Let’s review a little to get our minds fixed on Discipleship. Remember, Christ said: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) The true Disciple is one who has:
- Realized that he is sinful, lost, blind and completely open before God. (see Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 3: 10-23; 5: 6, 8, 10; 6:23)
- Realized that he cannot save himself by good works. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
- Realized and believed that the Lord Jesus Christ died as a substitute on the Cross for him. (I Corinthians 15: 1-4)
- Realized that salvation requires a definite decision of faith and application to his own life, he makes a decision to accept Christ as Savior. (John 3;3, 16; Romans 10: 9-13; Hebrews 11: 6)
KEY: One must become a Christian before he or she can live the Christian life. There are too many people in churches today who are claiming to be a Christian but have never made a true profession of salvation. They have head knowledge but not heart acceptance of Christ and His work on their behalf. Unfortunately they will miss heaven by about 18 inches.
The major problem is that they believe that you become a Christian by living a Christian lifestyle. They are living a lie promulgated by Satan. The fact of the matter is that we do not have the power in our selves to live it.
KEY: Only when we are truly saved do we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to live the Christian life. (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 1: 13-14) Then and only then can the Holy Spirit produce the Fruit of the Spirit in a persons life. (Galatians 5:22-23)
As Disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, it is critical to understand the nature of our commitment. Nothing less than unconditional surrender could ever be a fitting response to His sacrifice at Calvary. The Lord Jesus made stringent demands on those who would follow Him and be called His disciples. So, the obvious question is “What is the nature of our commitment?”
- We are told to present our body, [whole self] to God. We make this commitment by a decision of the heart. This accomplished in three ways:
- through prayer (Isaiah 6:8),
- by obedience to God (Luke 6:46-49)
- obedience to the commands of Christ, (John 14:15)
- In doing this we also recognize the words of our Lord as He said in John 15:5c “…For without Me you can do nothing.” Further, this commitment says to Him, You are God and have all authority in heaven and earth; I am your disciple and will obey your commands – Matthew 28:18. Thereby demonstrating the fact that we love Him. (John 14:15)
- What is this commitment like? It is like offering a sacrifice to God. A sacrifice is the act of giving Him something that is costly to us. (2 Samuel 24:24) The most valuable possession that we have to offer God is our self. With that offering goes all that we are an all that we have. The offering must be total or it is not real.
- This is seen in that it is a “living sacrifice.”
- At the moment of salvation we died to our former spiritual masters, Satan, the world and sin (Ephesians 2:1-3) and were made alive to our new Master, God and to the Lord Jesus Christ. (Galatians 2:20; Romans 6:2-4)
KEY: This recognizes the transfer of power in our life from Satan and the world to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Committing ourselves to live under the power and control of the Holy Spirit. (Ephesians 5:18; I Corinthians 6: 19-20)
- By this transfer of power we are also committing ourselves to live a holy life. (I Peter 1:15-16) In making this commitment we set ourselves apart from sin and the world. (I John 2:15-17) We see ourselves to be God’s instrument of righteousness rather than sin’s tool for evil works. (Romans 6:12-13; 2 Timothy 2: 19-21)
- Making ourselves an acceptable sacrifice
- This commitment is pleasing to God. (cp. 2 Corinthians 5: 9-10; I John 3:22) This is important because it allows God to energize, direct and use us to do His will. (Philippians 2:12-13) By making this sacrifice we bring glory and pleasure to God so that He is able to glorify Himself. (Luke 6:45; Matthew 5: 16; Ephesians 2: 8-10)
- So, why make this commitment at all? It is the rational thing to do. It is also the reasonable thing to do.
Notice three meanings presented on pages 392-393 of Practical Christian Theology by Floyd H. Barackman, Gospel D Folio Press.
Serving the Lord is reasonable and may have at least three meanings:
- This many mean that it is a “rational” service in that it requires a believer to follow the Lord’s direction and teachings, as given in the Scriptures, rather than following our own hunches and guesses. (Matthew 11: 28-29; 2 Timothy 3: 16-17; Ephesians 6:6; Colossians 3:16)
- It may mean that it is an obligatory service. Our giving of ourselves to God is the reasonable thing to do since the Lord Jesus willingly gave Himself for us. (Matthew 20- 28; 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15)
- It may mean that it is a sensible service in that it is better to be an instrument of righteousness for the glory of God and for the good of self and others than an instrument or unrighteousness to God’s discredit and to the harm of self and others. (Romans 6: 11-13; Galatians 5: 19-23)
So, what can we conclude about the nature and purpose of commitment as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ? Obviously our commitment is to serve God and bring glory and pleasure to Him. (Isaiah 43:7; Revelation 4: 11; Ephesians 1: 1-13) The Disciple of Christ is to carry out the absolute commitment to live as stated in I Corinthians 10:31. The problem that Scripture points out is that without this commitment one will continue to serve the old nature. (Ephesians 2: 1-3) Any commitment based on the flesh brings into question II Corinthians 5:17 in the life of the individual.
Both Peter and Paul begged the Disciple to make a total commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ because of the nature of the enemies facing a true Disciple of Christ. (Ephesians 6: 10-18; I Peter 5:8)
In our next study we will examine the demands of this commitment. (Romans 12; 2)
Rev. Tom Shelton