Showing posts with the label Discipleship

Word of the Cross

Jesus performed miracles, exorcised demons, and taught with great authority, often attracting large crowds. Nevertheless, his contemporaries failed to recognize who he was despite displays of supernatural power. In the end, only the Roman centurion on duty at Golgotha perceived him to be the “ Son of God ” when the Nazarene breathed his last.

Sanctified Wholly

Paul concludes his first Letter to the Thessalonians with a series of exhortations calling on the disciples of Jesus to pursue righteous living in the interim between their conversion and his “ arrival ” from heaven. He ends by summoning the congregation to pursue complete sanctification, an exhortation with verbal links to the preceding sections of the Letter.

Spiritually Minded

The spiritually minded man understands that the proclamation of Christ Crucified is God’s power and wisdom . Overused by both the Church and the surrounding society, the English term ‘spiritual’ has become meaningless. To some people, it is synonymous with the word  religion . To be  religious  is to be  spiritual . To others, it refers to things that are not of this physical universe, things and beings that are supernatural, otherworldly, noncorporeal, invisible, and timeless.

Afflicted Disciples

Our natural tendency is to avoid conflict. Understandably, we prefer our daily lives to be characterized by peace, acceptance, and prosperity, a life devoid of difficulties and afflictions. Moreover, the New Testament does promise believers peace now and everlasting life later. Nevertheless, it also exhorts the Assembly of God to expect afflictions and even persecution in this life on account of its light and testimony in a sin-darkened world.

The Neronian Problem

The Bible claims that God gives political power to whomever He pleases, “ even to the basest of men .” He “ removes kings and installs kings ” to accomplish His purposes, including rulers of whom many church leaders and members may disapprove. Disciples of Jesus who assume that certain politicians should hold governmental power presume on God’s patience and prerogative, and this is especially problematic in Western-style democratic societies.

The Mind of Christ

In his  Letter to the Philippians , the Apostle Paul points to the obedience of Jesus “ unto death ” as the model for proper conduct by his disciples. His willing submission to death on the Roman cross sets the pattern for his followers, both for their conduct and mindset. And his subsequent elevation to reign over all things is the result of his submission to “ death upon a cross ,” for exaltation does not precede death, it follows it.

Mercy and Enemies

The reality of persecution raises important questions. How should disciples of Jesus react, especially when persecuted by the State? Is resorting to anger or acts of civil disobedience appropriate, or should they instead emulate examples from the life of Christ? In his teachings, he warned that all men who decide to follow him would experience “ tribulation ,” and he summoned them to follow his path (“ If they persecuted me, so they will persecute you ”).

The Day of Visitation

In his first letter, Peter addresses congregations under pressure to conform to the expectations and values of the surrounding society. Their situation is not unique. They are members of a worldwide suffering community. A key theme of the Letter is the necessity for believers to persevere in tribulations and remain steadfast in holy living until the “ Day of Visitation ” when Jesus will be “ revealed ” from Heaven.

Warfare in the Spirit

“Spiritual warfare” is an idea based on the Apostle Paul’s words to the Assembly in Ephesus - “ Our wrestling is not against flesh and blood but against the principalities and powers… against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places .” So, how do believers wage war against these unseen forces of darkness?

Suffering Servant

Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the role of the ‘ Suffering Servant ’ described in the  Book of Isaiah . Unlike Adam, he did not attempt to grasp the “ likeness of God .” Instead, he humbled himself and submitted to a shameful death on the Roman cross. For this reason, God highly exalted him and made him “ Lord ” over all things. His exaltation did not precede his death – His enthronement followed it, and he died utterly alone.

Governing Authorities

Paul instructed believers living in the Roman Empire not to resist the government since its existence and authority were arranged by God .  Writing to the churches of Rome, Paul presents principles for Christian conduct in relation to the State. Believers must “ subordinate themselves to governing powers, for there is no authority except by God .” His statement was written when Nero ruled the Roman Empire, the same man who became the first emperor to persecute the church.