"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .

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Thursday, August 11, 2022

ARE YOU A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST?

~ James Fire

For the video teaching, go here!

THREE QUESTIONS:

1) How many of you want to live your life in such a way, that JESUS CHRIST uses you to touch the many lives surrounding you and make an impact in this world by the power of GOD, for the glory of GOD?

2)
How many want to see souls saved, redeemed by the blood of the LAMB, rescued from sin, death, judgment, and hellfire and to see the kingdom of GOD expanded.

3)
How many of you want to become more and more like our LORD Jesus Christ?

What needs to happen to bring all this about?

We need JESUS; without JESUS we can do nothing (
JOHN 15:5).

The disciples of Christ are the ones GOD will use to accomplish His purposes in this world. No religion can do it, no political organization can do it, no grass-roots movement can do it; no philosophy or psychology of man can do it.

The hope of this world can be found only in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we are the stewards of the Gospel. So, our purposes as Christ’s disciples are what?

What has Christ called us as His disciples to do?

Preach the Gospel; Make Disciples!

MARK 16:15-16
 15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned
.

I asked someone in discipleship class to share the Gospel. It didn’t take too long at all. We think that we need to give a full sermon on the Gospel and so we refrain from sharing because “it’ll take too long”.

“We have all sinned and broken GOD’s Law and GOD being a holy and just Judge must condemn all crimes against His Law and punish sinners. If He refrained from doing so, He wouldn’t be Who He is, holy and just.

"But GOD so loved the world that He gave us His Son Who took GOD’s punishment for our sin, and whoever believes in JESUS and His Gospel, will not perish but have everlasting life, because JESUS conquered over sin, death and hell and has risen from the grave in victory! We who believe the Gospel and repent of our sin are no longer condemned sinners, but we are saved saints, children of GOD!” (this took about 47 seconds to say).

If you hop on
YouTube and check out the ministry of Mark Cahill – a very gifted evangelist that will encourage you in your own efforts to share the Gospel. 


MATTHEW 28:19
 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.

Preaching the Gospel of salvation doesn’t take too long but making disciples – this is a life long ministry, but a worthy one because it’s JESUS Who commands us to GO.

We have discipleship class every Sunday, 9:15 to 10:00 am; we’re currently studying Spiritual Warfare (Discipleship 103). We’re about half way through the course, nevertheless any who are interested can show up and because it’s the Word of GOD, you’re bound to be blessed.

Once we complete this
Discipleship 103, we’re going to go into 104 – Apologetics and Evangelism.

We are called as disciples of Christ to abide in His Word; it’s only in the Word that we shall know the truth
.

JOHN 10:31-32
 31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.

This isn’t just head knowledge so that we can know what the truth that the Scriptures reveal; this is a truth that transforms us, changes us, and frees us from GOD’s holy wrath and judgment, frees us from sin and the condemnation of the devil, frees us from death, judgment, and hellfire. Frees us, liberates us so that we can now live godly in Christ Jesus (
GAL 5:1; 2 TIM 3:12).

What does it mean by “abide”? To dwell in, to make yourself at home, “to hang out” – but more than this: it means that just as you live in your home, we are to live in the Scriptures, to make a home for the Word of GOD in our hearts.

To make the truth of GOD’s Word a part of our life so that we aren’t just reading the Bible, we’re not just studying the Bible, we are living the Bible by the same Spirit of GOD that JESUS was empowered by, He Who is exalted as our supreme example to follow!

A disciple who can withstand the storms, and trials, the burdens and attacks of the enemy is not one who only reads and studies but obeys the Word of GOD. If you see a Christian, and their life is a wreck, and they know nothing but defeat, that Christian hasn’t built his life on the Rock – if they’re genuinely born again, they’re saved, but their spiritual house is in a shambles because they aren’t obeying GOD’s Word.

MATTHEW 7:24-25
talks about such a disciple who hears the sayings of Jesus, the Word of GOD, and does them; the obedient disciple, not a learning disciple only is the one who can withstand anything that comes against them.

What else has Christ called us to do as His disciples?

JOHN 13:34-35
 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another
.

Do you love your brother and sister in Christ the same way that Christ loves you, the way He loves them? If we do, then we forgive those who trespass against us, we won’t hold grudges, or think the worst about them; we will seek to bless them, encourage them; we pray for them and love them. And it doesn’t happen just within these four walls.

If it happens only here, and not out there in our lives, are we truly disciples of Christ? Are we not rather playing church? Let’s get real saints; let’s be honest until it hurts.

This is how the world out there
will know that we are truly disciples of Jesus Christ, by seeing that the love we have for each other is a love unlike anything they’ve ever seen before!

This is an inhuman love, and unearthly love, this is the love generated by the very heart of GOD through you! Through me! This is the kind of love GOD displayed when He sacrificed His own Son for sinners that hated Him!

And we can’t love one another from afar: we need to get up close and personal, in the fellowship of the saints. Attending a biblical, Christ-centered church is part of discipleship in Christ.

Let’s remember this saints: How you treat your brother and sister in Christ, that’s how you’re treating Christ Himself. Recall what the LORD told Saul of Tarsus when he was stalking Christians, arresting them, supervising their torture and imprisonment: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting [not My church] . . . why are you persecuting Me??”

Is there anything else that Christ called us to do as His disciples?

MATTHEW 16:24-25
 24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 25 "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it
.

Last week pastor Sonny taught on
MARK 10:17-22 about the rich young ruler – and this young man followed all the commandments of GOD, at least to his own satisfaction, not to GOD’s; because he had an idol he wasn’t prepared to let go of.

The Scripture says:

MARK 10:21-22
 21 Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, "One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me." 22 But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, [why?] because he had great possessions.

The true disciple will deny self, not esteem self, not pamper self, not exalt self, not promote self, not protect self, not love self – nor will they love others more than GOD:

LUKE 14:26
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Our love for GOD should be so powerfully passionate, so completely consuming that our love for anything or anyone else – including ourselves – looks like hate in comparison!

The Cross of Christ is where He died for you, where He died for me – where He purchased us with His own blood, that we would be delivered from slavery to sin. The Cross that Christ commands His disciples to bear is so that we die to ourselves and let the RISEN CHRIST live through us!

1 CORINTHIANS 6:19-20
 19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 20 For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's.

So you don’t call the shots in your life: if you’re a true disciple, you belong to GOD and Jesus calls the shots.

If a true disciple is obedient, they are on the cross and Jesus is on the throne of their heart! If a true disciple is not obedient, then Christ is on the cross, and they are on the throne of their hearts!

There are two certain things about those who died on crosses:

Firstly, they died agonizingly slowly. Secondly, they all died on them with a zero survival rate!

The life of self-denial as a disciple of Christ requires patience, endurance, a willingness to go through arduous and at times painful struggles; yet with persistence, we can find victory over the sin nature as we consider it dead, by faith in GOD's Word and the power of the Cross!

LUKE 13:23-24
 23 Then one said to Him, "Lord, are there few who are saved?" And He said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

The Greek word for “strive” used here is
agon. The word we get agony and agonize from.

2 TIMOTHY 4:6-7
 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

1 TIMOTHY 6:12
Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses
.

The same Greek word
agon is used in these two references for the words “fought” and “fight”.

Agon, the root word for agonizomai means “to contend for a prize, a struggle, athletic contest or warfare”; it’s something that causes extreme stress, pain, agony – any bodybuilder will tell you, it hurts!

When two soldiers are pitted against each other in mortal combat, where death is as close as a razor sharp knife, they will tell you, it’s painful!

Paul realized that for Christ to live through him, he must die.

GALATIANS 2:20
 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

What Christ Jesus gave to us, wasn’t in part but in whole; He gave it His all on that Cross, out of love for us all. Paul in response to Christ and His love for the apostle, declared that he was “poured out as a drink offering” so that
not one drop was left that wasn’t offered to JESUS.

As you examine your life, how much are you being poured out to Christ? What yet remains in you that you desire to keep for yourself?

A true disciple will seek to empty themselves of all their own desires, certainly any lusts, and secret sins, but also any plans and ambitions and goals are surrendered to Christ for His approval, and if not approved – abandoned, forsaken, deserted for the sake of JESUS! There is true freedom in this!

A song lyric I heard once, “Father let Your Spirit flow inside me, until all that will not praise you is undone.” And I could change one word: “Father let Your Spirit flow inside me, until all that will not love and serve You LORD, is undone.”

It’s a paradoxical truth in the kingdom of GOD: that if you truly want to find life, you have to give up your life (
MATT 16:25 “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.”).

To recap what we have so far
:

A true disciple will share the Gospel and as they grow and mature themselves, make other disciples; they will read, study, love and obey the Word of GOD. A true disciple will love the brethren just as Jesus does. A true disciple will lay down his life for his LORD and die to self on the Cross, that Christ will live through them.

Is there anything else that Christ called us to do as His disciples?

Prayer is an essential part of discipleship! The LORD Jesus called His house, the Temple in Jerusalem, “the house of prayer”. How much more should the houses of His disciples be called houses of prayer (
MATT 21:13)? And SHINE BRIGHT Church?

My spiritual mother in the faith, she was always praying, instant in prayer, and any time I went over to visit, the presence of GOD, the peace of GOD was a comforting embrace. It was a place of rest.

May I exhort you to hold home prayer meetings for your family? Jeff and I have house prayer every Saturday, starting at 9:30 am. I know brother Albert and sister Ruthie, they have family prayer time.

We all know the prayer life of our LORD Jesus, GOD the Son, the Son of Man – He prayed all night, many times (LUKE 6:12). How can we ignore prayer when He found it crucial?

I have many books on prayer in my library: CharlesSpurgeon, Warren Wiersbe, Andrew Murray: all excellent. The one that’s my all-time favorite however is Edward M. Bounds. You can get all eight of his books on prayer in one volume.

I get so excited when I read his writings that I can barely get through a page before I’m just burning with a desire to fellowship with our Abba and commune and speak with Him, our heavenly Daddy! I highly recommend his books!

It’s been said, “You can do many things once you have prayed, but you can do nothing [worthwhile] until you have prayed”.

Chuck Missler was fond of saying, “Prayer is GOD’s way of enlisting you into His plans.”

Charles Spurgeon stated, “Prayer is not so much about length as it is about weight”.

Martin Luther said, “Work, work from morning until late at night. In fact I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer!”

Prayerlessness brings paralysis to the body of Christ.

The book of ACTS is a testimony of the Holy Spirit, and the church were always on the move, hand in hand, and the hands of the saints there were folded in prayer!

The saints were all together at Pentecost (
ACTS 2), and the Holy Spirit came down upon them all, empowering them to boldly declare JESUS CHRIST, some of them eventually from their own crosses! The church was unstoppable – why? Because they were united by the Spirit and in prayer!

In ACTS 4:31-32 as they were gathered together for prayer, the place was shaken by a Holy Ghost earthquake, they were all filled with the Spirit and declared boldly the Word of GOD, and it says in vs. 32 that they “were of one heart and one soul” – now that is unity saints!

There is unstoppable power when the saints gather together in prayer! Satan can’t stop a praying church, neither can the world!

It’s also been said,

“You can tell how loved a church is by how many attend Sunday Service. You can tell how loved the pastor is by how many attend the mid-week service. And you can tell how loved the LORD is by how many attend the prayer service.” Can we say, Ouch?


I’m sorry to say this saints, but it’s the truth, and it’s not just here at SHINE BRIGHT Church, it’s all over.

Pastor Sonny and our brother Ben make announcements every week and they always invite the church to come together for the Church Prayer meeting, held on the last Saturday of every month, one day out of the entire month, from 10am to 12 noon, and at most, about a dozen show up. Most of the time it’s less than ten.

Now I don’t know what your personal prayer life is like, but after 40 years as a Christian I’ve seen consistently, that those who have a vibrant and health personal prayer life will seldom pass up the chance to gather with the saints for church prayer.

True disciples are all about prayer, and if we want to see the kind of effectiveness that the church in the book of ACTS had, we need to follow their example. Better yet, our LORD’s example!

Our LORD’s words haunt me:

“Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?”
LUKE 18:8b.

May He find faith among us, beloved. May we by the grace of GOD be doers of the Word and not hearers only. And when we are doing all these things, what can we expect from our Father?

Overflowing blessings through Christ, and the tremendous honor to be used powerfully for His glory!

And as we are doing these things, what can we expect from the world?

JOHN 15:19-21
 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his Lord.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me
.

But even here, persecution from the world only means we are blessed of the Father and will earn “great reward”!

MATTHEW 5:11-12a
 11 "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12a "Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven,

ROMANS 12:9-18
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11 not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13 distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17 Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men


LET’s TURN THOSE THREE QUESTIONS I ASKED AT THE BEGINNING INTO THREE DECLARATIONS!

1) We will live our lives in such a way, that JESUS CHRIST uses us to make an impact in this world by the power of GOD, for the glory of GOD!

2) We will see souls saved, redeemed, and rescued from sin, death, judgment, and hellfire by the blood of the LAMB and see the kingdom of GOD expanded as we live in obedience to GOD.

3) We will by the grace of GOD become more and more like our LORD Jesus Christ!

This is the passion of the bride of Christ; we are to be prepared to meet our LORD, our Bridegroom and ready to leave this world of sin to be with Him in blessed fellowship, and one day rule with Him at His side. True disciples make up the beautiful bride of Christ that mirrors the heart of JESUS.

For more on this, check out the following articles:

THE CALL TO DISCIPLESHIP - by Dave Hunt

FROM THE MIND OF FIRE: 2nd CHRONICLES 7:14 - Is It Also for the Church?

FROM THE MIND OF FIRE: ARE YOU ON F.I.R.E. for JESUS?


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