supposed to do, the rest of us?” He said, “But I’ve got this yard to mow.” They said, “Well, look, just a half hour more. Just a half hour and I’m sure we’ll wrap it up by then.” “Oh, okay, I guess just a half hour more.”

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Things started going really good for Andy. He ends up with Boardwalk and Park Place and three of the railroads and, wow, when 2:30 rolls around, he doesn’t even notice the time because he’s so wrapped up in his game. He keeps gaining and gaining. By 3:00, it’s just him and Tommy and one other guy is still in the game. They’ve picked up even more property and he’s accumulating all kinds of money. The time is flying by and Andy is so engrossed in the game and how many properties he’s accumulating and how much money, he doesn’t notice the time. 3:00 runs by, 3:30, 4:00. Now it’s just him and Tommy left and he’s got another Monopoly. He thinks he’s going to get this game won.

Well then, the next thing he knows, the door suddenly flings open and it’s his dad standing in the door with his arms folded and not a very happy look on his face. Andy immediately looks over at the clock; it’s 4:30. “Dad, I’m sorry. I’m leaving right now.” His dad said, “Just go ahead. No point rushing off. It’s too late now. The people decided to look at it at 4. I’ve just come back from there and the yard being overgrown over the sidewalk and everything did not make a very good impression, and the people decided not to buy the house.”

Andy said, “Oh dad, I feel so bad I let you down. I guarantee you it will never happen again.” His dad said, “Well, it won’t because when I told Mr. Applegate about the situation, he told me he’s going to go ahead and give the summer job to his nephew. That was your one chance and you blew it.” His dad said, “You know, this was real money that you could have earned and instead you threw it all away on some silly game.” Andy said, “Silly game? Dad, you don’t understand. I’ve got Boardwalk and Park Place. Not only that, dad, I have made $8,000.”

You’re probably thinking, Í guess his name fits him, “Andy Dimwit.” You might be wondering, “Well, what does that story have to do with any of us?” The problem is most of us are Andy Dimwits. We’ve been given a job to do by Jesus Christ and what happens is we get caught up in our Monopoly games and we forget all about the work that Jesus expects us to be doing. Turn with me to Matthew 25. Let’s look at verses 14 to 30. Matthew 25:14-30. We read, “For the kingdom of heaven is like a man traveling to a far country, who called his own servants and delivered his goods to them. And to one of them he gave five talents.” Now, talents were a silver money. He’s not talking about abilities. He’s talking about some money he gave them.

“And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one, to each according to his ability; and immediately he went on a journey. Then he who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and made another five talents. And likewise he who had received two gained two more also. But he who had received one went and dug in the ground, and hid his lord’s money. After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them. So he who had received five talents came and brought five other talents, saying, ‘Lord, you delivered to me five talents; look, I have gained five more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ ” Wouldn’t that be a wonderful thing to hear from Jesus?

“He also who had received two talents came and said, ‘Lord, you delivered to me two talents; look, I have gained two more talents besides them.’ His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’

“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours.’ But his lord answered and said to him, ‘You wicked and lazy servant, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed. So you ought to have deposited my money with the bankers, and at my coming I would have received back my own with interest.’ Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

Jesus is serious about this. He makes it a salvation and eternal issue. Again, we’re not told we have to earn our salvation by doing business with His talents, but He does want to see that we are busy working on His behalf. If we’re not, He says the outcome is He’s going to cast us out into the outer darkness, and I think we know what that means. What happens to so many of us? Probably most professing Christians, well, we want to do things for Christ and maybe when we’re young, we do VS work, which is very commendable, giving some of our best years to the work of the Lord. I’m glad that that is a very strong tradition in most of our circles, and that is good.

Then I don’t know what happens. Something happens after those first few years when we’re young. One of them is love. People end up getting married. Nothing wrong with that, that’s all in accord with Christ Jesus. Obviously, we can’t do the same things when we’re married. We have a family that we didn’t when we were single, but it’s more than just that. What happens to most people, when they were single, they were content with little. At least, that’s been my experience. When I was a single guy, wow, I could live in the smallest dump you could … I lived in refrigerator at one time. Honestly, it was an outdoor meat freezer. It was on this farm. It was just big enough, I could put in a twin mattress and just barely get it in there and that was where I lived for two or three months. I was happy as a lark with that. It was warm in the winter and well-insulated.

We get married, and this American dream takes over. The American dream is, “Yeah, let’s have all these nice, comfortable things.” I got pulled into that like anyone else. I can talk from experience, I’ll put it that way. Pretty soon, all these grand ideas, things you wanted to do for Christ, it’s so easy that they just get pushed in the background. Now, without a doubt, when we’re married and we have a family to support, our first kingdom responsibility is to take care of our family. No one is talking about neglecting our family or living in a tent. I doubt your new wife is going to appreciate that. No one is asking you to do that.

We get going and then like Andy, we get so engrossed. Our business, it grows and it grows and we think, “Wow. If it grows this big and I added this to it and add that, it’ll be that much bigger,” and pretty soon we are just wrapped up. We’re accumulating all of this Monopoly money. Because the instant we die, all of our money, as far as we’re concerned, turns into this. Everything that we thought was real money, it seems so real to us, the second we die, that’s all it is. Now, it’s still real money to the people left behind, but for our needs, for our eternal needs, that’s it. The nice house or houses we’ve built turn into these little wooden or plastic houses from Monopoly. The car we think so much of just turns into one of these little trinkets. I mean, that’s it. This stuff is just Monopoly money. It’s Monopoly possessions. It’s all gone when we die as far as here on out for us. The only thing that counts is: what did we do for Jesus Christ? In the next story we’re going to be talking a little bit about that.

We’ll leave it at that on Monopoly money. Let’s see what Christ would have us doing, among other things. This next story is about the sympathetic college professor. Dr. Rod Weiss teaches history at Greenburg State University. Every semester, he ends up having to flunk some of the students. Others he has to give a D or a C and he feels bad doing that. Now some professors I had seemed to take a lot of enjoyment in that, but not Professor Weiss. He really enjoyed his students and it just broke his heart to have to fail someone. Finally, one semester, he says, “I know what I’m going to do. Final exam is coming up and it counts for a third of their grade for this semester. I’m just going to go ahead and give them all the questions that are going to be on the exam ahead of time.”

He got thinking, “They might still mess them up. I know what I’ll do. I’ll give them the questions and I’ll give them the answers as well.” About a week before the exam, he walks into the classroom with his big stack of his papers in his hand. He had some of the students hand them out. They’re looking at him like, “What’s this?” He says, “Well, what you have in your hand now, these are the exact questions that are going to be on your final exam. Right below them are the correct answers that I want. Now, you don’t have to give them exactly the way I wrote them. Put them in your own words, but you’ve got the questions, you’ve got the answers. I want to see everybody in the class make an A this time.”

The students are really skeptical. “Okay, are you pulling our legs?” “No,” he says, “This is no joke. This is serious. Now, you’re going to have to learn these answers. You can’t bring this into class with you, but this will tell you what to study. You got the questions, you’ve got the answers. If any of you don’t make an A, it’s going to be totally your own fault.” A week later, he gives the exam and at the end of the hour, he takes them up. He goes to his office and he starts grading them. He’s thinking, “Boy, this is going to be fun. This is going to be all of these A’s, probably a bunch of 100 percents.”

He grades the first guy and next thing he knows, well, he’s having to mark this one wrong, mark that one wrong. He’s like, “How did this happen? Maybe the student was sick that day. I don’t remember.” He ends up flunking the student. The guy misses most of the questions, and he’s like, “How could that happen? I gave him everything.” Well, okay, that was a fluke. He picks up the next one and he starts grading it and he’s finding that this guy missed this one, and he missed this one, and he missed that one. He’s like, “What’s going on here?” The guy ended up with just a D. He passed, but just barely. Dr. Weiss was like, “What is going on?” He picks up the next one and grades it. This guy missed his questions right and left, ends up with a C, but that’s all. Pretty much the whole stack of papers went the same way.

 

He couldn’t figure that out. “What more could I do? I gave them the questions, I gave them the answers.” It had been the last day of school so he didn’t see the students again, so he spent the whole vacation time just trying to figure out what happened. The first day of the next semester, he’s walking towards his class and he see Susan, one of the students who had been in his class before, in the past semester. He says, “Oh, Susan. I’m wondering if you could clear up a mystery for me.” She says, “Well, I don’t know. I’ll try.” He says, “Last semester, at the end of the semester, I gave everybody the questions that were on the final exam and even the answers and all people had to do was to study them and learn them. Only you and two other people made an A on that exam. Most of the class ended up with C’s and there were a number who’d flunked it.” He says, “I’m dumbfounded. I mean, explain to me what happened.”

Susan says, “Well, I’m surprised too. I was assuming most people made A’s as well. Oh, I think I know.” She said, “Okay, I think I know what happened. Right after that class that day when you gave us the answers and the test questions, we all went over the student union (that’s like a snack bar thing on campus) and we were sitting around. We all got cokes and stuff and we’re sitting around talking about it. Remember Luther Little? He threw out a question. He said, ‘Now, do you really think Dr. Weiss would give us the questions and answers in advance? Does that make sense? I mean, the university, he could get in trouble with the university if everyone ends up making A’s.’ The students said, ‘Yeah. Hey, that’s a good point.’ He said, ‘I think that these aren’t the real answers. He’s wanting us to look deeper, to see if we’ll go further than that because he couldn’t possibly give us the questions and answers. No professor does that.’

“The others said, ‘Yeah, I think you’re right.’ ” She said, “So, anyway, they all agreed they were going to meet that night and go over the questions and then get out their books and find what the real answers should be.” He said, “Well, were you part of that?” She said, “No. After I left the student union, I got to thinking, is that really what I think of Dr. Weiss, that he would be so mean that he would tell us these are the correct answers and these are the questions and then trick us? Do I really think he would be that mean?” She said, “No, you’re not that kind of a teacher. I studied the questions and answers that you gave us and it was just like you said, I made an A. Nothing could have been easier.”

You’re probably thinking, “David, that story is as ridiculous as the first story.” I agree with you. It is an absurd story. Unfortunately, it happens to be true. I don’t mean that there’s a real Dr. Weiss in some university, but this is what happens in real life. Jesus has already told us what the questions are going to be on judgment day and what the answers are going to be. Yet most Christians don’t believe him. Let’s look at Matthew 25 verse 31.

Now, it’s very interesting, because we go to this section of Matthew 25, and this is immediately following the parable of the talents. I think Jesus is explaining here one way, maybe the chief way, that he wants us to be spending his kingdom money that he has invested with us. Verse 31: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left.”

“Then the King will say to those on his right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you took me in; I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and take you in, or naked and clothe you? Or when did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'”

“Then he will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.'” You think, “These guys must have really done something wicked.” He says, ” ‘For I was hungry and you gave me no food; I was thirsty and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger and you did not take me in, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you didn’t visit me.’ Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Now, I don’t know how Jesus could have made it more plain. He’s told us he is the judge. He is the one we will be standing in front of. He says, “Look, this is what I’m going to ask you on judgment day. Did you feed the hungry? Because you’re doing it to me. If you feed them, you’re feeding me. Did you visit me in prison? When I was sick? Everything he mentions are ministries open to everybody. It doesn’t matter if you’re a brother or a sister. You don’t have to be ordained to do any of these things. You can be a teenager. You can be a young boy or girl. Everybody can visit the sick. You can give food to the hungry. The only limitation is what we put on ourselves. Yet even though he tells us this is what he wants to hear from us, what the question will be, what do most Protestants say? “Your works have no role in your salvation.”

I was looking at a tract as I was preparing this message and the tract said, “Remember, there is NOTHING” … in all capital letters … “you can DO” … in all capital letters … “to win heaven.” That’s what people hear. What’s Jesus doing here? Lying to us? Is this not what he wants to hear from us? I mean what do we think of our master? The parable of the talents, the servant says, “Well, I knew you to be a harsh man and you reap where you didn’t sow,” and all of that. That’s what people are saying to Jesus now: “Hey, I know you to be a tricky master. You said you want to see if we’re feeding the poor, but we know you want to know if we are counting on our works or do we depend on your righteousness imputed to us. You’re not going to fool us. We know what you’re really after.” That is really sad.

One final story. Now, we’re going to get back to Andy Dimwit. He never did find a summer job. He blew his one chance here, and so he and his friends spent the whole summer playing Monopoly every afternoon. I did that a lot when I was a boy when I didn’t have a job going. One day in the afternoon, Andy’s father comes in; it’s the middle of the afternoon. Andy’s friends are playing Monopoly and his dad said, “Andy, I’ve got some really good news for you.” Andy says, “Well, what is it?” He says, “My. Applegate called me into his office today and he asked me what you’re doing this summer. I told him that you and your friends are playing Monopoly most of the time. Andy said, “Yeah, and I bet he disapproves of it.” His father said, “No, no. No, wait. This is what he said. He said, ‘I want you to go over to your house right now, and however much money, Monopoly money, that Andy has, tell him I will give him real money in exchange for it. I’ll give him $1 of real money for every dollar he has of Monopoly money.”

Andy said, “Oh, come on. He’s not going to do that.” His father said, “No, he’s serious. I asked him the same question. I said, ‘This is a joke, right?’ and he said no. He is dead serious. However much Monopoly money you have right now in your hand, that you’ve won in the game, he will give you one real dollar for every dollar of Monopoly money.” Andy said, “Well, why would he do that?” He says, “He just told me he had his reasons. But let’s not worry about it. Count up what you have.” Andy said, “Well, I don’t know.” He starts counting and he ends up having a little bit over $4,000. His dad said, “Wow, we’ll turn that into 4,000 real dollars.” Then his dad said, “Now, how many houses and hotels do you have? Sell them back to the bank.” Andy said, “What?” His dad said, “Sell them back to the bank and then you can get cash for them.” Andy said, “Dad, you don’t realize, if you sell it back to the bank, you only get half of your money back that you’ve paid for it.”

He said, “The other thing, I’ve got the yellow Monopoly: Marvin Gardens and Ventnor and Atlantic, and I’ve got four houses on each one. If I sell those back to the bank, then when people land there, I just get like $28 rent. With the houses there, it’s going to be like $900 or something.” His dad said, “Andy, what are you thinking? We’re talking about real money here.” Andy says, “Oh, well, all right, but when do I get this money? You’re going to give it to me this afternoon?” His dad said, “No. What he said was you give him the money this afternoon, the Monopoly money, and then at the end of summer, which is only two months away, then he’s going to give you the real dollar for each Monopoly dollar.” “The end of summer?” Andy said, “Oh, come on.” His friends all looked up at the ceiling in disbelief. “That’s the dumbest offer I’ve ever heard. Who would go for that?” He said, “No deal. Man, if I have to wait till the end of summer, no, that’s ridiculous.” He kept his game and played. You’d be happy to know Andy did win the game that day. Again, you’re probably saying, “That is really dumb. If someone made that kind of offer, even an Andy Dimwit would take him up on it.”

Unfortunately, it’s another true story. Jesus tells us that basically on judgment day, he will take all these Monopoly money we’ve been earning and trade as real money, eternal money in place for it. In the Parable of the Unrighteous Steward, at the end he said, “Make for yourselves friends with unrighteous mammon so that when you fail, they will receive you into everlasting homes.” We can take this funny money, this Monopoly money that we make here on the earth. We can help the poor with it and because we do that, Jesus says we will be rewarded eternally. We can get an eternal benefit for just taking Monopoly money and spending it the way that he wants us to.

We’re also dumb. We say, “Well, that’s a bum deal. You mean I have to pay the Monopoly money now and I don’t get anything in return until I die? Who would go for such a stupid offer as that?” No one says that but that’s what we do with our lives. It’s like, “Well, I’ll give 10% maybe, but I don’t want to go anything beyond that.” We’re just like Andy Dimwit. “No, I want my Monopoly game. I’ve got all these houses on Marvin Gardens and stuff and, oh, if I give to the poor, I’ll lose some of that.” We are a bunch of dimwits. Jesus makes it so obvious to us. He tells us in advance how it’s all going to be and we don’t really believe him. This stuff seems so real right now and this stuff just seems really far away.

The point of the all three messages combined is: what is our view of money? What do we spend our time on? When we got in a situation where we can provide for our families, are we happy to stop there? Or do we say, “Let me make this business a little bigger and then a little bigger and a little bigger.” And pretty soon, we’re working day and night in our businesses. We can say things like, “Well, I make my business part of my spiritual worship.” And yes, our secular work, there is a sacred aspect of it, but let’s not kid ourselves. It’s sacred as long as we are providing necessities for our family. When we’re starting to accumulate all of these other stuff, we are just joking to say that that is something that is for God.

 

 

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Teaching Them to Obey…

10 07 2016

 

With_His_Disciples027

 

 

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.





You Can’t Make a Disciple If You Are Not A Disciple

17 10 2015

With_His_Disciples027You cannot make a disciple if you are not a disciple. If you are not a disciple, then you are something Jesus did not call men to become and something He never sent men out to make.  Jesus gets to set the criteria as to what  a disciple is.  We do not care what the dictionary or the lexicon says a disciple is.  We are addressing what Jesus says a disciple is.   Theologians don’t get to define discipleship, your pastor does not and neither do you and I. Jesus called men to become disciples repeatedly. Here is how He calls disciples and defines disciples.

Luke 14:

Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. 27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. 28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? 29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace. 33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Some translations render the closing statement, “whoever does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple”. Jesus not only came to make disciples but He also commanded disciples to go on and make more disciples. See the Great Commission. It is His method of expanding the Kingdom of God. But I really like the wording of the verse listed here.  “Any of you who does not renounce all that he has…”. Renounce. Not a word we hear in modern Christianity. To renounce something is to formally declare one’s abandonment of a claim, a right or possession.  I have a question.  Have you formally renounced or abandoned your claim, your right to all but Christ.  Have you renounced your right to your own possessions, your own life and chosen Jesus and Him alone?

I am a disciple maker and that should excite you. It should excite you because, frankly, I am, really, just a regular guy.   I am a man of average intelligence, average education and like you, for most of my Christian life, no one ever trained me on how to make a disciple. I now understand, I could not make a disciple, because I was not even a disciple myself. I began to understand that I had not answered the call to be a disciple, because somewhere along the road after surrendering to the Lord Jesus, I was talked out of actually following Him. As a new believer, I read of giving up everything for Jesus.  But as I shared this understanding I was told by leaders and my peers that for various reasons, Jesus did not really mean all that “give up everything, and hate the world stuff”.  Seems He really just wanted me to be willing to be really committed, and not to actually live out that commitment.  Being a new believer, I assumed these experienced Christians knew what was best. I became like them.    About 6 years ago  I met  Marc Carrier, and  we began to discuss, the Kingdom of God, real discipleship and real disciple making. I read some books with a new perspective.  I came back to my original position of actually following Jesus.  I came to understand that I needed to “renounce” all else. For the first time it became clear that Jesus wanted my total allegiance. I had to abandon the rhetoric of Western Christianity and follow Jesus in order to heed the call to become a disciple and make disciples myself.  This was God’s Master Plan.

I am blessed to walk with  Marc as he disciples me,  because he is one of the only people I have ever met that is going to the lost, leading them into genuine repentance, faith and baptism and making disciples, that are making disciples.  Since that is the Great Commission, I am following his lead. I am sure there are many others making disciples. It would be awesome if you could find one and like me, learn from them. Trust me, you can’t do it Jesus’ way by using the internet.  You can’t do it from reading this post.  Sorry, I hope that was not your expectation.  Discipleship is  a personal interaction between a practitioner and an apprentice.

Most of us are not disciples ourselves.  We are  “just” believers. Some are bible teachers, pastors, construction workers, mothers and other professionals that think the transfer of information is making a disciple. We think the people we share with are disciples.  But neither them, nor most of us, have ever been given the call to become a disciple, nor chosen to pay the price of discipleship. Not formally anyway.  Of course, we do transfer information in making disciples, but that is only part of the process. You can go buy books on discipleship if you choose. But the books I have read are written by men that don’t actually “have” disciples.  Marc, actually has disciples that are making disciples. Now, after being discipled by Marc, I do too.  You can be and have disciples also, and I hope that is your intention. I assure you it is God’s intention for you.

First in Luke 14 we see how He defines a disciple or if you prefer we see the actual CALL to discipleship. He is not asking people to “get saved” believe in the price He will pay on Calvary, nor is He begging them to become a Christian. He does not even promise them heaven. No, He is calling them to give up EVERYTHING and come and follow Him.  He promises life now and it is called eternal life.

You and I were mostly taught one of two things. Either, everyone that is saved is a disciple or a person becomes a real disciple through study and prayer and a lifetime of slowly growing closer to Jesus.  Then in some super spiritual state,  some can somehow become so mature they are a disciple.   There are other fuzzy definitions and most don’t even think being a disciple is important. Jesus did. But our classroom, white board definitions, power point presentations and sermons are not the methods He used. Why don’t we look at what Jesus did? Why don’t we study the one that actually gave us the mission and made disciples that turned the world upside down, instead of some well meaning bible teacher that has never actually made a disciple, that has made a disciple.   Why don’t we look at Jesus first, before we do anything. I ask, why do we call Him Master and do not do what He commands or follow His methods? His first words after repent and be baptized for the Kingdom of God is at hand, are these:  Follow Me. Why don’t WE answer the call to discipleship and call others to do the same?

I would like to ask you to make a very startling realization.  And that is that you have most likely never been told of the call to discipleship and thus have never heeded it. Like me, you need to come to a place to confess an obvious truth.  No one has ever called you to BE a disciple.  Thus you have never chosen to become one. You  think you want to be one.  You love Jesus.  You want to follow Him.  But you have been told you can’t or it is not important or that verses talking about grace and works somehow mystically erased everything the King of Kings commanded us to do.  I decided to become a disciple.  You may already be one.  But you must chose. Our calls to pray a prayer, believe the four spiritual laws, or a set of orthodox beliefs in order to go to heaven and be “saved” are seen no where in scripture, being practiced by  Jesus or the Apostles.  As a result, unlike Jesus, we can’t accomplish God’s plans using man’s methods. We use the culturally attractive, best practices of the latest fad to get the “unchurched” to come to our meetings, to occasionally listen in to a sermon while being entertained by lights, sound and a warm fuzzy message on how great we are or can be if we would  just “get saved”.  This was not Jesus way. Our warm and fuzzy call to the lost so they can go to heaven and have their “best life now”,  must be replaced with the call to surrender everything and take up your cross and follow Him. Jesus made a call and it was to come and die that you may live. No wonder people in the church will compromise on marriage, entertain pornography and fall sway to the whims of the world.  We call them to a nice easy and better life full of all the world has to offer with the added bonus of eternity at the end and some really cool people to hang with in church till then.  Contrast that to Jesus call to give up and renounce everything. For three centuries the church suffered in torture, refused to renounce their Lord and paid the ultimate price.  They were known for living holy lives, feeding the poor and their love for the least of these.  This is the fruit of a people called to discipleship.

Luke 14, and other text repeatedly make calls of total commitment. You must give up all and come and follow Him. It is hard to be confused when Jesus lays down the requirements and relates to us to hate or choose Him over every relationship in our life, take up an instrument of death and yes, give up everything, including ourselves and follow Him.

He does this  in Luke and again in Matthew 10:

37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

And of course most of us never dropped our nets.  Andrew and Peter literally dropped their nets to follow Jesus.  Matthew got up from the tax collectors table and walked away. Zachias seems to remain  in his profession and reordered his priorities to the Kingdom of God.  But let’s be honest, many of us have fashioned our lives around our careers to such an extent they would need to be, almost literally,  blown up and started over again, to follow Jesus.  As a business owner I spent 80 hours a week working.  We spend the vast majority of our time, focusing on our careers and sleeping. Our spare time in the West is mostly spent entertaining ourselves or trying to replace purpose with “fun”.  God has a bigger plan.  And we are accountable to follow Him, not our self made plans.  I will tell you there is no joy like serving the King of Kings.  No adventure like obeying His will and commands.  One man stated once that we were made for the  Kingdom of God.  We were engineered to be happy, challenged and fulfilled walking the Kingdom way.

I spoke at a traditional church years ago.  I stepped down from the podium and pointed at a young man and ask him what he did.  What was his job?  A teacher, he replied.  I went around the room asking the question to others.  They answered,  doctor, salesman, administrator, student, intern, entrepreneur.  I then asked if they followed Jesus.  They all nodded.  I told them then, their job, their mandate, was to make disciples.  They only taught, studied, managed and ran their business to fund and provide for their true career. Making disciples.  I was not trying to make a point of semantics, but of a necessary priority change.  They needed to “drop their net” and follow Jesus.  For most in the building it would require a counting of the cost and a radical change in lifestyle. We glaze over verse after verse where Jesus calls for a radical lifestyle shift to follow Him and think, wow that is cool.  Jesus said some radical things, back in His day.  Then we act like they have nothing to do with us.  I have a new paradigm  for you.  Jesus meant them for you.  And I want to tell you that you need to renounce your current way of viewing the world, your career and yes that is your job I am talking about.  In the American culture sports, jobs, money and advancement are what we place the most time, energy and money on, in order to aquire the American Dream. Oh, we Christians put a Christian spin on it, but we don’t really renounce anything of the world, but somehow imagine it does not matter, even as Jesus says it does.

Jesus makes some profound calls to discipleship. Let’s look at some.  First, the rich young ruler. We all get all bothered that Jesus asked him to sell all he had and come and follow me and then make a million excuses and run to theologians who assure us that Jesus did not mean what He said. It was just said for that bad young rich guy. But Jesus repeated that call to his disciples, the church practiced it in the book of Acts and the history of the early church tells us that sacrifical giving and lifestyle choices to make room for serving God were the norm.

 

Here is a quote from Ignatius a personal disciple of John.

r] I write to you in the midst of life, yet lusting after death. My lust has been crucified, and there is no fire of material longing in me, but only living water speaking in me, saying within me, Come to the Father. I have no delight in the food of corruption or in the delights of this life. I desire no longer to live after the manner of men. Ignatius: to the Romans (A.D. 35-105) ch.7

Here is a section from The Shepherd of Hermas, some believe was written while the Apostles were still alive.  It is clear this was the understanding of the church, renouncing the worldly pursuits and following Jesus.

He said to me; “You know that you, who are the servants of God, are dwelling in a foreign land; for your city is far from this city. If then you know your city, in which you shall dwell, why do you here prepare fields and expensive displays and buildings and dwelling-chambers which are superfluous? He, therefore, that prepares these things for this city does not purpose to return to his own city.

O foolish and double-minded and miserable man, do you not perceive that all these things are foreign, and are under the power of another?” Hermas (A.D. 150) Ante-Nicene Fathers vol.2 pg. 30

Where did they get such crazy ideas, these men that lived and walked among the disciples? Why, from the Apostles that were discipling them!  And they turned the world upside down.  Take the Apostle John for instance:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16

Back to the concept of giving up everything for the Kingdom of God.  This time the instructions are not to the rich young ruler, but to men that were already following Jesus and NOT rich.

Luke 12:
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

I was taught the rich young man had a big problem, but that this hard teaching was only in his case. Apparently I was misinformed. Jesus repeated it to His own key men.  I suspect it is recorded in these two instances, not because He only said it twice, but because it is something Jesus talked about to crowds often.  But let’s not get hung up on the money aspect just yet. The disciples must have been looked at as irresponsible, crazed fanatics by their friends and family. They abandoned a career in the family business.  Matthew had it made as a tax collector.  He was set for life.  Should you chose to become a disciple and thus a disciple maker you will have to reorder your life.  Jesus was not speaking platitudes.  He was not giving a three point sermon.  He was teaching us and telling us how to follow Him and be and make disciples. If your career has you consumed so much that you don’t have enough energy to read your bible for more than a few minutes and pray before bed, attend church a couple of times a week and visit your Facebook buddies and cheer each other’s “Christian” post while bemoaning the decent of mankind, then you have a life designed to be something other than an disciple.  Again, then you are something Jesus never called men to be and never sent men out to make.

One man Jesus called, said let me go bury my father. Jesus said let the dead bury the dead, but you go and preach the Kingdom of God.

Another said he would follow Jesus anywhere and Jesus pointed out the cost. Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nest, but the Son of man has no place to lay His head.

Another says I will follow you but let me go home first and say goodbye to my family. Jesus said no one putting their hand to the plow who turns  back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.

Back to Luke 9.
And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. 24 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25 For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

How about that for an “alter” call?  What was Jesus’ point in all these statements? They must have truly upset the very people that were wanting to follow Him.  I believe that is the point.  Jesus wants to “upset” your life.  He actually does want you to renounce your former goals and direction and take on Kingdom goals and His mission.

You are reading this because you have an interest in disciple making.  But again, you cannot make a disciple, until you are a disciple.  And the call to be a disciple is the call to renounce and give up everything and come and follow Jesus.  You cannot ask another to do this while not having done it yourself.  Mark 1 and Matthew 4 say that the disciples dropped their nets at once and went and followed Him. They walked away from their family businesses. They walked away from any normal life, possibly damaging their livelihoods and destroying their reputations.   Depending on your career situation you may merely need to reorder your time away from work. I ask, have you dropped your nets?  Only you can decide to be a disciple.  Only you must work out what it looks like, in YOUR life.

For me, after leaving a career of  being an entrepreneur, I purposefully determined to look for something to pay my bills and leave enough for me to help others while funding my work in the Kingdom.  I was working to disciple six men from  terrible backgrounds in the poorest two zip codes of America.  We met one week night, spent almost all Saturdays together actually serving others, sharing and doing life together.  Then we often worshipped together on Sunday’s and spoke all during the week about life issues.  We ate together and mowed each others lawns. We meet informally and did, life together and  shared with the lost. While I went to work each day, it was to fund my endeavors for the Kingdom.  Not to keep up with the Joneses, improve my life on this earth or make myself comfortable.

I have a brother in the states that has turned down promotions that would have consumed his time and limited his ability to reach out to the lost and make disciples.  Another, that has chosen to live in a very simple apartment and drive an older car so that he can maximize his resources for the Kingdom.  Only you know what you need to do to make disciples.  But you must drop the nets of this world to take on the yoke of your Master.  You can not serve God and mammon.  It is impossible.

In 1 Corinthians 9:8 Paul tells us that God is able to bless us abundantly  so that we can have all we NEED and have enough left over for “every good work”.  Jesus tells the crowd of listeners, surely containing the poor, tradesmen and the more  well to do, to not worry about food or clothing.  We thought these were pretty words and admired them as well written  beautiful prose.  Jesus was telling His disciples how to live this life of discipleship.

You expected a a simple “Ten Steps to Disciplemaking” article or book.  Sorry.  Jesus said it cost everything.  And when you change your allegiance from the values and priorities of the world and become a disciple it changes everything.  And for many of us that means our careers, finances and our place in society.

I did not write the verses and it is not my teaching.  It is the clear, consistent teaching of Jesus.  Mammon is not just money, but all that it brings.  You must choose God or mammon. The bible promises you will hate one and love the other.  I suggest this is not an emotional love and hate, but a love and hate that can be measured in time allocation, the expenditure of money and resources,  energy spent and passion applied.  Who or what do you love when you work 50 hours a week at a secular job, pouring in your heart and soul and then pray for 10 minutes a day, read your bible for 20 and attend church three hours a week? Again, who are you serving when almost all your time is dedicated to your career?  Or worse, your leisure. Where is your passion going.

Jesus tells a parable that is a fact of life.  The story of the soils. Seed falls on many different types of “hearts” in the lesson.  The seed falling among some ground refers to someone who hears the word, receives it with enthusiasm, but the worries of this life and the lure of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. Mt 13:22.  We imagine we are immune.  We are not.

Now, right now, you have a hundred things racing through your mind. “What is this nut, Glenn, asking me to do? Quit my job and go into full time ministry? I thought that I was going to learn how to make a disciple. You know, how to teach a discipleship class or something. Perhaps a three point lesson or a get a discipleship manual”. Perhaps “The Five Simple Secrets of Being a Disciple Maker!” Sorry, friends, only Jesus gets to set the standard. His call makes men drop their nets, blow up their lives, give up their dreams. Renounce our former direction and come and follow Him. It sounds a lot like true repentance.

Jesus is asking you to turn in and abandon the American Dream for the Kingdom Dream. He set the standard on being a disciple. Who gave us permission to lower that standard. (Quote from Marc Carrier). And dear brother you can’t make a disciple, till you are one.

So before I can give you any information on technique, teachings, or other information I have to make sure you understand YOUR cost. It not only cost everything to become a disciple, but again, you can never make true disciples until you are one. You will reproduce after your own kind. So if you don’t surrender all and become a disciple to His standards, then you will reproduce mutants. Half breeds and unfit agents for the Kingdom. If you reproduce at all.

Now, I was really ready to hear this message when it came to me. I was blessed as I began my journey to becoming a disciple by some books God provided.    The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down, by David Bercot, The Gospel according to Jesus by Marc Carrier and Radical by David Platt.  Read them. There is now another book I can reccomend by my mentor Marc Carrier that will give you a look into making disciples on the mission field at home and abroad, using bibical methods.  It is called, Pioneering the Kingdom.  Get it and read it.

Don’t forget, the rich young ruler walked away sad.  Because he had much.  I hope you don’t.  Will you drop your nets in this life and become fishers of men?  Don’t quit your job. But, it could come to that for some of you.  Seriously.  A career decision you made before you surrendered everything to Jesus, was likely a decision that relects a different set of loyalties than those required to be and make a disciple.  You can’t have two masters.

I was never commanded in the Word to be a publisher. I was commanded to make disciples. Before, I was many things. I was a publisher, a business owner and entrepreneur.    And before I became a disciple,  I started sharing my faith every Saturday at a ministry. I stopped tailgating and drinking at football games. I led 267 people to pray the sinner’s prayer in about 18 months. Later, I began to understand the vast majority never grew. The seed seldom took. There was little fruit. I began to seek God about making disciples. I read the books I mentioned and I met Marc Carrier. I was never the same. I realized that being a good entrepreneur or publisher meant squat to God. He called us all to make disciples who obeyed ALL that Jesus commanded.

And that is where I am going to take you next.

I am going to ask you to count the cost, but you can’t even count the cost if you don’t know what it is. When Jesus laid down Luke 9, 14 and Matthew 10, He did so to people that had heard the Gospel of the Kingdom. They heard that they should lay up NO treasure on the earth. Learned that how they treated the least of these would impact eternity.  They understood the radical cost of turning the other cheek and loving even their enemies. You can’t make a disciple unless you are one. And Jesus defines an important aspect of making disciples in the Great Commission and it will be in our next lesson. Teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And my dear brother and sister, He commanded some radical things.

The early church obeyed Him and turned the world upside down. You cannot teach others to obey what you don’t even believe needs obeying. You cannot teach others to obey, if you don’t obey. Like I said, you cannot make a disciple if you are not a disciple.
I hope you are not turning away, like the rich young ruler.  You can’t love this world and follow the Lord.  Read those books. Pray and question everything you thought you knew about being and making disciples. But soon we will ask if you want to come and follow Jesus.

God bless you and please pray for me.





Jogging With Glenn in Africa

21 02 2015

Slow getting up this morning as sinuses have made a rare appearance. I determined, however, to go on a morning run. After a bit of reading and prayer, I don my running shoes and head out the door starting my watch timer. I leave my little low rise building in Umoga Two and begin my run by walking out of my neighborhood to the nearest road with a shoulder I can run on. For about four minutes I have to stay in the dangerous streets in my area, or risk sliding into the black foul water and filth that runs in the open ditches on the sides of the road. Dangerous because of traffic not people. I am a part of this community and thus protected by my belonging. To harm or rob me would be very problematic here as local street justice can be brutal.

Upon reaching the corner I turn left and begin to run. Let me qualify that. Jog. I am always reminded as I start out in my limited gait of days long gone in my late 20’s when I bristled at anyone who called me a jogger. I was a runner. I accidently ran the first mile of a five mile run in Nashville one time well under a 4:45 minute mile pace. It is certain that a 4:20 to 4:30 mile was within my grasp. I ran a marathon at under a 6:50 pace and had ran over a hundred miles a week on multiple occasions preparing for a marathon. The memories go through my head and it makes me smile. Not because I was a good runner. I was only average. No, I smile because I am running now at about a 12 minute mile pace on this rocky shoulder at 6000 ft altitude in Kenya. The land of real runners. Olympians and world record holders. I am now that shuffling old guy I used to pass over and over on a dirt circuit in the woods of Brentwood, TN. My mind drifts to animism.

I am fascinated by the cultures I serve in. Animism and Islam dominate the non-Christian environments I work in. And even the Christians here are trying to serve Christ with their past influenced by Islam and Animism as their heritage. Just was we American Christians try to serve Christ from our biases and backgrounds. Every culture presents challenges to the Kingdom of God. But the ultimate culture to survive, the only one that is salient, is the Kingdom Culture of King Jesus. Or as I have just identified it, the Kingdom of God. But it is very helpful to understand what challenges the other cultures we are planting the Kingdom of God among and the strongholds and issues that each believer might struggle with as we share the Good News of the Kingdom of God in making disciples. For example if you are an America, you have been raise to value independence, self-sufficiency, venerate capitalism and have strong values molded by the heroes of your culture that values success as being the goal or purpose of life. Rock stars, movie stars and sports figures were idolized as the epitome of success in our cultures even as they model, greed, egoism and self-promotion. Even as a Christian, you may have put a Christian spin on the American Dream and think that this is God’s plan for you. If you follow me you know that I challenge Americans to turn in and actually forsake and betray the American Dream and take on a Kingdom Dream. But that is another story. This morning we are just jogging together in Africa.

In Animism spirits, ghost and different expressions of ancestral approval dominate traditions both within and outside the African church. One brother recently told me that African’s live for the dead. Magic and envy dictate many traditional practices as they strive not arouse the jealousy of another and thus bring an evil energy that could harm their good fortune and fate. I muse on the implications of these truths from the outside looking in. Westerners basically, dismiss these influences at their own peril and are blinded to their implications. Our discouragement of the African abandonment of all commitments when a funeral arises is just one of our many frustrations with our target peoples. It is best to understand these things to be able to more correctly deal with them in light of God’s will for His people. Africans do not share these things normally and have learned to speak of things in a way that Westerners cannot understand, veiling their customs and ways to our eyes to better get along with us and please us while not interrupting their traditions. I pray for wisdom and discernment. A man speaks to me in English, I reply that, today I am only speaking Swahili and greet him accordingly. It has been said that unless and until you speak to someone in their mother tongue you will never know a peoples heart or even their true thoughts. I am informed by what a tribal man said to me one time. He was so excited that I was speaking to him in my limited Swahili vernacular. He stated that if I bothered to learn his language then that means that I love him. I have decided to love these people. So I am going to become fluent in Swahili. It is so much easier to parrot the multitude of reasons to just stick with English. I know a hundred reasons not to learn Swahili. Frankly, it the mother tongue of few but the day to day language spoken by everyone in Tanzania and known and used frequently in all of East Africa. I work among 10 mother tongues that all share Swahili to do business and speak to one another. Maybe someday I will learn another language after Swahili. Perhaps Arabic or Somali. Some go so far as to say that a missionary that does not speak the native tongue is destined to fail. Or to at least flounder and waste much time and money and potential fruit due to the stubbornness of failing to learn the language. They even say we produce false converts to Christianity. Instead we produce a mere shadow of what God has in mind. While I will learn this language I disagree with that point. The bible tells us that the Gospel IS the power of God to save to all who believe. I believe it. Even if it is through a poor translator or a poor grasp of the language, it is not our expertise nor our clarity that will produce Kingdom Citizens, we call Christians. Paul says so in Romans 1:16. He even states that it is good even when it is preached with poor motives. So of all our shortcomings it is silence that will cause the failure of the mission of the Great Commission, not our methods.

Most people don’t know that 85% of all people that come to faith do so from a one on one witness. Not the millions of sermons from the pulpit or thousands of annual crusades. Only 10 % of Christians every share their faith with an unbeliever. And let’s face it. In a crusade almost no one even knows who made a profession of faith. Not so in one on one ministry. I am not against street preaching. I have done it both here and in America. Many times. But if the intention is to make disciples then we must connect with the new believers in their new faith. I greet again and again on my run. Children, adults and youth. At one time early in my time here I used to tire of everyone trying to greet the white guy. Many view me as a human ATM machine running down the street. I am nothing to them. Others are truly affected that I speak kindly and directly to them. Some yell, hello Johnny, thinking all whites are named John or Johnny or at least so many are that this attempt might be their lucky day. I smile and tell them my name and greet them warmly now. Almost all of them. It is no longer a burden. Like learning their language it is an act of love. It connects us in some very small way just to greet each other in their language. I know at the car wash down the road they can’t wait on my return from my run to all yell their greetings. I smile and greet them back. Once a young man ran up to me in an almost menacing way and asked me if I am lost. He looked desperate and perhaps even meant me harm. A foreigner far from home and perhaps lost could be easy pickings for a thief. I answer him in Swahili and tell him I live here. I am not lost. I am home. He looks disappointed. As I said a man connected to the culture is no man to mess with. I am connected.

imageI am sweating profusely in the 85 degree weather without a cloud in the sky. Unless a Kenyan is an athlete in training they would never run. At least not one my age. In Tanzania many would speak to me in a manner that implied they were actually distressed that I seem to be sweating and can’t imagine that I am enjoying myself. They shake their heads in disbelief when I share I love to run for exercise. People that survive from hard manual labor cannot conceive of such a thing. That’s okay. I finally near my building. Walking again I enter my little slum like court yard. Open ditches with who knows what flowing in them and children playing everywhere. Its Saturday they are off from school. They get excited. They all begin to yell different greetings. All at once. I stop and answer them over and over and over smiling as even they are astounded at the sheer volume of greetings they have just delivered. Then I raise my voice and say, hamjambo. A greeting one person can use to address a crowd. How are you? Plural of course. It actually and literally means, business? (pl), the implication is “how are things for all of you?”. They smile and they have learned in school the proper response is for them to reply in unison, hatujambo. Basically, no problems. Literally, no business. Business, problems, matters, they are all the same here. They laugh and giggle at our connection in this small matter. I see adults sticking their heads out of their many doorways in my little complex. No doubt amused and curious as to the Mzungu, (white man) living in their midst that obviously love kids. They approve, but I am aware that adults here pay little attention to children they don’t truly know. But that is ok. I have run. I have prayed. I have meditated and mulled over the daily dilemma’s I face in this culture. Someday soon I will be speaking to these people as less and less as that stranger. I will always be the Mzungu. But my dream is to be the Mzungu that they know loves them. Modeling the love my Father in Heaven has for them. Incarnational love. Jesus came for His culture in Heaven and lowered Himself to become a child in order to relate to us. He was God incarnate among men. I want to follow His example. That is what a missionary is. That is what all Christians that understand their role is life are. Incarnational agents of their King. Ambassadors of His Kingdom. His very agents for the Kingdom. Well we are done. We went 47 minutes today. Much to do. Let’s get on with it.





Jesus and Judgment

21 11 2014

Jesus and Judgment

Part of the series: What are we going to do about Jesus?

What are we going to do about Jesus? It seems in many cases, Jesus and the Apostles, for that matter, just did not get the theological memos that I have been getting all my Christian life. Today we will look at what the New Testament says about how we will be judged.

You are probably wondering, why such a provocative title. But I am serious. What are we going to do about Jesus? Marc Carrier, an African missionary, was speaking back in 2013. He said that on judgment day we would not be standing before the theologians. Instead, we would stand before Jesus.  After hearing him, I decided to study the judgment as Jesus described it.  As I read the New Testament I found there was nothing that I was taught that even resembled how we would be judged, as taught in the bible.

I was taught that since I was “saved” meaning, I was sorry I was a sinner and trusted in what Jesus did on the cross to pay for my sins; I was going to by pass judgment and judgment day in some way.  Now there were going to be rewards for me, if I was faithful, and there might even be a moment of regret before Jesus wiped my tears away for, perhaps, wishing I had been more diligent. Certainly there is a promise of reward, in the way of crowns mentioned in the bible. There seems to be cities rewarded to the faithful in stories or parables of Jesus about His return.  That about sums it up.  In fact I can do a google search and find those same teachings in a variety of different forms and versions.  Basically boiled down to the fact that, I will not be judged. I will point out two verses that are mostly quoted.

There is John 5:24 where Jesus says whoever hears His word and believes has eternal life and will not be judged but has passed over into life. We will look at this verse in context later.  And of course we have verses like John 3:16 that tell us that Jesus died that we might have eternal life. What I want to do is visit the verses that specifically mention judgment.

I do this for a reason.  Many today, like to take the plain and clear scriptures that are hard or uncomfortable and just negate them via a verse that seems to point a different direction.  A direction that is not dealing with the issue directly but is easier and sometimes, seemingly, the opposite of what the bible says in the hard verse.  A perfect example is where Jesus teaches how we are to treat our enemies and clearly calls for a radical form of love. Turn the other cheek; bless those that curse us, pray for those that are persecuting us.  It seems unreasonable, costly and frankly scary to live this way.  So what do we do? Do we cry out to God for courage and faith? Do we pray and fast for God to change our hearts? Sadly, most run to theologians, pastors  and commentaries that point them to an unrelated verse or vague concept with religious wording to address the topic and claim this text or train of thought  gives us permission to disobey every clear verse dealing with the issue. One thing I have observed is that theologians are always negating Jesus’ plain teaching, and the call for taking up my cross and giving up all for Jesus was just a false alarm or a misunderstanding.  Let us remember eternity is at stake.  I assume when it comes to judgment you want truth not evasion. Let’s just read the verses for what they say. Ever hear of sola scriptra?  Men say they follow it but then quickly begin using theological Buzz words not found in scripture and quoting the precepts of their favorite theologians. Funny how that works.

Let me share just a few verses about judgment, and then comment.

Matthew 16:27

For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every man according to his deeds.

Now, I was told, I would not be judged. Did you notice Jesus says every man? Well if that is right then Paul did not get that memo either.

2 Corinthians 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.

Did you notice that Paul is writing to the Corinthians and he uses the word ALL, when speaking of who will appear before the judgment seat and be judged? Yeah I know, you have been told all seems to never mean all by your theological peers. Trust me, I looked it up. All actually means all.

Romans 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to each person according to his deeds: 7 to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; 8 but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation.

Did you get that? He will render to each according to his deeds, on the day of wrath.  Then he said glory and immortality to those who persevere in DOING GOOD and to those that do not obey, wrath. Now I was taught that since I prayed the prayer, the sinner’s prayer, and really meant it, I was safely guaranteed heaven.  There would be no judgment, but that God would only see Jesus when He looked at me. Well, then why don’t Paul and Jesus seem to mention that? Am I going to stand before a theologian, a pastor or a warm and fuzzy Christian book? No, I am going to stand before the Lord.  What does the bible teach? That is the issue. Why do the verses that specifically mention judgment and judgment day say “everyone” and or “all” will be judged?  Why do they say I will be judged by works, deed and obedience?

Many claim that the judgment seat of Christ is not final judgment to determine our eternal destiny, but rather to judge our actions. This is said to be where a believer would get his or her rewards or perhaps some disappointment.  However, this verse clearly juxtaposes eternal life with wrath. No mention of rewards or crowns.  The bible makes no distinction between one judgment or another.  Theologians do, the bible does not.

I am a simple guy. And I believe we serve an awesome God. I believe that we can trust Him that He has communicated His will and truth in a way we can grasp and understand. Let’s look at what Jesus and His disciples taught about this subject.  Here is some New Testament verses on the topic. In these verses, Jesus is teaching disciples, the lost, and religious leaders. Basically, all walks of life and standings with God are listening.  In many, only the Apostles.  We will look at verses using the words, judgment, judges, hell and or punishment.

Matthew 5:22 says that anyone who is says racca to his brother is in danger of the fires of hell. This is in the Sermon on the Mount.  It says in the bible that Jesus saw the multitudes, but then sat down with His disciples and taught them. He is speaking directly to His men, the disciples.

Matthew 7:21 Not everyone who calls me Lord, Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my father who is in heaven.

Matthew 10:28 Jesus tells the Apostles not to fear men but God who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

Matthew 10:33 Jesus says that whoever denies Him before men, Jesus will deny before the Father.  Again, spoken to the Apostles.  Luke also gives the same illustration. Why does Jesus tell his disciples this if they can’t be denied? Is He lying? The great theologian Augustine said that just because the Lord says something it does not mean it will or can be done. Do you think God says or calls men to do things they can’t or won’t be able to do? If so you will certainly need a theologian to tell you the truth for God and His sola scriptura could not be trusted at all!

Matthew 12:36 Jesus says we will be judged by every idle word or acquitted by what we say.

Matthew 16:27 Jesus says, each person will be judged based on what he has done.  In some versions, according to his works.

Matthew 18:8-9 is a very interesting verse.  Jesus says that it is better to have ones hand cut off or eye plucked than to enter hell with both. What does this verse imply? Again this verse is in a chapter where Jesus is having a talk with His disciples.  The crowds are not even around.   He says it is better to ruthlessly deal with things that cause sin, so as to avoid hell.  This is not what I was taught at all.  I was told just to believe.  Be forgiven and I would miss judgment. Jesus seems unaware that the disciples beliefs would trump  being judged. I thought if I believe I am in heaven. End of story.  This same teaching is repeated by Jesus in Mark 9:43-48.

Matthew 18:22-35 Here, Jesus tells a parable.  In it a man is forgiven by the king and then does not forgive someone that owes him a debt. The King finds out, turned the man over to be tortured and Jesus says that it will be like that for us if we are not forgiving.  Again, this is a chapter that is a conversation with the disciples.

Matthew 25:14 Jesus tells of three men.  All given a trust from the Lord and one does nothing with it.  Each man is judged when the King returns. Each by what he has done. One is judged and thrown out into the darkness where there is gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:31-46 we see the story of the sheep and the goats. At judgment day people are divided, not by their faith alone, not according to having prayed a certain prayer, no predestination is mentioned, nothing says the elect are on one side and the non elect are on the other. Sheep are those that loved the least of these and goats are those that didn’t.  Again, these are works, deeds and actions. People that thought they were safe, find out in this judgment day prediction, that they are doomed. Then they actually argue with Jesus.  Let me ask you a question.  Are you arguing with scripture on judgment right now? You may be mad at me. Are my observations logical and the most literal and natural responses to these verses or do I sound like a theologian?

In a stunning quote, Jesus in John 5:28-29 warns us NOT to be amazed.  There will be a judgment and those that have done good will be resurrected to life and those that have done evil will be condemned.  Pretty clear.  Jesus says we will be judged by what we have done.  This is the text I mentioned earlier that is given to prove we will not be judged. Let’s read the verses.

 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

25 “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. 27 And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. 28 Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

Once again we see those that have done good, will go to life and those that have done evil to judgment.  They pass from death and judgment to life when they believe, but as we see later that does not mean that one time belief is the basis of eternity.  rather, according to Jesus it is how they lived.

You may be thinking that Jesus taught these things before He died for our sins and rose again, granting us forgiveness.  Some teach there is one gospel involving works for the time Jesus was here and another regarding belief or faith now that He is crucified, dead and rose again.  There is no text to verify two gospels for two different times and two different people. Scripture says that the Faith was delivered once and for all. There are not multiple Faiths in Christianity.

But Jesus not only spoke in the Gospels before He died but spoke again in Revelations after He died and rose again.  Did He speak of our missing judgment day? Did He speak of our being judged by our works?

Revelations 20:12 speaks of the dead being judged according to what they had done.  But what does Jesus say?

In Revelations 22:12 Jesus proclaims, in red letters, in my bible, that He will judge according to what we have done.  This is after He died and rose again.  No mention of any change in His message on this topic. No mention of distinction between the lost and the believers.  In fact Revelations was sent to believers.  No unbeliever would even hear this comment by Jesus.  It was not an oral teaching preached in the town square, it was Jesus proclaiming it in heaven within ear shoot of John who was told to write these things down, accurately, in this apocalyptic letter directed at churches.

What if I am wrong and Paul did give us the final answer on the Gospel and judgment.   Many theologians that dismiss Jesus’ hard teachings run to Paul for the truth.  Let’s see what Paul and the other Apostles say.

Beginning in Romans 2:1-5 Paul warns the Romans that if they live hypocritically they are storing up wrath for the Day of Judgment for themselves. He actually asks if they think they will escape judgment.  Did you hear that? Paul asks Christians in Rome if they are foolish enough to think they will escape judgment.  Are we also foolish enough to think we will escape judgment?

Later in Romans 2:16 Paul says God will judge the secrets of men according to the gospel he taught.  Funny, that is the same thing Jesus taught in His gospel.

I shared earlier where Paul says in Romans 14:12 each one of us, (speaking to the Church in Rome), will give an account to God for himself.

Now we do have a verse that warns leaders that their works will be rewarded if done correctly. And we are told that they may suffer if they build wrong, but will still be saved as though through fire.

1 Corinthians 3:10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as a wise builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should build with care. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

We have a context here where Paul is specifically addressing those, like him, building on the foundation of Christ when instructing the body in the truth.  This is a verse clearly addressing teachers and so called apostles coming to the Corinthians and teaching things Paul did not preach.  So this is a judgment for teachers concerning their work in their ministry.

Let’s continue with Paul.  While 1 Corinthians 6 does not mention judgment day in verses 9-10 Paul ask a question. Do you not know that sinners, (he then list specific sins) will not inherit the Kingdom of God? This is written to the Corinthian church who he says at the beginning of the letter are sanctified and holy in Christ.  Are the sanctified and holy in Christ, Christians? I certainly think so.  Then how will they be excluded from the Kingdom of God if not in judgment?  Both presently and eternally.  If they, Christians, have sin in their lives, like those listed, they will suffer judgment and not inherit eternal life.  Or do we believe that we can be excluded from the Kingdom of God but admitted into eternity?

Let’s move on with the book of Hebrews.  Again, a book written to people the author calls holy brethren, partakers in the heavenly calling, sprinkled by the blood and holding fast to the confession with a pure heart and a clear conscience. I hope we can agree this is written to Christians, unless one wants to argue that one can be an unbeliever and be holy and hold to the good confession or be a person that does not believe, but has Jesus as his high priest. I have actually heard from theologians that this book was not directed towards believers.  Apparently, these unbelievers were encouraged to call the elders to pray for the sick and wait patiently for the Lord.  Strange words of instruction for the lost.   But theologians seem intent on relegating this book to irrelevancy, for believers, due to its troubling verses for those holding to reformation theology. But that is another subject.  Chapter 10:26-31, instructs those Christians that if they willfully sin, they will face a consuming fire at judgment.  Not a fire that burnt up their ministry works or the wood, hay and straw of their teachings.  No, it tells these believers warning them of people dying in judgment in the OT and alerts these Christians that it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of an angry God. A somber warning indeed.

I was stunned when I made this study. If I am saved by faith and grace by my precious Savior, why does the bible keep saying that I will be judged by works?  I always go back to James talking about faith and works.  Faith without works is dead faith.  And James asks if we believe that dead faith is saving faith.  The obvious answer is no.

I want to make a suggestion.  Read the book of 1 John.  I urge you to read the whole book.  It is written that your joy be full and also, it is the only book written that you may KNOW you have eternal life. In John, you will find that if you don’t obey His commands you don’t know Him or love Him.  If you continually sin you don’t know the truth.  If you live righteously, you are righteous.  If you don’t you are not righteous. Why does John not tell us that if we are elect, this is a none issue. Why does Paul not just admitt that if we are the elect or are predestined before the foundation of the earth for heaven or hell we need not take his admonishions? That is because when the Bible speaks of choosing it is always with instructions as to why the choice was made and what is the goal of the choosing. For Israel it was to be a holy and peculiar people, showing forth the praises of God a light to the Gentiles and the world as they were to marvel how great the God of Israel is. See Nebuchadnezzar. Paul was specifically chosen as a wittiness to the Gentiles. No mention of heaven or hell for either of theses great examples of choosing.

We are told in 1 John 3 that whoever has this world’s goods and sees his brother in need and does nothing, does not have the love of God. We are told that if we don’t love our brother who we see, we do not love God who we don’t see.  There is no ambiguity here.  If you love God you will love the brothers in a practical way, if they are in need.  Do you see how there is no divorce between works, deeds and belief?  We have somehow divorced believing, loving and obeying.  There is no such divorce in scripture.  We are not saved by our works; and we are not saved by faith without works.  My dear brothers and sisters, I want to join John and tell you that if you don’t have faith with the works of obeying the commands of Jesus, sharing with your brothers and sisters in need, then your faith is dead faith.

Jesus will judge you by your works. It is safe to do so. Jesus said a bad tree does not bear good fruit and a good tree bad fruit.  Again, He said if you love me you will obey me. If you don’t obey Him, the verdict is in, you don’t love Him. If you see your brother in need and don’t help him, the verdict is in, you don’t love God.   In John 15 Jesus talks about abiding, obeying and loving.

8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

Abiding is done by loving and obeying.  No obeying, means, no loving, no abiding.  It is explained as you read this entire passage that we bear fruit if we abide and if we don’t abide we don’t bear fruit.  If we don’t bear fruit we are cut off by the Father and thrown in the fire. Loving and obeying Jesus is synonymous with bearing fruit.  Just as Jesus obeyed the Father and was able to abide in His love so we must obey and abide.

So what are we going to do about Jesus? You and I will not stand before Luther, Calvin or your pastor and certainly not a commentary.  According to this verse, above, if you don’t obey, you are not a disciple of His.  Perhaps you are a disciple of Luther or perhaps Calvin.  But if you don’t obey you are not a disciple of Jesus. Jesus says so.

So Glenn, should we live in fear?   My answer is yes, then no.   Peter tells us to live in reverent fear because we will be judged. Again, written to Christians.

1 Peter 1: 17 since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

Did you get that? We were redeemed from an empty way of life by the precious blood of Jesus and will be judged impartially and should thus live in light of that coming judgment.

Paul makes a startling statement. Paul, the chosen.

“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway,” 1Corinthians 9:27.

Castaway is the Greek adokimos, one disapproved by the judge as not having fairly deserved the reward.  Paul uses it again in 2 Corinthians 13:5. There he tells them to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith. Obviously Paul knew Judgement was in his future and wanted to be found qualified.

So we see that we should live in reverent fear.  We will be judged by our actions. But John makes another observation.

1 john 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the Day of Judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.…

If we abide in Him, we need not fear, but can have confidence in the Day of Judgment.  I will be judged by my works.  Jesus and the Apostles say so.  I must keep a reverent fear of God with the knowledge of my certain judgment.  I must abide in Him, and live in this world as He lived in this world, so I can then have confidence in the Day of Judgment.

My point in the article is that I was told I was going to miss judgment day. However, I learned, from Jesus I will be judged.  He said this before He died and rose and repeated it again after He died and rose.  Paul agrees, as does Peter. Peter points out that since our Father judges impartially, we should live in reverent fear.  We should live as foreigners here in light of this fact.  So I suggest we do just that.  We are also informed by John that if we abide in Him and walk as He walked, love will be perfected in us and we can have confidence on judgment day. So I pray that this would be so, for both you and for me. Now many will want to quote you favorite verse to me now. “I am saved by grace and faith alone, lest any man boast, by golly”. But in the NT salvation is mentioned in the past tense, the ongoing, being saved usage and the will be saved. You get onto the vine by faith, repentance and baptism. You stay on the vine by obeying Jesus’ commands. He says so. And if you persevere you will be saved on “that day”. The day of judgement.

POST SCRIPT

Now many of you may want point out teachings that there are several different judgments for different people. For example,  the great white throne judgment, the judgment seat of Christ judgment, the sheep and the goats judgment and another for those that never heard the gospel. There may even be some, hyper preterist that want to tell me about all judgment pertaining to the destruction of the temple in AD 70.  I have read and studied them all.  The problem is that almost every modern day theory I was taught on the return of Christ and judgment day is a recent innovation.  Meaning that the very disciples of Jesus and the Apostles seem to know nothing about it.  It was many centuries after Jesus, before anyone introduced the preterist views or dispensational views on the end times and multiple judgments. The separation of judgment day into a huge variety of events for different circumstances is simply not found in church history till quite late.  The faith was delivered once and for all.  And multiple judgment days are not part of it.  The word is clear, all will be judged once for their works and deeds.





The Tale of Three Widows

23 07 2014

Many of you have seen me post about widows from time to time.  It seems it is near the heart of the Lord as well.  The first chapter of James tells us that true religion is to visit widows and orphans in their time of distress.  And to help the least of these is to actually, help Jesus Himself.  You have told me to let you know about needs so here we go.  I have three opportunities.

 

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You may remember Miriam. I just baptized her and she came to the Lord from Islam. She was living on public land and we knew that some day she would have to move.  We have found her a great piece of land of over an acre for 250 dollars.  A great deal for farm land. She would be able to live near another brother and his wife and family. We will build her a mud home but need wood for window shutters and doors and frames for a tin roof.

zachariah

This is Zacharia. Her house literally burned down as I was sharing on the Kingdom of God , repentance and surrender to Jesus. I already knew she was in need as a sister told me she only had one dress. Now all her possessions are gone.  She is a Maasai and dearly loved among the Meru sisters. The amazing thing is that she never told me of any need nor mentioned her house burning down in our next meeting. The other sisters had to tell me. I don’t think she would ever ask for a thing. She dearly loves the Lord and told me that He was her everything. Her own mentally disturbed son burned down her house while he was in it.  We will build her a mud home, but need wood for frames, shutters and doors. Then we will put on a tin roof.

ditirosa

Ditirosa, is left with her five children after her husband, Naftali, pictured here died of HIV. She has been given some land and will build a mud home.  Like the others we need wood, tin and supplies. The children are living with others in the house church till we can get her house built.  We hope to have her family reunited soon. Yes we are concerned with her having AIDS as well.  We will address that right away.

Well you have the story of our three widows.  I hope you will join us in prayer, giving and support of the least of these.  You can make your tax free donation at kingdomdriven.org/glenn-roseberry .

Your brother,

Glenn

 

 





Were the Apostles Failures?

21 07 2014

 

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We are a bit schizophrenic when it comes to the disciples of the Apostles. We praise them for dying for their faith. We thank them and credit them for faithfully preserving the writings of Paul, John, Jesus and others. We proclaim it is their faithfulness God used to deliver to us what we now call our bible. We point to them when atheist and agnostics claim Christianity evolved over the centuries to control the masses. We point out that they were proclaiming the teachings of Jesus, the Gospels and the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus in their earliest writings, actually citing the letters of the Apostles – possibly while John was still alive – thus giving credibility to the very truthfulness of Christianity, and the veracity of scriptures. The early writers, I am told, cited what we call the NT scriptures over 35000 times in just the first generation of believers. This fact alone proves that the canon, in the form of letters and the Gospels was well established and circulated, although not officially called by any name, from the very beginning. You would not know that Matthew wrote Matthew unless the early church had recorded that history and others. Many of the titles of books and letters are not actually a title written in the text, but rather a title given to represent what the early church told us concerning who wrote what.

We are particularly impressed with the way they willingly went to die bravely at the jaws of the lions, and bears. They suffered torture, being burned alive and even crucifixion bravely and with great faith. Then we basically call them heretics. We love their lives, but we don’t like their theology.

You may see this as an odd topic. But, as many of you know, I am writing a series dealing with many topics I am frequently asked about. I realized that you may not understand my position on some things as they will be foreign to some of you that don’t understand the origins of many of my positions. Before I can explain to you about the basis of many of my beliefs, you need to understand some issues that may be unfamiliar to you.

We are told in the New Testament that the faith was delivered once and for all. But according to the theologians, the followers of Paul, Peter and John fell into error immediately upon their deaths. In fact some believe they fell into error before the Apostles even passed away.

One day, years ago, I was in a conversation with my pastor at the time. We were discussing some theological point and I mentioned that it would be great if we could talk to, or read about, the disciples of Paul and John. He then told me we had many of their writings but they were of no help as the disciples of the Apostles all quickly fell into error. I can’t express to you the surprise and disappointment I felt when I heard this. How could this be? Jesus handpicked the Apostles. He personallydiscipled them. He modeled the faith. He sent them out two by two with specific instructions. They listened to Him in person and they could ask Him questions in His own mother language. He then sent them the Holy Spirit to cause them to receive power to become effective witnesses. We are told the Holy Spirit would cause them to remember what Jesus taught. Clearly, they had the greatest advantages to conveying the truth successfully to others that has ever existed in all of the history of the Church.

Then these handpicked men, empowered by the Holy Spirit, were given the great commission, a Kingdom mandate to go and make disciples. So they obeyed and went into the world. They led multitudes to Christ. They personally discipled many, and appointed elders and bishops. Like Jesus, they personally taught the people and modeled Christianity. If there were questions, the disciples could actually ask the Apostles to explain. The first disciples grew up in the same culture and spoke the same language as the Apostles. Again, what a unique advantage they had! And yet I was being told that the church fell, almost immediately. This was disturbing.

I hope you find that view point disturbing too. You see Calvin has supporters today that still follow his tenets 500 years after his death. Luther, as well. Even cult leaders, without the power of either the Holy Spirit or the example of Christ and their disciples, have followers that have kept their particular brand of faith for almost 200 years. Also, see the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons, etc. You see it is no big deal for the cults and the world to convey their teachings and have them endure. If the men that spoke the language and lived in the culture of the Apostles could not understand and preserve the faith delivered once and for all, then how can we trust them to hand to us the scriptures accurately? If they could ask Paul about any topic they did not understand, in the language Paul was speaking, what makes us think, that 2000 years later from another culture, speaking a different language, we have any hope of knowing the truth?

Some people say, well we have the bible they didn’t. Sorry, but they had the guys that WROTE the bible, in THEIR original tongue, to THEIR context, addressed to THEM and the men that discipled them. Another told me, but we have the Holy Spirit. Really? If we are saying the church fell almost immediately after the Apostles died or maybe even before then, I assure you we are in big trouble on that account as well. Pentecost was a real and practical memory of the Apostles. The Holy Spirit was manifested in their ministries in miracles and signs. We are told the gifts of the Holy Spirit were active everywhere in churches. Paul is giving instructions in Corinthians about how to use them effectively. They clearly had the Holy Spirit in their lives.

So I asked, what error did they fall into? I was told they trusted in works and did not believe in eternal security. Guess what. Turns out they were not Protestants. Well, no wonder they were heretics! I began to read the early church writers myself. Some people call them the Ante-Nicene Fathers, the Early Church Fathers, etc. We have a huge inventory of the writings of the first few centuries. Some of these men were actually personally discipled by Paul, Peter and John. Others were discipled by the men discipled by the Apostles. At any rate for the first two hundred years we had a church that came straight from the men that were the direct descendants of the men trained personally by Jesus.
We have Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Rome and Tertullian. Some were contemporaries and knew the Apostle John. It is believed that Clement of Rome is the Clement mentioned by Paul in his letters. It is not lost on me that some of these men were the Bishops and leaders at Smyrna. You may remember that Smyrna was one of the only churches not warned and chastised by Jesus in Revelations. Speaking of which, I am told the church was falling into theological heresy. But when we read Revelations the churches were chastised and warned about their “deeds,” not their theology. They were warned by Jesus in Revelations, but what did He warn them about? Odd that we are told they were in theological error, but Jesus only dealt with their lifestyle and their deeds. That turns out to be salient to our topic.

What did the early church believe that was so different from what we call orthodoxy? What was so crazy wrong that we call the descendants of Paul’s disciples heretics? Well it turns out that they believed in what David Bercot, an expert on early church history and writings, calls an obedient love-faith relationship. They believed that faith divorced from a Godly lifestyle was no faith at all. Kind of like what James says when he says faith without works is dead. They believed in obeying the commands of Jesus in the sermon on the mount and elsewhere. You know, like when Jesus said that he who obeys me, loves me, and that anyone who hears My words and doesn’t do them is like a man building on the sand, but he that hears My words and does them is like the man that builds on a rock. They took to heart Jesus’ words that we would be judged on the last day by how we obeyed His teachings, and that those teachings came from the Father. John tells us that if some say they love Jesus, but do not obey Him, then they are liars. Seems the early church took this to heart.

One of the major differences between them and us (and the reformers) is they believed strongly in the two kingdoms: The Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, or of this world. They took very seriously staying separate from worldly influences. They did not attend the entertainment of the world: plays, circuses, or the coliseum. They stayed away from the athletic fields of the Greeks, did not participate in the local government and would not join nor accept anyone who joined the military into the church for the first 200 years. Even after the first 200 years a solider had to stay from violence or be removed from fellowship.

Where did the early church get these crazy ideas? Well, from Jesus. They took seriously His words to be in the world but not of the world. They believed Him and the Apostles when they lived a lifestyle radically different from the world. The women were modest, wore head coverings and did not braid their hair or wear fine jewelry. The church was known for its service to the poor, its sharing among the saints and its love for even its enemies. You see, when you genuinely love your enemies, love your neighbor and the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, this is how it looks!

How can you join the army and vow to your government to obey orders, knowing they may ask you to kill another, and obey Jesus commands to turn the other cheek? To love and bless those who hate you. Let’s be honest, you can’t.

That’s where the theologians come in. Now this may all sound strange to you if you are an American. Whether you have ever read or heard about “just war”, an idea proposed by the theologian Augustine and written about by Thomas Aquinas much later, it became the truth embraced by much of what we call the church. Whether you know anything about it or not, this was the first time Christians began to kill other Christians, pagans and atheists. Simply put, Augustine believed that you could murder, kill and maim others as long as you did it on behalf of the state and you had love in your heart for the victim. I am over simplifying to be sure, but at its core I am correct.

I mention this because it is a perfect example of understanding the Two Kingdoms and also of understanding the early church writers. We have to ask ourselves at this point and ask if the faith delivered once and for all was lost with the first century believers? The bible says it was indeed delivered to the saints once and for all.

But Augustine and the leaders under Constantine had a problem. No worries; enter the theologians! It was well known that the church had NEVER condoned killing in the military or otherwise under any circumstances. In fact you could not be in the church and be in the military. Later when solders wanted to come to the Lord, they had to vow to never do violence. They indeed turned the other cheek and trusted in the Lord to either protect them or give them the grace to endure pain, suffering and even death. Although Constantine is never said to have been recorded as repenting nor submitting to serve the Lord Jesus, he did stop the persecution of Christians and later made it the favored religion of the realm. Eventually he even outlawed all other beliefs. (Just for the record he did take a communion wafer on his deathbed, too weak to refuse).

For the first time, the Kingdom of God was being defended and promoted by the government of men. Or at least this is what was happening according to some. Rather than refusing the input of an unrepentant, secular leader and refusing to join the state, many in the church embraced Constantine. They convinced him that Christians should be in leadership and of course then comes the question, what do we do about the military? That is no problem for the theologians. Take a verse here, a verse there, run to the old covenant and borrow some stories, and voila! You can create a doctrine or a teaching that no one in Christianity EVER considered or even heard of. They actually began to compel unbelievers to convert. Yes, forced conversions! All you need if you are a theologian is the power of the state behind you and a verse or two. You may remember the stories Jesus told of the powerful ruler who gave a party and invited his friends. They all made excuses so he sent out his servants to “compel” the poor and the wayward in the highways and byways to come to the party. That is all Augustine needed. He erased three hundred years of people coming to Jesus voluntarily, in repentance and baptism, to just forcing them to come on pain of death or torture. See how easy that is?

With the power of the state, one kingdom joined another kingdom, and you now can take a few verses and basically create any doctrine you like, even if it is absurd when looking at the doctrines taught by Jesus and the Apostles. We go from come all who are weary and I will give you rest, to come or we will torture and kill you. We go from love your enemies and bless those who curse you, to slaughter them, but do it in love and with the state’s blessing.

You may be saying, wait a minute, Glenn, I happen to agree we need to defend ourselves, that this non- violence stuff is NOT practical today! That is very true. But it was not practical then, either. Their obedience to Jesus and His commands caused them to stand out in such a way that they were easy to victimize and persecute. Their bold faith and radical lifestyle was apparent to all. To make matters worse, when comparing them to modern Christianity, they also did not believe in storing up money here on earth nor laying up treasures anywhere but heaven. They believed they did this by giving to the needy, helping widows and orphans and sharing their goods with their brothers and sisters in the faith. It was not convenient to turn the other cheek, nor to forgo personal financial gain for the opportunity to help others, then or now. Unless you seriously believe that following Jesus’ commands are vital. Then you read where He said to lay up treasures in heaven and NOT on earth. Then you read where He said to turn the other cheek and bless those who persecute you. And to them, it was simple. That is what you did if Jesus was your Lord. Simple, really. If you truly seek the Kingdom first, you don’t run to proof texts, commentaries and theologians to find a way out. You obey. Crazytalk, heh?
You see, in the first two hundred years if you asked a person what it meant to be a Christian, the answer would be very different from today. They would not quote a few bible verses or talk about faith without works, or praying to ask Jesus into their heart. They would tell you of the teachings of Jesus. They would expound on the life lived based on the Sermon on the Mount, the very teachings of Jesus. They did not separate Jesus from His teachings. Yes, they would tell of His dying for them and raising from the dead. Of His being the Son of God. They would speak of repentance and obedience to Jesus, born out of a true faith that resulted in a transformed life full of good works, as taught by Jesus and His disciples.
But what about theology? Well, hold on to your hat.

They also believed in free will. Universally. If you think it is impossible for the disciples of Paul and the churches that Paul planted not to understand predestination like Calvinism, then don’t believe me. Ask Calvin. He admits the early church universally believed in free will. We know these things about what they believed on these topics because there was a group that did believe in predestination. And for that matter, they also believed in eternal security, baptism as purely symbolic (and not necessary) and communion as only a nice ritual. They were called Gnostics. There are reams of debates with them so we can be very clear of the church’s position on these topics. The early church and the early church fathers, the disciples of Paul, John, and Peter, believed in free will, the potential of a believer to become an unbeliever and works befitting a man claiming to be a Christian. As Paul clearly states in describing his ministry to King Agrippa, he called on men everywhere to repent and bring forth fruit from their repentance. We also see that Paul instructed Titus to emphasize good works, all through the letters written to him to go and set up elders in the early church. Works mattered to the early church. Apparently, they mattered to Paul.

To the early church, if you had no works based on a changed life after repentance and baptism? Well then, it was assumed, you were not a real believer. You had no saving faith. They simply believed that kind of faith could not save you. They actually warned unbelievers, that if anyone did not follow the teachings of Christ and claimed to be a Christian then he was a liar and to be ignored and avoided.
What are we to conclude from all of this? Were the Apostles failures? Or was the faith delivered once and for all, given to faithful and capable disciples who by the grace of God and power of the Holy Spirit delivered it as they had been taught. If Calvin is right then all I can say is that Paul, Peter and John did a poor job of sharing that little truth. In fact they universally got a big fat zero on that test.

What about works? I was told the church fell, and saw works being connected with faith. Well, I would invite you to read James. Also, read Paul’s instructions to Titus. Hey, even go to Galatians. You will see from there and the book of Acts that Paul was clearly dealing with a heresy, where the Judiazers were trying to get the Gentile believers to trust in the Law and Works of the LAW. Not to warn them against good works. It was a raging issue. Paul called for good works and demanded a man that repented bring good works befitting a man who repented. They did not juxtapose faith and works in the early church. They did juxtapose faith and works of the Law. Exactly what Paul said he was writing to the Galatians about.

What is particularly compelling is that the Church had such unity on these points. You would expect, if there was a heresy creeping in like we saw in the case of the Gnostics, we would have had the heresy start somewhere and be identified. We would see it introduced and slowly spread. For example, we had the Arian controversy in Northern Egypt. We know all about that error, its spread and its remedy and debates. We would expect to see some writers defending faith against works. Or a bishop proclaiming or defending predestination and a ruined nature, if that was the truth passed down. Instead we see the opposite side taken by the church, and only Gnostics defending ruined nature and predestination. Or, perhaps, arguing that baptism was just a ritual. But instead for 200 years we see the church in unity on these issues. Baptism was a vital part of repentance and belief. Whether it was Asia Minor, Rome, Egypt or wherever, they held great unity of teachings. So the truths as they taught them were universally shared all at the same time.

This has all the traits of a well distributed and coordinated teaching, clearly communicated, universally believed and geographically spread with consistency. Not a heretic somewhere slowly leading the church astray. And remember, the observations in Revelations, from Jesus Himself, were all directed at deeds and lawlessness – not doctrine. They were warned of eating food sacrificed to idols, losing their first loves, sexual impurity etc. Not a word from Jesus in Revelations concerning predestination or faith and works as being areas where error was coming in. Many believe this book was written right before John died at the end of the first century. If the church was already in error, you would have thought Jesus would have noticed and pointed it out.

No I don’t think the church was in error. I don’t think the Apostles were failures. I invite you to read about the early church and their great bravery, martyrdom and sacrifice. Their obedient love-faith relationship, and dedication to the point of death, to follow Jesus and His teachings. Does that sound like a bunch of heretics? Or does that sound like Stephen in Acts? Does their life of great sacrifice and loving good deeds sound like error, or like Jesus? I personally, have given up on doctranity. That brand of Christianity that defines itself by the orthodoxy of the reformers, or some variation on that theme. I have traded it in on following Jesus and His teachings. Not what the theologians SAY Jesus and the Apostles meant. But what they literally taught. The actual teachings and message of Jesus and the Apostles. The closest thing to a commentary you will find me referring to these days is the writings of the early Christians. You know, the guys that knew Paul and his disciples, the guys that spoke the language and lived in the culture of the Apostles.

You may be asking where you can learn more. I highly recommend The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down by David Bercot. It is a great place to start. I would add two other books of his, Will the Real Heretics Please Stand up and Will the Theologians Please Sit Down. Read those and I will point you to others. They are short, footnoted and great primers to understanding the early faith. So now you have a choice. Do you want to continue on the theological highway or find out about this faith delivered once and for all from a perspective other than theologians? Do you want the vantage point of those who lived and wrote 1500 years after Jesus, from a culture and language foreign to the biblical one and to yours? From theologians joined to the state, using the government to enforce their views, or perhaps you are considering something else. Perhaps you are now intrigued by the first two centuries.

You know the reformers murdered dissenters. They drowned and burned people alive that baptized people after repentance. They used the state to persecute those that disagreed with them, including taking property, children and yes even lives. Does that sound like the fruit of a good tree? Does that sound like a tree bearing good fruit or a tree bearing bad fruit? Jesus said that only a good tree can bear good fruit. You can follow their view of the faith delivered once and for all if you choose. It means the Apostles were terrible disciple makers, and perhaps Jesus chose the wrong guys after all. Or you can believe that they were not failures. That Jesus chose the right guys, and they faithfully delivered the faith once and for all to the body of Christ. Do you believe those that compelled pagans to convert on the pain of death and torture, and murdered their brothers for disagreeing? Is that your source of the truth? Or those that laid down their lives for the saints? Those that murdered pagans or those that went to the lost with the Gospel, and were martyred? Which one sounds like Jesus? Which one sounds like the New Testament? I hope I have got you thinking. If you are not careful, you might wind up making some changes. Selling some things now precious to you to help the poor.Spending time with the lost.Trying to decide if that 401k is really a good investment after all. Wondering, what do Jesus and the Apostles say good works really are? Are works evil? Or are they wonderful? Theological error? Or the works prepared before the foundation of the earth for the saints to perform? Just remember, Jesus said to let your works so shine that the world would see your good works and glorify God in heaven. Does that sound like heresy to you? If it is slowly sounding like sound doctrine then you may find yourself walking in a new way. I pray it is so.