|You are here: Home >> Becoming a Disciple >> What does it mean to be a "Disciple"? >> "The Adventure..." Title Page|
A RACE - It is like an Olympic race, except...
Our race has eternal value.
1 Corinthians 9:25 - Their crown will not last; ours will.
The way we compete is different.
From one perspective: We run the race with the goal of being in first place... as if we will be the only winner.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - From this perspective, there is only one winner. So we do everything necessary to make sure we are that winner. We make sure nothing disqualifies us.
From another perspective: We are not competing against each other, but we are working together with each other... so we all can receive the prize.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7 - God has given each of us our own special gifts and abilities.
1 Corinthians 4:5 - Each of us will receive the praise we've earned.
1 Corinthians 3:5-9 - An example of this is seen in Paul and Apollos: co-workers, each to receive his own reward.
A BATTLE - It is like a World War, except...
It is not a physical battle; it's a spiritual battle!
It involves spiritual forces & spiritual weapons.
Ephesians 6:12 - Against spiritual forces - the powers of darkness.
It involves fighting in the realm of the heart and mind.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 - Demolishing arguments and pretensions with spiritual (not physical) weapons.
There are certain things we fight indirectly.
2 Timothy 2:22 - When it comes to temptation, don't stay around to expose yourself to it. Run away from temptation to sin. Avoid it; don't flirt with it!
** When the enemy throws a grenade at you, it's not wise to see how close you can get to it! **
We Must Prepare
Being trained, having self-control, being focused.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 - As an athlete - strict training and self-control; focused on the goal.
2 Timothy 2:3-5 - As a soldier - enduring trials, not getting distracted; as an athlete - following the rules!
Hebrews 12:1 - As an athlete - getting rid of anything that hinders you.
The foundation for our survival: Communication with our leader (God).
God communicates with us through his Word, the Bible.
Matthew 4:4 - We need it in order to survive.
Hebrews 4:12-13 - It is living and powerful.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 - God uses it to teach and correct us.
We communicate with God through prayer.
Ephesians 6:18 - Prayer is more than merely asking for things!
Matthew 6:9-13 - The Lord's "Model Prayer" shows some of the basic aspects of prayer.
Matthew 26:41 - Prayer is a source of strength.
If we do these things, we will be ready for success!
Psalm 1:1-3 - Such people are blessed in all they do.
Joshua 1:7-9 (+) - An example for us: The promise God made to Joshua, that if his primary focus was on God's Word, he would end-up being prosperous and successful. [This "prosperity" involved all that he would do; it did not focus on the accumulation of wealth - the way many people use that word, today.]
Being Ready in Attitude and Thought
The basic pattern for knowing how to think:
Philippians 4:8 - A list of various types of things to think about.
Our basic attitude about the present and the future:
Our attitude about the present:
1 Peter 1:13 - Ready for action, self-controlled.
1 Peter 3:13 (+) - Eager to do what is good, regardless of the response of others.
Our view of the future:
2 Timothy 4:7-8 - All who have faithfully run the race and fought the battle will receive their victor's crowns. We're winners!
Remembering our new identity:
Things have changed for us.
2 Corinthians 5:17 - We are a new creation. The old is gone; the new has come! (We have neither right nor reason to live the way we used to live.)
Who we belong to:
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 - We were "bought" by God. (The logical conclusion of this fact: We must honor God with the way we use our bodies.)
Colossians 1:12-13 - We now belong to a different kingdom: God's kingdom.
Who we are:
1 Peter 2:11 - Since we are now part of God's kingdom, we no longer belong to this present world system (the "dominion of darkness" - Colossians 1:13). We are "aliens" (foreigners)! (The logical conclusion of this: We must not let ourselves become overtaken by the sinful ways of the world.)
2 Corinthians 5:20 - Ambassadors of Christ, encouraging and exhorting the people of this sinful world to make peace (reconciliation) with God, our ruler.
Romans 8:17 - Royalty, children of the king! Having been adopted in to his family, we now have the rights that belong to his children. (We also have the responsibilities that go along with being his children: We must learn to live like Jesus would.)
Being Ready in Action and Power
The basic pattern for knowing how to act:
Philippians 4:9 - Follow Paul's example.
Having the right priorities:
Matthew 6:24 - You can have only one master, not two.
James 1:8 - Not being double-minded, not wavering between two contradictory ways of thinking.
Putting everything else in "second place"; willing to give up anything that gets in the way of our highest priority.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31 - Not being preoccupied with the things of this temporary world. [Note: This passage doesn't tell us to NOT do the things mentioned; it does not say that they are sinful. Rather, it tells us that our main focus shouldn't be placed on such things.]
Luke 9:23 - You must "deny" yourself: You must be willing to "sacrifice" your own self-interests, so that you can follow the way of Christ.
Luke 14:26-27 - God must be so important in your life, that everyone else comes second. Your love for God must be so great that your love for others looks like "hate," even though it isn't hatred. (You still love them.)
NOTE that some of these things may be good, when given the right emphasis or when placed in the right context. The problem occurs when they begin to compete with our highest priority of being a disciple of Jesus.
Willing to get rid of anything that is incompatible with the priorities of a disciple.
NOTE that these things are, by nature, incompatible with being a disciple of Jesus - even though they may, at times, look "innocent," compared to other types of sins. Many things can be put in this category; the following are just a couple examples.
1 Corinthians 15:33 - You must be willing to give-up anything that hinders you or threatens your ability to follow Jesus. The specific example in this passage involves destructive friendships and close ties. Don't fool yourself into thinking that such associations have no effect on you! [See also 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1.]
Ephesians 4:29; 5:4 - You must consciously choose the words that come from your mouth. Remember that what you say is an expression of your heart, and is an indication of how you will be judged (Matthew 12:34-37).
Doing the "impossible."
2 Corinthians 6:4-12, 16; 12:9-10 - Living-out the power of God, in spite of your own great weaknesses. (Look at Paul's example!)
Philippians 4:11-13 - Able to be content in any circumstances, because of the strength that comes from God. [Note that this includes being content even in adverse circumstances.]
Ephesians 5:15-16 (+) - Wisely making the most of every
opportunity, doing the Lord's will.
** The ability to be a disciple is impossible in our own
power. Salvation itself is impossible, from the human standpoint. It's only because of what God
has done, that we can expect success!
Willing to keep on going, even when the odds seem to be against us: Perseverance / Patience:
Growth takes time; there will be "growing pains."
>> At times, we may "stumble" (fall into sin). When this happens, we are to get back up, rather than staying there in defeat!
James 3:2 - Everyone stumbles in many ways. It's not just you or me!
Psalm 37:24 - The Lord will hold on to us.
>> God will keep us from permanently falling.
Jude 1:24-25 - Him who is able to keep you from falling...
We have plenty of reasons to be encouraged.
>> First, we know that, in this present world, unpleasant things are going to happen. So we have no reason to be surprised about it.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 - A general statement about conditions in this present world: There is a time for everything under heaven.
1 Peter 4:12-13 - Don't be surprised when you have difficult times.
>> These difficult times are temporary, so we should place our focus on Jesus and on what is permanent.
Hebrews 12:2-3 - We should keep our focus on Jesus and on what is eternal, rather than on the temporary problems.
John 16:21-22 - What Jesus reminded his disciples, when they were about to enter a major trial: Today's pain will be forgotten when tomorrow's joy arrives. [This is comparable to a woman forgetting the pain of childbirth, once the child is born. (It's not that she has memory loss! The pain she experienced - now an event of the past - ceases to be the focus of her attention.)]
>> We have a guarantee that God will use these unpleasant things - as well as everything else that may happen - to accomplish good in our lives.
Romans 8:28 (+) - In all things, God works for the good of those who love him...
Note: This guarantee cannot be used as an excuse for willful sin, such as by claiming that God will accomplish good through that sin. The good he accomplishes will come... but it may come with discipline, to teach us the folly of willful sin! And though that sin may not destroy us eternally (if our own salvation is genuine), it may have horrible consequences in this present life - both for us and for other people. It may even result in our physical death - the "ultimate discipline" - if we continue to remain unrepentant (compare to 1 Corinthians 11:30-32). Worse than that, it could have eternally devastating consequences for others - for those who are repelled from the way of life, because of our conduct.
"Hang in there; don't give-up!"
This Way of Life is Not for Some
It is not for the lazy or cowardly: They will never make it as disciples.
Revelation 21:8 - The cowardly will have a place in the lake of fire.
Hebrews 6:12 - It's not the lazy, but those who have faith and patience, who will inherit what God has promised. [Note that, by implication, the lazy do not have genuine faith; for genuine faith will be accompanied by obedience and patience.]
Hebrews 10:39 - Those who "shrink back" (instead of having patient endurance) will be destroyed.
It is not for the self-confident.
Ephesians 2:1-5 - We were DEAD in sin. It was GOD who saved us. We couldn't! (Trust in our own abilities will not work.)
Ephesians 2:8-10 - We credit God (not ourselves) for the works he has prepared us to do. We credit him for our faith, as well! (The self-confident person cannot have this attitude.)
Ephesians 3:20 - God's power is working in us. And what he can do far surpasses anything we can ask or imagine! (We could never accomplish as much, relying on our own strength.)
(See also the next section.)
** The disciple of Jesus is GOD-confident, not SELF-confident. **
REMEMBER THIS: Being a disciple is an adventure, a journey. But it is also a challenge; it is not for the lazy or for those who trust in themselves.. We must train and strengthen ourselves, using the power God gives us. (And we must admit that it is God's power, not our own.) "No pain, no gain."
If you accept these things as true, how will they affect your life?
Dennis Hinks © 1999