Posts Tagged ‘ exhortation ’

Thoughts from a Young Man: “Cultivate Obedient Men not Skilled Men”

We are not to be, primarily, cultivating skilled preachers and teachers. Dear Brothers we need to be cultivating hearts of love and passion for the saviour. As we cultivate faithful obedience the gifts of the Spirit will become evident. We should seek to see disciples grow in the use of those skills but above that we should seek that they would be faithful in the wholeness of their lives. Teachers and Preachers are important. We have the command to entrust the gospel to to worthwhile men who can teach it to others but that teaching must be in accord with faithfulness. If we are fostering obedience and love the men and women in our care will use their varied gifts faithfully and in time they will use their gifts obediently. Various gifts and various individuals bring specific temptations and that is again a manner of teaching faithfulness and obedience. I am not against producing wonderful leaders, please don’t hear that. We need wonderful leaders who love the Lord deeply and will be examples of Christ. We need men and women who know the Lord with a passion that roots and goes beyond their gifts.
Leaders of the church, have placed on them, a greater expectation to meet the standards of holiness but the standard we are all called to meet is the same; Christ.
We must avoid the the fault of our fathers and grandfathers who reduced fundamentalism to agreement to several points of doctrine. We must avoid producing eloquent preachers who have right doctrine but no unction. Avoid creating men who have strong words but no lives of conviction. Moreover, not all are called to such positions and such lives are not for our leaders but for every christian in every place. Such holy lives are not for the preachers because they are held to a higher standard. Leaders of the church, have placed on them, a greater expectation to meet the standards of holiness but the standard we are all called to meet is the same; Christ.
Let us pursue obedient-faithful use of gifts. That is merely an extension of the life of love and obedience we have already cultivated. Indeed, in is such cultivation that we will see the gift we have been given manifested and we will see the higher call to use those gifts in loving pursuit of Christlikeness. They are tools for the service of the church in pursuing Christ-likeness and areas of need for greater faithful obedience. The gifts are born of of the Spirit for obedience; obedience does not beget the gifts.
Our goal is Christlikeness and that WILL require us to use the talents HE has given us in service to the kingdom.
Let us not depart from this task of sanctification in holiness. Our goal is Christlikeness and that WILL require us to use the talents HE has given us in service to the kingdom. There is a need to develop such talents but I fear in our day we miss the proverbial boat. We focus on get the the gifts and using them will missing the real call “abide in my word…abide in my commands and you will abide in my love…in my joy will be in you and your joy will be made full.” (John 15). Abide in Christ our vine. Grow in Christlikeness and the gifts will come. If we have worn the paths of obedience deep we will respond to the budding gifts with faithful development of them in the context they are provided for by God, His church.
This obedience is not a thing we have to do, pray pray pray, that God would so overwhelm you with Christ that you want him more than all else and your obedience will be born of Joy.
I thought of this as I listened to 5 leading pastors discuss preaching Christ from the OT. They were obviously teaching. WHat were they teaching? Faithful us of the gifts and of the word. It was amazing how the very interpretations offered were a product of faithfulness. I realized how blessed we are to have such men who are not teaching, THIS IS WHAT THIS MEANS, but here is how you faithfully, obediently, honor the Word of God in teaching. Let us pursue this model at the most fundamental level, our own hearts our own lives. This obedience is not a thing we have to do, pray pray pray, that God would so overwhelm you with Christ that you want him more than all else and your obedience will be born of Joy. Jesus says it best:
If anyone love me he will keep my commands…he who does not love me does not keep my commands nor my Father’s who sent me…this I tell you so that my joy would be in you, and that your joy would be made full
John 14:23b, 24, 15:11
An all encompassing, heart-rending, love breeds this passionate obedience. It is a love that abounds in good works. It is a love that pursues its singular desire, communion with the great Love, the lover of men, Christ. This love produces works that please Him for whom they are done. This is the love of Christ for the Father. This is the love that leads God to the Cross. This is the love the world must see if they are to see the Christ. Lets us pray that we would so love our savior.
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Thoughts From a Young Man: “take up your cross” is a way of being

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Luke 14:27 “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me CANNOT be my disciple.
If you think this verse is about ‘getting saved’ you are WRONG! (original is very harsh sorry about that)
That view
Is
Just
Too
Small

Jesus is not calling them to pursue an end, he is calling them to become like him.

Jesus is doing something normal among Jewish teachers. He is going about calling people to be his disciples. They will follow him learn his message and carry on after him. They will learn his ways.  Jesus is not calling them to pursue an end, he is calling them to become like him. Jerry Bridges says it wonderfully in Pursuit of Holiness 

God has not called us to a life of victory. God has called us to a life of obedience.

Therefore, to say this, carrying one’s cross, is how you are saved is wrong, because it is not Jesus’s point. If carried to it’s logical end, without sufficient grounding in faith, carrying the cross becomes a work, a thing you do, and that absolutely is not true. This is not to say effort is not required, it is. It is not an effort of an unaffected will. It is the effort of a will, produced from a heart being molded after the image of Christ. We miss this due to a problem of how we read the scriptures.

A Problem with Our View

We have a problem here. We view this anachronistically, meaning we view it with something in our understanding that is from a time later than when it was being taught. Essentially, because we don’t think, we are inserting an event into this passage that had not happened; we don’t understand rightly. What we insert is Jesus on the cross, along with a lot more, but Jesus had not yet died! This IS a foreshadowing of the death he will die but the people don’t see that yet. We must use the cross as our filter for what we read but we must understand what was being said before we can rightly apply the cross.

What Jesus is Saying

What is Jesus then saying? He like many teachers would be calling disciples, though if what Matt Chandler says on the process is correct, Jesus is doing it differently. He is calling any who will follow. Other teachers like Gamaliel, Paul’s teacher (the best of only only a few master rabbi, his teacher, Hillel, one of the others) would select only the brightest from the ‘academy’ Paul, to be their disciples. In this Jesus is a bit different not because he is out among those already rejected by best teachers (that happened) but because he has since he was 12 he has been humbly schooling the teachers. He has shown great knowledge and great authority and now he is taking disciples from those on the short end of the education stick. He is not taking those devoted students who HAVE ALREADY given their lives to be disciples. He is taking those WHO WOULD NOT give their lives to be disciples. He is taking those who are poor, humble, sinners, rejected by the teachers to be his students. Odd for sure. That is what I took from Chandler (I want to study that more). Here is what I see.
As odd as that is he is also saying follow me to the death. Again that is not unheard of: especially considering they are expecting him to over throw the Romans. What is shocking is it is not by sword. It is not an honorable death. It is the death of wicked evil men whom GOD has accursed. It is not death alone. No one simply dies on a cross by chance. A man died on a cross for a life of wickedness for which there is neither repentance nor forgiveness. The cross is merely the end of life lived for self. Yet it is a punishment applied not by worthy God fearing men but other wicked men, haters of God and goodness, lovers of self, son’s of the evil one Satan, children of wrath.

He is calling all who will live for uncrushble delight in God the Father.

Jesus is calling men to live in such a manner as himself; as beacon of the light of God. He is calling all who will live for uncrushble delight in God the Father. Laying aside self, for, it will never deliver unending sinless pleasure of delight in God. Jesus is calling all who will live for closeness to God no matter the costs and the costs are great! Christ says the costs are EVERYTHING you are and have so that you will have all that is Christ. Discipleship of Christ is becoming like him Romans 8:28. As he left the side of his father in heaven to take on the flesh of men that he would live in obedience tot he point of dying, a sinner’s death, so that in his rising again he would grant eternal life to all who believe we also must leave what we have in this world for obedience to the father! The cost of his radical obedience was his life. Following the Christ is being buried with him that we may also be raised with him. He was buried because he lived a life of light among the dead and in the words of Dr. Russell Moore was “stapled to a tree” for it. Jesus is saying none are coming after me who are not living such a life.

Carrying Your Cross as Becoming

Carrying our cross is seeing and saying no to sin. Anger when your husband forgets to call and say he will be late. Eating the last of the bread or milk knowing your wife will have to go without or go out of her way to eat. This is serving self not others. The sin is rooted in your heart and self-love. You are serving yourself when you do not honor your wife by looking at nude women on your computer. This is telling God your wife is not acceptable, the wife he gave you. In this you tell God what is not yours should be. God’s His for marriage is faulty because your insatiable urges for pleasure, power, control, and self cannot be satisfied in marriage and should be because they are of greater value than His glory in confirming you, your desires are part of you, to the image of Christ. This act is a fruit of your heart that screams at God. It says the women whom you have created are of no more value than serving my selfish pleasures; they are merely tools to serve me. Eating that extra helping when all ready satisfied says to God, “This is all made for my pleasure not God’s glory.”

The greatest offense in these acts is saying, “God I know you have promised to give me more of Christ, that he will be more satisfying to me than all else if only I will turn to him in this moment, but I don’t want more of Him, life, I want to take pleasure in death.” The deceitfulness of sin is such that, as absurd as that sentence seems, it gets us looking at life in that manner. What arrogance is in our hearts.

 Is the cross on your back, being carried by grace? Or is it lying discarded at your side in favor of a millstone of sin about your neck?

This verse is about living, being, becoming. That is carrying your cross. It is an active thing. Are you carrying your cross today?  Look hard. Take this question seriously? Be honest. Tomorrow, the future, what you plan to do is unimportant, what you did in the past is not critical. The question is where is the cross today? Today is all we have. This is same question we have for everyday. Where is the cross today? Is the cross on your back, being carried by grace? Or is it lying discarded at your side in favor of a millstone of sin about your neck?

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