THROUGHOUT THE GOSPELS, we find Jesus Christ spending a large amount of
time discipling His twelve Apostles. No doubt, the three years that Christ spent
teaching them were vital to their task of propagating the Gospel in His future
absence. To be useful vessels in the Lord's hand, they had to be taught the importance
of faithfulness, the willingness to trust God. They each had to learn to be a "workman that
needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Tim. 2:15) And
certainly we find Christ teaching them from the Scriptures on many occasions.
They would also need to know how to witness, therefore, we find Christ sending them
off in pairs to preach repentance and declare the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1-5). We find
Christ teaching them about Christian conduct (Matt. 5-Matt. 7); how to pray (Luke 11:1-
4); how to function in one accord as they exercise love toward one another (John
13:34-35), and how to even conduct church discipline and properly handle a disobedient
brother in Christ (Matt. 18:15-17). Read the Gospels for yourself. Study the things that Christ
taught them--the things that make any born-again Christian, then as well as now, an
effective servant of the King.
No doubt, Christ's method of discipleship should serve as our example, for who knows
best how Christians should be trained for service than the Lord Himself, to whom the
service is directed? And most present-day discipleship programs teach those very things
we've already mentioned. However, are we truly teaching a new convert, EVERYTHING
that Christ considered important to their growth? Or, are we still missing something?
Consider what typically happens . . .
Let's say, one night, while knocking on doors, two members of an evangelistic-minded
church visit someone who has never heard the Gospel. As is often the case, the unsaved
person says, "No thanks, I already have my own religion," as he waves goodbye to the
visitors. "But wait!," cries one of the members, "You don't understand. Christianity is
not a religion. It is a personal relationship with God."
The person's ears perk up; he wants to hear more. Months later, after several visits
to church, he gets saved and is immediately plugged into a discipleship program, where
he learns the major tenants of Christianity; how to defend the faith; how to witness; and
how to avoid the clever pitfalls his new found enemy has laid out for him. But for some
strange reason, he is rarely, if ever, scripturally introduced to the One with whom he is
supposed to be having a "personal relationship."
Too many of us today assume that any truly saved convert will automatically slide into
a close personal walk with God. At best, he's told to "Spend time alone with God
reading your Bible, and praying to Him daily," which is good, but it's still not the way
Christ handled it. Christ spent a considerable amount of time INTRODUCING God to His
disciples. He taught His disciples ABOUT God, as well as HOW TO RELATE to Him.
Right about now, some dear Christians are scratching their heads, wondering "When did
Christ ever teach about having a personal relationship with God?" Again, go back and
read the Gospels. Why do you think Christ spent so much time talking about . . .
His Heavenly Father?
IT IS TRUE that Christ came, "to seek and to save that which was lost." (Luke 19:10)
He also came to establish His Lordship over those who came to Him in repentance
and faith and are redeemed with the price of His shed blood (1 Cor. 6:20; 1 Cor. 7:22-
23). There is, however, another seldom-mentioned reason why Christ took on flesh and
came down to this sin-ridden world. It is revealed in the following exchange: "Philip saith
unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have
I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen
me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?" John 14:8-9
Christ came to reveal the Father. It was part of His intended mission, a fact He reiterates
while praying to His heavenly Father. "And this is life eternal, that they might know
will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my
thee the only true God, and Jesus
Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have
glorified thee on the earth: I
have finished the work which thou
gavest me to do." (John 17:3-4) "I
have manifested thy name
unto the men which thou gavest
me out of the world: thine they
were, and thou gavest them me; and
they have kept thy word." (John
17:6) "I have given them thy
word;" (John 17:14). "Now they
have known that all things
whatsoever thou hast given me are
of thee." (John 17:7-8) "And I
have declared unto them thy
name," (John 17:26). "That they all
may be one; as thou, Father, art in
me, and I in thee, that they also may
be one in us:" (John 17:21).
Jesus Christ's discipleship
program included an introduction to
God AS FATHER. A Father/Child
relationship goes deeper than a
God/man, Creator/creature or even a
Lord/servant relationship. And it is
the kind of relationship God wants to
have with us. That is why He said: "I
Some might imagine God as an angry
father, ready to destroy us all, were it
not SOLELY for the self-motivated effort on
the Son's part. But it was the Father who,
"gave his only begotten Son, that
whosoever believeth in him should not
perish, but have everlasting life. For God
sent not his Son into the world to condemn
the world; but that the world through him
might be saved." (John 3:16-17)
It was the Father who willed that His Son
"drink of" the sins of the world, an action
that would save humanity. "Father, if thou
be willing, remove this cup from me:
nevertheless not my will, but thine,
be done." (Luke 22:42) Father and Son
worked TOGETHER to save us! "Grace be to
you and peace from God the Father, and
from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave
himself for our sins, that he might deliver us
from this present evil world, according
to the will of God and our Father:"
people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and
touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you,
and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty." (2 Cor. 6:16-
Emphasizing the Father/child relationship early in the Christian's life provides a solid
foundation for spiritual growth. Our entire Christian life, servitude and all, is to operate
under the identity of being a child of the King! "Wherefore thou art no more a
servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ." (Gal. 4:7)
Without a conscious, operating awareness of God as Father, Christians can easily
become one-dimensional; strictly duty-bound, having ONLY a working relationship with
God. They can become "results" oriented, serving with the wrong motives; not because
they love God. They will show little incentive to live holy since a lack of holiness strictly
affects a Father/child relationship that they are not cultivating in the first place.
Our God-given identity should be the major motivation for living the Christian life.
After all, who would YOU be more inclined to please, your employer or your Father?
Who would you serve with more heart-felt zeal, your employer or your Father? Who
would you want to relate to, personally, your employer or your Father? "Wherefore
thou art no more a servant, but a son;" (Gal. 4:7).
Furthermore, the Christian life, when lived to its fullest, requires faith-absolute trust
in God. What better motivation to trust, serve, and love God, than when that same God
is, in reality, one's Father? Notice how Christ instills absolute trust in God by reminding
His Disciples that God is their Father and to expect everything the title implies.
"Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or,
Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for
your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." (Mat.
6:31-32) No need to fret in this life, when God, YOUR FATHER, is THE provider.
"That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and
thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly." (Mat. 6:8) Trust
God! YOUR FATHER knows what's going on and He will reward you accordingly.
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much
more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?"
(Mat. 7:11). Trust God! YOUR FATHER knows what's best for you. (He may even treat
you from time to time! What real father doesn't?)
"But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it
shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but
the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you." (Mat. 10:19-20) Trust God and fret
not. What real father won't stand up for his own kids in times of trouble?
"Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful." (Luke 6:36) "Be ye
therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." (Mat. 5:48)
Trust God, do as He says and does. YOUR FATHER, is the perfect role model.
"Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them
reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our
profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness." (Heb. 12:9-10) Trust God and don't
fret and get angry when He disciplines you. YOUR FATHER does it for your own good.
Our goal has NOT been to criticize existing discipleship programs, but rather to point out
the importance of grounding a new convert in their Father/child relationship. We have
only scratched the surface, but hopefully, you have grasped the importance of not only
perceiving Jesus as Lord, and the Holy Spirit as teacher, but God as Father. "Father"
denotes such a loving and personable God, that the earlier one gets that perception
etched in his/her mind's eye, the less struggles they are bound to have in their Christian
Christ knew this. That is why He showed them their Father.
IF you were to die today, are you 100% SURE
you would go to Heaven? The Bible says
YOU CAN BE SURE (1 John 5:13).
BUT FIRST, you must realize that what keeps you
from going to Heaven are your sins, because:
"...your iniquities [sins] have separated
between you and your God," Isaiah 59:2.
In fact, in God's eyes YOU ARE A SINNER: "For
all have sinned, and come short
of the glory of God;" Romans 3:23.
SECONDLY, you must realize that there is
NOTHING you can do to save yourself and earn
Heaven: "For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is
the gift of God: Not of works, lest any
man should boast." Eph. 2:8-9 Baptism, good
deeds, church membership, self-righteousness are
all examples of good works that cannot save you,
because, "Not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but
according to his mercy he [Christ] saved
us," Titus 3:5.
THE ONLY WAY you can get saved is through
Jesus Christ. He said: "I am the way, the
truth, and the life: no man cometh unto
the Father, but by me." (John 14:6) THAT'S
WHY: "...while we were yet sinners, Christ
died for us." Romans 5:8-9
THEREFORE: You must REPENT (change your
mind); admit that you are a Hell deserving sinner
and can't save yourself. And call upon Christ, and
Him alone, to save you. "if thou shalt confess
with thy mouth the Lord Jesus [REPENT], and
shalt believe in thine heart [TRUST] that God
hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be
saved." Romans 10:9
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